"This is a letter of the highest recommendation for BPC Green Builders.
Mike Trolle has an incredible fund of building knowledge. He is an understandable teacher who guided us through developing a plan to rebuild and green our house within our budget. BPC's philosophy is start with as tight a building envelope as possible and go from there. Mike had enormous patience presenting options and discussing cost, environmental and practical and design factors. He even conducted an email discussion about the placement of a piece of trim while on vacation in Spain.
Jeff, our onsite manager, was always available during the six month construction period to answer questions, suggest options and fix problems. The subcontractors BPC selected were top of the line, great craftsmanship from the rough carpentry to the finished tile work.
We now have a beautiful, green, Energy Star certified house; a nicer house than I ever in my life expected to be able to have.
BPC Green Builders is, moral, honest, and ethical. And if Keith Richards is a guitar god, as my daughters tell me, then Mike Trolle, most certainly, is an envelope god. One could not do better than have this company build your home."
Bil and Sara
“Mike built us a custom high end modern house in Ridgefield CT, and we would recommend him without reservations. It's been four months since we moved in, and the house is beautiful and extremely comfortable despite a cold, windy and stormy winter. The house is almost 40% glass, and has about 5000+sf of conditioned space, but our heating costs are estimated to be a touch over 1K per year. The process was so much fun that we would almost be tempted to build another house now...except that we do love our house. BPC Green Builder's focus is on building energy efficient, sustainable, healthy homes. But as you can see from the description below, this was just one of considerations for us when choosing a builder. Mike is an extremely capable builder who is also 10x better than any of the consultants on building a green house we talked to prior to choosing him. We have also seen one other house done in a more traditional style, and if it can be built well Mike can do it.
Trust: We started looking for builders after designing the house. We bid it out to 4 other builders and almost dropped BPC when they refused to bid on our project. It is not that they had another project lined up (this was 2009). They just don't feel comfortable with the adversarial relationship that a bid process generates. To win it you have to low ball it, and then you have to make up for it by charging for change orders or for things which were not fully detailed in the bid (for which there will inevitably be lots!). The builder's incentives then become to skimp on quality (particularly for the non aesthetic structural things which you will not see). Mike instead works on a management fee. He created a budget, and during the whole process he was a partner. Mike laid out options allowing us to choose every step of the way. The various stages of the construction are bid out to subcontractors, and we had full transparency on costs. Nothing during the process led us to ever question Mike's honesty and transparency. The bottom line is that no matter what contract structure you chose, the builder will have opportunities to abuse your trust. Finding someone you are comfortable with makes all the difference.
Working with Mike: Mike was AWAYS AVAILABLE. Our house was his primary job for a year and there was NEVER a time that we felt that when we needed him he was not available. He is reasonable. He is a great problem solver. Down to earth, and extremely easy to talk to. E-mails were detailed. Site meetings were great, etc. Awesome.
Quality: We picked BPC because we wanted more than an aesthetically beautiful house. We wanted a structurally sound house. We wanted to have no water leaks, no mold, and no air quality issues (we have respiratory issues AND pets). We also cared to make sure that we would fully consider the environmental impacts of building the house, but for such a huge investment we really wanted sound construction. Mike and Chris passion is quality in this sense of the word. And it was clear from day one when we spoke to them, and it was clear through out the process that focusing on making sure that house was air tight, that water would drain properly and that structurally the construction was sound was a priority. Mike spent an incredible amount of time at the construction site, making sure that the various trades conformed to his standards. And of course he recommend contractors that could deliver. Unlike most builders Mike has not only the experience of having built homes for a long time, but also the scientific knowledge to assess and incorporate the latest technologies in the industry.
From an aesthetic perspective the execution was very good as well.
Mike had never built a modern house, and that there is a lot less room to hide imperfections (we opted for drywall returns instead of window moldings for example), so this was a challenging house. We have a beautiful house. And one that is unlikely to give us headaches.
