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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 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.

June Green Construction Tour

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: June 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, June 24th, 10:00 to 11:00 AM, for a free tour in Oconomowoc at our Ready Home in Pine Ridge Estates – 1233 Juniper Lane Oconomowoc, WI.

Tim O’Brien Homes’ Construction Manager, Jamie Jesse and New Home Sales Professionals, Bryan Lindgren and Sarah Petushek 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 Sarah Petushek at 760-900-5087 or

For driving directions please use the following information:

Ready Home Address1233 Juniper Lane Oconomowoc, WI

Directions: I-94 to Hwy. 16. From Hwy. 16. exit Hwy. P/Brown St. North to Lisbon Rd., west to community on right.

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

National Award – NHQ Silver 2017

Categories: Blog, Design, Design Studio, Energy Efficiency, Going Green, Green Building, Model Homes, Neighborhoods, Tim O'Brien Homes, Uncategorized | Posted: December 5, 2016

Tim O'Brien Homes NHQ Silver 2017


Tim O’Brien Homes recently received the NHQ Silver Award 2017.  The NHQ program judges evaluated Tim O’Brien Homes in eight categories.

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Process Management
  4. Customer Satisfaction
  5. Human Resources Focus
  6. Construction Quality
  7. Trade Partner Relations
  8. Performance Results

“To get the high marks that Tim O’Brien Homes earned for customer satisfaction, the 2017 NHQ Silver Award winner had to deliver from contract through warranty. Doing so requires employees who are committed and engaged.”

“The builder’s Milwaukee and Madison, WI, divisions received top scores from NHQ examiners for employee satisfaction and staff performance management. They also noted management’s commitment to employee well-being and the company’s low turnover.”

-Professional Builder® (

When you or someone you know is looking for a home builder in the Milwaukee or Madison area, please keep Tim O’Brien Homes in mind.

Read the full article here.

See more awards we’ve won.

Keep Pets Cool

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: July 28, 2014

With the heat of summer upon us, remember to keep your pets cool! Dogs and cats are more apt to getting heat stroke in the hot summer months than humans. Some signs of heat stroke in pets are excessive panting, glazed eyes, increased heart rate, deep red or purple tongue, drooling, and vomiting. Thankfully, there are many ways to keep your pets cool in the summer. Read below for tips!20140503_153647

  • Provide cool, clean water.
    Staying hydrated on hot summer days is key when preventing heat stroke.
  • Exercise during the cool parts of the day.
    Walk your pet in the morning or evening when the sun is not at it’s hottest, the air is easier to breath, and the ground is not as hot on the pads of their paws.
  • Locate shade.
    If you are outside during the hottest parts of the day with your pet, make sure to find some shady spots for your pet to relax under.2013042295153455
  • Leave behind.
    Leave your pet at home if the day is just too hot, especially if you will be leaving them in a car during errands. Keep pets out of the car and instead, keep them in the comfort of their home.
  • Keep hair long.
    Contrary to popular belief, keeping your pet’s hair long in the summer is beneficial to them. The layers of hair protect the animal from sunburn and overheating. Brushing away loose fur helps, too.


Read more tips on keeping your pets cool in the summer heat at the Humane Society of the United States website!

New Brookfield Model Open!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: April 28, 2014

The Clover

Our new Brookfield model is now open! The Clover is a new model of Tim O’Brien Homes, which will be fully decorated at Linfield Crossing. It is a two-story floor plan with 1,992 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a Flex Room designed as a Study that can easily be converted into a Dining Room. The first floor is an open concept design, with the Great Room, Dinette and Kitchen all flowing together for easy entertaining. The rear foyer connecting to the garage includes a powder room, private laundry, and added lockers and drop zone. On the second floor you will find a Master Bedroom Suite, three secondary bedrooms, a full bath, and a hall linen closet. The Master Bedroom Suite and one secondary bedroom include a walk-in closet. With the spacious feel of the home, the Clover is a great place to entertain and enjoy everyday life. Linfield Crossing

Linfield Crossing is serviced by Elmbrook School District and is close to shopping, the interstate, and a short drive to Downtown Milwaukee. To get to Linfield Crossing, take I-94 to Moorland Road. Go South on Moorland Road to Greenfield Avenue. Go East on Greenfield to South Elm Grove Road.

