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Building with passion

Standing on the back porch of a Lake Oswego home, Paul Marto breathes in the view. He rests his hands atop the railing - comforted by a career he's proud of, a home he admires and city that inspires him.

Marto is a homebuilder.

His clients - spread throughout Lake Oswego and West Linn, as well as the Portland Metro area, however, may give him a better title: 'lifestyle builder.'

Since 1975, Marto and his team have helped to shape the local neighborhoods one family at a time. Paul Marto Building Incorporated just updated its Web site and revamped its name, but the Lake Oswego resident since 1982 isn't changing his work ethic.

'Every house has a favorite part that I like,' he said. 'There are components of each home I build that I just marvel at. I just appreciate a good design.'

At this particular house owned by Dave and Mary McCulloch - on a sloped lot, built with Northwest materials and views of four mountains - Marto reflects back to completing the project two years ago.

'As beautiful as the interior is, I think the exterior also offers so much,' he said. 'Everything is oriented toward the views.'

Striving for

the best

This particular Northward facing home seems a fit example to share what Marto prides his business on: accuracy, interest, livability and weatherproofing - a home that's built to last.

'We inspect and we go beyond the requirements,' he said.

Each wall and ceiling is photographed before it's covered for future reference.

'We photograph all the utility lines, the drain lines and all of the power, gas and drainage lines. Every wall and ceiling is photographed before we put in sheetrock,' he said. 'For this house there's a disc of over 2,000 pictures. If there's a problem we know where the wires are, where the plumbing and heating ducts are. And where there's a stud in case they're hanging pictures.'

Trained through the Carpenters Apprenticeship Program in Portland in the 60s, Marto's work ethic hasn't faltered throughout the years; he visits the site each day and he has a superintendent that's worked by his side for 18 years.

He said each new home is an opportunity to showcase the skills of his company.

'Take advantage of every opportunity you're handed to prove yourself worthy of a referral. That applies to all fields of work; it seems to be a common denominator,' he said.

Lately, Marto has focused mainly custom-built homes rather than spec homes, which consumed much of his time in the 1980s and early 90s.

'We've pretty much been on a treadmill since. It's very interesting,' he said of the past 15 years in Lake Oswego and West Linn. '(When building custom homes) you get to be an important part of people's lives for a little while. You also get to see a lot of different perspectives. '

Marto said he enjoys crafting what his clients envision.

'We execute what they're trying to accomplish. They're going to be living there,' he said.

Vaulted ceilings were a must in this home to take advantage of panoramic views of downtown Lake Oswego, but there were height limitations, as his clients didn't want to obstruct neighbors' views. Materials unique to Oregon were also important - fir ledges, cedar beams - which Marto incorporated into a 'polished Northwest look,' he said.

An outdoor fountain provides calm ambiance and greets visitors to the home as it ripples beneath the pathway.

'It's a Paul Marto house'

Marto said that the longevity of the products and finishes is essential - especially the home's exterior - with Oregon weather.

A leaf trap on the downspout of outdoor gutters can be opened to clean out leaves and debris that have fallen down the spout. A virtually unnoticeable strip of copper sits atop a trellis and any other element on the home exposed to the sky - the tops of lights, beams, etc.

'We capped the top of the beams on the trellis. That way, they're never going to rot,' he said. 'It's a lifetime house.'

All decks were weatherproofed and the sandy colored wood shingle exterior was stained to preserve its color.

'This way it won't silver out,' Marto said, referring to some shingled homes on the coast that turn a gray over time.

Beam connectors that hold the posts of the trellis and deck were constructed with embedded stainless steel for support.

'They'll never have to worry about things rotting or rusting,' Marto said.

Marto said his company goes to great lengths to get details from waterproofing specialists.

'Probably the advantages of having my entire career in the Northwest is understanding the advantages of flashing details and waterproofing details for our specific climate,' he said.

The roof is criss-cross vented. The whole home was wrapped in a specialty breathable fabric to keep moisture out.

'(Paul) made it very clear that water is Public Enemy Number one,' said Dave McCulloch. 'One of the first things that he came to was a different kind of wrap around the house. It has the same properties of Gore-tex - it lets air through, but not water.'

Inside, the floor plan and finish work was designed with the present and future in mind.

'(The McCullochs) have no intention of moving so they planned for their future years by putting an elevator in the house. It was part of the plan,' he said, of the option to not use stairs later in life.

Also part of the plan were elegant showers that have a flat threshold so wheelchairs can access them easily. An air purification system keeps the home fresh. Two kitchens, two laundry rooms and two master suites - one on each level - give the homeowners options down the road, or when their children visit.

Execution is what Marto is known for. His homes look and feel great.

'It's not about the volume, it's devoting yourself to each house,' Marto said.

McCulloch said he'd recommend Marto to anyone beginning a project. He said that Marto was involved with every meeting with the architect and planners from day one.

'That was very helpful. He's very easy to get along with, he's very calm. He doesn't have an ego in this thing. There's no, 'this is going to be a monument to my craftsmanship.' No, that's not him,' McCulloch said.

Marto said that he's not slowing down anytime soon.

'I don't see myself retiring, as long as I'm able to play a round of golf now and then and go on a little trip,' Marto said. 'I like what I do. You know, (in the future) I don't really see any change at all.'

As Paul Marto Building Incorporated launches its new Web site, Marto said he's excited for this next notch in his tool belt - and he's only continuing to build upon the firm foundation he laid years ago. He raised his family of four in several Marto-built homes.

'I want people to enjoy (their homes) for generations,' Marto said. 'At some time in the future when I'm long gone, I'd like for people to say 'it's a Paul Marto house.' It's very important to us to have a legacy. We have to build something that's worthy of that type of recognition.'

For more information about Paul Marto visit www.paulmarto.com.