“Thank you for your time and talent used to create the blueprints for our dream home. It has been a pleasure working with you towards our goal of a home using aging in place, off the grid and green principles. We are very excited to know our home is on its way to becoming a reality.
You are more than welcome to visit the site to see the progress yourself. Please contact us if you have any questions about the build and progress. And of course, you must come and visit us once the home is built!”
Putnam Township native Brad Lavey has his green on.
He’s all about the green building movement, a buzz that is picking up steam and giving builders like Lavey a new focus.
Lavey, who recently received his certification in HERS – the Home Energy Rating System that rates a new or remodeled house for efficiency – has teamed up with architect-builder Brian Halprin to form Green Building of Michigan (greenbuildingofmichigan.com), a company that specializes in sustainable building practices and energy efficiency in both new and renovated houses. They look at everything from heating and cooling alternatives to using renewable materials and keeping homes healthy.
“We’re motivated to build unique structures,” said Halprin, 37. “We’re both environmentally conscious. It seemed like a natural fit.”
Lavey and Halprin contend that despite a sluggish housing market, people still are interested in building or remodeling with this approach.
Business partners Brian Halprin, left, and Brad Lavey of Green Building Services of Michigan, stand in front of the green house that Lavey is building on Pingree Road in Putnam Township. “I’ve been on site every day, either building it, or training others to do it,” he said.
“We were green by default,” said Lavey, 38. “Of course there are trade-offs. We base everything on paybacks – seven years is a good payback” for deciding to do something environmentally friendly.
To that end, Lavey is building his own family home on five acres along Pingree Road just north of M-36. Lavey, his wife and their two children hope to move in this spring. “A lot went into the energy-efficiency side,” Lavey said. “It’s a very compact design, about 2,000 square feet. Framing uses certified well-managed forest. It’s a really forward-thinking project.”
The three-story house has a 24-by-28-foot footprint and is costing the Laveys $210,000 to build. It uses everything from a central boiler for heating, cooling and hot water to a pellet stove for alternative heating on the second floor. The home has a roof shingle with a lifetime warranty, saving on landfill space and roofing costs. The Forest Stewardship Council-approved lumber used was harvested from a well-managed forest, Lavey said. It is sited to take advantage of the sun.
Open cell foam insulation being installed at Brad Lavey’s green home in Putnam Township, it expands to fill all of the voids and then is cut back flush to the face of the studs.
Eventually, he said, he hopes to install a wood burner outside to power the boiler and heat the house and grow on the site renewable crops that can be burned for fuel.
Michael Klement of Architectural Resource of Ann Arbor consults with Lavey on green building. He said Lavey’s approach is at the fore of the green movement, from the way his home is sited to the selections he has made in his housing materials.
“This is what needs to happen for us to survive,” Klement said. “We are at the very front edge of a revolution of how we’re doing things. When we, as consumers, start demanding this stuff, builders will come along with us.”
Today’s green building can mean everything from installing high-efficiency appliances to finding ways to use rainwater on a home site, said Elyse Kopietz, executive director of Green Built Michigan, the certified program of the Michigan Association of Home Builders. Livingston County has one of five chapters in the state, allowing builders to become certified in a seven-step green building process that includes everything from evaluating sites to considering renewable energy alternatives.
“One of the problems is there is no legal definition of what it means to have a green house,” Kopietz said. She noted that the group’s Web page (www.greenbuiltmichigan.org.) has links and resources.
But her organization’s approach is growing quickly. It has 160 members, with 21 new members signing on just last month.
In Livingston, there are five certified green builders in the Green Built program and two associate members who handling heating and cooling (links are on the Web site.)
Energy shortages, soaring fuel prices and the green revolution have converged to create a relatively new service to combat energy waste in the home – the energy audit. In a matter of a few hours, a trained inspector using state-of-the-art equipment can walk through and around a home and determine how energy efficient it is. “The audit gives homeowners a road map specific to their home that addresses the exact site of the problems and the cost to repair energy leaks,” says Brian Halprin. Halprin is co-owner of Green Building Services PLLC in Bloomfield Township. He also owns Halprin Construction Inc. in Bloomfield Township.
Real estate broker Linda Novak learned that her rebuilt 4,200-square-foot Franklin home wasn’t very energy efficient. She says she was “horrified” at electric bills in excess of $800 per month. Her gas bills weren’t much better. Novak hired Halprin, her long-time friend, to perform an energy audit.
