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“The Voice of the Housing Industry” for 75 Years


Building News WWW.HBAGC.COM | DECEMBER 2015

A publication of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago

Janice Sevon

Renaissance Woman PWB President


A passion for building . . . A reputation for excellence.


1349 Thatcher Avenue, River Forest, Illinois 60305 Phone: 708.771.8474 | Fax: 708.771.4060 2 DECEMBER 2015 | HBAGC.COM


Building News DECEMBER 2015 | 75 YEARS OF HBAGC HBAGC BUSINESS OFFICE 1525 West Homer Chicago, IL 60642

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Greater Chicago Building News is the official publication of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago published quarterly by Brandit360 for HBAGC members. Articles appearing in Greater Chicago Building News do not necessarily represent the opinions of HBAGC. Under all circumstances, copyright remains with the original photographer or author. ADVERTISING & EDITORIAL INFORMATION Chantel Beauregard - Editor In Chief | Creative Director 312-260-9792 ext 1 Judith L. Nelson - Marketing Director 312-260-9792 ext 2 Hans Nelson - Account Director | Art Director 312-260-9792 ext 3 PUBLISHER Brandit 360 312-260-9795 CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Rita Unzner - HBAGC Executive Officer Susanne Tauke - HBAGC Member - New American Homes, Inc. Chantel Beauregard - HBAGC Member - Brandit 360 GRAPHIC DESIGNER Chantel Beauregard - HBAGC Member - Brandit 360 COVER PHOTO Michael Martinez


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Designing Fire Safety into Residential Construction By Judith L. Nelson, Brandit360

Fire safety is always an essential consideration when it comes to residential construction. Companies like USA Fire Protection, a member of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago, note that the holiday season brings about additional concerns such as Christmas tree fires that cause millions of dollars in direct property damage each year. Likewise, there’s extensive evidence that extreme weather—including hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and droughts—is becoming more frequent. Smart manufacturers have taken these alarming events to heart, developing and distributing products that resist the everworsening elements. Of course, as a builder, you can’t control the elements, but your selection of building components plays a huge role. By incorporating building materials that provide commercial-grade fire protection into residential structures, construction professionals dramatically reduce fire’s ability to travel from its point of origin in the home.

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Where Should You Start Making Changes? Instituting new operating standards and practices is a tricky proposition with so many fire-rated products on the market, but a few stand out above the rest. ToughRock® Fireguard 45™ Gypsum Board from Georgia-Pacific delivers all the fire-safety characteristics of thicker Type X drywall in a 1/2-inch thick package that lets you improve what you build without completely redefining the way you work. The product is aimed at giving builders the ability to increase home fire resistance without upping the cost. In addition to bearing a 45-minute UL fire rating, 1/2-inch ToughRock® Fireguard 45™ Gypsum Board: • • •

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Chicago-Area Demonstration Home Showcases Energy-Saving Possibilities of Advanced Framing By Katy Tomasulo


rom the outside, the “Inside View” house in Lockport, Illinois, looks similar to others in Beechen & Dill’s Creekside Estates development. A two-story home with a brick-andfiber-cement façade, custom trim accents, and an arched entryway, it carries a refined-traditional vibe that has proven popular with buyers in one of the country’s fastest-growing suburbs. What the eventual homeowners won’t see, but will undoubtedly enjoy, is what’s behind the walls—the advanced framing practices that maximize energy efficiency, decrease waste, and save installation time. Maximizing Efficiency and Materials Beechen & Dill Homes has led its market in implementing energy-efficient building practices for years. The Inside View project, however, was the company’s first full-scale foray into advanced framing.

“We’re always striving to be on the cutting edge. We were the first in the area to build energy-efficient homes and to guarantee energy bills,” said Ed Kubiak, director of construction for Beechen & Dill. “With prices going up and labor harder to find, techniques such as these that reduce energy use while making more efficient use of materials and allowing for more efficient construction are the direction the industry needs to be going.”


Among the home’s advanced framing features: • 2x6 studs spaced 24 inches on center, which provides more space for cavity insulation while saving installation time. • Ladder junctions at interior-exterior wall intersections, creating easy-to-insulate wall cavities while requiring less blocking material. • Insulated three-stud corners/California corners, which leave more room for insulation. • Insulated single-ply and double-ply engineered wood headers, which provide space for insulation above windows and doors.

In addition, the house boasts a robust floor system with 24-inch on-center spacing that allows for ductwork runs in conditioned space while eliminating about one-third of the required joists and subsequently requiring one-third less labor, adhesive, and fasteners. Higher-series, deeper 14-inch I-joists allowed the builder to avoid double joists and, in combination with an upgraded 7/8-inch OSB subfloor, resulted in a stiff floor system despite the wider spacing. The Inside View house is the first of 16 in the final phase of the development. The two-story, 2,880-square-foot home includes four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths and is replete with on-trend features, including a two-story foyer, two-story great room, 9-foot first-floor ceilings, first-story “flex room,” mud room, open kitchen,

“Like the rest of our properties, the Inside View house proves that you don’t have to sacrifice modern amenities to achieve energy efficiency,” says Kubiak. “In fact, homeowners likely won’t notice the changes at all—until they see what a difference it makes on their electric bill.”

Sharing the Knowledge Though practices and guarantees such as these give the builder a leg up on the competition, Kubiak and his team weren’t content with keeping those savings a secret. During construction, Beechen & Dill, with support from APA – The Engineered Wood Association and the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, opened up the house to builders, architects, and code officials from surrounding communities. With the walls and floors left open and exposed (hence the name “Inside View”), visitors could see advanced framing and floor system in action and begin to understand how the techniques translate to increased energy savings and decreased labor and waste. Most important, they learned that while these innovative building systems do come with a learning curve, it’s one that’s easily surmountable with planning and team-wide collaboration. “Implementing advanced framing practices took some adjustment on the part of our crew,” says Kubiak, “but it’s the next logical step in our path to building more efficient houses.” Extended Locks up to 270 days!!! Construction Loans Available!

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MUNICIPALITY OF THE YEAR VILLAGE OF GLENVIEW The Village of Glenview has been named “Village of the Year” by the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago (HBAGC), which lauded the culture of cooperation between Village staff, Village review panels and customers seeking planning advice and development permits. This is only the second time HBAGC has honored a municipality, based on criteria that make few qualify to be considered, according to the association. The award takes into consideration a cooperative atmosphere for development, growth and community planning, the balance between housing and commercial development and the collective goal to have successful, completed projects. “Glenview is honored to be recognized for our development review process, which takes into account both the community’s goals for growth and the developer’s needs to get through the regulatory review process quickly,” Village President Jim Patterson said. The association noted Glenview’s efforts to expedite permits, such as through the Same Day Permit Review process. Development reviews are front loaded with prescriptive requirements – such as ordinances and guidelines – so that developers are prepared for the process. A clear and efficient development review process is achieved through continual evaluation and coordination between staff, regulatory Commissions and the Village Board of Trustees. “Glenview’s extended history of doing much of its review, education and homework on the front end of a development proposal puts it in a league of its own,” stated Pat Coveny, HBAGC president. The association also took into account the numerous developments throughout Glenview and the resulting variety of residential product types – from singlefamily cluster homes to row homes and townhouses to mixed use buildings, apartments and senior housing. “Glenview’s strategic planning, foresight and diversity of housing impressed the judges,” Coveny stated. “The judges saw the community lifestyle and value to residents as unique to Glenview.” Following a post-World War II housing boom, Glenview’s residential growth

was spurred again by the 1995 closing of the Glenview Naval Air Station. The 1,121 acres was redeveloped as The Glen, which included more than 2,000 new residential units. At about the same time, areas outside the Glen experienced major changes due to the teardown phenomenon of the period. Yet, the new and established singlefamily homes co-exist harmoniously throughout the Village. More recently, revitalization of the downtown business district and retail developments on the northwest and southeast corners of the Village have provided major additions to the housing stock, with new product types – such as apartments and single-family homes with master suites on the first floor – and unique architectural styles. In 2014-15 alone, more than 1,000 residential units were added throughout the Village. “The many villages looking for the right formula need to learn from Glenview that this all takes leadership and cooperation,” HBAGC’s Coveny said. Glenview received the “Village of the Year” award at the association’s Key Awards dinner on November 13 in Arlington Heights.


