With its Norwegian roots, it comes as no surprise that Telemark Inc. has an eye for world class design when it comes to building its distinctive homes all across the South Fork. Here, we meet Telemark’s Project Manager & Head of New Business Development Joe Sullivan, who tells us all about the company’s 40-year history, and how it is dominating the the growing market for sustainable homes.
Tell us how Telemark got its start, and how it came to specialize out east.
When Frank Dalene and his father came from Norway in 1954, his father started building in St. James and, throughout the years, moved further east. Frank established a carpentry contracting business after graduating college in 1976. His father’s Norwegian partner retired and in November 1978, Frank and his father merged their two businesses to form Telemark, named after the county in Norway of their roots.
A building recession up Island brought them to the South Fork, framing houses for high-end builders. Frank’s brother, Roy, a civil engineer working for Bechtel Power Corp, joined the family business, and in the early ’80s, they became a builder with a focus on producing the highest quality possible. That reputation led them to build some of the most remarkable buildings in the Hamptons, and the reputation continues today.
You offer a variety of building styles, from the traditional to the strikingly modern. How did you begin to master each of these?
With 2018 being our 40th year in business, we’ve been fortunate enough to work on all styles of building, from modern to colonial, farmhouse to contemporary, historic preservation and beyond. Our expertise in building all types of designs, materials, means, and methods with precision, quality, and roots in the carpentry trade makes us unique. We are well equipped to build to the design of the architect and needs of the homeowner (or business owner).
Do clients usually come in with a firm idea, or do you help direct them toward the home of their dreams?
It really varies from client to client. Some come with very detailed architectural drawings that we do not stray from and others have drawn sketches in the sand at the beach to show a general concept. Sometimes a project comes through an architect and sometimes we refer the architect, creating that team.
We enjoy working to give guidance and input to the engineer when necessary to ensure our clients are more than happy with their finished product.
Are there any builds you’ve had a hard time parting with, given the love and attention that went into it?
Each home is very unique and we always have a strong sense of pride and accomplishment in our builds, so they are all a little hard to part with. A piece of us is given in building each project. That pride in workmanship lasts forever as we go back many years later to acknowledge, “We built that.”
We are lucky enough to be able to hold onto many of our projects after the build with our Telemark Service & Maintenance division. We’ve kept some of our clients for over 30 years and continue to perform annual maintenance. Our clients are very happy and have peace of mind knowing that we are there during a hurricane or winter storm to look after their homes.
When is the best time to build?
Since the high season in the Hamptons is the summer time, most of our completion deadlines are Memorial Day and Fourth of July, so that homes can be enjoyed during the summer months. Starting a project in the fall is usually the best time to get things going in order to have the summertime use.
Always remember, it takes sometimes a year or more to develop the design and receive all approvals for a building permit to start building.
Are there any “sleeper hit” locations that you think are the perfect spots for a new home?
It all depends on the demographic, but I really like the quiet areas around the water like Three Mile Harbor (both the Springs side and the Northwest side) or Amagansett. There are plenty of gems out there, you just have to be lucky enough to stumble upon them at the right time.
How did sustainability become a cornerstone of the Telemark brand?
Sustainability and green building have always been something that we have strived to incorporate into our building. Our first ads in 1978, naming the work we did, includes “Energy Saving Repairs.” It is a strong belief of ours that while continuing to be innovative, we encourage sustainable building practices in our building and to emphasize what we do best: creating an environment that is naturally pure, visually beautiful, and custom built to suit the needs of a distinguished clientele.
Founding the Hamptons Green Alliance, building the groundbreaking HGA House and now the Fossil Fuel Free at Frank’s house with unique, innovative means and methods has made Telemark one of the leading green builders in the country, with invitations to speak of around the world including The ZERO Emissions Conference in Oslo, Norway.
Tell us about LEED Certification. Is that something you strive for when building all of your homes, or is it requested by the client?
We incorporate many of the means and methods of LEED certified building, sustainability, and energy efficiency in our normal building practices today. Since all the homes we build are custom, the client determines if we will go through the certification process.
Among your other handyman services, you offer an Energy Audit. Can you explain that process and the results it can yield for the home owner?
Having an Energy Audit performed at your home is a very smart and important thing to do. Building science has really come around and many homes (even ones built within the last decade) have multiple points of energy loss and can be easily fixed by insulating around doors, windows, changing lights and fixtures, or installing smart home heating and cooling controls.
For most homeowners, an Energy Audit is free, allowing them to receive a report of deficiencies without the obligation to do the work if they choose not to. Or they can do it themselves. At least the homeowner will know where their energy is being lost and they can address it at their leisure.
To learn more about Telemark, visit www.telemarkinc.com or call 631-537-1600.