A complete energy audit entails surveying the entire building envelope – the separation between the interior and the exterior environments. The envelope serves as the outer shell to protect the indoor environment as well as to facilitate climate control. The physical components of the envelope include the foundation, roof, walls, doors and windows.
An audit alone doesn’t save energy but is merely the first step toward energy efficiency, says Energy Star, created by the United States 16 years ago as a means to set standards for energy efficiency in appliances. Appliances carrying the Energy Star logo can save on average 20 percent to 30 percent on energy bills. The standard has been adopted worldwide.
Energy Star provides extensive information on implementing recommended improvements to enhance efficiency, lower utility bills and increase living comfort. The information is available at energystar.gov.
Individuals can perform a simple energy audit themselves or hire a professional for a more thorough assessment. Taking just five minutes and with 12 months of utility bills in hand, a homeowner is able to compare his home’s energy efficiency to similar homes nationwide and get recommendations for energy-saving home improvements from the Energy Star website. The homeowner also would need the ZIP code, age of home, square footage and number of occupants to ensure a complete audit.
Costs vary, but for the most part homeowners bear the entire cost of the audit. Michigan Consolidated Gas has a limited energy audit rebate program of $250 to 100 MichCon customers who make the changes recommended by a contractor. The state of Michigan in 2007 offered a $250 tax credit for doing an energy audit.
Halprin says his prices vary based on the complexity of the home, but 35 cents per square foot is a frame of reference. He says owners can recoup the investment on their upgrades within five to seven years.
“Each home is made up of multiple systems,” notably heating, insulation, ventilation and lighting and “all have a relationship to each other,” says John Eckstein, owner of Performing Home, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based Energy Star approved vendor. “It is by paying close attention to the relationships between these systems where the greatest opportunity for improving the performance of our homes lies.
“Taking a holistic, or whole-house approach” to construction and remodeling is a new concept, he adds. “The holistic approach is not about solar panels or rainwater catchment systems or wind turbines. It’s about the ductwork, air sealing and insulation.”
Homeowners usually enter the audit process hoping for improved air quality, more stable temperatures and smaller utility bills, he says, adding, “The byproduct is that the home also becomes greener.”
Energy audits have been around awhile on the East and West coasts and only now are catching on in the Midwest and Michigan.
Halprin began doing home energy audits last year with his partner Brad Lavey, a green home and commercial construction builder for 10 years. Halprin defines his work as “environmentally conscience construction.”
A lot of the problems Halprin finds result from inadequate insulation, old windows, inadequately ventilated roofs and high-energy-use appliances. He encourages homeowners to develop a proactive maintenance program, making sure the furnace is clean, the filters are good and vents are cleaned out, for example.
Halprin began Novak’s energy audit in late October and continued the audit through early November because of the home’s complexity. He kept her abreast of his findings along the way.
He uses all the new and spiffy tools, notably a blower door that is nothing more than a huge fan that sucks the air out of homes. An infrared gun finds weak spots in the insulation that can account for more than 50 percent of heat loss. “The size of the home and its complexity and proportions determines how much energy loss there is and the cost to plug up the leaks,” Halprin says.
His house, 1,800 square feet with a 1,000-square-foot basement, is easier to evaluate than a larger house built in the 1960s with many additions over the years.
Novak’s house has two different heating systems to accommodate the additions, a courtyard, a lot of roofs, angles, shapes, crawl space, partial basement and jogs in the walls. The home also has a 7×14-foot exercise pool that chews up energy.
A motorist driving by the Greek Revival farmhouse on Seven Mile Road would easily miss it.
The 80 acres that once surrounded it are long gone, sold and subdivided into lots for homes and acreage, all part of Livonia’s suburban landscape.
The farmhouse sits closer to the road than most of the other homes, as trees that once acted as a barrier for the road noise were ripped out during the widening of the road.
Today that farmhouse, believed to have been built some time in the 1840s, is getting a green facelift.
Owner Jimmy Lowe hired Brian Halprin and Brad Lavey of Green Building Services to complete the restoration.
The house, well, looked its age and Lowe wanted to so something about it. Lowe saw an article in one of the local newspapers about Halprin and Lavey.
“I knew that with the house’s age, that it had no insulation, an old furnace, and the water heater had broke, and I could have tried to do it piecemeal by myself,” Lowe said.