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TRUMP TOWER RESIDENCE HAS THE “KEY” TO CRYSTAL On Friday the 13th we were honored to receive two awards from the Home Builder’s Association of Greater Chicago.

achievement that would win the approval of the building’s board of directors and allow us to proceed.

I am proud to say a Gold Key was for my residence, the design of which everyone on my staff played a role. Each space required deep thought and many drawings – the kitchen with its leather wrapped wall of cabinetry; the guest bedroom with its Mondrian-like murphy bed; the guest bath’s wall of glass; the master bedroom’s upholstered walls; and the terrace – the space where most of our entertaining takes place.

Our design concept combined color, sculpture, and dramatic lighting throughout the residence. On a wall between the entry and dining room a Brueton dining buffet offers an effective statement against a dramatically colorful wall. The artwork is a provocative photo narrative by artist Gregory Scott, recognized for his bold combination of self-images in photography, painting, and video.

Having completed 23 residences at Trump Tower – we have an intimate knowledge of the iconic building and how it works – qualities that keep new residents

Mechanical hardware for the motorized sheer draperies is concealed by the dropped ceiling. We created a pocket to hide the track and motors in keeping with the contemporary architectural style. A more gracious effect was achieved by removing a wall between the dining area, den, and kitchen– an effective strategy we’ve used in multiple other Trump homes– always for the same reason. Without a wall built right down the middle the room’s columns appear more sculptural. The home’s common areas are anchored by chevron patterned travertine flooring. The fireplace walls are clad in slabs of the same stone. The saturated color of the wool carpet defines the seating area. LED lighting embedded in both the columns and draperies creates a glow throughout the living room, dining area, and den. The Trump standard kitchen had never been used, but our clients wanted something more original. We created a new kitchen design concept to compliment the rest of the interior space. The sculptural fixture above the island provides great lighting. The gracious master bedroom suite features two walk-in closets, his and her baths, and extraordinary views of the Chicago River and skyline. A crisp color palette dominates the third bedroom – originally the neighboring studio. The custom-made lampshade manufactured after we found the ready-towear bedding repeats the color scheme used throughout the home. Because the studio’s original closet doors swung into the room, they conflicted with a pair of queen-size beds. We designed custom doors using a textured stainless steel center panel and barn door-type hardware which allowed access to the closet interior.

bringing us back. In fact, the second award we received was a coveted Crystal Key for the in-town Trump residence of one of our North Shore clients. This achievement aligns us with other professionals dedicated to excellence in design, construction and innovation. It is our third award for spaces we have created at this address. Our clients envisioned their sleek city digs as a complete departure from their classically traditional suburban home. The result? A 4,000 square foot condominium with a den and home theater/office space coupled with an adjacent studio unit that provided a needed third bedroom. Our task was to create a plan making the combination appear authentic, as if it were original to the tower – an

Once again, this has been another extraordinary year. We must thank all of our clients who believed in John Robert Wiltgen Design and allowed us to transform their homes into works of art. In addition, we extend our heartfelt thanks to the Key Awards judges and the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago. You, too, believe in the JRWD team. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. May your world be beautiful!


The story of a CHICAGO Modern Day

Renaissance Woman By - Hans Nelson, Brandit360

Wife, Mother, Power Lifter, Dancer, Manager and President. Renaissance Woman, Janice Sevon, has a natural urge to seek, learn, explore, scan, and a zest for life. Are you excited about everything that life has to offer? Do you enjoy learning and mastering many different things? You may just be one of the extremely fortunate, multi-talented, modern-day renaissance women. As children we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up. As adults, we’re asked what we do for a living. We’re often seen as one-dimensional beings, put on this earth to do one thing. We’re living in a time that values the specialist, and it’s believed that in order to be that specialist, we have to focus on one subject, otherwise we’re dabblers, dilettantes, jacks-of-all trades and masters of none. These labels leave us feeling ashamed of ourselves for being… well… ourselves - our authentic, multi-dimensional selves. Suppressing this natural way of being causes a lot of suffering, squashes creativity, and can even prevent us from becoming an expert at anything. HER STORY At about three years of age, the LIGHTS OF BROADWAY attracted Janice to get involved in performing arts. Practice, dedication, study and hard work are the lessons to learn any young dancer is told if they someday want to star in a Broadway show, musical or play. Janice not only applied this to dance but to all of life’s lessons. The results from an aptitude test prior to entering college recognized that Janice may have the skills to excel in theatre or in the medical field. This reassured Janice that she was dancing in the right direction. She danced all through college, was in the University Dance Theater, chose to major in English and Health Science, with an emphasis on Paramedic training, and minored in Psychology. An aptitude test, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is a test that helps you determine the best career based on your unique skills and interests. It’s NEVER to late to take one. After graduating college as an EMT 1 (emergency medical technician, a precursor to becoming a paramedic) mentally & physically fit Janice was qualified and eager to move forward in this field, yet she was never offered a position. “Could it be that I’m a woman applying to a male dominated industry” thought Janice at the time, or “Are they concerned that I wouldn’t be able to perform the physical aspects of the job standing at only 5’0” tall?” For whatever reason, some doors close and others open. Janice, anxious to open a door, moved on and accepted a position with Deerfield based Baxter International, an American Healthcare Company with recent sales of over 15 billion. 36 DECEMBER 2015 | HBAGC.COM

Someone once quoted, life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans. As each year seemed to pass quicker than the previous one, time moved forward quickly. While climbing the corporate later at Baxter International Janice got married, had three healthy children, Jackie and twin boys Larry & Michael, got divorced and found herself not spending as much time with her three children as she would like to. “As challenging and fulfilling as my position was at Baxter International as the Regional Sales Service Coordinator for the kidney dialysis department, I decided to seek outside my comfort box and master something else that would allow me to spend more time with my children. Confident and optimistic, I was ready for change and felt capable of doing anything and ready for the next chapter of my life.” If you were into the FITNESS CRAZE of the early & mid 1980s and shook your butt in bright colored leotards with leg warmers or your velour tracksuits, wearing your favorite elastic headband and matching athletic shoes (known as sneakers) while Robert Palmer’s ADDICTED TO LOVE blasted on a BOOM BOX in a place called Richard Simmons Anatomy Asylum, then chances are Janice may have been your Head Aerobics Instructor. Yes, Janice had found a new job in a field that she was very familiar with. “It was the perfect job – I was able to bring my young children there because of on-site daycare – and I could exercise as much as I wanted.” Then came SCOTT SEVON. “Are you trying to kill me?” Scott asked, after attending one of Janice’s 1.5 hour advanced aerobics classes, probably wearing a green HBAGC 1/2 shirt, tight purple shorts and matching tube socks. It was a miss-colored match typical of the time, but love and probably lust at first sight! “Advanced class, no problem” Scott was back in Janice’s class with within two weeks. So, he was either trying to kill himself or ready to make some moves with Janice. In love, the two spent lots of time with each other and it wasn’t long before Janice went to work with Scott at his company Sevvonco, Inc. Scott began building homes after working for a northwest suburban builder as a project manager in the early 1980s. Ultimately, he decided to leave the builder and on June 9, 1983, Sevvonco, Inc. was born. His father, an accomplished carpenter, often took a young Scott to his construction sites. “I guess you could say from an early age, building has been in my blood. I went to college, even thought about law school, but in the end, I decided I really wanted a career in construction.” Since then, Scott and his team have built well over 260 homes with a cumulative total over $310 Million. Although many of these have been high-end residences located primarily in the North and Northwest suburbs, there have been exceptions. “We have built, remodeled and renovated homes ranging in size from 1,400 square feet to 30,000 square feet and ranging in price from $150 thousand to over $5.5 million. These homes where built from Oakbrook to Huntley and everywhere in between,” says Scott. Sevvonco was known throughout the Greater Chicago area primarily for design/build custom homes, but with the high demand for design/ build remodels Sevvonco established a special division to take on any size project fulfilling all customers needs with that same attention to

