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Eric Payne

Eric Payne, co-founder, general contractor

Eric Payne, co-founded Payne Cole Designs, alongside his partner Nic Cole, in 2021. Eric was born and raised in Maryland, on a smaller farm with his father, who was an early founding engineer for IBM, so at an early age, Eric became quite tech savvy. After his older sister visited the Flathead Valley area in 1995, Eric made a visit and fell in love instantly.


He is known for bringing a new level of construction knowledge that is not typically found in architecture design firms. With an eye always focused on luxury, he has taken his own private construction firm to one of the largest in the State of Montana. Beyond building and design, Eric is known for the strong, positive relationships he has with his clients. He finds them to be one of the most gratifying parts of the project. Because of his tech savvy upbringing, Eric has a passion for bringing technology to a sector that has had little to none in its history.


Payne Cole Designs offers full digital renderings on every detail before they are built for clients. Eric has been leading the building and design world in the Flathead Valley and surrounding areas for over 20 years. Even during the most challenging economic period in 2008-2012, Eric and his team had a growth rate of nearly 300% during those years, bringing in more than half a billion in projects since 2008. When not at work, Eric enjoys spending his time fly fishing, boating, ranching and horseback riding on his property – more specifically, team roping.

“There are not enough superlatives to describe the experience we had working with Eric and nuWest. Every step from house design, through site prep, construction and completion was a joy and we could not be more pleased with the final product. Eric is knowledgeable and provided input when we needed direction expertly refining and executing on our vision for our home. If you are looking for a builder that has talent, integrity and the experience to bring your plans to life, nuWest is an excellent choice. We highly recommend Eric & team."



"Since the first day that my husband and I met Eric Payne and team, and we have enjoyed his company, advice, wisdom, and experience. He has helped us create a concept for our new home in Whitefish Montana. He has been helping us in maintaining a budget yet with amazing creative design. He genuinely cares about our home as much as we do."

J. Arterbury


"Upon our first meeting with Eric Payne from nuWest Builders, we felt we were in confident and experienced hands. He displayed the highest level of integrity throughout the build.  Billing was handled timely and with full accounting provided.  There never was a question as to who and how much was being paid.  With our dream in mind, nuWest took on a very challenging building site, as well as a tight timeline. Their dedication made it possible for us to be in our home as planned.  We are beyond blessed to have met Eric and his team!



Nicholas Cole

Nicholas Cole, co-founder, architect

Nic Cole, a 5th generation Montanan, was born and raised in Missoula. After graduating from Montana State University with a bachelor and master’s in architecture, Nic moved back to Missoula where he would soon start his own architect and design firm. He’s been a leading architect, both in residential and commercial projects, for over 15 years in the Bitterroot and surrounding areas.


Nic is the creative genius that drives all designs for Payne Cole, creating some of the most notable landmark luxury style designs in the Bitterroot and Flathead Valley. His attention to detail, focus on client’s visions, while creating projects that are both timeless and luxurious to the smallest details, is the lifeblood of Payne Cole Designs.


Between hours of designing, Nic loves spending time in outdoors: skiing, kayaking, yachting, and aviation. He’s also very passionate about local charity work.

“We have worked with Nic and his company for a few years now. They have helped us with projects as small as a front porch modification all the way up to new home construction. They truly listen to what clients’ needs are and tailor plans accordingly. If any changes occur during the process, Nic implements those changes in a timely manner as not to slow the project down.”

J. Schafer

“Very professional and great with customers. Quick, with excellent quality, plan designing and details. Great to work with, kind, friendly and knowledgeable staff.”

Nelson Homes Inc.

“Nic Cole is a talented, and extremely dedicated perfectionist of architecture – all things that are necessary for a difficult building site with a tight timeline. Nic listened to our ideas and executed into plans exactly what we desired. He has this incredible ability to see the terrain and understand how a home will fit into the property. Beyond that, he brings a full studio of technology behind him to map out the land. We were able to see exactly what our home would look like within the property because of his drone and tech features. With Nic heading the architecture, we were able to move in within 22 months of buying the property. I highly recommend Nic and his team for your architectural plans.”

J. Montoya

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