Home building seemed like it would be full of pitfalls and regrets, but I’m fortunate and thankful to say it was just the opposite experience building with BrightLeaf (BL). After seeing so many people roll their eyes when we told them we were doing new construction and telling us “just wait, it will go over on budget and/or timing”, we had reason to question our decision, but the team at BL seemed so genuine and different from all the stereotypical home construction pitfalls and norms that we put our trust in them and we are so glad we did because they delivered in every way and more.
Green building is a bit of a buzzword in the industry right now - so much so that it seems to be the norm among builders and setting companies apart becomes surprisingly difficult. The most common claims associated with green home building practices are the ones used to bring down utility costs and save energy. But how are these efficiencies proven? And what about the impact these materials have on your health and our communities?
It’s good to be green, I think we can all agree on that. Going green in your new construction home is about more than saving energy and lowering your carbon footprint. With the right design and some choice materials, you can also save yourself some time and some future headaches, not to mention lowering your true cost of living in the home. Here are four design recommendations to integrate into your home’s design to save you time and money in the future:
We talk to hundreds of families that are looking to build their dream home each year and there seem to be a few areas within the home that inspire lively debates during the design process. In this piece, we want to consider these hot topics from both ends of the spectrum. Examining the pros and cons as well as the functionality of these spaces will help you feel confident that you’ve made the best decision for your family and the way you live in your home.
Timeline is often a very important piece of planning your custom home build and is a question that we receive quite frequently. Much like the other topics I’ve covered about custom home building, the answer to this question will depend on a few different elements associated with the build. Each element will in turn have varying factors that will affect the timeline depending on your individual situation.
After building a three-home development in the area, we moved on to one of our most inspirational exteriors to date on a corner lot in Downers Grove. Located just a 20 minute Metra ride from Chicago, this town is thriving and the downtown area continues to develop while maintaining its charm. Our clients came to us already owning the lot with a conceptual vision that we helped value engineer and bring to life.
What are the differences between building your home with design-bid-build, design-build, design-assist and DIY methods?
When doing your research to build a custom home, there are different options to get you from the concept in your head to completion of a new home. Although the names of the different options can vary by region and can even mean different things in different industries, for comparison sake, I utilized the terms and definitions of each that are commonly used in the Chicagoland home building sector.
There’s a reason some people describe a custom-built home as their dream home. That’s how they see it—a dream that may never come true. They might think the process of building a house is not possible, or they don’t know where to begin.
How much does it cost to build a custom home may be one of the most common questions people ask when embarking down the path of researching how to build their very own dream home. While it’s difficult to provide an exact figure as there are so many variables at play, I do feel the least we could do is give you a sense for some possible ranges as to what to expect, provide you with an idea of what contributes to the total cost of a home build, and give some direction on what these consist of and how they can vary. I’ll also provide recommended practices to look for from a professional builder to help you not only understand the price you’re going to be paying but also manage to these costs as you design and build your new home.
The time has come for a major upgrade to your living situation. Maybe you want to move due to a career change, the need for better schools, a growing family, or just plain can’t stand where you’re living now. Maybe the layout of the home is keeping you from entertaining and having friends and family over. Maybe you’re living with the previous owner’s less than ideal design choices or are afraid to think what kind of work was done prior to you moving in by people who had no idea what they were doing. Maybe you’ve had enough of the endless maintenance and find it hard to sleep at night since you know your house might get water in the basement. Whatever the case, if you’re considering building a new home and are curious as to what your options are, I’m happy to help guide you.
Few things in life are more exciting than being in a position to build a custom home. After years of hard work, you finally have the chance to build your dream house from the ground up, an opportunity that so many people don’t even come close to getting.
The LEED certification process is an extensive one that requires some rigorous evaluations. In order to gain certification from LEED you have to apply for approval and gather a team of LEED specific advisors to assess your home. If you think that sounds expensive, you are correct.
Choosing to build your house from scratch means having the opportunity to create the home of your dreams and the chance to create something totally unique to you and your lifestyle. With that tremendous benefit, however, comes the added burden of myriad different details and decisions.
BrightLeaf is branching into new territory with this custom-built home in Prospect Heights. This charming Chicago community has a unique blend of urban and suburban feel and is the home to many parks, trails, and highly-rated schools. It’s a great place to build a beautiful custom home.