detail when designing and building a new home. Sevvonco was the first ever Illinois American Lung Association approved builder and in 2001, Sevvonco built Illinois’ first, award winning, American Lung Association Health House, in Glen Ellyn. This project earned Sevvonco a second Crystal Key Award ( the “Oscar” of the home building industry) for this Millennium Home; their first Millennium Home award was in 1998. In the fall of 2008, the Sevon’s company, Sevvonco teamed up with Mike Nagel of Remodel One to create Men at Work (MAW) Chicago / with the primary goal to always exceed customer’s expectations and to provide the ultimate renovation experience. With the designations of Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR) and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), Nagel was named Remodeler of the Year for his professional achievements and outstanding support of the industry in 2011. A member of NAHB Remodelers since 1992, Nagel began working in construction at age 14 alongside his father. Nagel was the project and design manager for three different Chicago remodeling firms before he started his own in 1986. Currently, after having completing requirements to become a Certified Lead Renovator (CLR) and serving as a consultant for Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry’s “Smart House: Green and Wired,” Nagel teaches consumer awareness courses on the remodeling process as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. The MAW Chicago team brings over 80 years of combined construction experience in the residential and commercial renovation and new construction arenas. The MAW Chicago management team of Scott, Mike and Janice are firm believers in continuing education and supporting the industry through their involvement with the National Association of Home Builders. The team has achieved multiple certifications and keeps abreast of the constantly changing legislation that continues to affect our industry. MAW Chicago is a strong advocate of the green movement and takes every opportunity to advance the professionalism of the remodeling industry. Combined, the team has received many company awards and personal recognitions for their projects and involvement in the industry, including more than 40 design awards, Remodeler of the Year, Builder of the Year, and Graduate Master Builder of the Year, to name a few. Janice, Scott & Mike have been actively involved with the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago (HBAGC) for years, all serving on the Board of Directors, Association Committees and Councils receiving more awards and certifications individually and for their businesses than I have room to write on this page. Residential or Commercial, if you’re in the market and looking to team up with a local leading innovative builder and remodeler then your search is over. MAW Chicago has evolved through their ability to forecast, adapt and diversify in an ever changing Tough Chicago Building Market. In an industry, and more importantly, a City, that has no room for the weak, MAW Chicago gears up for another record setting year, bringing the combined knowledge and experience to create, educate,

share and protect an industry that they have been passionate about since working on forts as children. Accountability, education, professionalism, integrity and collaboration are not only their Core Values, but are the foundation to building lasting relationships with everyone they work with. In addition to being part of the management team at MAW Chicago, Janice is the FIRST President of the Professional Women in Building (PWB) Council of Greater Chicago since 2013. Yes, First. She has volunteered and committed to this position until 2017. Her goals are to increase awareness, membership and, most importantly involvement. Women & Men will benefit from joining and be involved in an emerging market. About 47% of U.S. firms have women as the majority owner or equal partner, and about 885,000 of these firms are in the Construction Industry. And according to the American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report of

2011, construction is also one of the industries with the FASTEST GROWTH in women-owned businesses. Membership for the PWB - Professional Women in Building Council is only $75.00 a year for existing HBAGC members. Professional Women in Building members work on all aspects of the building industry as owners, builders, remodelers, architects, suppliers, marketing experts, designers and in finance and real estate. The NAHB Professional Women in Building Council Awards and Recognition program celebrates local councils and individuals achievements and encourages continuing education and involvement on the local, state and national levels of the NAHB federation. Winners receive scholarships and grants that are funded through the NAHB PWB Building Hope Scholarship Fund. The fund honors Hope Bettilyon, the first president of the NAHB Ladies Auxiliary in 1955, now the NAHB Professional Women in Building Council. At the 2016 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, the NAHB Professional Women in Building (PWB) will host a new and dynamic leadership learning series focused on strategies that can help builders and business owners become more effective leaders. Dropping back to the late 1980’s Janice and Scott married in 1987 and over the years added two more children to the family, Shauna and Scotty. The business allowed Janice to spend more time with the children over the years, whether she worked out of the home office or took the children with her to the main office. Throughout the years Janice always stayed committed to fitness and decided to crossover into competitive power lifting as she reached the age of 60.




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In 2015, at the age of 62 Janice won the National Record for Deadlifting in her age group, lifting a staggering 253.5 lbs. “I am in the best shape of my life and power lifting has given me a renewed confidence and energy” says Janice. Now that’s a lot of weight, but I guess when you’re a Renaissance Woman you’re constantly looking to throw your weight around. The question I have is, What will Janice conquer next? “Many of us are seekers. It’s through our continual exploration and willingness to walk down different roads that we find ourselves. Embracing our renaissance personalities can make us incredibly happy, and joy has a tendency to overshadow any notion that we should care what other people think about our eclectic approach to work and life, so embrace this incredibly powerful and creative part of yourself.” - JANICE SEVON


We are honored to receive a Gold Key Award this year from HBAGC in the category of Excellence in Remodeling for Whole Home Accessibility. Our client, being a Little Person, had very special needs and the whole home was remodeled to accommodate their physical limitations. Light switches and countertops were lowered, the shower has a non-barrier entrance and an elevator was installed just to mention a few. Not only was our client’s home now accessible, but beautifully designed.

Congratulations to HBAGC on 75 years of excellence.

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By: Susanne Tauke, New American Homes, Inc.

Trends become trends because a population sees something appealing and desires it. Trends captivate our collective imagination and entice us with their freshness. Some trends disappear in a few years, but others go mainstream and become classics. At this time of year we begin hearing from homebuilding trendsetters about the new directions we should expect in the coming year. If we gaze into 2016’s crystal ball, we see several changes in the way we may design and furnish our “nests.” More custom. In today’s world we are challenged to do our own thing, be our own person, march to our own drum. A cookiecutter house does not fit this mindset. The homebuyers of 2016 will want houses that reflect their unique needs, interests and style. Buyers will ask for as much customization as possible, one-of-a-kind spaces that compliment their lifestyles. Thus, home plans will become even more flexible. A specific space in a plan might be adjusted to become an office, a dining room, a quiet room, or maybe a gourmet chef will add this space to her kitchen. There will be much more personalization in areas that traditionally were not custom-made - from the laundry to secondary bedrooms to the garage. Smaller. The Tiny House fad is having its affect. American homes are getting smaller. Millennials are eschewing the McMansions their parents built and going for not necessarily “tiny houses,” but homes significantly smaller than their parents’ dream castles. The kitchen and great room in the 2016 home will be bigger because this is where people spend their time. But, rarely used rooms that are heated, taxed, insured and paid for (e.g., formal dining rooms and extra bedrooms) often will be eliminated. Simpler. Straighter, simpler lines will be the trend for 2016 as a more modern style continues to gain steam. Say good-bye to the three-piece crown and elaborate mantels, and say hello to Shaker-style cabinets and rustic stone fireplaces. A quality, hand-crafted, artisanal look is in vogue, featuring materials that are warm, natural, textured. These clean lines and subtle designs ensure flexibility in the long run and will be a great backdrop for style changes in the next decades. More techie. The “smart” house is much more affordable than it was just a few years ago. Techie amenities - from security systems to garage door openers, from smoke/CO2 detectors to sound systems, from thermostats to door locks - have gone wireless, so expensive (and extensive) wiring is not needed. These new systems often are easy to install and controlled from your smart phone. But, even as technology has proliferated, the size of the tech devices has shrunk, so the demand for large desks and separate home offices is waning. What is on the rise is dedicated spaces for charging devices - perhaps a niche in the wall where you plug in your phone or a small “tech center” space tucked into a wide hallway or a stair landing.


