Local energy efficient builder opens office in downtown Brookings
By Eric Sandbulte, The Brookings Register
Few things can be as miserable in the life of a homeowner as high bills for a poorly constructed house. Dusten Hendrickson, the owner of Brookings Built Green, knows this firsthand, using his construction business as a way to provide energy efficient, thoughtfully-built homes in and around Brookings.
He and his wife, Shalene, own the business in a working relationship fit for an HGTV series: he builds, she designs.
“The kids get precedence over the business, but she does interior design and stages all the homes,” Hendrickson said. “She critiques the homes as well. She’ll come in and say, I don’t like this or I don’t like that, next time you build, you should do this differently. We do try to critique each floor plan and try to improve it just in case we use it again in the future.”
Although Hendrickson started going to South Dakota State University for engineering, he quickly found it wasn’t for him. He wanted his own business, and that would have been difficult to do as an engineer then.
He started his career in construction with Dakota Roofing, and he started building houses in 2004.
“I started building my first house, and it happened to be a twin home. My mom wanted a rental, so we built a twin home; I got one half for myself, and she got the other half as a rental,” he said.
It was around 2010 that he first started to hear about efficient building construction, and he liked what he heard, from the recycling of materials to thoughtful window placement.
The benefits of that style of construction are immediately apparent.
“You get better quality air, it’s warmer because you don’t have any drafts, you don’t have any hot or cold spots ” because the more efficient, the more evenly heated and cooled it will be,” Hendrickson explained. “You don’t realize how much more comfortable it is until you actually move into one.”
He knows it firsthand, having lived in an inefficient home that he had built. “I wasn’t that concerned about efficiency. There were some mistakes I made on window placement as well. That house was maybe 2,700 square feet finished, and the utilities sometimes in the winter would be over $500,” he explained. “Then this new house I built is almost twice as big, about 4,600 square feet finished. It’s all above ground, no basement, and everything about this house was built with efficiency in mind. ” That house, every single month, the utility bills are roughly $300.”
That’s particularly impressive to him given he now has kids and uses a lot more electricity than before, too.
With that in mind, Brookings Built Green came to be, with more than 100 builds to the business’ name since starting.
“When we first started, we worked on just one house at a time. Now, we’re working on 10 houses at a time. The scale is so much different,” Hendrickson said. “Last year, I think we built 20 houses, and this year, we might build 30.”
The main cause for that ramp-up in production was the development of the Christie Heights Addition, near the Dakota Prairie Elementary School. Those homes are built with affordability in mind, with a conscious effort to keep the prices under $200,000.
Of course, homes aren’t the only projects they take on. For example, they built the very building their business is now located in, the Lofts at Main building. They’ve been there for a couple months now after they moved from their previous downtown location.
In fact, the Lofts represents the kind of power of design that they try to incorporate into a build.
“The natural light that flows into this building is really good. With the traffic here, it feels urban and feels like there’s energy. It seems like you can get a lot more work done, like you want to work,” he said.
Harnessing the power of natural light is a key part of making energy efficient builds, cutting down on electricity use for light bulbs and helping warm a home.
No less crucial is the placement of the build on the lot and the arrangement of the layout.
“If you’re a person that likes a ton of sunlight, you would never put your windows on the north side. But you see it all the time where houses have their windows on the north and they get no natural sunlight,” Hendrickson said.
He added, “Or you have your garage on the south side and block all of your southern light that we need in the winter with a big garage when you could easily just flip the garage on to the north side and also then block those northwest winds.”
So, the positioning of the house doesn’t add any more money to the project, but it can make a huge difference in the long run.
For anybody considering hiring a builder, Hendrickson had simple advice: investigate their past work and pay attention to their style because that’s likely the same style they will default to once hired.
“If you go look at any guy, he basically builds all traditional with a lot of oak and warm colors , that’s more than likely the kind of house you’re going to have. You can try to tell him, I want this, let’s do this different, if he’s not familiar with any of those materials, it makes it really hard for them to do the job. That’s what I always tell people . If you like this style, then build with me,” he said.
Those that are interested in building with him can stop by at their location at 120 Main Ave. South or call at 605-691-1933 . He recommended checking out their website, www.brookingsbuiltgreen.com, beforehand, and emails can be sent at brookingsbuiltgreen @gmail.com.
Contact Eric Sandbulte at email@example.com.