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Kirk builds custom homes and installs solar

 

Last updated 4/12/2019 at 6:11pm

Mark Kirk builds homes and installs solar systems in Fallbrook.

Mark Kirk

Special to Village News

I began building custom homes in Fallbrook in 1990. I had just finished 14 beautiful big houses in Atlanta, Georgia, when I decided to move to California. I worked with Mike and Mack Wilson, who were building gorgeous huge homes in Rancho Santa Fe at the time. They put me in charge of developing the Fallbrook market with them, and eventually Mike Wilson handed it over to me. His dad had retired, and his business in RSF kept him as busy as he wanted to be. Even though none of the big Rancho Santa Fe houses were under my direct supervision, I was involved with them indirectly and was able to bring some of those appointments to the houses I was involved with in the Fallbrook and Bonsall areas.

I purchased my office building in 1996 and pulled my contractor's license that same year. Mike Wilson and I concluded the jobs we were working on together and we parted as friends and on good terms. We are friends to this day.

I have been privileged and honored to have been involved in designing and building some of the most beautiful homes built in this area during the last 30 years.

I began installing solar power on my homes long before it became the thing to do. I have felt for many years that this method of generation was a better way to go for electricity. I ran into a lot of problems dealing with solar companies and trying to get good installations done in my new homes. All of the solar companies I dealt with in the early years knew nothing about the construction of a new home or remodel of an existing home. They knew nothing about placing the conduits in the attic and having a "clean" installation from my point of view. I literally had to pre-install the conduits myself in order to keep them from running conduits and boxes all over the outside of my newly built houses. They would drill holes in the new stucco and just leave a horrible site of boxes and conduits. I finally threw up my hands about six years back and decided to start doing the solar installs myself. Since then, I have installed new solar on all of my houses and additionally have installed many referrals on existing houses. I am proud to know that all of my installs are what I consider to be very clean by industry standards. We set up monitoring on all of my systems in my office as well as the clients home office.

I am now working on many installs per month and am installing more solar than building new houses. I have pursued this direction after having developed a passion for this product. It just works.

I also have done many retrofits in conjunction with installing the solar. For example, if the water heater and furnaces are nearing their 10-year life expectancy, then I will change out those systems to the much more efficient hybrid water heater and heat pump furnaces. Some clients have additional remodel work they need done, and I have the ability to just wrap it all into one project.

More recently, I had a request for a drive under type of structure for the solar. In researching the type of structures seen supporting the solar in a Walmart parking lot, I determined that these structures were very expensive and they did not stop the rain from passing through. I worked with my structural engineer and designed a four pole structure the size of a double car garage and put a framed roof on it with shingles and waterproofing. We will install the panels on the top of the structure. The owner will have the ability to come back later and frame in the four walls for a completely enclosed garage. The newly designed structure was less than half the cost of the structures supporting the Walmart panels, and I was able to pull the permit over the counter. Just this morning, I received a request for a similar structure that a motor home could pull under. Once completed, I will have two different-sized plans that are already approved through the county that can be utilized as a ground mount rack for a roof mount solar system.

I receive a huge amount of respect for my solar installs. By managing the systems on my company's computers as well as the owner managing them on theirs spotting a problem happens immediately. Both parties get an email if even one panel starts to underperform. For example, if San Diego Gas and Electric shuts down the power, an email is sent saying that the panels are no longer reading. The company researches the problem and fixes most of them over the internet. In this example, there is nothing to fix other than to wait until the power gets back up. The system is still producing; however, the company and owner are unable to read it while a shutdown is occurring.

The next generation of solar will include batteries. The large utility companies are fighting solar as much as they can and are upset that they are being forced to store the excess power that most systems produce during the daytime and feed it back to customers at night for free. The batteries will play a big part of that equation in the future. The batteries will store the excess power on-site and return it back to the house when the solar panels are no longer generating electricity after sunset.

I look forward to continuing to work in this community I adopted 30 years ago and hope to be installing these solar systems for many years to come.

 

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