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Crafting Custom Homes with Integrity and Attention to Detail

By Toula Hubbard

Jack Keenan is known throughout the Central Coast as a hands-on contractor who pays extraordinary attention to detail. Working closely with clients, architects, designers and subcontractors, he keeps each project moving smoothly and efficiently.

Born in Chicago, Jack's family moved frequently due to his father's work in the military. After living in many places, including Italy and Germany, his family settled in Monterey in 1968. A zoology and environmental science major from San Jose State, Keenan received his contractor's license in 1977 and started his construction career building solar homes. In fact, he has been credited with building the first solar home in Santa Cruz. Today, Keenan Construction builds high-end, custom homes for clients on the Central Coast. His entire business is based on client referrals, which has kept him busy close to his home in Aptos.


Featured builder: Jack Keenan. Photography by Abe Ajlouny. Photo sponsored by Kevin McElhinny Masonry.

Choosing to keep his company small and living up to the high standards he set for himself, Jack Keenan is about quality, not quantity. "I build only about one to two homes a year, which allows me to work closely with my clients and everyone else involved in the construction process. When I work on a large project like this one, it is for years, not months, so there is an education we go through together and a friendship that is formed."

Building homes of this caliber is a major undertaking, and a conscientious builder like Jack Keenan respects the monetary and emotional investment -his clients are making. Therefore, he's available to guide his clients through every stage of development. Many of his clients are self-made individuals who are savvy in their fields but never realized how hard it is to build a house and the high costs that are involved. "It is a constant learning experience for everyone," says Keenan.


Above: This home radiates at night, making the courtyard a beautiful setting for evening entertaining. Photography by Abe Ajlouny.

The featured "courtyard style" residence, designed by Hayer Magnus Architects of San Diego, was "inspired by the client's appreciation of Arts and Crafts architecture in a modem, open plan layout. Indoor rooms open to outdoor spaces that encourage al fresco dining and gathering," explains Hector Magnus, fomer Principal Architect, now in his own practice.

According to Magnus, the terracing, landscape and hardscape designs were created to capture views towards the Monterey Peninsula. The south-facing courtyard, which includes a negativeedge pool and outdoor sitting area with fireplace, utilizes the prevailing breezes for natural cooling in the warmer months and captures solar energy for warming in the cooler months. The design also features radiant heat underneath the outdoor patio for year-round eating and entertaining.


Above: This 8,000-square -foot Arts & Crafts home was designed to harmonize with the site and neighboring homes. The materials consist of exterior cement plaster with a ledge stone base, timber columns and trellis. The color palette was selected to suit the existing natural surroundings. The garage is sensitively tucked behind a porte cochere to minimize the visual impact from the street. Architecture by Hayer Magnus Architects, roof construction by Alliance Roofing, quarry slate roofing materials supplied by FireFree Roofing. Materials, lumber supplied by Big Creek Lumber, plastering by Castle Plastering, painting by Corralitos Painting, landscaping by Far West Landscape, security system by First Alarm, concrete by Tom Ralston Concrete, mechanical by Richard Denton Mechanical, windows by Somerset Door & Window, garage doors by A-1 Overhead Door, electrical by McDow Electric, outside radiant heat by Montano Plumbing, masonry by Kevin McElhinny Masonry, negative-edge pool by Precision Pools. Photos sponsored by Alliance Roofing, FireFree Roofing Materials and McDow Electric.


Photos above and below: The terracing, landscape and hardscape designs were created to capture views towards file Monterey. Peninsula. The south facing courtyard , which includes a negative-edge pool and outdoor sitting area with fireplace, utilize radiant heat under the concrete making the courtyard a perfect spot for year-round dining and entertaining. Rooifing bY Alliance Roofing, roofing materials by FireFree Roofing Materials, lumber by Big Creek Lumber, plastering by Castle Plastering, painting by Corralitos Painting landscaping by Far West Landscape, securilty system by First Alarm, drywal/ by Freedom Drywall, fireplace accessories by The Hearth Shop. electrical by McDow Electric. masonry by Kevin McElhinn Masonry. file installation by Oneto Tile, pool by Precision Pools, mechanical by Richard Denton Mechanical, windows by Somerset Door & Window, trusses by T.C. Truss concrete flooring by Tom Ralston Concrete. Photography by Abe Ajlouny. Photos sponsored by First Alarm and T.C. Truss.