Cost: Mikes management fees were in line with, or less than other high end builders we interviewed. However, to be honest we have no way to know whether the total house would have cost more or less working with someone else. And given the choice between a little less money and less structural and aesthetic quality we are happy to pay up (and pretty much knew what we were paying for in terms of insulation, or structural elements). Did the house come in on budget? No. This was a new construction and a very high percentage of the house was on earth work (to get the site ready for the house), which turned out to be more expensive than expected. All of the bids had provisions for this, so our best guess is that these costs had to be born out regardless of who built the house. We also of course ended up choosing a lot of things that were not listed (which probably would have killed us if we had contracted for a price). Ultimately I think that the pricing process was good and fair. Mike would scope out the work and bid out to 2-3 contractors (some of which were at times people our architect recommended or we found some other way - but always people that he believed could do the job after discussing with them). We would then chose between the bids (sometimes not choosing the cheapest based on Mike's recommendation on quality). Inevitably when unexpected things came up, he made sure that the various contractors were not screwed...and in return the people working in our project were hard working, professional, and extremely qualified contractors. If building a house the cheapest possible way you can by squeezing every penny out of subcontractors is the way you want to build...Mike is probably not your guy. You will also almost certainly hate the building process and so will everyone working on your house. As said before we had total and complete transparency on costs, which you will never have in a bid out process. So we knew exactly what went into our house. The only thing I think Mike could have done better on this is giving us a realistic range from the beginning, but I am not sure whether our particular project (being very custom, having a lot excavation work, and having construction drawings that were probably less developed than typical) played a role.
Time: Expectations were that the house would be ready in about 12 months (though we never asked for a precise guarantee...). We moved in 13 months after we started, and there was a lot of work being done for about 6-8 weeks after. In retrospect we should have waited another month to move in (and would have if we had understood how much would happen after we moved in). Time was the least critical element for us. And we know that the more time pressure you put on your builder the more either cost or quality will suffer.
We did not know Mike prior to building our house and have no reason to recommend him other than for the great job he did on our project. If you are considering going on the same journey, we are happy to discuss and answer questions.
Some of our home features: highly insulated envelope (foam) and glass (U-0.14), insulated basement slab, foam roof system, geothermal heating/cooling (surprisingly affordable given how little heating the house needs...not oversized), radiant heating, fire sprinkler system (another recommendation from Mike), electronic air filter system, water radon reduction system (without being asked he tested our water - which was about 10x higher in radon than the max recommended), drywall returns and other intricate modern detail, high end carpentry work (pergolas and fence), two-sided inside/outside fireplace, stucco exterior, highly redundant drainage system (to avoid having leaks/rot
- Mike took no chances), extensive tile flooring (heated and well
executed) as well as bamboo flooring.”
Jason and Marisa
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"I want to update you on our experience with our “new” house since we reoccupied it last July and the work was completed in September. Last winter, as you know, was a cold and snowy season. It has been followed by an exceptionally hot and humid summer. The mechanical system and enhanced insulation value you recommended and installed as part of our renovation project, has kept our indoor temperature at comfortable levels. Of equal importance, we have experienced a healthier relative humidity level without the need for a whole-house humidifier and its associated maintenance.
In the past we found that our nasal passages, skin and even hair would dry out in the winter months until we became accustomed to the heat. This heating season, we did not require the typical adjustment period due to the excessively drying nature of oil-based central heat. We have also maintained our comfortable interior living environment throughout this year’s hot and humid summer months. With the benefits of the energy recovery ventilator – constant fresh air with minimal humidity, our air conditioning unit has run only a portion of the day – when the temperature and relative humidity are exceptionally high. Our three zone design allows us to keep each floor at a comfortable level, based upon our various indoor activities and the occupants’ needs.
We were motivated to undertake as part of the renovation project, the extensive replacement of our mechanical system, including duct work, in large part due to our son’s allergies. He has survived this allergy season with only occasional antihistamines. He was on allergy shots for the past 6 years, and it was always planned that he would end the shots this year. We are pleased that he has successfully ended the shots with no negative effects. While our allergist told us that this would be the case, we are comforted to know that we have made numerous improvements in our home that would help anyone prone to seasonal allergies to better survive the allergy season.
Living in Fairfield county, we have seen numerous examples of the area’s high demand for building and renovation services. Many consumers in our area usually base their decision to engage a contractor for these services upon the contractor’s ability to deliver “high quality” – defined as premium finishes and workmanship levels. When Dwight and I decided to undertake the renovation of our home, we had a slightly different set of requirements in mind. We certainly sought the same high quality workmanship, and, we soon came to understand that our eye did prefer premium materials and finishes. However, we were seeking something beyond the aesthetic aspects of the work. We sought, and found in you, a contractor who also understands and delivers premium performance. Given the ever increasing costs of energy, we are very satisfied that we hired you to manage our project. We now have a home that is extremely energy efficient, easier to maintain and pleasant to occupy. We have had numerous compliments on the outcome. Most importantly, we now know that for us there is, truly, “no place like home.”
