October 1, 2009

Finding the Right Builder in Sustainable Construction

We've all heard construction horror stories -- builders and subcontractors who didn't show up on time or at all, deadlines missed and budgets seriously overrun, even lawsuits and fraud. So it was with great care that we selected the best match from many quality builders available in the area.

In my experience, there are 4 critical considerations in choosing the firm who will take your plans from paper to reality:

Builder Selection Criteria
  • Shared values and goals
  • Efficiency in project and budget management
  • Ability to put together a talented and knowledgeable team
  • High customer satisfaction among past clients
Fortunately, for THE CONCORD GREEN HOME, Aedi Construction turned out to be the perfect match.

Aedi awarded first LEED-H certification
in the country
for multi-unit building

SHARED VALUES - Aedi Construction is a relatively young firm, whose mission is "Building Healthy Environments". Parent Aedi Group's business model is based on a "co-profit" concept, which allows their for-profit divisions to work in tandem with their non-profit venture Village Corps, created to empower the world's poor to generate their own sustainable prosperity.

Aedi's non-profit Village Corps

The co-profit concept was born of the idea that success for non-profits requires strong relationships with revenue-generating enterprises and individuals, and that in order for a for-profit enterprise to thrive in the 21st century; it must understand and address its social context.

EFFICIENCY AND TALENT - Aedi Construction's management team is comprised of Norman and Marc Beaulieu, who hail from the software, technology and entrepreneurship realms, and Matt Ayers, who wraps his construction know-how in a reassuring "no worries, can-do" attitude. The team's collective strengths make them uniquely adept at efficiently managing work flow and finances, while attracting the best, most knowledgeable construction talent. As site supervisor, they brought on Patrick Hughes, who has spent most of his career building large high-end residences and community spaces, but yearned to apply his skills to smaller, sustainable projects. Another perfect match.

REFERENCES - I cannot stress enough the importance of checking builder references. I found that emailing past clients with a specific list of questions returned the most valuable and instructive responses. Here was the gist of my inquiry:

We are considering Aedi for construction of a new healthy/green home. We would very much appreciate a moment of your time in learning about your experience with the firm, specifically:
  • The type of project they performed for you (new construction, remodel, addition)
  • The team's performance - quality of work, cost and schedule management
  • Areas of Strength
  • Areas of Improvement or extra attention on part of client required
  • Anything additional you would like to add
I hope this information on builder selection has been helpful. Feel free to share your own experiences and suggestions in the Comments section below.


  1. Great Advice! Do your homework and do your best to maintain good communication with your contractor. It makes life easier for the builder AND the client (assuming everyone involved has the best intentions).

    One more thing to think about is "integrated design". It's a concept that may not be so well known and essentially means having your entire team (designers, builder, trade contractors, etc.) working together from day one. Instead of playing hot potato and working around other people's existing conditions, everyone shares their needs and ideas in order to do things as efficiently and effectively as possible.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Rob, and for mentioning the concept of Integrated Design.

    While Aedi Construction was not yet on our radar, we did have the benefit of green building consultant Daniel Glickman, of Sustainable Construction, as a member of the team, who provided valuable early design input from the builder's point of view.

    Still, I do agree that having all players on board from Day 1 is ideal.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Good Info! Over my head, but still good stuff!


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