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How Much Is This Home?

Categories: Blog, The Building Process, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: February 27, 2019

Home buyers deserve a straight answer, but getting it requires an honest conversation

Builders and realtors often market homes in terms of square-foot costs, but that approach can be misleading for new construction. Sam Rashkin, founder of the Energy Star for Homes program, expressed this idea forcefully at a recent industry conference. “If you put 100 of the smartest people from the building industry in a room for a week and asked them to come up with a worse metric than cost per square foot,” he said, “they wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Rashkin was talking specifically about energy-efficient, healthy, and durable high-performance homes—the kind built by today’s best professional builders.

It’s no mystery why so many homeowners latch on to this metric, however. It’s an understandable shortcut people use to try to comprehend what they will be getting for their money. As builders, it’s up to us to provide that understanding.

Some builders simply reply that square foot costs depend on what you want. That’s factually correct — high-performance, energy-efficient homes are unique, so the final cost will vary with the details. But the answer is incomplete in that it doesn’t address an important underlying concern.

Yes, people want to know if they can afford a given builder, but they also want assurance that the builder will be a good steward of their budget and their vision. That’s why a professional builder will view this question as a conversation starter. This conversation is an opportunity to demonstrate our respect for their cost concerns, perhaps by showing photos of completed homes and sharing the final prices of those homes. But we also need to go deeper.

Part of the builder’s job is exploring the home buyer’s vision and budget to help build the best house they can afford. If they love a particular home we show but it seems too expensive, we can explore what aspects of that home apply to them. For instance, it may have been on a sloped lot, but their lot is flat, or it included upgraded design selections, while they would be happy with something simpler with a similar look and feel. The variables are nearly infinite.

Besides fleshing out their needs and wants, we also must understand the home buyer’s budget. If they have a particular cost target in mind—say, a 3000-square-foot home for $300 per square foot—we can help them understand what designs and products they can realistically expect for that price, as well as what trade offs they will need to make.

The conversation is also a chance to clarify the home buyers’ notions of square footage. Do they assume it includes the unfinished basement? The garage or patio? How about land costs and permit and design fees? There’s no standard way of calculating home size, so a reputable builder will work to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Ultimately, what most people want is assurance that they can trust the builder. One way a good builder earns that trust is by investing the time and effort needed to understand all the variables involved, then using that information to calculate an accurate price. Home buyers deserve nothing less.

Q: Why do products need to be ordered ahead of time?

A: Like most industries, building suppliers have embraced just-in-time inventory management, which means they only stock the most common items and they may not stock that many of them. In many cases, ordering products ahead of time is the only way to ensure that they will be on the job when needed. Homebuyers can help ensure products arrive on time by making timely selections.

Our Year in Review

Categories: Donate, Energy Efficiency, Green Building, News, Tim O'Brien Homes, Volunteer | Posted: January 17, 2019

This past year has been one that has brought Tim O’Brien Homes to some of our greatest achievements as a company. We strive to use the best green building practices, improve our internal processes, and create an overall comfortable, energy efficient home that families can call home for a long time. 2018 has helped in realizing we are on the right track with those goals as our company’s core values.

One of our earliest successes in the year was receiving the National Housing Quality Gold award from Professional Builder Magazine. The recipient of this award is determined by multiple different business aspects as a builder from customer service to building quality to warranty and even trade partner relations. In 2017, TOH was awarded Silver for the NHQ award. We were given recommendations on how we could achieve Gold in the future. We implemented those recommendations and more to help improve not only our own business practices but the entire building process for the customers.

Earlier in the year we applied for the Housing Innovation Award given by the Department of Energy and we were one of the 23 builders to receive it. The home that helped us win this award was our Savannah Model in Red Fox Crossing which uses solar panels to generate energy back to the grid. As a company we average a HERS index (Home Energy Rating Score) of 48. An average new home that is only built to code standards and not using energy efficient building practices is around 100 on the HERS scale.  The Savannah was given a HERS index of 26.