More storage. Another new trend is “specialized storage,” storage placed right where it is needed. The 2016 buyer will want organized storage for his kitchen, garage and laundry. A new home’s spaces will be as functional and useful as possible. For example, in the kitchen this might mean installing toe-kick drawers under your lower cabinets; in the garage, this might mean a wall of storage cabinets or a system that allows you to hang items on hooks and holders. Many of those building homes next year will opt to take space from a second or third bedroom in order to gain a larger walk-in master closet or trade a breakfast nook for a large walk-in pantry. Whiter. Houses will be getting whiter again. Ask kitchen designers and they will tell you that the most popular cabinets are painted white. At Newport Cove we find that white interior trim is more popular than stained. Moreover, all the kitchens we did this year had white cabinets. Benjamin Moore, a major style-setter in the area of paints and colors, recently named Simply White its color of the year for 2016. Interior designer Mary Douglas Drysdale praised the choice. “I think it’s consistent to where design has been moving over the past three to four years. There is a paring back and a real simplification. I think it has to do with the interest in de-cluttering.” White does provide more design freedom - freedom to change accessories as the seasons change, freedom to add bold colors elsewhere. More luxury. Besides the larger great rooms, the other area of new homes that will be gaining the most attention is the master suite. Have you heard anyone in the media discussing or have you recently read about the importance of a good night’s sleep? Adequate sleep will be the new health focus in 2016. So, anything to make the master bedroom more of a sanctuary will be a trend, be it sound insulation, peaceful decorating, quieter plumbing fixtures, better bedding. And, if budgets allow, two master suites, each with its own luxury bath, will be the cat’s meow. Some couples call the second master a “snore suite.” A second master also allows grown children and aging parents to move in for long- or short-term stays with less disruption to the household rhythm. And, the suite can be a lovely amenity for overnight guests. Greener. Plants are back. They are the new go-to accessory. In 2016 plants will be everywhere in lush abundance, from small table gardens to groupings of small pots on a windowsill, to clusters of large pots on the deck or porch, to extensive exterior gardens. Plants are an extension of two current trends: 1) more environmentally friendly homes, 2) melding the difference between a home’s indoor and outdoor spaces. Plants make a home more healthy, more calm and more natural. They can positively impact a house’s ventilation, humidity control and aesthetics. Expect to see more furniture that can be used indoors and outdoors, as well as interior décor items inspired by plants and plant life.



THE 1990’s We said ‘Hello’ to the X Files, Cheers, Will and Grace and 6 Friends. We said good-bye to Johnny. And we could only hope that Hunter Green, carpeted baths, and inflatable furniture would not follow into the millennium. Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls won six titles …. 91, 92, 93, 96, 97 and 98. We tuned in to Ice Ice Baby, Whitney and Celine. We Believed with Cher and were introduced to Britney and the Back Street Boys. Mandela was free and we first heard ‘internet’. Yeltsin and Clinton are in, and so is Harry Potter. The Dow Jones closes above 11,000 for the first time and we celebrate a budget surplus – first in thirty years. And we end the last days of 1999 in mortal fear of this lurking danger called Y2K. ELECTIONS AND APPOINTMENTS To Start the Era: The new decade arrived (without any significant Y2K hangover) and Jerome O’Connor takes over the HBAGC presidency from George Arquilla. James Hemphill is named as Senior Vice President. Vice President, Finance and Administration is under the guidance of Marsha Elliott. The role of Vice President in now held by Robert Verble. Steven Hovany of Residential Planning Corp will take on the role of Treasurer; and the role of Secretary is now being held by Vincent Fiduccia, who is also the outgoing chairman of the Custom Builders Council of Greater Chicago. Past President Richard Brown was at the helm of HBAI. The iconic builder led HBAGC in 1986 and it was only natural that he would be elected to head the state


and the voice for residential construction in Illinois and the umbrella organization for 23 home builder associations throughout the state. Richard Brown of Libertyville, a home building legend and pioneer, founder and president of Cambridge Homes, one of the largest home builders in the state since 1961. Born in Chicago, Mr. Brown attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Generously, in 2004 Richard and his wife Rita, gifted $500,000 to the University. His business developed many area communities, including Libertyville and Mundelein, where he built nearly a quarter of the homes. His developments always had character and amenities, which included parks, clubhouses and several home designs. He diversified into retirement communities in the Chicago area, including the Carillon near Romeoville. His idea was to develop a community that was far enough away from the city but still close enough for the residents to stay in touch with family and friends. “He was so far ahead,” said friend and colleague David Hill, chief executive officer of Kimball Hill Homes. “He did so many things with a great deal of planning and architectural integrity.” Both of his sons followed him into the business. His son Scott died in 1989, Douglas Brown said. Mr. Brown was devastated by the loss and started an education fund in Scott’s name to help others who wanted to further their knowledge of home building. Cambridge Homes was purchased in 1999 by D. R. Horton, a Ft. Worth, Texas,

company. Mr. Brown and his son Douglas remained with the business and continued to run Cambridge Homes under its original name until his death in 2005. Mr. Brown was on several industry boards at local, state and national levels, including the Sustaining Builders Council, a group representing the Chicago area’s largest builders. He was also president of the Greater Chicagoland Housing Foundation and a director of the National Association of Home Builders as well as a lifetime director of HBAGC. As expected Marsha Elliott rose through the ranks and became President of the Association in 1992. Certainly newsworthy, as she became the Association’s first woman president since its founding in 1940. She assumed the role previously held by James Hemphill. THE EVOLUTION OF THE SMART HOUSE We have to go back a bit to the 80’s to pick up the story of the Smart House. In 1986, Ruth Youngblood (UPI) might not have told us what we can do in a Smart House in great detail, but she did offer this: “ Husbands and wives in the 1990s will be asking the house, not the spouse to start the coffee, finish the laundry ……” Cue George Jetson! In 1987, the Director of Communications for the HBAGC, Steve Maentz asked us to just imagine what it would be like to telephone your house to regulate the temperature or to turn on the stove or the dishwasher. Or to have an in-home video system that would alert you if a door or window was open – and where it was. There was chatter about full scale security systems and even voice recognition. It was a new concept … and it was called the Smart House. A few years prior, in 1984 the NAHB held a conference to discuss the Smart Home and it was attended by manufacturing firms, trade associations and government agencies. Soon after, it received a shot-in-the-arm when Congress passed the National Cooperative Research Act, permitting greater inter-firm collaboration so all the interested parties could talk and share ideas. Thirty manufactures collaborated under the NAHB research foundation. GE, Honeywell, Whirlpool and government agencies were all charter members. This group were focused on a new home wiring system that the homeowner could instruct through a computer. The market was intrigued and studies were held and found that consumers might be willing to pay between $5000 and $10,000 for the bells and whistles. This was the estimated cost for the early adopters; and everyone knew the price would fall [just like the pocket calculator did when it was first released, or the microwave oven]. In March 1986 the Smart House project being orchestrated by the NAHB produced a first look at the house – a 2 room showcase of ‘electronic marvels’ that many said would revolutionized the housing industry. The NAHB President David Smith was quoted as stating, “The Smart House will change housing more than anything else I`ve seen in my career.” And, “It will bring housing up to date with the space age and set the stage for 1990.” The consumer was asked to imagine that they had just landed at the airport … they could pick up the phone and tell the microwave to start cooking dinner (no hint at who was going to put the meal in there), but we all saw the glitz, how this would help our daily lives and were planning on a little more relaxing time on the Lazy Boy, along with Judy Jetson. On the practical size was the promise of reduced electrical bills as all the smart appliances would only draw on the power it needs to run, not be on ‘standby’. Fast Forward to 2004 …..In spite of the hoopla, appliance networking didn’t truly capture the hearts, minds or kitchens of America. So things are getting turned up a notch; now the buzz is about wireless technology. Devices would use a radio frequency of 2.4 gigahertz -- the same as many cordless phones. We could be notified of certain actions … there could be a sensor in your mailbox to light up when your mail arrived. Seventy companies – Motorola, Philips, Honeywell among them, formed a group who worked together and developed a Standard for the new technology. They called themselves the ZigBee Alliance.

