Custom Home Design + Build FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Of course, this will vary widely depend on the size and complexity of the property and even the Village in which you build. Here are some broad stroke timeframes: Design: 4-6 months, Permit: 2 months, Construction: 12-15 months.

We want your design-build project to move along as quickly as you do and will manage it accordingly. Mother nature, changes in the scope of work and late order materials can alter the schedule dramatically. The more decisions you can make before we even begin building, the better – and we will help you every step of the way!

Design-Build with a single firm has consistent advantages over Design-Bid-Build – the major ones being cost and time savings (see next question for estimates.) When one entity has sole responsibility – your project benefits from tighter communications, faster problem-solving, early checks on design to identify potential construction issues, concurrent productivity, advance information that saves time, cross-discipline insights that save money, focused expertise that promotes innovation and inspiration, open-book information that solidifies expectations, higher responsibility that elevates standards and higher overall project-owner satisfaction.

Market studies show that working with a firm that provides architecture and construction together can deliver: 6.1% lower unit cost; 12.0% faster construction speed; 33.5% faster delivery speed; 5.2% less cost growth; 11.4% less schedule growth. On a $1,000,000 house with a 12-month construction schedule Design-Build would cost $61,000 less, take 1.5 months less to construct and take 6 months less time from initial design contract to completion.

We can, but it would be a very large ballpark and may be misleading to you in your budgeting process. There are just too many variables that can make a project cost go higher or lower, such as number of bathrooms, material selection, customization during framing, etc. We will develop a control budget with you that balances your priorities with your finances.

We will prepare drawings and written specifications, competitively bid the work and share prices with you in our open-book process. To keep track during the project we use a control budget that outlines EVERY cost. This is an ever-evolving document established during the design phase, basing choices on what is important to you.

We have an open-book policy. We charge you exactly what it costs to design and build your home and then add a percentage for profit and overhead.

The partners will oversee your project. During construction, one of them will be on site every day. With the Design and Build model – most changes are discussed during the design phase, so once the shovel hits the ground, most of the decisions and changes have been incorporated. Every so often, once things begin to take shape, clients request changes. This is not a problem. We will discuss changes and then submit a formal cost estimate for them before proceeding.

We schedule a standing appointment time with our clients every week during the project execution. We make ourselves available to you Monday through Friday 7-5 for any other conversations and 24/7 for any emergencies that might arise.

Yes. Many of our more recent homes are LEED qualified. Our custom home architects –Lead Architect, Amy Berka and Architect Beth DeBaker– are LEED APs. We have done several homes with geo-thermal heating and solar panels. We did the first storm water harvesting system in Wilmette. We did the first village-approved rain garden in Northbrook.

These choices are driven by the client’s vison and their budget. Being eco-conscious can be very expensive- but there are many levels of green we can provide on every job. These can include exterior foundation insulation, spray foam insulation (not fiberglass), high efficiency HVAC equipment, quality (not vinyl) windows, low flow plumbing fixtures, dual flush toilets. When appropriate we use geothermal heating/cooling, solar and/or PV panels.

Every home is unique and the design is driven by the client. You are an integral part of the design team. The plans are yours to own and will never be used again.

Our client list includes everyone with whom we have ever worked. We have more than 10 clients that have worked with us more than once. We would be happy to provide you a copy of our client list and some thoughts about whose project might be most like yours – but you can reach out to any client you like! You can also see the locations of our projects from our North Shore Custom Homes page.

We try not to compare ourselves to other architects and builders. From what our clients say, they appreciate our devotion, thoughtfulness, relatability and true collaboration. We design for needs (not wants) whenever possible, limiting scale and overbuilding. We design for the site to take advantage of the property’s best attributes (views, light, landscape.) Most importantly, we design for the life the family wants to live in it. Ours houses are built to last and designed to grow and age with our clients – and we back each home with a three year warranty.