We also received a Benchmark Award from Avid Ratings, our customer service survey platform. This award recognizes builders in that are in the top 25% of highest customer ratings throughout the build and move in experience.

One of our 7 Company Core Values is Embracing Social Responsibility. This year we have continued working with Oconomowoc High School’s Trades 3 course for the 8th year in a row to collaborate with our trade partners and construction managers to help build a home. In addition, we have also partnered with New Berlin High Schools Construction 3 class to give them this same experience. Our industry is experiencing a shortage in trade labor and this program has helped address that issue directly. Many students that have participated in this course have gone straight into working with a local trade.

Throughout the year TOH and Neumann Developments employees log any physical activity for the month. The company donates a certain amount for each activity and a quarterly check is given to a different charity selected by the employees. This past year we donated to Ronald McDonald House, The Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha, and Meals on Wheels.

Last but definitely not least, TOH has helped 193 families into the homes of their dreams this past year. Nothing is more rewarding to our team than to hear the stories of our customers and just how excited they are to be moving into their new homes! 2018 has been a fulfilling year for Tim O’Brien Homes and we look forward to another great year in 2019.


Tim O’Brien Homes wins 2018 Housing Innovation Award

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: November 8, 2018


Recognized as a leader for home builder innovation, Tim O’Brien Homes offers a solution to the industry’s labor shortage (Article written by Philip Beere).

Due to a labor shortage, America’s homebuilders are struggling to meet production. Simply put, there is not enough skilled labor to keep up with the volume of homes being built. We see the evidence that follows:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) there are currently more than 143,000 vacant construction jobs in the US.
  • A recently released survey by the Associated General Contractors of America revealed that nearly 80 percent of construction businesses are having a hard time finding qualified skilled labor.
  • Job posting data indicate that the relative severity of the shortage is greater in expensive states such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California, although it is also severe in a few lower cost states, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The cause of the skilled labor shortage is blamed on a tightening of immigration, an exodus of workers during the 2008 crash, and fewer young people pursuing or interested in such jobs. The latter is not the case in Wisconsin, where Tim O’Brien homes (TOH) advocates corporate social responsibility (CSR) and giving back to the community, implementing a widely successful apprenticeship program in coordination with local high schools.

A product that inspires 

An approach to building homes that drives value for the homebuyer, TOH is recognized for impeccable workmanship and a commitment to green design, including superior energy performance, renewables, healthy materials, and constantly researching new product innovations.

TOH is an industry leader, as validated by the 2018 U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Innovation Award for custom homes. TOH was one of 23 builders in the United States to be honored for outstanding innovation. The TOH award winning home features an ACH50 of 1.19, MERV 11 filters, a pre-solar HERS Index of 46, radon ventilation, and no-VOC paint.

Although 2018 was the first DOE award for TOH, Craig North, Vice President of Product Innovation, says meeting the ZERH standard took only minor changes to their existing homebuilding template, he says, “In order to meet the ZERH requirements, it only required a simple upgrade to the furnace, hot water circulation, and foundation insulation.”

While building over 200 homes annually, and with a commitment to a product that inspires, TOH is the perfect training ground for high school apprentices — America’s future builders and tradespeople.

“If every builder in the country took small steps in providing youth with training and apprenticeship programs, the shortage for skilled labor could be solved.” Craig North, Vice President of Product Innovation, TOH

The TOH apprenticeship program

The apprenticeship, or TOH School Building Trades program, is a partnership with Oconomowoc High School. The program is led by instructor, Steve Olson; he is in charge of screening and supervising the students. Each cohort sees approximately 30 student applications, from which twelve spots are available. Since the program began in 2010, application rates have tripled.

“Youth are told to gravitate toward technical careers or a four-year degree, versus being hands-on, however, going to university or digital work doesn’t fit all. For some, skilled labor is their interest and what inspires them.”Steve Olson, Building Trades Instructor, Oconomowoc HS

The apprentices build a home from the ground up, arriving at the job site from 7 a.m., working until 10 a.m. Some parents report a transformation from apathetic to energized —seeing their children start the day with purpose, enthusiasm, and the excitement that comes from building a home. The most recently constructed home was at the Lake Country Village neighborhood in Oconomowoc. Students actively participate in every stage of the home construction, from site survey and framing, to final occupancy.

