Karma Dog Construction
- Written by: Matt Dodge
- Produced by: April Reeves
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Karma Dog Construction Inc. is a design-build construction firm serving clients throughout California’s Sonoma County. Founded in 2004 by Preston Addison, joined in 2013 by his brother, Micah Addison, Karma Dog sets itself apart from the competition with an attention to detail unmatched by others in the market.
“We focus on both the details and the bigger picture,” says Preston. “We handle the entire master planning of a project; as far as a design-build company, there is really no one else around doing that.”
With a commitment to green building practices that stretches far further back than the current trend sweeping the market, Karma Dog limits its work to within a 20- to 40-mile radius of its headquarters in Cloverdale, California. “I don’t think sitting in a car for two hours each way is a green way to be a builder,” says Preston.
Karma Dog works within the commercial and residential markets across the northern reaches of Sonoma County, completing for ground-up design-build projects as well as additions and custom remodels. The company performs most of its own framing and carpentry, typically subbing out only electrical, plumbing and roofing to a trusted team of industry partners. With an expertise in master planning, the team at Karma Dog is able to save customers money and shave valuable time off a construction schedule.
“On projects we try to look at the end game. For example, we’re currently doing a project where we had to tear out a patio between two units and we’re advising them to put in irrigation lines and landscape lighting cables now while there is already a trench there. Doing that now will save them thousands and thousands of dollars in the long run,” Preston says.
This type of long-term planning, along with the associated cost savings, has earned Karma Dog a loyal customer base that returns to the company time and again for remodels, additions and new construction projects. “We plan on being there and having an active relationship with clients that lasts for years,” Preston says.
Green by nature
The Addison brothers’ interest in building started at a young age. “We lived on top of a mountain in Trinity County. We had no well or electricity, and when the house became too small, we built the rooms ourselves,” Preston says. In high school both Preston and Micah took every shop class available. Preston also spent the summers of his college years building a log cabin on a plot of family land.
“That was the first structure of substance I built and one of the greenest. I had studied passive heating and cooling back in high school when it was a completely counterculture thing to do and the building was zero VOC before that word was even bantered about,” Preston says.
In college Preston decided to pursue a lifelong interest in the natural world, earning a degree in biology and ecology before returning to the construction industry shortly after graduation. Preston signed on with a general contractor whose holistic approach to construction still influences Karma Dog to this day. “He built all his own cabinets, doors and windows right in the shop,” says Preston, whose company also builds many of its own cabinets and countertops.
After a decade long hiatus that saw Preston put his biology degree to use teaching high school science and woodshop, he returned to the industry in 2004 and founded his own company. Having established a name for himself on smaller building projects during his time as a teacher, he was able to weather a tumultuous construction market and get Karma Dog off the ground.
“A lot of people thought it was a crazy time for me to be going into business, but because of the level of work that we do, we’ve had consistent growth even in slow times,” he says.
Micah’s decision to leave a high-profile job as a project manager for a large construction firm also changed Karma Dog’s scope and reach. “When Micah joined the company, that also allowed us to significantly expand what we could accomplish,” explains Preston.
After Micah’s arrival, Karma Dog grew from a solo effort to a full-fledged team, with a number of employees and a business partner signing on with the nascent construction outfit. After 12 years Karma Dog has grown to be one of the premier design-build firms in the region, thanks in part to the Addison brothers’ unrelenting commitment to the latest in green building practices.
“I keep up on product lifecycle research, the cradle to grave concept, and incorporate that into my design. I’m not doing green building to have a couple of initials after my name or sell somebody something. I’m doing it from a deeply rooted interest in biology and ecology that has a very strong scientific basis and almost zero to do with the latest trends,” Preston says.
Looking to the future
For Preston and Micah, it’s the variety and opportunity for creativity that keep them interested in the construction industry. “There’s a problem to solve and something to find a solution for every day,” says Preston.
On a recent project, Preston had the opportunity to watch a patch of poison oak transform into a brand-new home under Karma Dog’s guidance and expertise. “This one started with nothing. We did the wells, roads, septic, decks, exterior, kitchens and landscaping as well as the full site planning,” he says.
While Karma Dog currently performs some construction projects designed by other architects and designers, the Addison brothers hope to eventually move the company to a fully design-build model. “We also want to increase in size to ensure a stable work environment for our valuable employees,” he says. “We’re also interested in keeping our employees working 12 months a year, which is not the standard California construction model.”
Along with its talented team of employees, green building stalwart, Preston Addison, and fastidious project manager, Micah Addison, Karma Dog Construction Inc. will continue to serve as one of Sonoma County’s premier design-build firms.
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