Business built on building green

Published 8:01 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dick Yoder, of Yoder’s Custom Builders builds all of his homes to green building certification. “I won’t build anything except,” he said. (Argus photo provided)

Dick Yoder, of Yoder’s Custom Builders builds all of his homes to green building certification. “I won’t build anything except,” he said. (Argus photo provided)

For Dick Yoder, building and renovating homes is something he’s wanted to do ever since he was in high school.

And that’s what he was doing — working on remodel jobs and other projects — until 1999 when he went into business for himself and started Yoder Custom Builders in Edwardsburg.

Through his business, Yoder hasn’t just made it his mission to build houses for area families to call home — he’s making sure those home-builders get the most for their money.

Yoder combines energy efficient building with green building.

“The way I build, I build a home that gets green-certified,” Yoder said. “I won’t build anything except.”

In fact, he said, every home Yoder builds is green-certified.

“I’ve probably been building energy-efficient homes, I’d say, since about 2005,” he said. “But I didn’t start getting them certified until 2008.”

Yoder doesn’t just build energy efficient homes for his clients, he educates them on the money they’ll save through a certified home.

Building his way comes with a number of benefits. Along with lower bills, “supposedly,” Yoder said, a green home “should be easier to market.”

The builder believes in what he does.

“I’ve always felt that’s what we should do,” Yoder said. “And a couple of my builder friends were telling me, ‘You need to get your houses certified.’ It was just something that I always felt was the right thing to do.”

Through his style of building, Yoder said, during construction he cuts down on waste that would otherwise find its way to the landfill, reduces greenhouse gases and creates a house that is cheaper for a customer to operate.

One thing Yoder said prospective homeowners may not realize is building green doesn’t necessarily mean spending green.

“Most people think, oh, if I’m going to build that, it’s going to cost me a fortune,” he said. “Depending on the route they go, you can build a very energy-efficient home for less than 6 percent increase,” in costs.

Yoder makes sure to keep his clients in full understanding of the benefits of building green and works with them from house plans “all the way up to the very end, to when the customer moves in.”

Yoder Custom Builders uses “advanced framing techniques,” Yoder said, which cuts down on the amount of lumber used in construction of a home and allows for more insulation.

“So I get a better insulated house,” he said.

Over the years, Yoder said he’s built a relationship with a core group of subcontractors who know how to build his way.

And building green is something more builders and contractors are going to need to familiarize themselves with in the future, if they haven’t already.

“So many of the builders honestly think that it’s going to cost so much more to do it,” he said. “When I bid a house, it will be bid (with) an energy start rating and green certification. It absolutely will get that guarantee.”

Yoder likes to keep his business small and focused, so he keeps to building just a few homes each year.

The two homes he build last year, he said, had an Energy Star rating of 39 each, “which means they’re 61 percent home energy-efficient” than initial standards set in 2006.

Though a downward economy and the burst of a housing bubble or two have taken a toll on Yoder’s industry, the hope seems to be that his idea of the right thing to do, will continue to be the right way to do business.

Yoder’s Custom Builders is located at 70852 Deer Cove Rd., Edwardsburg. Its phone number is (26) 663-8856. Visit Yoder’s online at