That’s interesting! Picture a honeybee that has stumbled on a field of pollen and nectar filled blooms – a ‘flow’. As you buzz back toward the hive, one thought crowds the bee brain: “Must tell the others.” But bees don’t talk and they can’t hear. But they do communicate – they dance! They zig, zag and waggle in the hive and it is called zig-bee. Totally wireless communication! Fast forward to 2012. John Peck, 27, lost both legs and much of his arms while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan two years prior. Various foundations worked together and they built John a house; not just any house – they built him a Smart House. Kitchen cabinets lower themselves to countertop level, so he can reach the contents from his chair. Faucets turn on and off with motion sensors. Almost everything else — lights, television, thermostat — can be operated by John’s tablet. WE NEED URBAN HOUSING! Madison Street’s infamous Skid Row is long gone. Any new housing developments or plans for more had come to a stop after the 1968 riots. In 1987 Lewis Kostiner and his wife, Annie, saw an opportunity in residential real estate in the still depressed area, and developed Annie Properties. Kostiner asked the city to clean up the area, which was full of vacant lots full of abandoned cars and litter. “Potential residents would come here and say, ‘Great lofts, but look at the area.’ The city responded and in the early 90’s a $2 million Strategic Neighborhood Action Pilot Program to stimulate development in the area was approved. After the ‘clean-up’ the ball was tossed to private developers, and they caught it. Eight builders/developers participated in the 1995 City Parade of Homes, sponsored by the HBAGC in the neighborhood; the 2700 block of West Washington. The houses were priced from $110,000 to $170,000. One of them was Jim Raymond, [who would become the HBAGC President in 1997], President of Lansing-based Raymond Development Corp. His firm built one of the eight show homes, and sold 6 as a result. The Parade of Homes on the West Side was more successful than anybody envisioned,” said William Maybrook, [1995 HBAGC President] That’s Interesting! Do you know what was listed as the most important criteria for homeowners in 2015? 59% of respondents said Quality of Neighborhood.   FIGHTING QUOTAS In 1996 the Builders Association of Greater Chicago filed two lawsuits in U.S. District Court. One suit was against Cook County and the other suit was against the City of Chicago. The HBAGC claimed that the association’s member contractors had been denied bids, even when they had bid the lowest price, because of the [quota] requirement. And that Chicago had encouraged and perpetuated racial, ethnic and gender-based discrimination against non-minority owned entities in the award and performance of its contracts through its ordinances, policies, procedures and requirements . . . The association also stated that its members have lost profits by being forced to enter into joint venture agreements with minority subcontractors when they could have done the work themselves ….. [abbreviated due to space] The Builders Association successfully argued that the (racial) minority and woman business quota programs operated by the county and the city were unconstitutional. One quota quite possibly opened doors to fraud and corruption, while the other allowed for reverse discrimination. In November 2000 the Cook County’s program was struck down. In December 2003 the City of Chicago’s program was struck down and the city was given six months to make changes. 2000 - 2015 Katrina, tsunami, earthquakes. September 11. G. W. Bush and Obama are in and Castro is out. ‘Social Media’ enters the lexicon and FaceBook

and YouTube become verbs; iPods, iTunes and iPhones all are introduced. We are into West Wing, Buffy, Grey’s Anatomy and Lost. (The 2000 version of Gilligan’s Island). We laugh while watching The Big Bang Theory. The tech bubble burst and hundreds of dotComs are gone. The sub-prime mortgage Crisis hits banks.

It is not a big secret that Chicago does need more affordable housing, what large metropolitan area doesn’t? And Chicago residential developers are, and have always been generous – and before it became mandated, and remain ready to help. But the ordinance has always been a bit sticky and a bit of a thorn. And new regulations are posing new challenges.


As a group, the residential development community believes the ordinance’s fee and unit requirements have too high of an impact on small and medium-sized builders, resulting in the unintended consequence of making it difficult, or even impossible to finance new housing projects.

The Association and its 3 chapters are active. Joining the HBAGC automatically enlists members to Home Builders Association of Illinois (HBAI) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). It is pledged that ‘you will gain access to a wide variety of industry information, services, and activities that will contribute to your personal as well as professional success.’ Networking is possible at the general membership meetings and by participating in committees. Membership has its privileges! There are educational resources available for those wishing to add certifications to their resumes, and a variety of workshop and seminars offered to keep on trend. Newsletters, white papers and other collateral is available. And there are field trips such as; the Annual Tour of Homes, Medley of Homes and the tour of Remodeled homes. Great for seeing the big picture and all the Tips, Tools and Techniques. And of course any self-respecting Association has to take a break and have some fun. Between the umbrella and 3 chapters, members can participate in a variety of events - the annual golf day, boat cruise, After Hours. And of course the big fete of the year – Key Awards and Holiday Party.

HBAGC is backing a local developer who is being stalled by the requirements. They are stating that the city’s ARO is in direct violation of the constitution as the Fifth prohibits the taking of private property for public use without just and fair compensation. And some interesting finagling regarding issued – then adjusted building permits are adding fuel to the fire. The city responded stating that the suit “has no merit” and plans to “defend the ordinance vigorously.” It has been reported by a local public radio station that over $77 million in ‘opt out’ fees have been paid over the past 10 years by Chicago developers. Guaranteed that this is a case that will be watched with great interest.  

THE KEY AWARDS In the early 70’s the Association started recognizing its own and the Key Awards were the vehicle used to celebrate and acknowledge contributions. HBAGC holds an annual Key Awards competition to honor excellence among their members. The Key Awards recognizes those builders that excel in architectural design, quality of construction and innovation. Specialized judging teams, comprised of experts and peers in each field, evaluate each entry within various categories based upon the above criteria and award a total point score. The highest score in each category receives a Gold Key, second highest a Silver Key and third highest score receives a Bronze Key. The most coveted of the awards is the Crystal Key. The Crystal Key represents a special level of achievement that awards innovation and creativity. The awards represent an annual celebration of the best in our industry in the Chicago area, and there is no greater honor than being recognized by one’s peers for quality and excellence. Earning a Key Award comes with a certain level of prestige and recipients proudly make sure their current and prospective clients are made aware of their accomplishment by posting an announcement on their individual websites, within their collateral and sharing the news via a Press Releases. In 1992, the Chicago Tribune reported that these “Oscars” of the home-building industry went to 145 winners in the areas of exterior and interior designs, landscaping and land planning and the Key Awards ceremony had over 400 attendees. AFFORDABLE REQUIREMENTS ORDINANCE Since it was put into effect in 2003, Chicago’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) has been a mechanism for the creation of affordable rental and for-sale housing in private developments. Developments subject to the ARO are required to set aside 10% of units to be built as affordable housing, and any projects receiving financial assistance from the City are required to make 20% of the units ‘affordable’. Those developers who decide to opt out of building these units can instead pay a fee of $100,000 per unit.