Beyond apprenticeships: CSR at TOH

What exactly is CSR?

CSR, or corporate social responsibility, is also referred to as the triple-bottom line (TBL) or a company’s commitment to people, planet, and profit. There are thousands of corporations around the world reporting on the TBL — the TBL originator is John Elkington. Elkington brought the management concept to the forefront, and it has since been embraced. The underlining premise, prioritize the environment and social purpose, alongside profit. More than ever, the TBL is becoming a requirement. Larry Fink, founder and chief executive of the 6 trillion investment firm BlackRock, informs business leaders that their companies need to do more than make profits — they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock, he says, “Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” he writes, “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

But, very few homebuilders engage or report social responsibility. TOH is setting the CSR standard for homebuilders everywhere. Along with the apprenticeship program, other social responsibility initiatives at TOH include:

Fit For a Cause: a wellness program that tracks exercise routines of employees; the company donates $1 for each mile logged. Since 2013, donations have totaled over $50,000. Recipients include Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC), Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin NICU Expansion, Operation Finally Home (OFH), and Make-A-Wish Wisconsin.

Operation Finally HomeOperation Finally Home is a national nonprofit organization that builds mortgage free homes to America’s military heroes and the widows of the fallen. TOH collaborated with Neumann Companies and Trade Partners to build a home for U.S. Army Sgt. Drew Wroblewski and his wife Katelyn.

YOU sham ROCK: Although not a direct CSR initiative per se, each month TOH recognizes an employee who most exemplifies the company’s core values. Because the core values align with giving back to the community, the employee’s actions often result in social benefit.

Keys to CSR success: CEO inspired, and mission aligned with values

In 2010, twelve TOH team members sat around and talked about what and who they are, as a company and as individuals. What followed, an eighteen-month process to identify the company’s seven core values. CSR ranks at the top of the list.

Other highlights, a formal understanding that trades are partners, are not ‘just’ trades, instead, at TOH trades are ‘partners’ and a key part of the team. President and Founder, Tim O’Brien, along with Matt Neumann, Partner and CEO, carefully planned a company strategy that aligns mission and vision with core values. In doing so, each committed to CSR and making it critical to TOH core values.

The TOH mission is as follows: Working together to build quality, value-driven, energy efficient green homes while providing an extraordinary building experience and embracing our Core Values.

2019 will bring more apprenticeships and more ZERH certified homes

The popularity of the TOH apprenticeship is growing; a second high school has been added to the program. New Berlin Eisenhower High School and New Berlin West High School brought the program to their Construction III course to build a new home in Red Fox Crossing in New Berlin. Red Fox Crossing features 34 homes, all of which will be certified ZERH. Beyond ZERH, each home includes solar, making it Wisconsin’s first zero energy community. As a zero energy community, it allows students an opportunity to be hands-on while learning about low-carbon development, and keep pace with new technology. In doing so, the students become a valuable resource to future employers. With the excellent hands-on training, just how successful is the TOH apprenticeship program? The most recent cohort of twelve students saw ten students go to work for TOH trades, and the other two are studying construction management at a local university.

For students interested in the TOH apprenticeship program, or for builders interested in starting such a program, contact Ryan Hillgartner at

About ZERH

The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, represents a whole new level of home performance, with rigorous requirements that ensure outstanding levels of energy savings, comfort, health and durability. Find additional information about the Innovation Awards and the ZERH program by clicking here.

About the Housing Innovation Award

Since 2013, The DOE Housing Innovation Awards have honored the very best in innovation on the path to zero energy ready homes by recognizing forward-thinking builders who are delivering American homebuyers with a better homeowner experience. Explore these award-winning homes on the Tour of Zero (via

For more about the author, Philip Beere, visit here

2018 Avid Benchmark Award

Categories: News, The Building Process, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: November 6, 2018

Tim O’Brien Homes has recently received an Avid Benchmark Award from Avid Ratings. This award recognizes builders in that are in the top 25% of highest customer ratings throughout the build and move in experience.