“When Brian and Brad came to look at the house last fall, I could tell from discussions with them that they were very knowledgeable about building and energy conservation. For parts of the job that I thought would be difficult to handle, they proposed several practical options.”
Tearing it down wasn’t one of them, especially when someone who appreciates history and architecture views the interior. The house is supported with 8- by 8-inch oak beams that are so dense Lowe broke two hammers trying to remove nails from them, he said. The original stone foundation surrounding the house and much of the old paneling and wood molding remain. “You can’t rebuild what’s in that house at any cost,” he said. Halprin and Lavey’s contractors stripped down the exterior, covering it up while removing asbestos siding. “The house was pretty beat up,” Halprin said. The contractors installed exterior insulation, a new roof and new overhangs.
“The venting allows for air flow, and allows for the roof to be kept cold in the winter,” Lavey said. “Vents are cut into the soffits and at the ridge and you get a convection loop.” That means the heat rises through the ridge vents and wind blows through the soffits, keeping the attic cool.
That helps prevent heat loss and ice buildups on the roof in the winter and keeps the house cooler in the summer.
“It’s an 1840s building with a 2009 exterior,” Halprin said.
The cellulose insulation is recycled newspaper, treated with a natural fire deterrent. The insulation was blown inside each of the cavities between the interior and exterior walls.
To further insulate the house, foam seal packing was used for air sealing. All the windows were replaced with low e-4 windows. The windows are coated with a material that keeps heat in in the winter and prevents infra-red rays from entering and heating the home in the summer.
The builders also used green materials, such as HardiPlank, a fiber cement siding made with cellulose fibers and cement-like materials, and Miratec trim, manufactured with environmentally preferable phenolic resins. “Both have high recycled content and are relatively low maintenance,” Halprin said. Old building materials that were torn out were sent to Recycle Ann Arbor.
While Lowe and the contractors looked at saving on energy costs through a more efficient house, they also wanted to maintain the historical integrity of the structure.
Greek Revival homes typically feature a large frieze on the structure, large corner boards, pediment and crown molding, the builders said. That frieze was maintained in the current remodeling, while trim will be painted blue to match a color used during that period.
“This house has great prominence and is an icon of the neighborhood,” Halprin said.
Taking these recycling and green measures may cost a little more, but often the return on investment is about seven years. “With the way the utility rates are going, the payback could be sooner,” Lavey said. “Energy modeling can determine the cost of the energy retrofit.”
The builders needed to obtain a variance from the city for the front porch, which was approved. The builders and Lowe visited Greenmead Historical Park in Livonia to get a feel for the homes from that era.
Lavey and Halprin also conduct energy audits with an energy scanner that checks infrared readings for areas that need better sealing.
Once the home’s exterior is remodeled, and the furnace and water heater replaced, the home will be checked for an Energy Star rating.
Lavey and Halprin started Green Building Services in Bloomfield three years ago. “We thought that it’s time,” Halprin said. “It’s a perfect time for us in our careers. We care about it, and it’s a chance for us to do something great in the community.”
Lowe is pleased with the work.
“I’m lucky I found them. I’ve learned by watching them. They thought of things that I wouldn’t have done with the insulation and the siding. Even though it’s close to the road, it’s quieter.”
The Greek Revival farmhouse owned by Jimmy Lowe has a long history.
Lowe bought the house in 1988. He’s the fifth known owner since it was built in 1840.
Lowe spoke with officials at Greenmead Historical Park in Livonia and the Livonia Historical Society. Here is a rough timeline offered to Lowe by Connie Wagenschutz, a member of the Livonia Historical Society.
The 1870 U.S. Census lists Garrett Becker and wife Sarah, both born in New York, with seven children born in Michigan. Lowe believes Becker built the house.
Various property maps and Internet sources indicate in 1893 and in 1904 – there are gaps in the dates because it is unclear when the property transfer took place – Civil War veteran Charles Teagan and wife Sarah lived there and they had six children. “There is artwork in a door upstairs that is signed C. Teagan, but I’m not sure if it was the veteran or one of his children,” Lowe said.
Teagan was listed in a book by Silas Farmer, published in 1890, titled History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan.