page3-pic2Jack's passion and dedication to his work is self-evident in this 8,000-square-foot Craftsman home located in Aptos. The intricate details involved in the design and construction of this custom home created a two-year project for Keenan Construction. Therefore, keeping a solid relationship with his clients, architect and subcontractors is a vital key to Jack"s success as a home builder.

When Hector Magnus was asked about his experience working with Jack Keenan. he had this to say: "Rarely do I find myself expressing such optimism and enthusiasm about any builder in particular.



Photo right: The living room is decorated in warm tones to creak, a cozy and relaxing environment. The smooth "'Plaster" appearance with slight texture helps to create a comfortable ambiance throughout the entire residence. There is no wood trim around the doors or windows so the finished drywall trim had to be precise. The acid-washed concrete floors are also a unique interior feature. Painting by Corralitos Painting, plastering by Castle Plastering, drywall by Freedom Drywall, fireplace accessories by The Hearth Shop, electrical by McDow Electric, radiant heat by Montano Plumbing and Hydronics, mechanical by Richard Denton Mechanical, windows by Somerset Door & Window, floors by Tom Ralston Concrete, closet organizers (not shown) by Valet Organizers. Photography by Abe Ajlouny. Photo sponsored by Freedom Drywall, Castle Plastering and Corralitos Painting.

Jack Keenan is one exception. His professional attitude, attention to detail and excellent follow-up skills are just a few of this gentleman's traits. In custom home building, much of the project's success lies in the relationships that the general contractor has developed with the client, the architect and all of his trades. Jack's knowledge of all aspects of building, his ability to foresee potential issues and his easygoing demeanor provide the environment needed to orchestrate excellence. I am proud to have worked with Jack Keenan and all the craftsmen he brings to a project. He is the master builder you want to work with again and again, myself included."

Jack Keenan has enjoyed building a myriad of home types with past projects including Mission style architecture with Honduran mahogany and limestone floors. His next project is a Russian gothic home in Carmel Valley featuring steep gables with a woodwork exterior and copper roof.


Above: This elegant home isenhanced by radiant heat in the acid- washed concrete floors to allow for multiple heating zones throughout the residence. Pex tubing was installed in the finished concrete floors downstairs, Warm Board structural sub-floor was installed upstairs to provide a channel for installation of the tubing under carpet.

When asked to offer advice to builders just starting out in the business Jack says not to worry about how many projects you build early on. "Just build the best product you can because the work will come once you've established a good reputation."

A great reputation is something Jack has plenty of. From past clients to colleagues, Keenan Construction has earned a reputation as one of the most respected and admired builders in this area. Interior Designer Sonja Knutsen agrees, "I've been in this business over 20 years and nobody is as organized, professional and well-liked as Jack Keenan. I only hope I get to work with him again because it was a wonderful experience."

Below: The gourmet kitchen and butler's pantry with upgraded appliances, custom cabinets and granite countertops have amp le space for cooking and storage. The kitchen has easy access to the courtard for al fresco poolside dining. Radiant system installed by Montano Plumbing & Hydronics with design assistance by App-Tech, Inc., floors by Tom Ralston Concrete, plastering by Castle Plastering, painting by Corralitos Painting, stairs by Dietrich Iron Works with powder coating by Hy-Tech Powder Coatings, drywall by Freedom Drywall, electrical by McDow Electric, cabinets by Mill & Cabinet Company, granite slab countertops by Clervi Marble Company with installation by Oneto Tile, mechanical by Richard Denton Mechanical, appliances supplied by University Electric. Photography by Abe Ajlouny. Photos sponsored by HyTech Powder Coatings, Montano Plumbing and Hydronics, Clervi Marble Company, Mill & Cabinet Company and Oneto Tile.