Crunching Schedules, Assuring Quality
New Castle Group, LLC delivers end-to-end construction efficiency and affordability
The launch of New Castle Group, LLC earlier this year marked an expansive new chapter in Michael and Brenda Barbee’s successful Loveland, Colorado, construction business. Since incorporating in 2009 as MBT Construction Company, LLC, they’ve developed a solid reputation for design-build, construction management, construction consulting and owner representation services trusted by commercial and residential constructors from Colorado to Utah to California and beyond.
In February 2021, the business repositioned as a full-scope general contractor built on the Barbees’ new partnership with two longtime subcontractors. Today, New Castle Group formally incorporates the capabilities provided by Richard Goodman, previously their dirt and utility contractor, on the construction front end. On the back end, Jeremy Young continues construction cleaning and final punch walks prior to project turnover. With a 90% acceptance rate of their punch walks by project owners, this new partnership secures these expert services for long-term, collective success.
Now, New Castle Group is positioned to deliver even greater value to clients.
“With everything from clear and grub, to utilities, civil engineering and all other trades now under one general contractor roof, our development partners avoid paying the extra fees and overhead associated with bringing in multiple subcontractors,” Michael relates. “And, because we’re not at the mercy of individual subcontractors to show up on the site when they say they will, we provide much greater control over quality and schedules from initial concept to project handoff.”
Assured Peace of Mind on Diverse Builds
With multiple hotel and restaurant projects across the Front Range and beyond, the company has a strong track record in the hospitality industry. Commercial projects also include mixed-use developments, office complexes, theaters and big-box stores, as well as medical and assisted-living facilities. Residential capabilities span construction, remodeling, additions and finish-outs of single-family homes, plus apartment and townhome communities. Beyond traditional on-site builds, New Castle Group is known for its expertise in modular, off-site construction—fundamental to its passion for filling gaps in attainable housing.
The team works closely with architects, developers, owners and civil engineers with many of their commercial projects based on negotiated pricing. According to the owners, the greatest value afforded by working with them is peace of mind. “Clients know we will take care of their projects,” Michael says. “We go the extra mile to assist in their development and planning, we take pride in what we do, and we do it right the first time.”
In addition to steady growth from its base in Colorado, the company has forged great relationships with many jurisdictions and developers across the United States. Today, New Castle Group is positioned to further expand its commercial business on a national scale.
Proactive Approach to Assuring Quality
“It’s all about building solid partnerships,” Michael says. “We always strive to take the construction project manager’s schedule and crunch it down to finish early and on budget, while delivering high quality.”
To accomplish that, what is customarily an end-of- project punch list actually kicks off at the beginning of a New Castle Group project: Their quality assurance processes start Day One with QA and QC check-off lists to make sure everything is done right from the beginning.
“The client’s representative may have a supervisor and assistant supervisor walk the project every day, but they’re used to seeing it, so they miss stuff,” he explains. “Instead, we have four different people doing punch, which brings three more sets of eyes to it.”
Syncing Plans Speeds Time to Revenue
Their front-end efforts begin with the architectural plans.
“Everything works on paper. Until it doesn’t,” Michael asserts. “In my experience, in the real world of building, no one overlays the various plans. It happens all the time: Your contractor is well into a project and issues turn up where the HVAC systems and ducts are supposed to go. Ductwork should be in the mix at the beginning. But too often, those plans aren’t checked upfront with the others to make sure they’re in sync.”
To head off those issues the New Castle Group team thoroughly scrubs the project plans. They review the architectural and structural drawings at the beginning, checking dimensions and making sure everything is where it should be. Then, they overlay all the other plans.
“We try to find everything that could go wrong and get the guys to think outside the build box. What’s the worst-case scenario?” he relates. “You don’t want to lose time on a construction project, because the earlier you can spot and head off an issue, the faster you can hand it over, open the doors and start generating revenue.”
Modular Solutions to Much-Needed Housing
On the residential side, New Castle Group is a proponent and provider of high-quality yet affordable housing through modular home development. The company works with multiple partners and is licensed by the State of Colorado to install and connect modular homes per specifications. Both multifamily and single-family modular homes are built in off-site factories. For some residential clients, construction services span dirt and concrete work to finished project. Others engage New Castle Group only for “stitch in field” (shingles and finishes) or just finish-out.
The modular (or “stick-form”) units the company builds are studio and one- and two-bedroom units with granite countertops, stainless steel, attractive tile and other nice finishes. These well-accepted, lower-priced residences include both cottage-style and apartment-style homes.
“These apartment communities offer the same desirable look as higher-end products based on market studies, but are within the reach of more people. Plus, in many jurisdictions, there is a tax break for developing these properties, just as for those constructed on-site,” Michael adds.
“While we love building, we are most proud of being able to give back to our communities and help people,” Michael says. “We’d like to develop more attainable housing projects as a way to meet the needs of so many who cannot afford safe, inviting and friendly living locations due to constantly increasing rental costs. Every community needs this type of housing—whether it’s for young adults just getting out of college or for a family.”
Forging Relationships, Fostering Pride
The company’s leadership is continually fostering relationships with local planning and development departments and is in communication with potential developers and investors to make affordable housing more accessible. Over the last year, it has worked with the Loveland Housing Authority and area churches to fulfill this need.
While New Castle’s attainable housing construction projects are found all over the Front Range in Colorado, the services they provide depend on the developer and local codes. For clients focused on energy efficiency, the company performs blower door testing to identify cracks or penetrations in the building envelope that can cause air leakage. As a result, residents of these properties also benefit from lower utility costs, plus better air quality and soundproofing.
“We’re so blessed to be able to provide well-built, affordable homes—to be a part of helping families and individuals by giving them something they can be proud of,” he says. “To see their joy and surprise when they step inside and see how nice it is, just moves us all to tears.”
The company’s residential work on the Front Range is not limited to major multifamily projects. Their expertise and attentiveness also extend to working collaboratively with homeowners to realize their vision. These services range from full construction, remodeling and additions to installation of custom cabinets, appliances, flooring, fixtures and more.
New Castle Group also has participated in pro bono building projects in their community to “pay it forward.” These help individuals who are needy, elderly, veterans, and/or those who have health issues, such as disabilities or cancer. New Castle has provided home repairs and improvements that include fixing leaky roofs and building accessible ramps.
Family Tradition of Building Values
Michael’s aptitude and love for building began at an early age while growing up in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Construction is definitely in my blood,” he laughs. “As far back as I can remember—from when I was old enough to hold a hammer and a wrench—I would help my dad on weekends.”
Michael’s father, Butch, spent 20 years as an EMT for the Memphis Fire Department before going into construction. Today, Michael clearly takes pride in passing down the same skills and ethics to his and Brenda’s six children, who range in age from 15 to 25.
“Our oldest son works in the construction industry; our middle daughter is a mom and very creative; and our youngest son is still in school. But all of them fix their own things!”
Most important, he says, is to have heart and passion for the business.
“I tell my kids, you can’t be in it for the money. What matters most is being able to stand back at the end of the day and say, ‘I did that!’ Michael says. “But, you have to take the time to do it right. And, that requires listening. You can always learn something if you listen. You might hear a good idea and say, ‘Let’s do that!’ And, then you have to follow through.”