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"We are truly amazed with our new "No Compromise" home. I can't say enough about how pleased we are with the performance of all the features this house has.
My husband has been plagued with allergies all his life but to date this fresh air exchange and the electronic air cleaner has helped 100%. His symptoms are dramatically reduced, if only he did not have to leave the house. This feature also helps to keep the house a lot cleaner. I've noticed a lot less dust on the furniture. My indoor plants also love it. They seem to thrive in this fresh air.
This brings up another thing I love: The way the house is sited on the property. Mike has placed it in such a way that we do not have a direct hit from the sun. We have wonderful windows that are not only energy efficient but let the beauty of nature in the home without the heat that could come with it. They work such that you can clean them without ever going outside.
My sister loves to visit here for she also is plagued with breathing problems and is up a lot during the night, not sleeping well. When she is here, however, I have to wake her at 11:00 am so we can start our day. She sleeps better here.
The house has a great effect on people for it is bright and cheerful. It has a lightness to it no other house I've owned has had.
Mike could not have picked a more tranquil setting. Even though we are close to a road you would never know it with the way he used the lay of the land to hide that fact.
I happen to agree with one of Mike's philosophies about not having any closed areas such as the basement and attic. Let them breathe and be ventilated like the rest of the house. It makes the whole house usable and healthy. Less mold and moisture the better we all are.
With regard to the oil usage, we used 1182 gallons in Harvard, MA in the winter of 2003-2004 versus 531 gallons at the Redding house in 2004-2005. There is no comparison really, as our old house was not well insulated, drafty, and not at all fuel efficient. We love the house here in Redding not only because of the privacy it affords, but the care you took in building it. It is very air tight, and the fuel oil usage clearly demonstrates that fact.
I hope we can find another builder that has these same principles when we build our retirement home. After having lived in this house I will not settle for anything less."
Bev and Hal
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"We were surprised and delighted to find in Mike Trolle, of BPC Green Builders, a local builder who not only gave us the kind of house we wanted, but helped us figure out what that was in the first place. His ideas about what a house needs -- and doesn't need -- were invaluable. He even helped us find an architect whose ideas were in sync with ours. Of course, he knows everything there is to know about air quality, energy savings, and the materials it takes to get there, and he took lots of time throughout the process to talk us through areas where our aesthetic and environmental sensibilities conflicted, always with our budget in mind."
"We renovated our house with BPC because we wanted a healthier house -- good air quality and no combustibles -- as well as an environmentally friendly one. We got a real bonus with increased comfort. We first noticed the difference with the air conditioning. Every air conditioned space I've ever been in was so cold that I preferred to turn it off and be hot. Our new system does such a great job taking the humidity out of the air that I can be comfortable at 76 degrees and not have to walk around in a parka."
"Fall has been a revelation, too. Every other house I've lived in has maintained a distinct chill -- and draftiness -- once cold weather came. By late evening I'd be freezing -- I'd climb into bed and have to wait to warm up under the sheets in order to sleep. Now, I simply get into bed and go to sleep! The temperature is so much more constant, from hour to hour and from day to night, than I thought possible. And, the other day, my husband and I decided we'd like it to be a little warmer. It wasn't ten minutes between changing the thermostat setting and feeling the difference!"
"Mike worked very hard to make sure that we were happy with every aspect of the building process, right to the end. Most important (and unlike most of our friends who have renovated), we had complete faith in our builder's integrity. He is extremely conscientious and trustworthy."
Tom and Stacy
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"It has been a little more than one year since we
moved into our new home. In that time, we have been able to compare
of living in a high performance home versus the experience of
living in our last house, which was built in a conventional manner.
From an energy efficiency perspective, we are very pleased. As you know, our new home is heated and cooled with an all-electric ground source heat pump, which also provides a boost to the electric water heater. Our electric bills in our new house, including space heating in our basement playroom, forced hot air heating and summertime cooling, water heating, and household lights and appliances are not significantly greater than the cost of our gas bill in our last house for natural gas heating and cooking. In the past; however, we also had an additional electric bill, so our total utility savings over time has been significant.
