Dueck Builders

Elegant and efficient

Dueck Builders is a familyowned-and-operated home builder committed to designing and delivering homes that are elegant, energy-efficient, and cost-effective. Owners Cal Dueck and Josh Friesen are both experienced industry professionals with a passion for building healthy, sustainable homes that meet the needs and exceed the expectations of their customers. Since joining forces in 2016, the pair has forged Dueck Builders into one of the most well-known and trusted brands in Winnipeg when it comes to sustainable and highquality custom homes. “We are a customer-centered, custom home builder,” says Cal Dueck. “From humble beginnings in Fort Garry, to mansions in Charleswood, we have made sure that our clients are fully informed on all aspects of the build. Since the very beginning of the company, we have maintained that building healthy, sustainable homes is not only affordable, but also simply the right choice for today’s homeowner.” Cal grew up on a farm in the Arborg area, and as a farmer he learned to “build, maintain, and repair basically anything and everything,” he says. Those skills kept him employed while he pursued a bachelor’s degree in Classics and Philosophy, a master’s degree in Philosophy, and a Doctor of Philosophy. In 2006, he decided to apply his research skills to the science of sustainable and ecofriendly building and began building custom homes in his neighborhood of Fort Garry. “I’ve always had a concern for the environment,” Cal recalls. “When I started building homes and started digging into the science, it seemed like a no-brainer to me. To have a better relationship with the environment meant we needed to have better building practices.” In the beginning, the company was called Dueck Homes. Cal started with a hands-on DUECK BUILDERS


approach, doing all the framing, concrete, and finishing in the green homes he built. His commitment to quality and fairness caught on, and Dueck Homes grew quickly in terms of both size and renown. The company ended up building the first privately built LEEDcertified house in Manitoba, and Cal personally contributed to various green building boards. Then in 2016, Cal’s nephew Josh Friesen came aboard, and the company rebranded to Dueck Builders. Josh, meanwhile, is a Red Seal carpenter who previously won the Level 4 Manitoba Skills Competition at Red River College. Over the course of his career in construction, he’s personally done a little bit of everything, “from framing, to roofing, to siding, to insulation, the whole gamut,” he says. He now does a lot of design work, and he has found that handson background to be extremely valuable – “because I actually know how to build what I’m designing.” Dueck Builders started out doing smaller and simpler green homes and over the years has progressed into doing larger and more complex ones – this year, Cal says, they are doing some homes valued at $1.5 to $2 million. He says that the clients who are interested in building sustainably in that price range tend to seek out Dueck Builders, and he believes they ultimately choose Dueck Builders because of their focus on relationships. “Relationships are really important to us,” Cal says. “The human-to-environment relationship is obviously important, but so are the humanto-human relationships. We’re keen on making homebuilding DUECK BUILDERS

a positive journey for everyone involved. That journey can often be stressful for clients, but we do everything we can to reduce that stress.” Dueck Builders is also a designbuild firm, and Josh believes those dual capabilities are very appealing to clients, as they can handle everything from startto-finish. Doing both design and build also saves the clients the pain of having their beautifully designed home hit the often harsh wall of contractor pricing and finding out that the scope and budget don’t mesh. Also, when it comes to the design, Josh says clients appreciate Dueck Builders’ commitment to understanding the unique vision of the client, and then making that unique vision come to life. “Our approach is, ‘let’s build together,’” Josh explains. “’Let’s figure it out.’ When building with track builders clients are often told; ‘No you can’t do that.’ That’s not us. We inform the client; we explain what we think is best – and we explain why building sustainably will help them lead a happier and healthier life and put more money in their pocket – but then they make the choices. It’s their home; we want it to reflect them, not us.” “One of the best compliments we ever got was from one of our siding guys as he was siding a house,” he adds. “He said to us, ‘You can tell this house is the client’s house. It looks exactly like them.’” As a result of that relationshipcentred approach, Dueck Builders has been able to power their growth almost solely on word of mouth and repeat business – “that’s basically all THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

our advertising,” Josh says. At the same time, he also credits that customer loyalty to the quality of their workmanship, which he in turn credits to the company’s roster of subcontractors and trades. Both Cal and Josh have a lot of handson experience and knowledge, but as the company has grown, they have necessarily had to take a step back from the tools and focus more on managerial duties. Fortunately, they say that transition has been almost seamless because of the quality of their team. “We take our relationships with our subcontractors and trades very seriously,” Josh says. “We pay them quickly, we treat them well, and they take care of us in return. They perform their work to a high standard, and they represent us well on site.” “Recently, one of the neighbors on a house we built remarked to us about how friendly the trades were, and how happy they seemed to be on the jobsite,” he adds. “We’re always happy when we get that kind of feedback. That shows that the relationships are where they should be.” Furthermore, Cal says that Dueck Builders trains and teaches their subcontractors and trades, which has been important to their quality control. “We don’t just hire them and say, ‘get to it.’ We come on site, we look at what they’re doing, and we evaluate the work with them. We’re open to learning from them, and we expect them to be open to learning from us. We expect it to be a collaboration. The trades who are open to collaborating with us, and who love to do the best possible work, they are the trades we keep working with.” “A lot of those relationships go back a long, long way,” Cal adds. “We’ve been dealing with many of them right from the beginning. Some we’ve been dealing with for over 10 years. We thrive on long-term relationships with our trades and our suppliers.” DUECK BUILDERS


