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Q&A with green builder Matt Risinger of Risinger Homes

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We recently took the opportunity to interview Matt Risinger, president of Risinger Homes, an Austin, Texas-based green building company that specializes in architect-driven new custom homes and remodeling. He also writes a green building blog. You might remember Matt from this remodeling project we featured.

Builder Blog: Tell us a bit about your company and the type of work you do.

Matt Risinger: We do about 50 percent of our work in whole house remodeling and 50 percent in new custom homes. We have a few great architects in Austin who like our work and refer us to their clients. We focus on both the client and architect relationships, so projects are fun and the referrals keep coming. Our specialty is high-performance green building, but it’s those relationships that keep the business flowing.

BB: How does your company differentiate itself from its competitors? Any particular niche or area of expertise?

MR: Green building is a specialty for us, but our other focus is on being an architect’s builder. We sweat the details that matter to our architects, and the results really show in the final product. I have a staff architect who is a great field manager because he speaks the language and can interpret the design intent to our guys who are implementing the plans in the field.

BB: Tell us about a recent project you’re particularly proud of. What makes it unique or interesting?

MR: These photos [below] are of a house we completed last year with architect Nick Deaver. This whole house remodel of a 1970s house was a great collaboration between us, Nick and the clients. We had a ton of fun remodeling this house, and the clients absolutely love their house. Nick and I met weekly — sometimes daily — on site to ensure we got the details just right, and the clients really got to see their house transformed. We used all Marvin and Integrity sliding doors and Integrity windows, too.

BB: What do your customers ask you about? What trends or hot topics are on their minds?

MR: Energy efficiency is huge for us these days. It’s a green building topic that really hits home. If we can show a client how their current $1,000 electric bill in July will go down to $400 after a remodel, that’s where the rubber meets the road. We also hear a lot about indoor air quality and how allergies and chemical sensitivities are becoming more important in a new home. Why wouldn’t we try to build the healthiest house possible? I love hearing how building science and green building topics are discussed early on in a project, not as an after thought.

BB: Is there any particular new tool or piece of equipment that’s changed your work for the better?

MR: My AirCard on my laptop is huge! We always have a laptop on site, and it makes pulling up a spec sheet for an obscure light fixture a breeze in the field.

BB: What areas of the construction industry do you see as growth sectors or particular areas of opportunity?

With our aging housing stock, there is a huge opportunity for large scale remodeling in urban areas. We’re seeing a trend towards smaller, better-designed spaces, so why not reconfigure existing houses — in great locations — to meet the needs of modern people?

Photos courtesy of Matt Risinger