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Blog Category - The Building Process

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.

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.

Neumann Companies’ Groundbreaking in New Berlin at Wisconsin’s First Net Zero Community

Categories: Blog, Energy Efficiency, Going Green, Green Building, Neighborhoods, Renewable Energy, Solar, The Building Process, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: May 24, 2017

New Berlin, WI – (May 23, 2017) – On Tuesday, May 23rd at 11:00 a.m., Neumann Companies along with Tim O’Brien Homes Inc, SunVest Solar Inc., and the City of New Berlin will hold a ground breaking ceremony on Wisconsin’s first Net Zero community, Red Fox Crossing in New Berlin. 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.

Red Fox Crossing will feature 34 single-family homesites developed by Neumann Developments, Inc., the Net Zero Ready Homes will be built by Tim O’Brien Homes Inc., and each solar array will be designed and installed by SunVest Solar, Inc.

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

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

“Red Fox Crossing has the potential to be the turning point in building a more sustainable community and neighborhood 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 34 homes in Red Fox Crossing will start 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. Each home will include a six to eight kW photovoltaic (PV) solar array and be certified by the following programs: U. S. Department of Energy Net Zero Ready Home, ENERGY STAR® V3 National Qualified Home, EPA WaterSense® and EPA Indoor Air Plus Qualified Home. “Solar is the number one source of new electric generation in the United States that enables the homeowner to generate electricity from the sun,” said Kirk Kindred, National Sales Director for SunVest Solar. “We are proud to bring the value of clean renewable solar energy to the first Net Zero Community in Wisconsin.”

Red Fox Crossing is located on the south west corner of W. Grange Avenue and S. Sunny Slope Road, serviced by New Berlin School District, and close to shopping and Interstate 43. Home and lot packages will range from $450,000 to $650,000.


Neumann Developments, Inc. is a family owned business and a local residential land conservation developer with a reputation for preserving permanent green space and creating Wisconsin’s best places to call home. For more information, please visit or on Facebook or YouTube.

Tim O’Brien Homes is a semi-custom single family home builder in the Milwaukee and Madison Wisconsin areas and the leader in energy efficiency, innovative designs, green building practices, and renewable technologies. All homes are 3rd party tested and certified surpassing the State’s energy- efficiency and green strict guidelines, and backed by a 5-Year Energy Guarantee. To learn more about Tim O’Brien homes, call 262-542-5750, visit, or tour a model home.

SunVest Solar, Inc. is a national developer who has worked with over 600 customers across the entire United States, installing more than 44,000 solar panels totaling over 14,000 kW. This equates to approximately 16,250,000 kWh of solar production every year, saving our customers well over a million dollars each year! For more information, please visit

May Green Construction Tour

Categories: Blog, Energy Efficiency, Going Green, Green Building, Home Care, Meet the Team, Neighborhoods, Renewable Energy, The Building Process, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: May 12, 2017

How Does Tim O’Brien Homes Build Green and Energy-Efficient Homes?

Join Tim O’Brien Homes in a Green Tour showcasing the behind the wall details to learn about energy efficient features, green building practices and ways to save. Many individuals are interested in seeing the components and care used to build a home, the Tim O’Brien Homes’ difference is certainly in the details; take a Green Tour with Tim O’Brien Homes on  Saturday, May 20th, 10:00 to 12:00 PM, for a free tour in Merton at our Ready Home in Hardiman Meadows – N69W27683 Leslie Lane Merton, WI.

Tim O’Brien Homes’ Production Manager, Tim Pykett and New Home Sales Professional, Sheila Herbst will teach you about our innovative building process that provides increased comfort, strength, energy-efficiency, and savings, as well as our other green building practices. A great educational opportunity to learn about the Tim O’Brien Homes’ construction process and the ability to ask questions about our products.

In addition, discover the money saving features that Tim O’Brien Homes’ offers to each home buyer.  All homes include a 10-Year Limited Warranty. Furthermore, energy-efficient features that are 3rd party tested and certified, which helps to support our 5-Year Energy Savings Guarantee.TOB_GUARANTEE shield_r1

QUESTIONS & TO REGISTER please contact Sheila Herbst at 262-7440933 or

For driving directions please use the following information:

Ready Home Address: N69W27683 Leslie Lane Merton, WI 

Directions: I-94, Exit West to Hwy 164, to VV/Silver Spring West to neighborhood on the corner of VV and Lake Five Road.