CHALLENGES IN THE BUILDING INDUSTRY The period known as the Great Moderation came to an end when the decadelong expansion in US housing market activity peaked in 2006 and residential construction began declining. In 2007, losses on mortgage-related financial assets began to cause strains in global financial markets, and in December 2007 the US economy entered a recession. That year several large financial firms experienced financial distress, and many financial markets experienced significant turbulence. The headlined glared “Home Builders Group Files Chapter 11”. Following a loss of over $240K in 2007, $283K in 2008 and $257K in the first 9 months of 2009, the association had no other option that to file for bankruptcy and then restructure and continue. They were certainly not alone and many builders succumbed to the industry slump. Forced to sell the Addison building, built only a few years prior was one avenue the association took to manage the debt. A priority was to settle with suppliers who had been waiting for payment. They had reduced paid staff to a single employee. The Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago had 1,600 members at it’s height five years prior. In 2010, membership had shrunk 75% to just 400 firms, according to Executive Officer Rita Unzner. We had a staff of two dozen just three years ago. “Today I’m the only one left,” she says. The association has continued operating and is emerging from bankruptcy

protection after restructuring its debt. A continuing challenge will be to increase membership, as membership fees are integral to support the association. Rita Unzner has been planning, organizing, directing and coordinating the programs and activities of the Association to assure that objectives are attained, plans fulfilled and member needs are met for 18 years. It’s no wonder that most of the associations members call her the backbone or the glue of the association. Few professionals require as many separate skills of its practitioners as does professional association management. The typical E.O. (if there is such a person) is expected to be skilled in news and technical writing, public speaking, office management, press relations, bookkeeping, budget development, group dynamics, consumer relations, promoting, publication layout, human relations, legislative representation,…and the list goes on. Rita Unzner, has gone above and beyond the typical Executive Officer, carrying and leading us through the toughest of times and will continue to do so as the association gains momentum into the future.

time here on earth, Lowe’s is launching the next-generation Lowe’s Holoroom – an in-store and at-home virtual reality design tool that enables customers to envision the room of their dreams.

WHAT IS AHEAD? We noted earlier that members had the opportunity to learn about new Tips, Tools and Techniques by touring homes and attending educational opportunities. We found some interesting bits (pardon the pun) about Tools and how they came about. Who knows what innovations will be seen between now, and when the HBAGC celebrates their 100th Anniversary! The first electric drill is credited to Arthur James Arnot and William Blanch Brain of Melbourne, Australia who patented the electric drill in 1889. In 1921 full page ads appeared for this Black and Decker drill. Forty years later they introduce the world’s first cordless electric drill powered by nickel-cadmium cells.

The Lowe’s 3D printer is slated to arrive at the ISS in early 2016, making Lowe’s the first retailer to have a presence in space. From 200 miles above Earth, astronauts can use 3D printing technology to create a tool on-demand and produce parts they may not have onboard and immediately available. The evolution of 3D-printing technology is continually finding new ways to impact not only how we live, but also what we live in.

That’s Interesting! The use of a large circular saw in a saw mill is said to have been invented in 1813 by Tabitha Babbitt, a Shaker, after she noted the inefficiency of the traditional saw pits used by the sawyers in her community and sought an improvement. She came up with a prototype, attaching a circular blade to her spinning wheel. The ‘circular’ saw was invented in England at the turn of the nineteenth century, though there is considerable disagreement on precisely when and by whom the tool was devised, so no-one gets the credit! That’s Interesting! When was the hammer invented? Before there was paper to record the deed! But, Charles Brady King of Detroit [officially] patented his hammer in January 28, 1894. In 1938 the first fiberglass insulation was produced. It was invented by the Owens Corning Company, which is the world’s number one producer of fiberglass to this day; although it had to work its way back after declaring bankruptcy in 2000 to reorganize after an onslaught of lawsuits related to asbestos. It emerged from Chapter 11 in 2006. Fact: Owens-Corning reported sales for 1938 total $2.6 million; employment is 632. Fact: Owens Corning makes the Fortune 500 list for the 59th consecutive year in 2012. The company has been on the list every year since Fortune started it. That’s Interesting! The median size for homes purchased in 2015 was 1,900 square feet. Fast forward to 2016 - Lowe’s Innovation Labs, the disruptive innovation hub of Lowe’s Companies, Inc., has partnered with aerospace company Made in Space, to become the first to launch a commercial 3D printer to space. The printer, the first permanent additive manufacturing facility for the International Space Station (ISS), will bring tools and technology to astronauts in space. At the same

Attendees at the 2016 NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas this January will get to experience what life would be like living in a 3D-printed home, which comes complete with a 3D-printed vehicle. Who knows what further advancements in tools we will see in the future. But we can be assured that the Tips, Tools and Techniques will continue to improve. Glancing back at this series certainly provides us with a snapshot of who the HBAGC is and how we got here! Who knows what the next year will bring – much less – the next 25! It will be Interesting! By Wendy Pasher Higgins for Brandit360



It is always difficult to terminate an employee, especially when the employee has been part of the company for a long time. However, as every owner knows, terminating an employee is just one of many unpleasant issues that are required to run a small business. Accordingly, an owner or the company’s human resource representative should pay special consideration in terminating an employee and confirm that the applicable laws and company’s policies are being followed. First, the company should have a written employment manual explaining what is to be expected by the employee and what are the repercussions for not meeting those expectations. The manual should provide the specific steps that will be instituted when the employee fails to comply with the company’s policies. For example, the employment manual should provide an example of an “Employee Disciplinary Form” to be completed by the company when the employee is in violation of the company’s policies and put in the employee’s personnel file; and the number and types of infractions that will be allowed before termination. At the very least, the company should have a job description for each category of employee to demonstrate that there are objective and definable standards that must be met to maintain the employment. Moreover, the company should confirm that all of the proper employment materials are posted in the workplace. Second, as part of the written employment manual, the company should explain the process of terminating an employee and the forms that should be completed in the process. This may prevent the emotional process of termination from being inflamed and causing the company’s representative from making any statements that would later be regretted, and more importantly, be used as a basis for a wrongful termination suit. The company’s policy should include stating the reason why the employee is being terminated and a summary of any previous warning (whether oral or written, signed or unsigned). Most importantly, the employee should be required to sign a Release of Claims Form before obtaining any type of severance. In that regard, pursuant to Illinois Law, the employee is


entitled to wages for the time worked. Furthermore, if the company provided the employee with health insurance, then there should be an explanation of the COBRA process. Third, a company should consider obtaining liability insurance that covers an employee’s wrongful termination claim. The company should perform a cost-benefit analysis in determining whether to obtain liability insurance, since the insurance could be costly, depending upon the deductibles and coverage limitations. In any event, the insurance policy should provide that the company has the right to select the attorney for defending a wrongful termination case, the company’s consent is required before settling and that the deductible is per-claim, not per-claimant, in case one employee/ claimant has more than one claim. The latter is important because one claimant, or former employee, may have multiple claims against the employer based upon a wrongful termination. Fourth, if an employee has filed or an incident has occurred which may result in a worker’s compensation claim, an employment discrimination claim or a claim pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act, then the company must take extra precautions. The company must specifically document the incident(s) which is resulting in the termination. The documentation should include any correspondence/emails between the employee and company or third party, any previous incidents, the identity and possible statements by any witnesses employed by the company or third-party, and confirm that the reason for the termination is clearly articulated and supported by the documentation. Finally, despite following all of the laws and your company’s policies, the terminated employee may still file suit. However, by following your company’s written procedures and with the proper documentation in order, defending the suit will be less costly and not as time consuming. For more information, please contact Corey B. Stern at Chitkowski Law Offices at 630-824- 4808 or at,


