The office of Birdsmouth Design Build is located in a renovated, 850-square-foot Pullman rail car in downtown Portland, Or. This wasn’t always the case, but at a point when the company was growing and they needed a new office space, they faced a common situation for businesses in thriving urban areas, “Everywhere we wanted to be was too expensive, and everything we could afford was too far away,” said Birdsmouth CEO Josh Salinger, whose wife found the train car on craigslist.
Today, Josh speculates that their unique office is part of the company’s appeal, at least for some of their clients. For others, it is clearly their reputation as one of Portland’s top high-performance home builders.
Josh started Birdsmouth in 2008 with designer Ben Valentin. Birdsmouth has had as many as 24 employees, but like many builders, at that size they had to make a decision: they could try to keep growing and support their overhead, or they could scale back and focus on what they love to do, which is design and build, and prioritize what’s important to them, which is designing and building efficient, healthy, and environmentally responsible homes.
Today, Birdsmouth is finding its sweet spot with around 12-14 employees including an office manager, a small design team, a project manager, two site managers, and a small crew of carpenters. The company’s two build teams handle from four to eight projects at any given time. To manage workflow and keep important and appropriate tasks in-house, they sub out specialty skills including roofing, insulation, drywall, and most of the mechanical work. Birdsmouth carpenters handle all things wood including framing and finish carpentry. They also handle everything having to do with water, air, and moisture control.
“It’s so important to these buildings to get the air barrier…