Now and then, the Builder Blog likes to catch up with today’s brightest building professionals to discuss best practices, trends and the state of the industry. Recently, we interviewed Matt Risinger, principle of Austin, Texas-based Risinger Homes. Risinger’s company specializes in building and remodeling with a focus on efficient, healthy and durable construction.
The summer building season is just around the corner. How are you feeling about the general state of the industry going into this important time of year?
Matt Risinger: It’s a really busy time in Austin right now, but it seems to come in waves. Many of the established trades are super busy, but that’s also because they lost some of their workforce in the 2007-2010 downturn. It’s going to be a bumpy ride for builders as business ramps up and we figure out the manpower needs. Overall, I’m very bullish about our industry right now. I see architects and engineers that are swamped so that’s a very positive sign of more work coming to builders.
What are some of the most common features your clients request these days?
MR: I’m seeing a push for more houses that are low-maintenance and have low operational costs. As we build more efficient houses the step to Net Zero becomes smaller and smaller and I find clients are really excited about a zero net electricity bill at the end of the year. As the Boomer generation continues to grow and we build more houses for that age bracket I see both of these trends going up big time. This plays out in the window segment by customers wanting windows with a traditional wood look but without the maintenance. Integrity has been building that product for years now, but I think it’s going to see a spike in demand in the next few years. I also have seen more requests for windows as a feature in the house and Marvin certainly has that market locked up. Marvin’s Lift and Slide Doors are also a wish-list item I see.
Rustic Modern, once thought a run-of-the-mill design trend, is showing some real staying power. What is it homeowners love so much about this particular style?
MR: This is a style that’s here to stay! I think the blend of contemporary and clean with the power of natural materials resonates with people. A stark modern house has limited appeal, but a house with some traditional elements (hardwood floors, painted casing/base, etc.) allows some connection to houses people have owned in the past.
What’s your favorite new building product or tool from the past few months?
MR: I’m an HVAC geek, so I have to mention a new dehumidifier from Ultra-Aire that provides a small amount of cooling while it dehumidifies. It’s called the SD-12 and it’s going to be on the must list for well-built custom homes in the South. Speaking of HVAC, the new buzzword you’ll be hearing a lot about is “VRF” — Variable Refrigerant Flow technology. All the big companies have it and are feverishly coming to market with traditional looking equipment that can operate at varying capacity from 15%-100%. This technology will reduce cooling bills and increase comfort.
What three words best describe Risinger Homes at this very moment?
MR: Experts. Craftsmen. Steady.
We’ve got a great team of expert builders and seasoned craftsmen. The people that fit those descriptions are steady busy right now. I want Risinger Homes to grow, but to do it slowly and deliberately. As a builder, we only get one reputation. I want my reputation to be “Excellence.” As the building business grows I want to ensure we maintain quality and customer focus. Good times! I thank the Lord every day for my blessings.
Special thanks to Matt Risinger for participating in this interview! We highly encourage readers to check out Risinger’s YouTube channel, Twitter account and blog for more great building insights and discussion.