Avid Ratings assists over 2,000 home builders across North America gauge customer satisfaction throughout the building process and after move in. All of our homeowners receive surveys that ask them their experiences with our team, the products, and the process. Those who go through the building process with us receive three surveys, one during construction, another after move-in, and one at the one year mark. Our customers that purchase a ready home receive a move in and one year survey. We internally reward our team members that excel in their Avid reviews each year. As well as celebrating our successes we heavily rely on Avid to continuously improve processes and products within our company. We make it a point to follow up with any negative reviews or surveys to ensure that each homeowner feels they made a sound decision in choosing us as their builder.

One of our company’s core values is Delivering EXTRAordinary Experiences. Receiving an award such as this helps assure that we are providing the great experience that our homeowners deserve. We strive to achieve genuine, consistent, and authentic connections with our internal and external customers, as well as our vendor partners, while adding value and relevance to every interaction. We understand that to deliver outstanding service, we must focus on both the big picture and the small details, aiming to exceed our customers’ expectations in all areas.

Building a new home is an exciting milestone, so it is our goal to provide our customers with the best service and communication throughout the entire process. Our Sales Professionals, Design Specialists, and Construction Managers understand the importance of making sure our future homeowners don’t feel left out of the loop and are happy with their decisions. We approach communication as if it were their own family building a home with us.

2018 MBA Parade of Homes

Categories: Energy Efficiency, Going Green, Green Building, Neighborhoods, Parade of Homes, The Building Process, Tim O'Brien Homes, Uncategorized | Posted: August 14, 2018

Tim O’Brien Homes is excited to present the Ashbury Parade Home at Lake Country Village in Summit for 2018 MBA Parade of Homes. A new design for us, the Ashbury Parade Homes is a modern cottage split bedroom ranch design. Discover more about Lake Country Village; a great location, with amazing amenities.

2018 Tim O'Brien Homes Parade Model - The Ashbury

2018 Tim O’Brien Homes Parade Model – The Ashbury

The Ashbury

As you walk through the front door a towering two story foyer will greet you and this is only the beginning. You have found yourself in the Ashbury, named by one of our Facebook followers and a Tim O’Brien homeowner. This unique yet functional layout allows you to feel all the comforts of home. The stylish and trendy details will have you making any excuse to entertain.

Almost immediately your eyes will be drawn to the open Great Room. The fireplace features floor to ceiling stone with a wood mantle, creating an inviting atmosphere. Open to the Great Room is the most loved room in a home, the kitchen. The gourmet kitchen features truly give this room that ‘heart of the home’ feel. A built in desk can be found tucked behind the kitchen. And last but not least, a built-in wine bar to complete your kitchen wish list.

Next to the great room is the Dinette. Crisscross ceilings gives unique definition to this space. On the opposite side of the first floor you will find a secluded flex room that makes for a perfect office, playroom, or additional bedroom. In the rear foyer you’ll find a drop zone and lockers that provide the functionality needed to keep the rest of your home in order.
Upstairs you will find the 2nd floor laundry room, perfectly located to help make doing laundry a breeze. Making your way through the three additional bedrooms you will immediately notice their large size. Walk-in closets can be found in two of the three rooms.

The master bedroom is the perfect space to unwind. The cathedral ceiling gives the room a very spacious feel. The master bath features a double bowl vanity, a walk-in tiled shower with dual showerheads, and hexagon tiled marble floors.

Our Parade Home is for sale!  Contact Cindy Larkin (


By: Metropolitan Builders Association

The 2018 MBA Parade of Homes opens on Saturday, August 11, 2018 and runs through Labor Day, Monday, September 3, 2018.

Visitors can walk through brand new homes built by MBA Members – Southeastern Wisconsin’s top home builders.

Each Parade Subdivision featured the latest in interior and exterior design, decorating trends, new and sustainable building techniques, and cutting-edge technologies.