Silas wrote: “Charles Teagan was born in Cork County, Ireland, July 11, 1844, and came to America in 1862. He enlisted Dec. 23, 1863, in Co. G. 8th Michigan Cavalry, was captured Aug. 4, 1864, and held prisoner at Andersonville and Florence, when he made his escape. He was discharged May 12, 1865, returned to Detroit and entered the employ of the Michigan Car Co., where he remained 14 years.
“He married Sarah Eady of Detroit, Jan. 30, 1866. They have six children, are members of the Episcopal Church, and have a farm of 120 acres.”
Lowe said the property his house is on was originally an 80-acre farm. “The maps show a 40-acre parcel diagonally across Seven Mile Road, also owned by the Teagans,” Lowe said.
The next occupants of the home were Frederick Garchow and wife Augusta, 11 children, listed in property records in 1915, 1920 and 1936. Hilda Garchow, now Hilda Nacker, still lives in Livonia. “She was born in the house in 1916, and was also married in the house,” Lowe said.
Nacker was brought to the house a few months ago, just as Lowe was starting the remodeling project. She told him the farm was used to grow corn and vegetables. A small brick structure that resembles an outhouse was a smokehouse where her family smoked beef and pork. A cast-iron stove that remains on the property was once used by Hilda when she was younger, Lowe said.
Lowe believes the Garchows owned the house until the 1960s. Frederick Garchow died in 1966.
The house was owned by Carl Westberg in the 1960s, and later by his son, Michael Westberg, who sold the house to Lowe. The younger Westberg told Lowe the house was built in 1840.
Lowe is looking for more information on his house. The house is at 30702 Seven Mile Road between Middlebelt and Merriman roads. Anyone who has more information can contact Lowe through e-mail at Livonia7MileHouse@yahoo.com, by phone at (248) 346-0492 or by regular mail: 30702 Seven Mile, Livonia, MI 48152.
The home was “not in good shape” when Brian Halprin of Bloomfield, Michigan-based Green Building Services pllc (GBS) came to discuss the renovation with its current owner, James Lowe. Over the generations, the farmhouse had been home to five different owners—including one who fought in the Civil War—but it was close to losing its own battle against time and the elements.
The first task facing Halprin, a licensed and LEED-accredited architect and builder, along with his business partner Brad Lavey (a certified HERS rater) was to remove the home’s old asbestos siding through careful remediation. The pair summoned a special disposal team who “came in their suits and put a big bubble around the house,” Halprin recalls. The original wood siding underneath was also pulled off. “We stripped the whole house off from the outside.”
GBS added a foam seal and cellulose fill to make the house airtight. Halprin then installed an OSB sheathing with vapor barrier and low-E windows to ensure greater energy efficiency.
ColorPlus Aesthetics—and Value
After doing research on historical home colors from the era, Halprin and Lavey selected James Hardie siding with Colorplus® technology in factory-painted “Countrylane Red.” The color is “very similar to houses that were done in that timeframe,” he reports. The prepainted siding also eliminated the hassle and waste generated when painting the exterior on site.
The HardiePlank® product with ColorPlus® Technology offers exceptional longevity and value for the homeowner, by providing 30 percent better fade resistance, which means fewer paint jobs down the road. It’s backed by a 15-year finish warranty and up to a 50-year limited transferrable product warranty. (Longer product life translates into less material going into landfills.)
Another reason Halprin selected the HardiePlank is because it is available in a five-inch reveal. “Those narrower reveals are more historically accurate,” he says, resulting in a more authentic restoration.
GBS has been using HardiePlank lap siding exclusively for about six years, according to Halprin. The company once used a competing product “that had some moisture problems,” so the homebuilders made the switch and never looked back. He appreciates that Hardie is non-permeable and holds color well. “We’re big fans of HardiePlank,” he says.
Old and New
The renovation went so well that the owner hired GBS to build a new historic-style barn next to the nearly two-century old farmhouse. Halprin has designed the new structure so that “it will look like it’s been there for a long time,” with architectural touches like a gambrel roof (the rounded style found on most barns), lookout and wood door. HardiePlank’s ColorPlus lap siding in “Countrylane Red” will also go on the exterior, creating a seamless match between the old and new structures.
Halprin says the bright red color of the completed farmhouse “creates a lot of excitement” along the busy road. Many people have driven up to voice their approval and appreciation of the project. Some have even shared stories about the house from fifty or sixty years ago, which is “pretty cool,” he says.
