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WNC Business

Business Profiles - M. G. Dillingham, LLC

Mar 16, 2023 06:44AM ● By Randee Brown

One of only four females during her attendance in Western Carolina University’s Construction Management program, McKenzie Dillingham now owns a general contracting company that does more than just build houses. She and her company also strive to provide opportunities for members of the WNC community. Dillingham worked in luxury residential construction for Morgan Keefe Builders after her 2009 graduation until launching her own business, M. G. Dillingham, LLC in 2020. 

Clients mostly come to M. G. Dillingham from architectural or designer referrals. Architects work with clients to design the home, then Dillingham plans and executes the construction process. “I won’t do projects without an architectural plan. Some contractors will try, but so many things can change throughout a project that it’s too volatile for me. Established plans help me to provide accurate pricing and timeline estimates for my clients,” Dillingham said.

She partners with a variety of subcontractors to get the work done, and she said that this can be a tricky balance to maintain in today’s market. “There’s no rushing our subs (subcontractors),” Dillingham said. “There are so many jobs happening in our area. We have to be cautious with the jobs we ask our subs to do because they can essentially pick and choose which jobs to take right now. If someone doesn’t like the job offered, they don’t have to take it. This is also one reason why it’s so important to treat our subs well.”

When she launched her business, Dillingham’s plan was to head residential construction projects throughout a one-hour radius from her Weaverville location, though her jobs tend to be located closer to home. “All of my current projects are within 8 miles of my office,” Dillingham said. “There are plenty of jobs available right here, and the close proximity makes my subs happier, too. They don’t have to drive an hour to get to the job site.”

Dillingham mentioned that local supply and demand for subcontractors can sometimes cause project delays and counties are behind on permitting. “This is why I like to add a healthy cushion to timeline estimates for my clients,” Dillingham said. “Projects are now taking a few months longer than they were a few years ago, so I add about two months to each client’s timeline because if a sub is behind schedule we have to wait. There are no available replacements to call. We just have to use our patience.”

Local supply and demand also keeps pricing plateaued. Dillingham said that this labor market was already inflated pre-Covid and labor and materials were already short because so much is happening in our area. Because that doesn’t seem to be changing in the near future, she encourages her clients to understand that pricing is what it is.

“Custom home building starts around $400 to $500 per square foot right now, and costs have been similar for several years,” she said. “Some contracting firms in the area may have lower prices points but lack in the customization and personalization my clients want.”

A ninth-generation resident of Weaverville, Dillingham has a strong tie to the community and uses a percentage of her fees to give back. One way she does this is by partnering with WCU to offer a scholarship for their construction management program. She said she wants to help underrepresented members of the community have an opportunity for the same education and support that she had, as she attended with the help of a scholarship for women in construction.

Dillingham said that this has been a great career so far, and she also gives talks at local schools on industry jobs and construction management in hopes of helping funnel more people into the industry.

Dillingham is also the board chair at Haywood Street Community Development, a local nonprofit creating an affordable housing community in Asheville. This project will create 46 affordable housing units and has committed to keeping the units affordable in perpetuity - a first for this type of project. Buncombe County, the City of Asheville and Dogwood Health Trust have also taken an unprecedented step, by working together to become funding partners for this endeavor.

While the organization has closed on the purchase of the property at 339 West Haywood Street, the organization must raise $1.1 million to break ground on the project. This location is situated with close proximity to a bus stop, therapists, and the amenities of downtown Asheville.

“We need people with all types of income to be able to live here and survive,” Dillingham said. “People don’t necessarily need to be jobless to go to a soup kitchen for a meal or face housing insecurity. Many working residents are struggling just to pay their rent. With this project, we are hoping to set a precedent for the way we help those that are the backbone of our community.”

M. G. Dillingham is a general contracting company established in 2020 offering new construction and remodeling services around Asheville. Learn more at

Learn more about Haywood Street Community Development at