Christopher McNally, President
Christopher McNally’s experience has confirmed time and again that strong, clear, knowledgeable ownership is the key to success in residential construction. Furthermore, architects and builders do their best work when a strong owner is at the helm. The majority of owners lack the time or expertise required to fulfill their role successfully, and many have turned to Falcon to provide the necessary guidance. Chris’ strong connection with owners allows them to stay involved without being chained to the project. The collaborative relationship he establishes with the other members of the team creates a positive attitude of success from top to bottom.
Over more than two decades, Chris has benefited from his association with highly skilled, ethical and motivated construction experts from different levels of the industry who have helped shape his unique combination of strengths.
In 1989, he partnered with Tony Hancock of London, England to form First Impressions Contracting, specializing in residential plaster and painting. Tony had been through rigorous training in tradesmen’s schools in London in an era when it was a code violation to paint doors with rollers; the company quickly built a reputation for superior quality standards and reliability. Clients often insisted that First Impressions act as general contractor on their residential renovations, because they trusted that their needs and interests would be safe guarded.
Christopher later moved on to Bohn Fiore, Inc., where he met his first true construction genius, Tom Smith, BFI’s General Supervisor. Smith’s encyclopedic knowledge of custom home construction, emphasis on understanding the trades, and hunger for excellence have continued to serve as an inspiration in the years since they worked together. Chris once discovered Tom staring into the empty corner of a new job site. “What are you doing?” he asked. Tom replied, “I’m doing Virtual Construction.” Smith explained that in order to discover unforeseen problems, he needed to go through every phase of construction in his mind’s eye, visualizing that specific corner through all its permutations during demolition, framing, electrical, HVAC, drywall, trim work and eventually furnishing. “It’s one thing to look at plans,” he said, “but there’s no substitute for standing where it is actually happening and doing Virtual Construction.” While gazing into the corner that day, Smith “saw” that the swing on an adjacent door would need to be changed in order to accommodate the furniture plan. Chris has relied on this approach ever since.
In 1998 Chris was hired by Steven Lamazor, co-owner of Taocon, Inc. a construction management firm specializing in cutting edge houses, apartments, offices and retail stores. Taocon had been growing in leaps and bounds in the late 1990’s, and needed someone of McNally’s stability to maintain and elevate its standards. He signed on enthusiastically to Lamazor’s vision of “habitable art,” and went to work as Project Manager. At Taocon he encountered his second construction master, Jon Fogler, a senior partner. Fogler could distill enormously complicated architectural challenges into manageable tasks, durations, costs and sequences. Though self-taught in construction, Fogler would often improve upon the designs of professional engineers by immersing himself in the details with a preternatural work ethic, reemerging with a superior approach that more often than not was embraced by the design professionals. Jon Fogler’s exemplary approach to plan reviews and sequencing continues to serve as a model and goad.
In addition to the individuals who have shaped his training, experience has been an invaluable teacher. Chris had a seminal experience in 2002-2003, when he learned that there was a fundamental flaw in the way custom residential projects are structured. During that period, he managed two projects for different prestigious design firms. He worked relentlessly with his team to make them the best projects these architects had ever done. But while one was a resounding success, the other fell flat with the homeowner despite being on time, on budget, and well executed. The projects employed essentially identical construction teams, which both design architects lauded for their excellent execution, yet one client was happy and satisfied and the other was not. What was the difference? After a year of ruminating on this question, McNally was able to distill the outcome to a single issue. The essential variable had been the owner. The satisfied owner was very involved and knew a good deal about construction, and the disappointed owner was only peripherally involved and knew very little about construction. From this difficult experience, Chris realized that without a knowledgeable and highly involved owner the odds of success are diminished. Any project structure has three primordial coordinates—the Owner, the Architect and the Builder—and the project is only as good as the integrity of its structure. Reviewing dozens of projects, he saw that most of them suffer from an imbalance. A new mission emerged: Christopher McNally would strengthen the Owner coordinate by acting as the owner’s expert intermediary. Falcon was born of this mission.
In addition to acting as Owner’s Representative on numerous custom home projects, Chris has advised new home buyers on condominium and townhouse purchases, consulted with attorneys on contractual issues, and has built up a strong pool of design, engineering and construction resources. He was selected to consult a Tribeca condominium board in a claim against a developer for shoddy construction practices being mediated by the New York State Attorney General’s office. He has managed town house, condominium and country home projects in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and New York City, the results of which may be seen on our PROJECTS PAGE.