When a prospect wants to work with Bob Burnside at Fireside Home Construction, in Dexter, Mich., they first take a tour of his 4,000-square-foot timber frame “office.”
Built by his company in 2007, Burnside uses this house — the first LEED platinum home in Michigan — to show clients possibilities and the quality of Fireside Home Construction’s work.
From the outside, clients can learn about various siding materials, garage doors, soffits and facia, solar panels, and “things that are green and durable,” Burnside says. “We’ve even used different types of trim on the outside.”
Inside, there is geothermal heating and cooling, insulated concrete forms, a variety of “green” cabinets and carpets, no-VOC paint, natural stone countertops, low-flow fixtures, and LED and fluorescent lighting.
The house is almost net zero and is updated as relevant new products are released. Burnside tells clients about energy savings — his annual heating costs are about $250 — and jokes that he’s the only one in the neighborhood who looks forward to getting his utility bill.
Show & Tell
To allow for more client interaction, Burnside designed a big-screen home theater on the lower level of the house. There, eight times a year on Saturday mornings, the company sponsors seminars about remodeling or new construction, from how to hire a builder or architect to information about budgeting, planning, financing, and the building process. “It’s a no-pressure event,” Burnside says, “a public service activity to answer questions.”
He adds that using the house has changed his sales process. “We’ve created this comfortable environment in which to build a relationship.”
—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.