California Riding Magazine • August, 2013

DC Builders
High quality, custom wood barns propel design and build firm to California acclaim.

"Barns" seems a little too modest a word for the structures made by DC Building. Big or small, the West Coast contractor's all-wood buildings are beautiful, functional and customized down to the tack room bridle racks. They are, indeed, barns in the sense of providing thoughtfully-designed shelter for horses, but most customers describe DC's end results as parts of their home, their hearts and their dreams for their families.

Last Chance Ranch's Brian Sonnenburg describes his DC Builders barn/home as the place where the family's legacy is being made. The barn fulfills his wife's dream of at-home horsekeeping and their shared vision for a place where grandkids can engage in a life
with horses, along with plenty of fun in the spacious and elegant upstairs living quarters and bunkroom.

It's not just families who have contracted DC Builders to translate their visions. Home & Garden TV saw their work online recently and asked them to build a 3,400-square-foot barn that served as the cable network's reporting venue and gathering spot during the Country Music Awards in Nashville this past June. "We had four days to build the barn, so was a little chaotic," admits DC's Brett Loftus. "But we were really pumped to do it."

Formed 10 years ago by Dustin Gruetter and a core group of friends who've been on board since ground zero, DC Building has grown steadily. The company's ability to not only survive, but thrive, during tough economic times is a testament to the quality of its work.

DC's diverse portfolio includes stables of any size, homes, barns with apartment homes, commercial equestrian facilities, show venue enhancements, garages and shops. Complete customization and high quality are the common denominators in all their structures, be it timber frame, post and beam, or stick-built construction.

Full Service Firm

The company is poised for another decade of growth thanks to its recent expansion from general contractor to full-service design/ build firm. Clients who arrive with their ideas roughly penciled out can now stick with DC Building through every phase of planning, design and construction to ensure a seamless process. "From their ideas, we can now make a three-dimensional rendering of their barn," Dustin explains. "They can see the whole barn before we even start building." The sneak preview covers the entire scope of the project, down to the tiniest details. "You can see an interior shot of the tack room, the stall layout, the hardware details: everything."

Once the design details are determined, the DC Building team gets to work on site and master planning, permitting, scheduling and materials. Getting everything done in-house makes it possible to pinpoint actual costs and streamlines the entire process.

DC Building has clients across the country, but California has become something of a second home for the company. The large scope of many of their assignments often means that a DC principal is on site for a long time. That's been the case for Dustin in the Bay Area, in particular. He has a solid lay of the equestrian landscape from Carmel and Woodside to Petaluma, where the company recently completed its latest of several projects for the beautiful Sonoma Horse Park. A timber frame pavilion near the grand prix arena's VIP area and the DC "Tranquility Area" shade structure are much-enjoyed exhibitor spaces that give a nice glimpse of what DC can do.

Wherever their projects are and whatever their size, DC has its own foreman and crew on site for the duration. "Each project has a dedicated core manager and we use crews we've trained ourselves and that have worked for us repeatedly," Brett explains. "That familiarity makes for a very efficient project."

Reliability and trustworthiness are DC Building trademarks. Brett came to the field from the finance world and says he was initially shocked by how many horror stories people had about building contractors. "We strive for integrity and I think that's what helped us the most during the recession. Many of our customers have become good friends and we still hang out with them even though their projects are done."

Brett and Dustin laughingly admit they could not stay on a horse for longer than a few seconds, but what they lack in horsemanship they make up for in barn building expertise. Listening carefully to their clients, conferring with trainers and equine experts as needed and a decade's worth of experience have enabled DC Building to give the word "barn" a whole new meaning.

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