About Tim O’Brien Homes

Tim O’Brien Homes is a semi-custom single family home builder in the Milwaukee and Madison Wisconsin areas and the leader in energy efficiency, innovative designs, green building practices, and renewable technologies.  All homes are 3rd party tested and certified surpassing the State’s energy- efficiency and green strict guidelines, and backed by a 5-Year Energy Guarantee. In addition, seven Core Values are the guiding principles that inspire our daily work and underscore our commitment to customers, vendor partners and each other. For more information, contact Tim O’Brien Homes at 262-542-5750 or visit

Come see us at the MBA Home Building & Remodeling Show!

Categories: Blog, Design, Energy Efficiency, Going Green, Green Building, Meet the Team, Model Homes, Neighborhoods, Renewable Energy, The Building Process, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: January 13, 2017

Come find us!

We’re underway at the 2017 MBA Home Building & Remodeling Show!  We’ll be here each day of the event, Friday through Sunday.  Our knowledgeable sales staff will be on hand each day to listen, learn, and help explain the Tim O’Brien Homes difference.  Even if you’re not in the market for buying or building a new home, get inspiration for a remodeling project, landscaping ideas, and sample some food.


“The MBA Home Show is really the one-stop shop for people who are looking to build or update their home,” says Kristine Hillmer, MBA executive director. “We want to provide information in a relaxing, fun environment and help consumers build their lifestyle.”

Location:  Exposition Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park

Friday, January 13
12:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Saturday, January 14
10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Sunday, January 15
10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Steps to Getting a Construction Loan

Categories: Energy Efficiency, Green Building, News, The Building Process, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: September 23, 2016

Building your dream home can be easy and affordable. These simple steps highlight the financing process when going through the construction loan process.toh_basf_mg_5882

Step 1: Meet with a Mortgage Loan Officer to discuss program and parameters.

Step 2: Provide requested information to Mortgage Loan Officer.

Step 3: Mortgage loan application is filed and processing begins.

Step 4: Mortgage loan is submitted to Underwriting for review and approval, during this time an appraisal will be ordered and completed.

Step 5: Bank or Credit Union approves construction loan and builder.

Step 6: Construction loan closes.

Step 7: Construction loan has periodic disbursements according to terms of construction loan agreement.

Step 8: When the home is within 60 days of completion, the borrower meets with Mortgage Loan Officer and provides updated information.

Step 9: Final end loan is processed and sent for final underwriting approval.

Step 10: Final inspection is ordered on home.

Step 11: End loan mortgage is closed and construction loan is paid in full.

Final Step: Time to move in and start making memories.


A Celebration You Cannot Miss!

Categories: Energy Efficiency, Going Green, Green Building, Model Homes, Neighborhoods, The Building Process, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: September 2, 2016

Join Tim O’Brien Homes as we officially
Celebrate our Grand Openings

Brookfield, Elmbrook Estates Model Home
Menomonee Falls, Weyerhaven Clubhouse & Model Home
Mequon, Highlander Estates Model Home

Tour our three neighborhoods to learn about Tim O’Brien Homes as you enjoy Grand Opening Savings and delicious food!

Constructing Homes in Seven Market Areas in Metro Milwaukee

Categories: Energy Efficiency, Going Green, Green Building, Neighborhoods, Parade of Homes, The Building Process, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: July 18, 2016

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote an article about the improvements to the homebuilding market and shared Tim O’Brien Homes views on the current conditions:

Visit our website to learn more about Tim O’Brien Homes’ “Spec”/Ready Homes

Metro-area homebuilding off to best start since 2008

Home building in the metro Milwaukee area is off to its best start since 2008. These houses are under construction at N. Pilgrim Road and W. Lisbon Road in Brookfield.

Homebuilding in the metro Milwaukee area is off to its best start in nine years as an improving economy, low interest rates and a shrinking cost difference between new and existing houses have combined to drive up demand.

In the first six months of this year, 665 permits to construct single-family houses and duplexes were issued in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties, or almost 19% more than the 560 permits in the first half of 2015, according to data from MTD Marketing Services of Wisconsin Inc.

While that pace still is far from the height of the home construction boom in 2004, when 1,552 permits for new homes were issued in the first half of the year, it’s the most in a January-through-June period since 2008.

Interest rates for housing, now at historic lows, are one factor inspiring people to commit to building a house, Kristine Hillmer, executive director of Metropolitan Builders Association, said Wednesday.

“I think people are really understanding that they are going to go up in the future, and if they want to lock in a low rate, now is the time to do it. I think that is a big driver,” Hillmer said. “Also, the economy in Wisconsin is really stable. Unemployment is really pretty low, and people are just ready to make the move they’ve put off for a long time.”