State Laws You Should Know Bill Ward, Executive Vice President, HBAI

2015 Illinois Energy Conservation Code Effective January 1, 2016 Get ready, the new Illinois Energy Conservation Code has been approved and the effective date is January 1, 2016. Unlike the 2009 and 2012 code which, combined, raised the cost of construction in Illinois by an average of $16,000 per unit, HBAI welcomes the 2015 code as it brings new options to builders and minimizes construction cost increases. For the first time since 2009, NAHB helped stop the regulatory binge at the International Code Council, while HBAI did the same with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (IDCEO). With two members now sitting on the Illinois Energy Code Advisory Council (IECAC), HBAI defeated all attempts by IDCEO to stay with the 2012 code. Later in the year and leading all the way up to late November, HBAI also checked state regulators from erasing and delaying sensible changes in the 2015 code. Even after final approval of the code by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a final ditch effort was made in late November by IDCEO officials and consultants to delay enactment of the code for six months, and reverse a new option to use the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating system. But all of that was turned back by builders, code officials, engineers, and architects serving on the IECAC. NAHB advised HBAI early this year to embrace the new code as long as certain changes in the code were incorporated. Don Surrena, Program Manager for the Energy Efficiency Construction Department at NAHB, drew a road map for HBAI that was successfully used by our appointees to the IECAC; Jason Huelsman and Allen Drewes. Important Compliance Changes Include: The Energy Rating Index (ERI) has been added as a third option for compliance. RESNET and the ICC now offer a HERS Index Video to explain how it works. The video is posted at: https:// IDCEO opposed this vehemently and refuses to include this in their state funded instruction seminars for builders and code officials.

three air exchanges per hour was advocated by IDCEO. This article highlights IDCEO’s reluctance to go forward with the 2015 code, and the major disagreements we had with them on its implementation. Please note that there are over 70 changes made by the ICC from the 2012 to the 2015 code. That’s a lot, but still a far cry from the 240 changes made from the 2009 to the 2012 code. HBAI would like to thank the members of the IECAC who worked long and hard over the past several months to create a new code that is a great improvement over the previous code. A special Home Builder thanks to Lisa Mattingly, Administrator for Professional Services with the Illinois Capital Development Board, for her leadership and extensive knowledge on the application of building codes within the residential and commercial construction industries. Finally, did you know, whether a community enforces the Illinois Energy Conservation Code or not, Builders in Illinois are responsible for building to this statewide set of standards. Failure to do so could result in a civil action against a builder by the home owner resulting in fines and payment to upgrade to the standards set forth at the time of construction. Want to know more about the ECC? Contact Don Surrena, Program Manager, Energy Efficiency, NAHB, (202) 266-8574, or If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, feel free to contact me at

Bill Ward is Executive Vice President & Director of Governmental Affairs for the Home Builders Association of Illinois. He is the chief administrative operating officer of the association and is also in charge of all state legislative activities conducted by HBAI.

Basement walls associated with conditioned basements shall have two options for required insulation: 1. Insulation from the top of the basement wall down to 10 feet below grade or to within six inches of the basement floor, whichever is less with an R-Value of 10/13 minimum; 2. Insulation from top of the basement down to 4 feet below grade when the basement wall R-Value is at least 15/19. IDCEO opposed the second option on the belief that most home builders would find this method too complicated to construct.

Bill’s tenure with the HBAI began in 1989 as Director of Governmental Affairs. Prior to coming to the HBAI, he was Issues Development Specialist for Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, focusing on local government, transportation, agriculture, and rural healthcare. He also worked on several state and federal political campaigns from 1980 to 1988.

Air Leakage Rates shall be tested by a third party and verified as having an air leakage rate not exceeding five air exchanges per hour (ACH) in Climate Zones 4 and 5. The requirement for

Bill holds a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications from Southern Illinois University.


SEO and Video:

The Basics By Builders Digital Experience

Did you know that just 1 minute of video is worth approximately 1.8 million words? Video not only brings your brand to life, but also elevates the performance of your website and a properly optimized video can improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings. Did you know that a properly optimized video is 53X more likely to have a front page result on Google? Think of the impact you could be making by adding a home tour or company introduction to your website’s homepage! Here are some basic tips and tools that you should be using to drive interaction and visibility from your videos in general and on YouTube. Tags- Tags are a helpful way to categorize and sort content which in turn helps pull related videos into the sidebar in a generic YouTube search. These tags are important to include popular phrases or keywords relating to your location and product. For instance, for a home builder located in Chicago, IL, be sure to tag “New Home in Chicago” or anything else that is relevant to your specific video. Maybe it is a Craftsman style home, so be sure to tag it “Craftsman” as well. Being descriptive is a great way to draw viewers in from related searches! Video Titles- Video titles are important to not only highlight keywords that your video


includes, but also to catch a viewer’s attention! Would you rather click on “Cool Home in Barrington” or “BEAUTIFUL Craftsman Style Home in Barrington”?

cal issues or hearing impaired, as well as to improve your SEO. Simple text is still a favorite SEO technique to entice better SEO rankings.

Length- With today’s need for instantaneous information, it is best to keep videos under 5 minutes long. The target length however, runs at about 1 minute 30 seconds. If you have one large community video tour, consider breaking it up into segments for a more enjoyable viewing experience and to maximize your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts.

Shareability – Beautifully done builder videos can travel quickly via social media. By making sure the video is captivating, such as including gorgeous community shots or important information, the videos will connect with buyers wanting to share their home building process. Also- if you want your video to be seen, get the word out and share it! Distribute links to your content in your monthly newsletters and through your social media accounts.

Description- Once again, optimize your description with keywords to help Google better index your content. Descriptions should be succinct and give an overview of what the viewer will see in your video. Content– Strive for quality! With high quality video production becoming easier and less expensive, viewers are demanding to watch higher resolution video over a gritty one. This is especially important in the home building industry! You’ve put a lot of thought and branding into your homes, so you will want to have that come through clearly in your videos. Transcriptions- As a best practice, it is always a good idea to include a transcription of your videos just in case someone is having techni-

A great video tour of your homes and brand is imperative to reach today’s home buyers. Use these video SEO best practices to reach new customers! Don’t have great video? BDX can help! Contact Amy Alexander today at to get started. Builders Digital Experience (BDX) is a leading provider of digital marketing and sales solutions for home builders. In addition to hosting the top new home listing site (, and providing distribution of new home listings to hundreds of real estate websites, BDX offers website development, interactive floor plans, photo realistic renderings, and digital sales solutions to builders and real estate developers. Together these online and interactive resources help builders create a true digital experience for their buyers. For more information, visit


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REMODELING SPENDING EXPECTED TO ACCELERATE INTO 2016 After several quarters of slackening growth, home improvement spending is projected to pick-up pace moving into next year, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released today by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA projects annual spending growth for home improvements will accelerate from 2.4% last quarter to 6.8% in the second quarter of 2016. “Home improvement spending continues to benefit from the last years’ upswing in housing market conditions including new construction, price gains, and sales,” says Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center. “Strengthening housing market conditions are encouraging owners to invest in more discretionary home improvements, such as kitchen and bath remodeling and room additions, in addition to the necessary replacements of worn components, such as roofing and siding.” “Although we expect remodeling activity to strengthen through the first half of 2016, further gains could be tempered,” says Abbe Will, a research analyst in the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center. “Current slowdowns in shipments of building materials and remodeling contractor employment trends, as well as restrictive consumer lending environments, are lowering remodeler sentiment and could keep spending gains in the mid-single digit range moving forward.”

