Green Builder Profile: DAD’s Construction (Orange County, Calif.)

6a00d8341c630a53ef00e551f9d7af8833-800wiCompany name: DAD’s Construction Inc.


Principals: Dan Derkum and Lori Derkum

Contact info: Lori Derkum, 25422 Trabuco Road, Suite 105-220, Lake Forest, CA 92630, phone: (949) 380-0177, e-mail: or

Years in business: 25-plus

Specialize in: Kitchens, bathrooms, and full interior remodels

Professional memberships: National Assn. of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), National Kitchen and Bath Assn. (NKBA), Western Regional Master Builders Assn. (WRMBA), Building Trades Assn. (BTA), International Code Council (ICC), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Build It Green (BIG), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)

Professional certifications: California Licensed General Contractor (No. 802617), Certified Green Building Professional (Build It Green), MBA

Awards: Some of the awards our projects have received:

• 2007 Award of Merit — Pacific Coast Builders Conference Gold Nugget Awards, Best Specialty Project
• 2005 Watermark Awards, Builder and Custom Home magazines’ “Grand Award” & “Kitchen of the Year”
• Lake Forest Homeowners Assn. 2004 House of the Quarter
• 2004 Award of Merit — Pacific Coast Builders Conference Gold Nugget Awards, Best Attached Project

How did you get interested in green building? DAD’s never “got into green building.” We have always done what is today called “green building”: using exhaust fans in bathrooms, double-glass low-E windows, skylights, insulated water pipes, formaldehyde-free insulation, engineered lumber, low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, asbestos-free products, florescent lighting, whole-house fans, recycling removed building materials, tankless water heaters.

We strive to build and remodel projects that greatly exceed codes and that will last a lifetime. So how does this help the environment? Tearing out a bathroom over and over again to fix cheap and substandard work generates more waste and more demand for building materials. We want to avoid that. Although the manufacturers may not appreciate this, our customers and the environment do.

What are some features and strategies that go in your projects? Here are some we like to use:

Engineered lumber such as OSB (oriented strand boards) and parallams. These structural components (especially those used for framing) are stronger and almost perfectly plumb and square, whereas wood can be warped, twisted, wet or bowed. The virtual perfection of engineered wood reduces the need for labor-intensive and material-intensive shimming and adjusting when drywalling, tiling, etc. Also, these products allow us to make much longer and wider sections of wood versus cutting down old-growth trees (BIG trees) as these products are assembled, or manufactured, from small wood pieces. These products also take advantage of more of the tree and there is significantly less waste (saving more trees). What could be better for the consumer than a stronger framing material that decreases the overall cost to build and remodel the home and helps to reduce global warming?

Formaldehyde-free insulation that does not off-gas harmful chemicals into our homes and destroy the ozone layer, increasing global warming.

Paints and finishes that are low VOC or free of VOCs, so they don’t emit harmful gasses into our homes and environment.

Cabinets and finish woodwork that uses a combination of melamine and natural hardwoods — saving hardwood forests. We also use wood and paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Baseboards, crown, and door casings made of finger-joint wood and MDF (multi-density fiber). Finger-joint wood uses sections of “waste wood” that are joined together to make a very strong material. MDF is essentially sawdust and glue that can be made to almost any length and molded into virtually any shape. Now, sawdust does not go the dump to get buried. Rather, it’s made into beautiful baseboards, crown molding, wainscot and chair rail.

Recycling wood whenever possible. Sometimes wood that is removed from a home when remodeling can be reused in the new construction. The wood that is not usable is sent to a facility that turns it into mulch to help reduce water usage when placed around plants and shrubs.

Copper wiring that is a combination of new copper and recycled copper. Also, copper water pipes and water heaters that are removed to remodel are also recycled back into both new copper wire and new copper water pipe. This reduces the need to mine more cooper and reduces the energy to make the copper. Here, too, this reduces pollutants that are released into the atmosphere that both damage our health, water supplies and increase global warming.

Carpet using recycled fibers and fabrics and vegetable-based dyes, thus reducing CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons, which deplete the ozone layer) and polluted water being sent back into our rivers and oceans.

HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) systems that include whole house fans, attic fans, insulation and solar.

What green features are your clients increasingly asking for: Mostly tankless water heaters.

How is your business itself green: We recycle, recycle, recycle — aluminum cans, paper and building materials (lumber, wire, metals).

Anything else we should know?
I’ve noticed over the last few years more companies calling themselves “green.” I’m concerned these companies are calling themselves green simply to make more money. I believe some don’t truly accept responsibility for building with integrity nor do they really care about our environment. I have seen many green projects that have little to no green in them.

Building green is not a fad. It’s something we must all embrace so our children and future generations have a clean and safe world to live in. Green is not about today, it’s about tomorrow. It’s not about “me,” its about “us.” My fear is that folks will notice little difference from these so-called green projects and decide that its all just a big hoax for contractors to make more money. I have given many seminars and talks on the subject and I am always available to help educate the public on green building and remodeling. — Dan Derkum

2 Comments on Green Builder Profile: DAD’s Construction (Orange County, Calif.)

  1. Kathy Price-Robinson

    Steve, email me a good photo of one of your skateboard ramps made of recycled lumber. Maybe I’ll post it on the blog! Send it to

  2. Steve Eisenhaur

    Saw the article on your firm, Green Builder and was very impressed. In my free time I build skateboard ramps for my sons. I try and use only recycled lumber from remodels, renovations and rebuilds (lots of dumpster diving).
    Since you guys are green based would you be interested in stockpiling old lumber or call me when you have useable lumbe from remodels so we can give them new life as a skateboard ramp. All ramps are built on my property in Santa Ana and not for public use or resale.
    Let me know if we can work something out or you know of a source for recycled lumber!