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Custom builder evokes emotion

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The breakfast nook of the custom home by Koinonia Architects & Builders is defined by wood pillars. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

The breakfast nook of the custom home by Koinonia Architects & Builders is defined by wood pillars. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Paul McDonald feels like he has an advantage over many builders and that has helped him have consistent success at the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico Homes of Enchantment Parade.

The parade started Saturday with 35 homes by 26 builders on display throughout the Albuquerque metro area. It runs April 25-27 and May 2-4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(For details and a map, visit homesofenchantmentparade.com.)

Homes range from an 1,818-square-foot home by Twilight Homes for $169,990 in Los Lunas to a $1.25 million, 4,992-square house in the Northeast Heights built by All Trades Construction.

Architect and builder Paul McDonald stands in the courtyard of the custom home at 8894 Scarlet Knight NE. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Architect and builder Paul McDonald stands in the courtyard of the custom home at 8894 Scarlet Knight NE. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

In the past, McDonald’s Koinonia Architects & Builders Parade homes have collected awards ranging from Buyers Choice Awards, Gold Award, Silver Award, Bronze Award, Best Master Bath and Best Kitchen.

McDonald is a third-generation builder who began learning the craft by tagging along with his dad to job sites as a teenager.

But those years of experience are not what McDonald points to when it comes to the trait that makes Koinonia different. No, it’s the education and experience as an architect that he believes sets Koinonia apart.

“I wanted to be the best builder that I could be,” McDonald said. “So I went to the University of New Mexico to study architecture, then I had my own architecture/engineering firm for 10 years while also doing construction.”

When it came right down to it, though, the lure and family history of building was too strong to ignore.

A handmade chandelier graces one of the bedrooms in the Spanish-style home. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

A handmade chandelier graces one of the bedrooms in the Spanish-style home. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

“About 10 years ago I decided I liked building rather than running a medium-sized architectural and engineering firm,” he said. “I love building. That’s my passion.”

That doesn’t mean he’s given up the architectural aspect of his life. Far from it. Now he just gets to incorporate it fully into his building business.

“What we offer our clients is a one-stop shop,” McDonald said. “That’s what sets ourselves apart from other builders. We don’t have the traditional disconnect between the designer and the builder.”

It also allows McDonald to keep his hand in the drawing business.

“I do all of the designs myself,” he said. “There’s a certain gratification in that. You get to see what’s done on paper come alive. I see all of it from the foundation digging to occupancy. I’m involved throughout the entire process.”

And that provides a certain flexibility when it comes to on-site modifications throughout the construction phase.

For instance, he said, in his Parade home this year – a 4,000-square-foot, Old World, Spanish-style home that sold for $1.175 million – sight lines to the looming Sandias nearby were blocked by the planned roof for an outdoor living space.

A swimming pool and covered patio are featured in the rear of Koinonia Architects & Builders’ entry in this year’s Parade of Homes. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

A swimming pool and covered patio are featured in the rear of Koinonia Architects & Builders’ entry in this year’s Parade of Homes. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

So rather than block the views that were visible from deep in the kitchen and throughout the living space, McDonald had the roof raised high enough to provide clean lines of sight.

“I’m on the job site every day,” he said. “Sometimes I’m here all day, doing whatever needs to be done. You’ll see me oftentimes helping out with whatever task needs to be done that day.”

That’s the work ethic he gleaned from his father as teenager when he swung a hammer for framing, wielded a shovel digging footings and helped install drywall.

It’s all part of Koinonia, McDonald said, which reflects his business philosophy.

Pronounced coin-o-nea, Koinonia is Greek, he explained, and means fellowship and partnership. It comes from the Greek New Testament and McDonald said it first caught his eye when he was rather young reading the Book of Acts.

The kitchen of Koinonia’s custom home in this year’s Parade of Homes features handmade knotty alder cabinets with ornamental iron accents. Granite countertops are featured throughout the home. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

The kitchen of Koinonia’s custom home in this year’s Parade of Homes features handmade knotty alder cabinets with ornamental iron accents. Granite countertops are featured throughout the home. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

“It reflects the relationship I like to have with my clients,” he said. “It reflects the relationship I like to have with my employees and it reflects the relationship I like to have with my subcontractors.”

Because ultimately, McDonald said, creating a house “takes a sense of fellowship to accomplish a project. Everybody needs to be playing to the same sheet of music. Architecture has eloquently been referred to as frozen music.”

That’s the way he looks at his houses and the way McDonald approaches each project. Since he only does two or three homes a year, he able to throw all of his energy into each one.

“The quality is extremely high,” he said. “And the details are what really makes it. What I’m trying to do as an architect and a builder is evoke emotion. The home is supposed to be your refuge. It’s supposed to provide you with peace and tranquility.”

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