Featured Builder: Marc Hovde

In an era when the word “green” has been co-opted for the promotional purposes of businesses large and small it can be very difficult to distinguish truly sustainable professionals from the rest of the pack.  This is as true in the world of residential construction as anywhere else.  Every builder today talks at least some of the “green” game, though the vocabulary may differ from person to person.  Most commonly we hear about energy efficiency and advanced insulation products.  Nearly every builder out there touts the inflated merits of building Energy Star homes and a few have had experience building LEED certified residences.  Marc Hovde, owner of Hovde Construction Services, is perhaps the last builder on the seacoast likely to use the word “green” or any other such label, yet since beginning the start-up phase of Greenovations two and a half years ago, no builder has shown us a greater committment to sustainable or “green” building than Marc Hovde.

According to Hovde, the real difference in the residential building world, is between smart, common sense, well built homes and typical home building practices.  That sense of building quality encompasses durability every bit as much as it does efficiency.  Though highly versed in energy efficiency, Hovde is equally concerned with the numerous details on a job site.  “Every day there are a hundred questions I have to answer [about the project] and every one of those questions effects the quality and durability of the home.  Do we prime end cutts on our siding trim?  Every time.  Do we take thirty minutes to properly block and seal the exposed bays of floor joists cantilevered over a foundation or review that design with architect and home owner?  Of course.”  These are small details, details many homeowner’s never see, but highly influential on the performance and life of a home when added up.

Naturally, that attention is carried through in every aspect of a Hovde home, from framing to interior trim work.  We’ve seen the framing done by Hovde Construction and it’s immediately clear (especially compared to typical homes) that the homes he builds are built to last generations.  In the same token, interior finishes and millwork reveal the management of a perfectionist.  Hovde has surrounded himself with some of the most skilled and detailed oriented craftsmen in the seacoast.  That’s why Greenovations owner Christopher Ring has used Hovde’s crew and referals for his own home improvement.

Ultimately though, it’s the green element that has created the connection between Hovde Construction and Greenovations.   Long before we opened, Hovde was traveling to Portland to acquire one of our favorite counter-top materials, Paperstone, after encouraging customers to experience this fabulous surface.  And yet, while other conventional and so-called green builders are rushing to implement new techniques in home building efficiency, Hovde patiently assesses these practices through trial and continuing education coursework.   This is perhaps the most admirable part of his approach to a noble profession – his dedication to continuous learning of building science.  As a result, no technique is implemented without a thorough understanding of how to use that technique or material and how it interacts with the whole house.  For example, Hovde is an avid proponent for dense packed paper cellulose insulation.  In addition to excellent thermal performance, paper cellulose is healthy, supremely more flame resistant than spray foams and terrific at air sealing.  At the same time, Hovde uses an older and a more time-tested technique for wrapping a house by using felt paper instead of the ubiquitous Tyvek, for its ability to mitigate moisture issues through its hygroscopic properties.  The end result is a durable, high performance home that is comfortable to live in, stylish, super efficient and ready for generations of use.  As one homeowner of a Hovde house built in Kittery Point noted, December had come and their heat hadn’t even turned on yet.  “We could leave the windows open at night and listen to the ocean.”

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