In January 2019, energy usage, uncomfortable homes, high heating bills, and broken pipes became top of mind in the wake of the polar vortex. We all received tips on what to do to best prepare for and maintain our homes during this arctic blast that closed schools and offices and left us cuddled together in our homes.
The goal of a remodel is to upgrade certain areas and features of your home rather than selling and replacing it altogether. HGTV.com explains, "Older houses were built when energy was cheap, so they have few of the features that are featured in new green construction." A Green Remodel - as opposed to a standard remodel focuses not just on updating aged features and adding space, but making a healthier environment.
Millennials are the single-largest group of home buyers in the United States today. This generation - ranging from 23 to 38 years old - still evaluates homes based on many of the traditional metrics their parents did: neighborhood, amenities, upgrades, location, build year, nearby schools, crime rate, and more. However, younger buyers also have new criteria, including two new ways of thinking about homes: energy-efficiency and indoor air quality.
With all the different houses you are researching, visiting and comparing, it’s easy to lose track of what you saw, what you liked, and what you didn’t like.
'Bigger is Better' is a home building mantra of the past. More and more customers of new construction homes know that it's not about the space inside your home, but how effective it is at keeping you and your family safe and healthy. Green building is not only the most economical way to build, but has a ton of lasting benefits.
Today, we continue our look at outstanding Chicago area communities with the village of Brookfield. Located roughly 13 miles west of downtown Chicago, the village of Brookfield extends from 47th St. to W. 26th St. between Kemman Ave. and S. 1st Ave.
Many homeowners will undergo a home renovation when they’re trying to boost the value of their home, but there’s no need to wait until you are ready to sell. Instead, find some projects that will boost the quality of life in your living space and try to make it as functional as you can.
Jarrett Svendsen is the Managing Broker of BrightLeaf’s real estate brokerage. With a background first and foremost in real estate, Jarrett watched as BrightLeaf houses began to go up near his community in Brookfield, Illinois.
The past few decades of new home construction have embraced certain design assumptions. Bigger is better. Grandeur is desirable. Luxury means overconsumption. It’s about time we flipped these outdated themes on their head.
When building the custom home of your dreams, you know what you want, and what you don’t. That’s why it’s so important to be sure that everyone involved—from contractor and client manager to construction crew and designer, and of course, you, the client—is on the same page. One miscommunication can lead to an expensive delay, so you want to be sure that your home builder is using the best technology available to stay on task and on budget.
There are many reasons why people are hesitant about home ownership. Many might chalk it up to money alone, but there are many reasons why people might wait to seek homeownership or forego learning more about the mortgage process.
The National Association of Realtors published a report on April 1, 2019, that states consumer confidence is high and the GDP is reporting 10 years of growth. The national unemployment level sits just below 4%. Job growth in Illinois from February of 2018 to 2019 is up 1-2% overall. In a nutshell, consumers are becoming more and more confident and the housing market is taking notice
One of the most costly issues facing homeowners and the construction industry today is water and moisture problems. Excess or unwanted moisture buildup leads to mold and mildew growth and can damage your home’s foundation and structural materials.
The cost of building or maintaining your home has the potential to increase if you do not have these issues in mind. Green home solutions and energy-efficient plans are simple enough to undertake, and understanding the root causes of potential problems is the first step.
A few things come to mind when people think about decorating with neutrals at home. While some people might think of neutral tones as sterile or boring, there can be a lot of freedom in thinking of a space as a blank canvas.
Highlights from the Bright Side: What One Client Had To Say About Her Experience Building A Custom Home
Designing your home and taking the steps in building a new construction home might seem like a mighty task. We recently just finished Kristen’s modern farmhouse style home in La Grange this past week, and proved once again, “You really can build your own custom home, and have some fun while you’re doing it.” As a single mother in Chicagoland, she didn’t think that building a new home would be a possibility, but thanks to a “partnership attitude and an open communication process” we were able to make her dreams a reality.
The Environmental Protection Agency has consistently ranked indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. The air inside the average home can have up to five times as many pollutants than outdoor air - sometimes as high as 100 times more - and you and your family may be completely unaware.
We've all seen and heard of the varying types of bulbs and how they affect our energy consumption, but its always good to get a refresher on the subject. More importantly, a direct comparison of savings will give you a better look into green home solutions to create an eco friendly, energy-efficient home.
There's a lot of misinformation floating around the Internet and elsewhere about eco-friendly homes. We're going to debunk some of the most commonly held misconceptions about building a new construction, green home.
Many things can stand between you and the home you plan to live in for the rest of your life (and perhaps pass on to your children). But, over time, BrightLeaf Homes has found that the most common thing holding people back is themselves.
Building your dream home can be an exercise in compromise. As you work with a builder, you'll run across both practical limitations (it just doesn't make sense to put a bathroom where you want it) and budgetary ones (maybe you can't afford a house of the size you want).
If you're considering building a new home in the future, consider building a certified healthy home. What exactly does “healthy” mean when talking about new construction and eco-friendly homes? Let's take a closer look.
"A whole-building approach to energy efficiency—including improving insulation, heating and cooling systems, lighting and energy-using equipment—can reduce energy costs and support warmer, drier, more comfortable indoor environments. Both outcomes have been linked with direct impacts such as lowered risk of illness and with indirect physical health benefits."
No matter where you live and how eco-friendly you are, you can still do more and help Mother Earth even further. The best way to do that is by introducing eco-friendly ideas into your household, as that’s a way to save tons of energy and money as well. This is a win-win scenario we have to make the most of, so here are a few ideas you should focus your attention to.
At BrightLeaf Homes, We’re proud to be in the top 1% of builders in the country. We are currently the only housing innovation award winner in Illinois in part because of our mission to create long-lasting, beautiful homes that improve the quality of life and health of those who live in them.
Being eco-friendly and trying to save the planet isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it’s still something you need to do in order to make a difference in your own area. Different people opt for different solutions, but most of us believe that adding eco-friendly solutions to our homes is the way to go.
Long before you hire contractors or purchase materials, there are some important things you should consider when building your dream home. By keeping this in mind during the planning process, you can save a lot of time and money, and ensure that your finished home aligns with your initial vision.
When you’re in the market for a new home, there are a lot of decisions to make. A common misconception that new homeowners make is comparing homes based on their purchase price.
The problem with this is that the initial costs fail to take into account the quality, your experience, and the true cost of ownership beyond the initial price tag.
What are the purposes of your home remodel? Are you just trying to update the house, fix some lingering issues or is there a more meaningful purpose to the whole project? Every home requires care and you can use these ‘maintenance’ requirements to evolve your home into something greater - an eco-friendly environment that improves your lifestyle and contributes to the global reduction of the energy/carbon footprint. Here are the fundamentals of eco-friendly home remodel.
Moving into a new place is always stressful, even if you’ve already done this before and know what you’re supposed to be doing. There are so many things you need to take care of and a lot of work you have to invest, but keep in mind that everything you do can go a really long way if you know what you’re doing. Making a plan and sticking to it is vital in these situations, so write down what you need to check, inspect and fix before moving into a new home, and start ticking things off one by one.
People spend most of their time indoors than they do outdoors, so the quality of air they breathe at home is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. However, most people are unaware of the fact that indoor air pollution could have a negative effect on their cardiovascular health.
LEED is a Green Building rating system available for nearly any building or renovation project and is one of the most used forms of energy efficiency assessment tools in the world.
So, you’ve finally found the perfect house and started making plans for the move – congratulations! Still, there are a few more things you need to take into consideration. Many people feel tired after searching for the right property and forget what’s important.
Looking for a new home is very exciting, particularly if it’s your first. But if making a real estate purchase is new to you, you may not be familiar with everything involved. If that’s the case, we’ve prepared this checklist for finding Chicago homes for sale.
When deciding between buying or building a new home, one question we hear often is, How do we finance it? Often people assume that they need a mortgage for their new-build home, and are surprised when we tell them about new home construction loans instead. We asked the experts at Chicago Construction Loans (Associated Bank) to give a primer on everything you need to know about new home construction loans.
We often get asked what our price per square foot is and our answer is “it depends”. This is not a cop-out, it’s the truth. With our model of working towards a fixed price agreement through our integrated design approach, the price per square foot truly depends on what kind of home you want, where you’re building it, when you’re building it, and what the interior and exterior finishes are like, to name a few of the key, often overlooked factors.
Smart homes can be tricky. But, it’s not supposed to be. Here are a few ways to put the smart back in your smart home.
Farmhouses are a picturesque and iconic type of home in American culture that
From using different sustainable techniques to adding eco-friendly furniture, homeowners are embracing the green trend more and more every day. Nowadays, it’s all about mixing green upgrades with other trends in order to create an interior that is both eco-friendly and modern. Designers recommend different tricks you could use just to be sure you do everything right and enrich your home as much as you can. For those who are still struggling with the decision of whether to indulge in an experiment such as this one, as soon as you make one change, you’ll want to add something else. Adopting a new style for your home is never easy, but there are projects suitable for everyone’s style and budget, so you can always introduce something new to your interior.
In a world where air pollution is an everyday fact of life, we are already at a stage where we have basically accepted that, short of a total ban on cars, factories, and other major polluters, cleaning up the outside air is an uphill climb that just gets steeper by the day.
The pace of innovation and change is accelerating. Building a new home is a chance to plan everything to the tiniest detail and make your dreams come true. It is always far more costly to integrate future-worthy tech once everything is set up and finished.
Maximizing your energy-efficient space can go a long way in creating and maintaining a long-lasting high performance home. The checklist below offers tips for reducing costly bills and easy ways to get the most out of your energy-efficient home, as well as good guideposts for detecting and addressing at-risk spots, such as under-insulated attics or drafty windows and doors. Use this checklist to help guide your home-building process and maintenance plan, and to help avoid potential issues in the future. Remember, double-checking will save you time, money, and most importantly, your sanity.
You have been dreaming of building your own home for years. Once you decide to make your dream a reality, it is important to partner with a builder that understands what you are looking to do and has the right process as well as the people to get the job done right.
A kitchen can be much more than a lab for culinary experiments. It can serve as a social hub of domestic life, where we can spend quality time as a family. The only problem is that there are so many moving parts to keep a close eye on. Moreover, you need to consider your present and future needs, the age of the children (if any), your stylistic preferences, budget, etc. Through it all, you also must find ways of blending functional and stylish features. Seems like too much ground to cover? Don’t fret-we got your back.
With so many ecological troubles in the world, it’s only natural for all of us to play our role and do our best to minimize or remove dangers that threaten our planet. Although this doesn’t sound enough, it’s still better than doing nothing, and if we all join forces, we can actually make a visible difference in the environment. This is why more and more people are getting interested in eco-friendly remodeling ideas and implementing them into their living spaces, thus elevating the level of sustainability in their homes and helping the environment. If you too are thinking about remodeling your home using some of these energy-efficient innovations, here are a couple of ideas you might find useful.
As the third largest city in the country, Chicago covers 234 square miles. But Chicagoland—the sprawling suburbs and towns surrounding the city—clocks in at 10,857 square miles. That’s a lot of space to cover, and if you’re unfamiliar with the area, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and turned around by the range and difference of suburbs.
What’s the best thing about a new home? That it’s new. You know what you’re getting. No previous use, no unknown and worn out elements that you can’t see. What’s the 2nd best thing about building/purchasing a brand new home? The warranty! Nothing is perfect, and yes, even new things break. But the warranty removes the “jump scare” factor of having to deal with a multi-thousand dollar repair.
As Halloween approaches and the zombies and goblins crawl out of their coffins and holes in the earth we are reminded of the imaginary horrors that fascinate so many of us. But what is just as scary, if not more terrifying, is the unseen. What we can’t see, can often be more horrifying than what we can. Think about how many things there are in your home that could go wrong, that you can’t see when walking through it. We’d like to take a moment to share some “Homeowner Horror” scenarios that have left family and friends with clenched fists, mouths agape, and in fear of the damage to their home and bank account.
We all need to think about taking care of our surroundings, and our homes are the perfect places to start. The two main reasons are saving money on bills and adding more value to your home. No matter what inspired you to think about making a change, here are some helpful tricks to get you going.
When you think of “going green” you’re probably thinking about reducing your impact on the planet. This is a very noble and necessary thing to consider when you know how much our planet has already endured. But if you decide to build yourself an eco-friendly house, you will not only help preserve the environment but will be able to save time and improve your quality of life quite significantly.
To build the best and build it better and different than anyone else is not a simple undertaking. Planning, coordinating, and scheduling dozens of crew members, to execute every aspect of a new construction home build, takes grit, perseverance, and a positive attitude. Three traits these three embody on a daily basis. Here's a quick introduction to our field team. Making ideas, sketches and dreams, into reality.
A lot of people are attracted by the idea of building an eco-friendly home but believe the green construction costs just don't make it a practical option for them. If you hold such beliefs, it's time to re-examine them.
Buying an older, ready-made house is an excellent option for people like you who are finally in a position to acquire their dream home. However, you might want to consider building a custom home instead. Many would-be homeowners are now leaning towards custom homes for the following reasons:
What is your ideal property? You know you’d like 2 floors and a basement, facing the sunset, with high windows for natural ventilation. But do you have the knowledge and tools to pick the right lot for your green dream home? Building a green home starts with choosing a preferred neighborhood that has all the essential elements of a good home, like a peaceful and safe environment, adequate space, availability of natural resources, sufficient access to water, electricity and communication lines and a collaborative team to survey and prepare your lot for construction.
If you are a millennial, home buying and settling into a mortgage may not have been a dream in the past. Now, as you grow older, statistics show that you are finally ready to nest and find the perfect home. When is the right time to act on that impulse? According to experts, both nationally and in the Chicago area, you shouldn't wait too long to fulfill your dream.
The home is where the heart is, so it's best to make sure your home is healthy. How so? Energy-efficient green construction home building is more than just being environmentally conscious and eco-friendly. The materials, technology, and practices used to build green is also healthier for your mind, your body, and your family.
Building a new construction homes in the Chicago area gives you the opportunity to not only design the home of your dreams, but to prove the health of your home and your family while staying on budget and on schedule.
Politics and home construction aren’t often in the same conversation but the latest news of the US enacting steep tariffs on China—where many construction materials and products are manufactured—is affecting all industries, especially solar product companies.
On October 10th, Scott Sanders, our CEO, flew down to Atlanta for the High Performance Home Summit 2017 to accept BrightLeaf’s third Housing Innovation Award from the Department of Energy.
A green and healthy home is the first step towards a happier and better life, but it’s also something you need to work on constantly. Nobody can just wake up and find themselves surrounded by eco-friendliness and sustainability, which is why you must take action and do something to achieve these things. Here are some of the ways to ensure your home is as green and healthy as possible.
Most Americans today associate the process of building a new home with feeling overwhelmed and spending more money than they intended, often leading them to scour the real estate market for pre-existing homes. It could take a long time to find the home you're dreaming of, or even worse, settling for one that isn't all you wanted.
Building a new construction house is an exciting and emotional process – as well as one of the biggest decisions in a family’s life. The decisions to be made require both expertise and foresight – something a reputable and industry-leading builder will have no problem providing clients through the building process. The problem lies in builders who cloud the green, sustainable building industry with “greenwashing” a term used to describe when a company, government, or other group promotes green-based environmental issues but operates in an opposite and often more endangering way. Today’s consumers are more aware of sustainable green practices than ever before, but how can people
Real estate and buying a home comes with a lot of uncertainty, advice, and general … fear. It will likely be the largest purchase and decision of your life, so those feelings are completely founded. You’ve probably heard most about the cost associated with becoming a homeowner – and just how large of a process (and seemingly impossible) it is to secure the down payment. I’m here to tell you it’s not impossible. Here are some creative ways to save for your forever home’s down payment.
Everyone wants their home to be comfortable. Comfort is walking around your home in bare feet no matter what season it is. Comfort is never needing to plug in a space heater because of an awful cold spot in the home. Comfort is not having to avoid sleeping in that one hot room all summer because it's stuffy temperature is unbearable. Comfort is each level of your home being a consistent temperature, no matter how hot or cold it is outside. Comfort is not constantly adjusting of the thermostat just to make sure everyone in the family is cozy. When it comes to green home solutions, comfort has significance.
You may not be aware that green homes and comfort go hand in hand. Here are just a few environmentally friendly features that can enhance the comfort of any home.
Energy savings from your home can mean an extra night out, a family vacation, or a new toy in your garage. Quality materials, high performance features, and attention to every single detail play a huge role in passing along energy savings to homeowners. Here’s what that means to you.
Everyone wants to do what they can for the environment. Green choices are often fiscally sound – they save you money by decreasing energy usage – and they let you do your part in preserving a healthy environment for future generations.
The good people over at the Renewable Energy Corporation have made it simple to understand how solar power technology has advanced and the cost has plummeted. If you haven't started considering the benefits of solar energy for your home, maybe it's time you did? Learn about the economic benefits of going solar at home, the performance benefits, and the global benefits.
These days, just about everybody is doing what they can to be more environmentally friendly. Sales of electric cars that use less fossil fuel are on the rise, and everyone's looking for ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Look through the Chicago real estate listings and you'll find pockets of homes that are old and battered down, a handful of over-priced houses in undesirable neighborhoods, and if you're lucky, a few houses that you feel okay about. But when you're looking to buy