The Parade of Homes is a nationally-recognized local event that began in the 1940s and features premier subdivisions and model homes in our region. The 2018 Parade of Homes will feature brand new must-see model homes built by southeastern Wisconsin’s most experienced home builders.

They will be available at Parade entrances, online, and at several advance ticket locations. Buy tickets here.

HOURS:  Mondays – Friday • 4p.m. – 8p.m.  |  Saturday, Sundays & Labor Day • 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Red Fox Model Grand Opening

Categories: Blog, Energy Efficiency, Going Green, Green Building, Model Homes, Neighborhoods, News, Renewable Energy, Solar, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: July 11, 2018

Join us for the opening weekend of the Savannah Model

Tim O’Brien Homes along with Neumann Companies, SunVest Solar Inc., and the City of New Berlin will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on July 20th at 10 am at the new Savannah Model Home at Wisconsin’s first Net Zero community, Red Fox Crossing in New Berlin. Opening weekend will continue July 21st at normal model hours, noon to 5 pm.

A Net Zero Community has the electrical generation from photovoltaic (PV) solar systems (the amount produced) that will offset the projected electrical consumption (the amount used) of each individual home built. All of the 34 homes will include a six to eight kW photovoltaic (PV) solar array and receive third party certification by: ENERGY STAR® V3 National Qualified Home, Focus On Energy, EPA WaterSense® and EPA Indoor Air Plus Qualified Home.

“Red Fox Crossing has the potential to be the turning point in building a more sustainable community in Wisconsin, versus focusing on only one home at a time,” says Tim O’Brien, President of Tim O’Brien Homes. “A more holistic approach to high performance and sustainable communities.”

The Savannah home plan was Tim O’Brien Homes Parade Model in 2017 and has proven to be a popular addition especially for those homebuyers wanting a more spacious ranch layout. This split bedroom layout features over 2,400 square feet, a soaring front foyer entry, spacious master bedroom suite, open concept design and powered by the sun with solar panels.

This model home is among one of the first three home in the state of Wisconsin that is certified by the U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home.  It has a Home Energy Rating Score (HERS) of 26, the Savannah will only use 26 percent of the energy a code build home of its size would. The Home Energy Rating Score (HERS) is a national index that shows where a home lands on an energy scale. The lower the score, the more energy-efficient the home and the more money the homeowners will save, similar to the MPG rating for automobiles.

“Buyers are looking for ways to save on their true cost of homeownership,” says Angela Cooper, Milwaukee Division President of Tim O’Brien Homes. “The upfront costs of building a net zero home might be slightly more than a code built home but the money saved in monthly utility bills results in an overall less expensive home.”

The three partner companies share an environmental tie. Tim O’Brien Homes focuses on energy efficiency and green building.  In fact, they built the first Emerald Certified home following the National Green Building Standard (NGBS). Neumann Developments, Inc. has developed over 3000 acres of land with 50% preserved green space. SunVest Solar adds the technology to bring solar energy to the homes, both new and existing homes as well as commercial projects.

“It has always been our dream to offer an energy independent community,” said Matt Neumann, President of Neumann Companies. “We are excited to have all three companies involved in creating Wisconsin’s first Net Zero community.”

Other highlights of the Savannah include a gourmet kitchen with built-in appliances, soaring cathedral ceiling and spacious great room and dinette. The great room is anchored by the fireplace and unique box tray ceiling. The large master bedroom suite has a substantial walk-in closet and spa-like bath.  A family work zone that features a desk, lockers, and a closet. On the opposite side of the home are two spacious secondary bedrooms connected by a private, Jack & Jill bath.

Red Fox Crossing is located on the south west corner of W. Grange Avenue and S. Sunnyslope Road, serviced by New Berlin School District, and close to shopping and Interstate 43.  Homes range in size from 1,900 square foot for a ranch and 2,200 square foot for a two-story and feature natural materials on the exterior.  The neighborhood is 50 percent sold out with home and lot packages from $450,000 to $650,000.