Green and gorgeous As an example of the quality, energy-efficiency, and costeffectiveness that Dueck Builders can achieve, Cal and Josh point to a home they recently completed in Stonewall. That project was a two-storey infill design, and was described by the Winnipeg Free Press as an “elegant yet eco-friendly two-storey.” It comprises about 4,600 square feet of total living space spread out over three levels. The eco-friendliness starts with the home’s design. Taking into account the trees a customer wishes to save, the path of the sun, the length of the overhangs and the services available, all form the basis of good eco-friendly design. From there the foundation – like all Dueck Builders’ homes, is an ICF foundation, which is quieter and more energy efficient than standard concrete foundations. Insulated concrete forms provide continuous insulation on the inside and outside of the basement walls. The insulated forms help to prevent the “cold basement” feel. Along with the ICF for the walls DUECK BUILDERS

they also placed three-and-ahalf inches of insulation under the concrete floor. According to Cal, “The insulation keeps the basement floor closer to room temperature. Without the insulation the floor will always feel cold because the concrete that is in contact with the ground takes on the ground temperature of five to seven degrees. The insulation results in a dramatic increase in comfort of your basement.” The concrete used on the project is a low carbon concrete from Lafarge called EcoPact. EcoPact reduces the carbon footprint by at least 30 per cent and up to 100 per cent on some of Dueck’s other builds. For further eco-friendliness, the home uses the Mitsubishi Zuba Central heat pump. The Zuba is an air source heat pump, that operates much like a geothermal system, but uses air temperature instead of ground temperature for moving heat. It operates at about three-tofour times the efficiency of an electric furnace and has a builtin electric backup that kicks in if needed during periods of extreme cold. The Mitsubishi Electric Zuba also provides excellent heating performance in the winter and effortlessly cools and dehumidifies a home in the summer. In general, sustainability is built in to every part of the home. For example, the home is oriented to take advantage of lots of natural light to allow for passive solar heating and lighting along with automatic shades to avoid overheating in summer. It was painted with zero-VOC paint to prevent off-gassing. Even the mantel surrounding the fireplace in the rec room is sustainable, as it was reclaimed from the century-old house that used to be on the property. The sliding mud room door was the old home’s front door, THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

while the dining room table was made from aged timber from a spruce tree taken down during construction. The elegance of the home, meanwhile, is a credit to the high-end features, which include: a 22-foot-high beamed ceiling over the family room, a floor-to-ceiling white brick wall over the fireplace, a tiled walk-in shower and standalone soaker tub in the ensuite off the master bedroom, and a lot more. Other finishes throughout the home include natural engineered oak hardwood floors, off-white/grey quartz countertops, oversized bronze-tinged pendant lights in the kitchen, and a black custom iron railing on the home’s upper level. What excited Cal and Josh about that job was the client really wanted to build something that was not only beautiful, but also sustainable: “Philosophically, we were really well-aligned,” Josh says. “We had the same design principles and it turned out gorgeous. It looks gorgeous and it performs well.” ‘We work hard to create a cohesive team to work with our trades and with the interior designer,” he adds. “When there are issues and concerns and things don’t go the way we had hoped or planned, our relational team work approach means that we can weather the crisis. Our teamwork approach helps us find things that could become issues and figure out how to solve them before we start building’. When it comes time to finish we know that our team will be there to the end and beyond.” “Our clients have often told us that when they are on site and see what the trades are working on, that they are impressed with the attention to detail and care with which our trades work. They appreciate that the trades are good people who are easy to be around, and are proud of their workmanship.” Since completion of the Stonewall house, the clients have also relayed to Cal and Josh how happy they are about the home’s energy performance. “They told us that they hardly have to run their furnace, because the passive heating from the window glazing keeps the home warm,” Josh says. “And when they do have to run it, it’s very efficient and it costs them very little money to heat and cool their house throughout the year.” Moving forward, Cal and Josh envision continuing to deliver homes like that one – homes that are high-quality, highperforming, and cost-effective. They see the Stonewall home as a good example of how it’s possible to tick all those boxes in one product. “Those things aren’t mutually exclusive,” Cal says. “If you’re willing to pay a bit more up front, and have it cost you half as much in total over 60 years, you can have a home that’s green, cost-effective and a real pleasure to live in.” Cal and Josh also both want Dueck Builders to grow slowly but steadily. Their vision is to grow by 10 to 15 per cent every year for the next 10 years. “We’re quite lucky to have an excellent team with us and we think we have the capacity to do more. We’re excited to build high quality homes together,” Josh concludes. “Our goal is to grow by showing that sustainability makes sense for everyone. It makes sense for the customer, it makes sense for the economy, it makes sense for the environment – it just makes sense.” DUECK BUILDERS

For more on Dueck Builders, their services, their building process, and their past projects – and to get in touch with Cal, Josh, and their team – visit https://www.dueckbuilders.com/ THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA