G Little Construction
- Written by: Matt Dodge
- Produced by: Nick Randall
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Based in Port Townsend, Washington, G Little Construction is an established general contractor primarily serving the residential market. Known for its innovative sustainable homes — including a recent foray into floating homes — G Little is committed to superior craftsmanship and design on every project.
“In our area we are known for the quality of our craftsmanship,” says Bob Little, founder and president of G Little Construction.
Founded in 1979, Little has built his company on three basic principles: provide family-wage jobs and a positive work environment to retain highly skilled employees, keep the best interest of the customer at the forefront of all decisions and create beautiful, well-intended, high quality buildings. Residential homebuilding projects and remodels represent 80 percent of G Little’s work, with the rest coming from the commercial sector.
By taking a team-based approach to every building project, G Little is able to ensure that projects come in on time and within budget. “We really treat each project as a team when working with architects, tradespeople and customers,” says Little.
The son of a builder and the grandson of a lumber mill operator, Little has been involved in the construction industry since birth. After attending college with a major in architecture, Little moved from San Diego to Washington State where he launched G Little as a design-build construction firm.
While G Little has phased out that aspect of the business over the years, the company still retains two in-house designers, working primarily on kitchen and bath remodeling projects. Additional design work is handled by a trusted local architect, Studio STL, who also happens to be one of Little’s sons, while his other son, Gage, works as a partner at G Little.
Sustainable building projects have been a hallmark of the G Little brand for years, even before green building became the trend it is today. “It was in 1984 when we first began doing blower door tests and found out how much they leaked,” he says. “We began to fine-tune our designs and have done that ever since.”
G Little’s approach to sustainable construction starts with the building envelope itself. “Our goal is to start with a really good shell. This doesn’t cost a huge premium and we try to explain the benefits of it. It’s often successful, but the budget is always a factor, so we try to whittle it down to priorities and help people see where they will get the most impact for their dollar,” explains Little.
As an early adopter of sustainable design and building practices, G Little has been able to set itself apart from the competition, many of who are just now latching on to sustainability trends. “We built well beyond energy code in those days, and we’ve been thrilled as it got stricter because it’s made the competitors step out,” he says.
While G Little performs a range of work including custom-built homes, luxury homes, commercial builds and remodels, floating homes represent some of the company’s most unusual projects.
G Little is currently finishing a LEED Platinum-certified floating home on Lake Union, a large freshwater lake located within the city limits of Seattle. The home includes a number of sustainable features such as a geothermal heat pump and solar panels and with a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index rating below 30, it is almost a net-zero home.
Floating homes are a growing trend, and the most recent project represents the fourth to be completed by G Little. Built on land at Port Townsend Shipyard before being launched into the water, G Little’s floating homes take longer than the typical homebuilding project, about one year on average. “We have another one coming up in the fall,” notes Little.
G Little works throughout the greater Seattle area, with most of its building projects taking place in Jefferson County. As a relatively small custom homebuilder, G Little’s team of 23 employees typically completes four ground-up building projects each year, as well as a number of remodels and renovations.
While new construction is the cornerstone of the business, Little says it’s those remodel and renovation projects that give him the biggest sense of pride. “They have the highest appreciation because they’ve often been living with a problem for years and we can help solve that problem,” he says.
As a trusted contractor well-known in the local community, G Little is often called in to perform remodels and renovations on the same properties time and time again. In Port Townsend, the company was tapped to transform a small engine repair facility into a flower shop. It was next turned into a photography studio before G Little was called in once again to renovate it into a shop for a screen-printing and embroidery business, and finally to convert it to offices and meeting rooms.
Like many in the construction industry, the recent recession meant some tough times at G Little. While Little was forced to briefly downsize the company to the point where it was just him and his son, the company was ultimately able to weather the economic downturn and return to full strength.
“We were fortunate that we have longstanding and solid business principals so we weren’t stretched out and hung up like many were,” he says. “We kept our eyes focused on the end of the tunnel and were able to come out on top.”
Strong business principles, and a commitment to sustainable design and unique projects such as floating homes, will all help G Little Construction to remain a leader in the greater Seattle custom homebuilding market.
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