For more information about d Red Fox Crossing, click here  or call 262.542.5750

6 Things to Know About Your New Home

Categories: Blog, Energy Efficiency, Home Care | Posted: June 20, 2018

6 Things to Know About Your New Home

Moving into a brand new home is such an exciting time for many. It is blank slate for you and your family to truly make the space your own and create memories together. Much of this excitement moving into a newly constructed home can lead to missed insights on your home’s functions and other important information that you need to know down the road. Here are 6 important things to know about your new home when you move in.


Humidity Control

Homes today are built far more energy efficient and air tight than they were 20 years ago. With this thought in mind there is less air escaping your home, which means it would take much longer time for humidity to escape your home as well. A new home takes some adjusting in that you need to take the proper precautions to prevent high humidity levels that could lead to condensation in your windows. Most thermostats in new homes display the humidity level in the home. You will want to try to keep that between 30-40%. To prevent high humidity you should run a fan in the bathroom each time you are showering and also run the fan in the kitchen if you are doing dishes, opening the dishwasher, or boiling water.

Furnace Filter

Many are under the impression that since this is a brand new home that a new furnace filter isn’t necessary right at the recommended replacement date. This is in fact the opposite. Because of the fact that the home was under construction and had many materials in it to put the home together the filter actually has to be replaced more often than suggested.

Register your Warranties

After all of the madness of moving and getting settled, set aside time to register for all of the warranties involved in your home. If you miss a window to register your warranty it can cut your warranty time in half and in some cases can give a company more leverage to deny a claim a the future. It typically does not take more than following a website, entering some information, and possibly a code as a unique identifier. With each element in your home that involves a warranty, it is best to block off time and complete registering them all at once.

Important Contact Information

In many newly built homes important contact information can be found in a bag attached to the furnace. Most of these contacts are on separate sheets or business cards. Compile a list of these important contacts in case anything were to go wrong in your home. Have a brief understanding of who to call in which cases and keep the contact sheet in a convenient location(s).

Have a Dedicated Notebook

During your New Home Orientation you will want to notes on the many important details that are given. You will find yourself needing to reference this for certain functions and you may want to glance over it once or twice before move in day to ensure you are aware of any day-of move in tasks.

Many new home warranties involve a 30 day, 60 day, and 1 year visit. To help you keep track of what may need attention in your home during these appointments, have your dedicated notebook to write down any observations in the home that you believe warranty could help you take care of. This makes it easy on you and your warranty specialist so that there doesn’t need to be multiple trips in the case that you may miss a couple details on accident.

Home Maintenance

A home, even when brand new, can endure wear and tear and will still need normal maintenance. It is important to know what issues fall under warranty of either your builder or the manufacturer and deciding if the issue is fixable on your own or if you should consult with someone.


Buying a new home is one of the biggest investments you will make in your life. Many people hesitate to ask questions out of fear that they should already know the answer. A home builder’s construction managers and warranty specialists are there to answer your questions. They are a resource for you to help navigate your new home, so do not be afraid to ask. They ultimately want you to be happy and comfortable in your home. Knowing these details can help you feel less overwhelmed and help you get off to the best start possible.

9 Ways to Elevate Your Outdoor Space

Categories: Blog, Color, Decorating Tips, Design | Posted: May 31, 2018

9 Ways To Elevate Your Outdoor Space

Summer is finally here! As you know from living in Wisconsin, it is especially important to get as much time as possible outdoors and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts. Here are some tips to help make your backyard feel like an outdoor oasis this summer.

Shed Some Light

Photo via Gray House Studio

Hanging some string lights in your backyard area is a super easy but effective way to create a totally different atmosphere. This small, inexpensive change immediately creates a more inviting space. Incorporate lanterns with either real or fake candles to give the space some light as well.

Add a Pergola

Photo via HGTV

Pergola’s are a great way to define a space, make it feel more cozy, and provide a little shade on days that may be more sunny than others.