Their craftsmanship is also generating new business opportunities. GBS is now looking to renovate another home—on the very same road—that is almost one hundred years older than the big red farmhouse. HardiePlank, says the builder, would play a key role in that restoration too.
The “simply elegant” Matchbox House is a study in contrasts, said our judges: It encompasses cutting-edge green building approaches without breaking the bank, features a unique contemporary design surprising for its rural Midwestern setting, and boasts a dramatic exterior but understated interior finishes. “It’s nice how restrained it is,” they said.
To reinforce the iconic look of a small house in the woods, architect Naseem Alizadeh raised the structure on a concrete plinth and divided the front and back elevations into fourths. These quadrants—made of James Hardie fiber-cement siding and vertical and horizontal cedar planks—appear to slip past each other, as in the opening and closing of a matchbox.
In another apparent contradiction, the structure feels large inside despite its compact footprint, thanks to its open floor plan and soaring second-floor ceiling with operable skylights. To achieve this look, builder Brian Halprin incorporated an attic-less “hot roof” framed with I-joists instead of trusses and insulated with cellulose and foam board, eliminating the need for ventilation and providing an R-value of 49.
The house boasts several custom amenities including a glass railing system, induction cooktop, and FSC-certified wood doors, floors, and cabinets. To counterbalance these pricey details, the project team worked from concept to completion to identify cost-saving strategies, says Halprin. These included the use of interior trim salvaged from an old barn, mid-grade appliances, Corian solid surface countertops, and small bedrooms.
Besides high-performance framing and insulation, other energy-conserving measures that helped the house achieve LEED Platinum include low-VOC and recycled materials, passive heating and cooling, a high-efficiency furnace, and solar energy. “It’s got a lot of green for a decent price,” summed up one judge.
ON SITE: Builder Brian Halprin considered applying foam insulation directly to the underside of the home’s pitched roof, but decided against it because he was concerned that heat buildup from the standing seam metal roof could melt the insulation. Instead, he used cellulose and foam board.
PROJECT CREDITS Entrant/Builder:Green Building Services, Southfield, Mich.; Architect:Bureau of Architecture and Urbanism, Palo Alto, Calif.; Structural Engineer:Johnston Design, Clarkston, Mich.; Living space: 1,740 square feet; Cost: $210 per square foot; Photographer:Maylone Photography of Architecture Resources: Bathroom and kitchen fittings/fixtures:American Standard and Toto; Cabinets:AyA; Cellulose insulation: Nu-Wool; Countertops:Corian; Decking:Trex; Dishwasher and oven:IKEA; Doors:Masonite; Exterior siding:James Hardie and Pac-Clad; Fireplace:Lennox; Flooring:Barn Door Lumber and Lyric Tile; Garage doors:Clopay; Hardware:Emtek; HVAC equipment:Bryant; Lighting fixtures:Alico; Paint:Sherwin-Williams; Refrigerator:GE; Roofing:Pac-Clad; Skylights:Velux; Solar energy system:Sun Power; Windows:Kolbe
“I’m writing on behalf of both Maureen and myself to thank you for the work you’ve done on our home. As we have said before, we have really appreciated the excellent communication that you have maintained throughout the project. We have felt like we were continually in the loop, and there were no surprises.
“Your architectural training has also been a real plus. You have collaborated with us to take our input and create a result that not only met our requirements, but also added elements of style and detail that would have otherwise been absent; and the project is better because of your ideas.
“We also liked being able to benefit from your expertise in green technology. Your insulation and ventilation suggestions were very timely, and we will benefit from them for years to come.
“Lastly, we recognized the efficiency and professionalism of your work crews. The roofers were fast and their work well done. Your carpentry crew was exceptional, doing very good work, leaving the job site in good condition every day, and thoughtfully attending to added details in the work as though they themselves would be living with the finished product.
“In sum, we consider the project to be a large success, and we acknowledge the key role that you played. We would gladly use your services in the future, and would be happy to share our positive experience with any prospective clients. Thanks, again.”
Doug Hansford and Maureen Dailey Bloomfield Township
“We love our Halprin designed and built house. After looking for a larger home, for our family, in the Wing Lake area for more than two years we decided the only way to get what we wanted was to design and build a house with Brian. Brian of Brian J. Halprin Architect LLC really listened to our family needs and our financial restrictions. He truly designed a house that works for us and is great for our family. Both as the Architect and Builder Brian was always very accessible (on-site daily) and made it his priority to get us what we wanted in the finishing of our custom home. He worked very hard as the Builder to deliver our new home in budget and on schedule.