The Clover will host regular model hours, Friday through Tuesday, Noon to 5:00pm or by appointment. The New Home Consultant, Bryan Lindgren, will be covering the Brookfield are and working out of the Clover. For more information on Linfield Crossing, please contact Bryan at 608-215-4934.

NAHB Outlook on Housing Released

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: May 10, 2013

NAHB Outlook on Housing Released
(Waukesha, Wis.) May 9, 2013 –

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently released their outlook on housing and found the housing market is turning around in Wisconsin and the nation. According to NAHB’s Chief Economist Dr. David Crowe, “The temporary ‘softness’ in housing starts early this year was a ‘momentary pause,’ and momentum will pick back up for the rest of the year.” The pause was due to the federal budget sequester, along with labor and material shortages. Housing, according to Crowe, drives the nation’s economic recovery. There will be an increase in housing in Wisconsin, and in the nation. Wisconsin and the nation are entering a period where there will be more houses being built. “The MBA has received many inquiries from consumers looking for a builder to build their dream
home,” said Kris Hillmer, MBA executive director. “People interested in building can tour brand new homes during the MBA Parade of Homes this August and September. For those who can’t wait and want to build a home now, visit the MBA’s web site at, to find quality custom home builders.”

According to the NAHB report, multifamily homes and remodeling projects are now close to normal levels in the market. This year alone, multifamily homes are predicted to climb 35 percent nationwide. Remodeling projects are predicted to increase by 2.2 percent this year. The report showed single-family home activity at 47 percent of normal during the first quarter this year. Crowe predicts it will be a 71 percent of normal by the end of 2014. The report predicts an increased number of people buying a home compared to last year.

The Cost Question

Categories: The Building Process, Uncategorized | Posted: March 18, 2011

A question Tim O’Brien New Home Consultants often hear is “what’s your price per square foot?” The perception (or presumption), we assume, is that if you wanted to add or subtract a few square feet for whatever reason, you simply add or subtract that amount per foot from the price or cost of the house.

Simply, in our business, it doesn’t work that way. For us, it’s an impossible question to answer without a lot more information and detail, and one that can only be derived once the house is finished and all costs have been accounted for. Before that, it’s akin to asking, “How much does a vacation cost?” without first knowing where and for how long you plan to go, and by what mode of transportation, among other considerations.
The fact is, the details (and therefore cost) of every house — even those built on speculation by large-volume builders — is different, and the cost of your house is entirely up to you, not your builder. Only you know how much you can afford and what you want in your new home. At Tim O’Brien Homes it is our job to apply our expertise and experience to finely detail your wants and needs and then build a home that meets (or ideally exceeds) those expectations while remaining within your budget.

That’s why it is so important to determine and then share your budget with us from the first moment you select us to build your home. Budget information should precede any talk of contracts or actual construction. Using the vacation analogy, we are like a travel agent working with you to plan a trip.

Still, the square-foot cost question persists. So, it might be helpful to understand what goes into or affects the cost (or ultimate price) of a new home to gain a better perspective on the question.
For instance, the costs of similarly sized homes can vary considerably due to their location (and even size and shape of the lot within the same neighborhood), the outline of the building, the type of and complexity of the foundation and roof, and many other construction and design characteristics that are not directly related to the square footage of the house.
In addition, costs including development impact fees and permits, or state and municipality mandated code requirements, can add from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars to the ultimate cost of a new home, regardless of size. Labor and material costs also can vary substantially based upon the time of year, availability and demand of building materials and workers, weather conditions, and the complexity of the project.

The list of variables goes on, and we’re happy to discuss them with you and explain how they might impact the cost of your new home. But, in our view, it’s short-sighted to ask us up-front what our homes cost per square foot, and certainly to base one of the most important decisions of your life on that metric alone.

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