From a comfort perspective, we are very satisfied. The temperature in the house, summer and winter, remains remarkably stable. The cold spots and drafts that characterized our last house are completely absent in our new home. The dry winter conditions and damp summer conditions that characterized our last house are controlled in our new home, without humidifiers of any kind.
From a health perspective, our experience has also been good. As you know, we have family members who suffer from asthma and mold allergies, and we wanted our new home to help control the trigger conditions that affect their health. Since the move, the frequency of attacks for both family members has decreased significantly, and their need for medication has gone down, as well. Without question, our healthy home has played an important role in the improvement of their health. No longer do we spend time cleaning mold from the bathroom tiles and the window frames. The house smells clean and fresh.
In addition to these engineering features, our new home is beautiful! We get many compliments on the design, both inside and out. Bethany neighbors have told us how pleased they are we built a house that respects the traditional New England architecture of an old farming community. BPC also helped us to site our new home for the best passive solar efficiency, light and views, as well as aesthetic use of the landscape.
Finally, we would like potential customers of BPC
to know how pleased we were with your company's work as the project
manager for our new home. We found your expertise in building
science to be of great help in planning the project and in the
selection of appropriate equipment and materials. BPC's management
of the subcontractors and communication with us always met our
expectations. Moreover, BPC was conscientious and ethical in
all aspects of the work. We would be pleased to recommend BPC
without reservation. We would be happy to speak to any interested
customers and answer any questions they may have."
Christine and Monte
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"To anyone who is considering
building a new home, renovating an existing one, or someone
who would just like the comfort of a home that will keep a
consistent temperature twelve months a year, then Chris & Mike
Trolle at BPC are the men to talk to.
My wife and I Met Chris & Mike in 2001, just as we were beginning the planning stages of our new home. It was immediately apparent to us that they understood the way a home should be built and, most importantly, insulated and conditioned to control air quality and humidity. My largest concern was the home’s warmth and the quality of the air for my children. Chris worked with both my wife and me from the ground up as a consultant who helped us to subcontract for the heating/air conditioning, as well as for the insulation of the home. He was there to meet with all of my subs whenever he or I had concerns about the way the home was being constructed, from the earliest stages of construction, such as air sealing the rough exterior walls, to the final stages of ensuring that the heating system and the ERV (energy recovery ventilator, which controls the humidity in the home at MY desired humidity level) worked well together. The home is super tight yet breathes!!
Before I built this home, I would get Eczema in the winter due to our old home’s dry indoor air. Not any more. Construction of the home ended in the summer of 2003, just eleven months after we began. It is now nearly April of 2004, and I went through the entire winter without any dry skin as I had experienced in the past.
To this day, the plumber who I used still can't believe that we are only using 3 tons of cooling/air conditioning to keep this house cool in the summer months. It was the recommendations and expertise of BPC for the insulation and air sealing of our home that will have the extra we paid in insulation paid off in 5 years versus having high heating and cooling bills forever.
Today we have a home that was tested and found to
be over 25% more energy efficient than an "ENERGY STAR® home." Let's
see the average builder do that. The numbers speak for themselves.
If you need help for any project or problem, then do not hesitate
to contact either Mike or Chris Trolle at BPC."
Fred & Renee
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"BPC Green Builders was the builder for our
new home, completed in the winter of 2006. Our goal was to
build a home that balanced
our personal needs with our commitment to sustainable living.
We selected the LEED for Homes program to provide third party
verification to ensure that our goals would be realized. Therefore,
we were delighted to learn recently that our home has been certified
at the silver level by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC),
becoming one of the first LEED rated homes in the state of Connecticut.
We love our new home. The well insulated, air-tight exterior
walls contribute to the quiet and energy efficiency. The radiant
heating system keeps us comfortable through the winter, with
consistent temperatures throughout the house. The boiler is so
quiet that we never know when it runs. Last year we used 800
gallons of propane for cooking, bathing and space heating; not
bad for 4,500 square feet of living space. Since then, we have
increased our use of an air-tight wood fireplace and expect to
reduce our propane consumption for the coming year.
The solar thermal panels are producing a great deal of free hot
water and the solar photovoltaic panels free electricity, reducing
our need for expensive and unsustainable forms of energy. We
are pleased to know that the reduced energy and maintenance needs
of our home are helping us to do our part towards a sustainable
future. We thank BPC Green Builders for helping us to achieve
our vision for a new home."
Nellie and Peter
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