In addition, the Milwaukee metro area’s limited supply of existing homes for sale is pushing up prices, narrowing the gap between the cost of an existing house and a new one.

“When you have a seller’s market, of course, the prices go up,” Hillmer said. “Well, the differential between new and existing is now getting smaller, and people are saying, ‘You know, for just that little bit more we can get a brand-new house and get what we want.'”

MTD’s data shows the average value of homes being built in the four-county metro area so far this year is $345,798. The Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors said this week there is a lack of listings for existing homes priced at less than $350,000.

Tim O’Brien, president of Tim O’Brien Homes, said many residential lots that largely became dormant during the recession and its aftermath have become available, offering people a chance to build a house in neighborhoods that aren’t far from Milwaukee and major suburban commercial areas. O’Brien said he is constructing homes in seven market areas in metro Milwaukee.

“A lot of what you’re seeing now is really opportunity in terms of lots that are available in what I would say are prime corridors of the metro Milwaukee area,” O’Brien said.

Many builders, reluctant to put up “spec” houses — houses constructed with speculation that a buyer would be found — in the aftermath of the recession, now are willing to take a chance.

“The existing supply of the speculative homes are moving very quickly,” Hillmer said. “Our members have really learned — those who were around during the downturn and were stuck with a lot of inventory. They’re being smart about what kind of spec houses they build. So they’re building houses in that range where more people are likely to buy, rather than the extravagant houses and holding onto them for a while.”

Menomonee Falls leads the metro area with 65 permits for new houses through the first six months of 2016, according to the MTD data. Among others with the most permits to construct new homes were: Waukesha, 43; Oconomowoc, 40; and Muskego, 32.

The Metropolitan Builders Association announced plans Wednesday for its annual Parade of Homes. The parade, which will feature 20 new homes by 16 southeastern Wisconsin builders, is set for Aug. 13 through Sept. 5. The homes will be in two subdivisions: Windrush in the Village of Hartland and Weyerhaven in Menomonee Falls. More than 30,000 visitors are expected to tour the homes during the three-week event. Read more about Tim O’Brien Homes’ Hickory Parade Home here.

MBA Parade of Homes is Just Around the Corner

Categories: Design, Energy Efficiency, Going Green, Green Building, Model Homes, Neighborhoods, Parade of Homes, The Building Process, Tim O'Brien Homes | Posted: July 13, 2016

Metropolitan Builders Association released an article regarding the 2016 MBA Parade of Homes.

Tim O’Brien Homes is excited to present the Hickory Parade Home at the Menomonee Falls, Weyerhaven Parade Site. The Hickory Parade Home showcases nearly 3,000 square feet of living space and designed with rural culture and history of the Weyer farm land in mind. Take a closer look at the details of the Hickory by downloading the Home Brochure PDF. Discover more about the Weyerhaven lifestyle neighborhood; it is the perfect place to call home.


The Hickory Parade Home is 2-Story Home Plan showcasing a First Floor Multi-Generational Suite with a Modern Farmhouse design.





By: Metropolitan Builders Association

Twenty Brand New Homes Showcased at the 2016 MBA Parade of Homes

(Waukesha, Wis.) July 13, 2016 – The 2016 MBA Parade of Homes, presented by Nonn’s, opens in one month on August 13 and runs through Labor Day, September 5, 2016.

Twenty brand new homes from 16 of southeastern Wisconsin’s top homebuilders will be showcased in two subdivisions – Windrush in the Village of Hartland and Weyerhaven in Menomonee Falls.

“The MBA Parade of Homes gives the public a chance to view 20 brand new homes with the latest designs and decorating trends,” said Kristine Hillmer, MBA Executive Director. “It’s the perfect opportunity for visitors to get unique ideas for building a new home, or remodeling their current home.”

More than 30,000 visitors are expected to tour the homes over the course of the three-week event. Visitors interested in building or buying a new home, remodeling, or gathering ideas for home improvement projects will have the opportunity to interact with the area’s top experts in the field.

Tickets for the 2016 MBA Parade of Homes allow entry into each subdivision once. They are available at Parade entrances for $12 for adults, and $6 for seniors (65+) and children (ages 3-12); children under 3 are free. Advance adult tickets are available at a discounted price of $10 at Ticket stubs can be saved and presented for free admission to the Parade of Remodeled Homes, September 10-11, 2016.

Event hours are Monday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., weekends and Labor Day from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Special events and promotions will be held throughout the event, including a food drive, 2 for 1 Days, Realtor Days, Social Media Days and Military Appreciation Days. Visit for more information.


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