“Brian has built us a beautiful quality home that we are thoroughly enjoying. We would highly recommend him. In fact, we would use Brian both to design and build another home for us.”
“We have been very pleased and would highly recommend Brian Halprin as a builder and architect. We have the pleasure of living in a Halprin Construction Home, and we appreciate the attention to detail, the unique architectural touches and the fine quality of craftsmanship throughout. The finished carpentry work is of top quality throughout our home, and many guests of ours have made comment of this as well. We have had other contractors in our home to finish our basement, and we consistently heard from them of the top quality of materials and design used to construct our home. Even the Bloomfield Township Building Inspector told us, “this is one of the best built new construction homes he has seen in a while.”
“Brian stands behind his work and his word. Anytime we have had questions or issues, Brian follows through and takes care of the issues in a professional manner. Brian is a pleasure to work with and he is a top quality individual as well.
“We highly recommend Brian Halprin for both construction and architectural services.”
“Working with Brian Halprin of Halprin Construction has been a pleasure. Brian is conscientious, and truly cares about the product that he puts his name on. The fact that Brian is a builder and an architect helped to make the whole process easy and concise. Building a new home can be very stressful. This was not the case with Halprin Construction. Each week, a fax was sent to us stating what needed to be accomplished. This took a lot of the stress out of the process. Brian stands by his product. He is willing to take care of any problem no matter how small. The people he employs are also hardworking and extremely polite. Overall, building our home was a positive and rewarding experience.”
“We thoroughly enjoyed our design and building experience with Brian Halprin of Halprin Construction. Brian told us several times during construction that, “I am building a home for you, not me”, and he meant it. He built a home to meet our needs, lifestyle and tastes. Brian was always willing to explore new possibilities and, in fact, researched various custom things for us, several of which we incorporated into the construction. We had open and honest communication with him throughout the entire process. The great pride he takes in his work was evidenced by his daily involvement and the high quality of the work. We get comments from everyone who comes to the house about the quality of construction and Brian’s amazing ability to design and build a very warm family friendly home. Brian also impressed us with his ability to meet the timeline we developed. We moved in the day he had projected as the completion date at the beginning of the project.
We would highly recommend Brian, and in fact already have, to anyone designing, building or expanding a home.”
“Susan and I want you to know we are both very appreciative of the special care and attention you have devoted to this project, and we are thankful we selected Halprin Construction to complete the vision.”
“Brian is a pleasure to work with. He is a professional, detail oriented, and truly listens to his clients wishes. Best of all, his projects come in on time and on budget! I have had the opportunity to resell a Halprin Construction home that I sold to the original owner as a new build; It was in excellent condition and stood the test of time.”
Linda Hiller Novak Associate Broker / Max Broock Realtors
“A job took us from our much loved “dream home” on Wing Lake Road to another state. Eight years later it was time to move back to Michigan. We saw a lot just 2 lots away from the house we’d sold. Called a neighbor to ask about the lot and the builder. He gave the builder excellent reviews — knew Brian both as a neighbor and a leasee in his office space. Called our realtor to help with the purchase. “No way am I going to let you do this from another state!” Then she relented and said, “I’m going to vet him.” Called back to say “No one has anything bad to say about him.” So we contacted Brian, who is both architect and builder, to come up with a floor plan. He was knowledgable and creative as well as comfortable to work with. Really listened to our needs and desires.
Because we were living in another state, a professional inspector was hired to be our “eyes and ears” during construction. He mentioned many times what a good builder Brian is — far above and beyond the basic standards required. He is now recommending Brian to others. Many workers coming into the house comment on the quality of workmanship and the extra details that were not glossed over. Friends do the same.
Brian has high standards, knowledge and skills to “do the job right”, and good relationships with the tradesmen he hires for each task. These same tradesmen have returned to the house to make “fixes” to their work as needed during the first year. I’ll be keeping in touch with many of them for continuing maintenance.
Another quality to appreciate in Brian is his genuine caring and thoughtfulness. My husband passed on during construction. Brian’s support is so very much appreciated. And, it’s nice to be back in the Wing Lake neighborhood we left.”