Add a rolling bar/cooler

Photo via Ideas2live4

If you are looking for a cost effective way to incorporate a bar in your backyard, a rolling cooler/bar is a great option! It is more aesthetically appealing than setting out a plastic cooler and also provides the function of a bar without having to spend a lot of money on a costly setup. It is also convenient to not have to make trips in and out of the house or garage whenever something is needed.

Area Rug

Photo via Liz Marie Blog

Area rugs also help define a lounging area versus a dining area. It has become a trend to treat a patio similar to a living room and incorporating an outdoor area rug is another way to achieve that cozy atmosphere on your patio or deck.

Hang a Hammock

Photo via Home Stratosphere

There’s nothing more relaxing than laying in a hammock, in a nice shady spot, on a warm summer day. If you don’t have a spot that would work for hanging one there are stands available for purchase along with it. Find the perfect spot to place a hammock and you won’t regret it!

Outdoor Couch

Photo via Décor Pad

Outdoor couches and chairs are taking a front seat as opposed to the traditional table a chairs. Consider an outdoor sectional couch and some cozy chairs so that you and your guests will be comfortable enough to relax there for hours. You can even create your own furniture out of something as simple as palettes.

Add Color

Photo via Jungalow

What says summer more than bright, vibrant colors? Give your outdoor space that summer retreat feel with colorful pillows, décor, planters, flowers, etc. Don’t be afraid to mix and match. This area is one that can have a wide variety of color and it will only make it look more appealing and can be a great way to distract from imperfections.

Invest in a Heater

Photo via Room For Tuesday

For those cool summer nights a heater creates the perfect temperature to sit outside all evening without needing a jacket. It also allows you to continue having outdoor gatherings in the fall making it comfortable for everyone.

Don’t Forget the Fire Pit

Photo via Brooklyn Limestone

A good fire pit is a summer essential. Summer nights spent by a bonfire can make for the best memories. Invest in a good setup that can last great and look great for years to come!

9 Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Categories: Blog, Home Care | Posted: April 26, 2018

Spring has officially sprung! For homeowners this time of year is the best for performing necessary maintenance and taking preventative measures on your home before the weather transitions into the warmer months. Make sure you perform these maintenance tips to ensure your home is safe and running efficiently this summer.

Spring Clean

Open up the windows, crank up your favorite music, and deep clean the whole house. First thing you will want to do is take inventory of your cleaning supplies before your set spring clean day arrives. Set a goal to have it done by a certain time in the day and have a plan of attack laid out before you start to be able to track progress. Once you are done sit back and enjoy your perfectly clean home!

Clean out the Gutters

After a long fall and winter it is important to check that your gutters aren’t clogged with leaves or other debris. You will want to make sure they are properly working before a big rain storm hits. Most experts recommend cleaning your gutters twice a year, once in late spring and again in the fall.

Examine Roof Shingles

Roof damage can be extremely costly if not caught early. One of the most important preventative tasks to complete is examining your roof for potential damage. If you are not too sure what you might be looking for when inspecting your roof here are some things to keep an eye out for:

Missing or broken shingles

Cracked caulk or rust spots

Cracked and worn rubber around vent pipes

Large moss and lichen spots which could mean decaying beneath shingles

Loose, curling, or blistering shingles

Check Outdoor Water Sources

Since any outdoor faucets have not been used for a few months you will want to check that these are still working. Check to see that water is still able to get to them and that there are no leaks come from the faucet. You will also want to keep an eye out for any water leaks in your yard.

Inspect Caulking on Doors and Windows

Being that the weather is warmer it is an ideal time to inspect and fix any caulking damage on the outside of your home. There is a special type of caulking used for the outside of your home so you will want to make sure you are not using the same caulking that you use indoors. It is made of a different material because of the fact that it is exposed to the elements.

Replace Batteries in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Spring and fall are the best times to check and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This can sometimes be overlooked but it is best to never assume safety features such as these are working properly in our home. It is a good habit to check these somewhat frequently.

Check Your HVAC Filter

HVAC filters should typically be replaced every two months. As a part of your spring maintenance check and see if your HVAC filter needs replacing. You will want to get in the habit of writing the date you replaced it on the new filter so you are better aware of when it needs to be replaced next.

Check Basement for Moisture

Next time there is a heavy rain you will want to check your basement and make sure there is no water or moisture issues. Windows can be a big source of moisture issues in a basement. If your windows have a drain make sure there is no debris or dirt covering it.

Power Wash your Deck or Patio

To get your outdoor space ready for summer you will want to power wash your patio or deck. If you have a deck the weather more than likely wears away at your paint or stain, so it may need to be re-stained or re-painted. Dust off the patio furniture get ready for your first outdoor gathering of the year!



6 Reasons Why The Easy Choice is New

Categories: Blog, Energy Efficiency, Green Building, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: April 6, 2018

In today’s competitive housing market it is not uncommon to miss out on a home that meets almost all your criteria. Most people’s train of thought tells them to keep searching and something will eventually come about. Building a new home is often times overlooked because of the up front price difference, but it can ensure you the home of your dreams from the moment you are handed the keys.

Why buy new?

1.) Cost saving heating and cooling

With the advances being made in new home construction, you can virtually guarantee a tremendous amount of savings over time on your heating and cooling bills. Innovations in insulation are a big contributing factor to energy savings in a new home. Technology has allowed builders to part ways with old techniques and change the construction process to save the homeowner money over time. New, more efficient heating and cooling systems can also contribute to energy savings in the long run.

2.) Healthy Living Environment

When it comes to health risks, new homes offer clear advantages. Asbestos is no longer used in roof shingles, piping, roof tar, flooring, ceilings, or insulation. Homes are being painted with lead-free paint, and formaldehyde emissions from particleboard and hardwood have been eliminated. Radon prevention techniques are being built into new homes to prevent potential health problems. The advancement of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well as circuit breakers have helped new homes become tremendously safer to their occupants.

3.) Updated features

Building a new home allows you to choose from some of the latest and greatest appliances, countertops, lighting, flooring, and other fixtures on the market. Many of the appliances offered by builders today can also attribute to savings in your utility bills down the line. Energy saving technology is something that has been making waves for the past few years and builders have hopped on board with the appliances they are able to offer their customers. With interior designers (often times on staff) you can guarantee your new home will be stylish and trendy!

4.) Floor plan selection

In older homes the floor plans can sometimes leave something to be desired. Often times owners end up knocking down a wall here and there to achieve the open layouts that are on trend these days. With functionality and trend in mind, new home floor plans allow you to choose what best fits your lifestyle. Almost all new home floor plans feature open layouts. Whether you want a ranch or two story, you are bound to find the perfect floor plan for you and your family.

5.) Personalized for you

With the ability to choose your fixtures, appliances, and much more, you can truly say your home is unique to you. A builder takes what is most important to you in a home and can help bring it to life. Existing homes take much more work to truly make your own whereas a new home will be built with you in mind.

6.) Less Maintenance

In a new home you can still expect minor repairs, mostly covered under warranties, as the home adjusts to housing occupants but overall significantly less maintenance than most existing homes. With existing homes, many people find themselves wanting to make costly esthetic changes that can often times take months or sometimes years to finish. With a new home, you have all the newest features that have been hand-picked, ultimately eliminating the hassle of remodeling for many years.

Older homes that were built without the information and technology we have today can experience larger scale structural issues overtime. When you purchase an existing home, you are also inheriting the issues of the previous owners. If someone living in the home before you did not take care of the home properly, the negative result of that can fall on the new homeowner. The chart above breaks down exactly how much it can cost to repair serious issues you may experience with your home. New homes can give homeowners piece of mind that existing homes otherwise cannot.


So although new home construction is more of an upfront investment than existing homes, you are able to experience a brand new home that is personalized to you and built to save you money in the long run.

Here at Tim O’Brien homes we pride ourselves on our energy efficient and green building practices. Each and every home we build meets the Focus on Energy Requirements which includes 3rd party testing. Our homes provide you with energy savings and a comfortable living for years to come.

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