“Brian and his team do a great job in walking step by step with you through a process that can be very intimidating. His professionalism, organization, and open communication no doubt drive his results. Our project came in under budget, on time, and most importantly we now cook and entertain in a beautiful new kitchen! Brian’s insight and experience was also very helpful on the design side of our project. His recommendations were always based on our needs and expectations for the remodel. Some of the smallest details made the biggest impact. Every team member we encountered was courteous and very skilled in their respective trade. The remodel not only improved the overall look and feel of our home, but it also greatly increased the value. We would highly recommend Halprin construction and would most certainly seek out Brian’s services again in the future.”
“It is always a pleasure to refer a client to a professional who I know does good work and is a professional. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to find someone who takes the kind of pride in their work that you do.”
“We hired Brian for an 800-square-foot home addition for three main reasons: First, he came highly recommended from friends whose house he’d designed and built; second, we liked the idea of an architect, builder and general contractor all in one person; and third, we loved that he was green-certified, because we wanted to “green up” our 1926 Tudor and make sustainable choices but knew we’d need some guidance. We were a little concerned that his work seemed primarily focused on new, modern and/or contemporary homes and ours was 88 years old, but that turned out to be no concern at all. In fact, his knowledge and appreciation of art and design, history and architecture make him not only a great conversationalist but a wise consultant, helping to ensure that our choices in materials and design fit our house as well as our vision and budget.
Brian is smart, conscientious and an excellent communicator. He anticipates concerns before they happen and/or before they affect the budget. His estimates were detailed and on target; there were no budget surprises along the way. Through the course of the job, Brian was on site at some point almost every day, touching base, checking and directing the work of his many tradespeople, who were consistently top notch. We were impressed with every single carpenter, plumber, tiler, dry waller and other worker Brian brought in — they always put down drop cloths before entering the house, were mindful of the landscaping or the cats or the kids, cleaned up at the end of each day, etc.
Overall, working with Brian was a great experience. He’s a highly trained architect and builder with a great team but he isn’t afraid to pick up a hammer or a broom. His overall know-how, sense of humor, diplomacy and respectful relationships with his trades (and us) kept things running smoothly and worked well for us and our project. We have a beautiful, energy-efficient new master bedroom, bathroom, dream closet and fourth bedroom to prove it!”
“Brian worked with us to improve the energy efficiency of our classic, mid-century home. He approached the project with careful consideration and planning before bringing in any of his subs. His design plan was professionally written with explanation of work to be done and the benefit we would yield. We are so happy with the improvements made and are now enjoying a warm and cozy home.”
“Our project is aiming for LEED Platinum certification, the highest available. This puts an extra burden on the contractor to make sure that not only are products in line with LEED standards, but the process of building becomes more complex. The contractor has to show a level of responsibility to the environment that is not usually manifested in the building practice. Brian Halprin of Green Building Services showed this and more. His behavior, actions, and relations to subcontractors, consultants, and others who played a role in this project always showed that he practiced ethically and believed not only in his end product, but in the process that he took to get there. In fact, both the clients and I hope to work with Brian again in the future on other projects.”
Naseem Alizadeh, AIA Bureau of Architecture and Urbanism
“Very impressed with GBS – they took care of me. Their contractors were professional, knowledgeable and cleaned up after themselves. And finally, it’s so nice to feel warm, not drafty, this winter. I can see the wind blowing, but can’t feel it or even hear it.”
“When Brian and Brad came to look at the house last fall, I could tell from discussions with them that they were very knowledgeable about building and energy conservation. For parts of the job that I thought would be difficult to handle, they proposed several practical options. I’m lucky I found them”
Enterprise Green Communities – Client representation, specification review/writing, field verification, staff training and resident orientation, from inception through certification. “EGC’s mission is to create opportunities for low- and moderate-income households through affordable housing in diverse, thriving communities.”
LEED Commercial Projects – Owner or contractor representation with 3rd party review throughout construction.
Green Feasibility Studies – review of proposed projects prior to construction including construction documentation analysis and specification addendums.
Third Party Construction Observation – Independent analysis between owner and contractor.
Draw Reports and Facility Inspection Evaluations – Reports for construction lending for Single and Multi-Family projects.
Real Estate Evaluations and Reports – Analysis of Single and Multi-Family projects for potential improvements, cost analysis and payback scenarios.