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reading, over a single-purpose space like a screening room,” said David Schwartz, CEO of Waterton, which owns and manages nearly 20,000 apartments across the U.S. Taking the concept a step further and creating an entire park is Related Midwest, which is preparing to break ground on One Bennett Park, a hybrid condo/apartment tower that will include an adjacent 1.7-acre public park. “The tower and park are named after Edward H. Bennett, co-author of the Plan of Chicago, which stressed the importance of green spaces in the cityscape,” said Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest. “More than a century later, this balance is as important as ever.” As 2015 comes to a close, Chicago-area real estate pros are setting their sights on 2016. Here are the top trends Midwest industry experts, including builders, developers, architects, designers and brokers, predict will shape the residential real estate landscape in the year ahead. 1. Developers Think Body & Soul: As a holistic approach to health becomes more mainstream, features dedicated to the well-being of both the body and soul are becoming a must-have for renters and buyers alike. “Multifamily developers continue upping the ante in terms of amenities to stay competitive, and now we’re seeing an evolution to more emphasis on overall wellness rather than strictly entertainment and recreation,” said David Kennedy, principal at KTGY Architecture + Planning’s Chicago/ Midwest office. Developers are also focusing on mental wellness, especially in urban areas like Chicago. That’s where Crescent Heights’ Walton on the Park apartment tower features a seventh-floor meditation garden, providing an unusually tranquil space in the heart of the city, and why Waterton’s recent redevelopment of Presidential Towers included a new outdoor Zen garden. “We’re finding residents value substance over flash and are more likely to appreciate the many uses for a garden, such as meditation, yoga or


Single-family homes are also being designed with mental wellness in mind. Elissa Morgante, co-principal of architecture and interior design firm Morgante Wilson Architects, notes more clients are requesting yoga rooms and meditation areas in their homes. “Location is a key consideration for these Zen spaces, as they’re meant to be an escape from the busiest areas of the home,” she said. 2. Down-to-Earth Living Takes Root: As farmto-table increases in popularity, real estate pros say people will be looking to bring that trend closer to home in 2016. At Prairie Crossing, a conservation community located in Grayslake, residents have access to a 100-acre working organic farm. “Residents can lease a garden plot to farm themselves, subscribe to receive produce deliveries, or visit the farm stand to purchase produce,” said Shane Halleman, broker at john Greene Realtor, who is listing homes at Prairie Crossing. The trend is also growing at apartment communities. Property managers at Residences of the Grove in suburban Downers Grove planted an herb garden for residents. “Our foodie residents love being able to add fresh ingredients that they picked right outside their building to their meals,” said Diana Pittro, executive vice president of RMK Management Corp.

Even high-end homes are including more downto-earth features. Morgante, from Morgante Wilson Architects, notes dedicated potting rooms, located near the garage and tricked out with custom shelving and storage, are popular among clients who enjoy gardening. The architect has also created a glass greenhouse, connected to the home’s main floor, for a client who wanted to pursue their gardening hobby year-round. 3. Empty Nesters Flock Close To Home: According to Midwest experts, a growing number of empty nesters are choosing to downsize within the same state rather than moving to warmer locales. Developers like Jerry S. James, president of Edward R. James Companies, expect to see even more boomers forego the traditional snowbird migration in 2016. “At our communities like Westgate at The Glen in Glenview and Brighton Mews in Park Ridge, boomers who raised their families in these suburbs don’t want to leave where their friends and family live so they’re drawn to our infill locations,” said James. “Another motivator for staying close to home is the convenience and comfort of staying close to their current doctors, medical care facilities, places of worship, favorite shops and restaurants.” Brian Brunhofer, president of Meritus Homes, agrees, noting that an increasing number of ranch buyers at the builder’s The Reserve of St. Charles community are local empty nesters. “Many of these buyers plan to continue working for the foreseeable future, so they want to downsize to a single-level home close to their job,” he added. Meanwhile, Peter Brennan, president of Foxford Communities, reports local empty nesters make up the majority of sales at Clocktower Pointe, its condo development in Countryside. “At this stage in their lives, baby boomers want to make things as simple as possible,” said Brennan. “For most, that means enjoying a maintenance-free lifestyle with plenty of space and upscale finishes for hosting family – it doesn’t mean having to upkeep a second home far away.” Empty nesters in search of a second home are also

choosing closer-to-home options. Tammy Barry, director of sales and marketing for Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort in Ottawa, says a large percentage of buyers at the marina resort community are retirees from Chicago’s suburbs who want a low-maintenance home with access to amenities like boating and hiking, but without moving too far from their primary home. “Heritage Harbor gives them the sense of getting away, but it’s still very easy to get back to Chicago whenever they want,” she said. 4. Secondary Spaces Take Center Stage: As the median size of new homes has decreased in 2015, buyers in 2016 will look for ways to showcase their personal style within a smaller footprint and likely turn to secondary spaces as an outlet. “A trend we are seeing among a number of our buyers is that they are taking full advantage of the variety of highend, stylish finishes we offer and adding distinct design elements to one small, but high-impact part of the home, such as a powder room that every visitor and guest will see,” said Jeff Benach, co-principal of Lexington Homes. “That’s especially true with buyers moving up from a condo or apartment who are eager to make the home their own, and want to add luxury within a budget.” Buyers at Enclave of Heritage Estates in Lake Barrington are also playing up secondary spaces like kitchen pantries and walk-in closets by adding furniture-quality shelving or designer lighting. “Our buyers put a lot of thought and their own design sense into the semi-custom homes at Enclave, and that extends to areas that can be overlooked as simply functional spaces,” said Andy Kiener, director of project sales for Kinzie Brokerage. “But those extra details are appreciated by buyers day in and day out.” Brunhofer of Meritus Homes is also seeing buyers at its semi-custom communities in Elgin and St. Charles invest in more functional upgrades. “Our buyers know they’ll get more impact from a carefully crafted mudroom that will keep their family organized than a two-story foyer,” he said. “Even tricking out the butler’s pantry so they’ll appreciate it every time they entertain is a small, yet meaningful choice.” 5. Vacation Homes Have Their Day In The Sun: With the National Association of Realtors reporting vacation home sales in 2014 surpassed their 2006 pre-recession peak, many experts in the vacation home market expect 2015 sales to match that pace and for this strong momentum to continue in 2016, particularly as more baby boomers purchase second homes to enjoy in retirement.

auction house SVN Auctionworks. In 2015 the firm saw a substantial uptick in the vacation market and expects that trend to continue in 2016. “Gradually, homeowners are realizing auctions are not just for distressed properties, and in fact are a preferred method to sell one-of-a-kind properties like vacation homes,” said Diana Peterson, president of SVN AuctionWorks. 6. Get Your Game On: The year ahead will see a revamping of the traditional game room as developers look for new ways to differentiate their projects. According to KTGY’s Kennedy, this updated focus on gaming-style amenities is driven by millennial renters, many of whom became accustomed to amenity-rich student housing. “We’re also seeing a trend toward vintage arcade-style games, including nostalgic offerings like table-top shuffle board, which appeal to renters of all ages,” said Kennedy. At 1000 South Clark, JDL Development’s new luxury Chicago apartment tower that will open in early 2016, gaming amenities will be front and center. “Rather than placing arcade games, foosball and billiards in isolated corners of the building, we’ve added them to inviting spaces that also include TVs and controlled music so it’s more of a lounge environment,” said Yale Dieckmann, executive vice president and chief investment officer at JDL Development.

“Retirees might be fueling the market, but across the board more people are buying vacation homes as a place to escape their busy lives and spend meaningful time with their families,” said Barry of Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort. “In fact, there is increased demand for larger single-family homes in our community because buyers want a retreat where their entire extended family can gather.”

REVA Development Partners also reports residents of all ages like to “get their game on,” naming the pool table and bocce court as top features at its rental communities The Oaks of Vernon Hills and Northgate Crossing. “Residents young and old are drawn to these games, and they’re an easy, low-pressure way to meet neighbors, socialize and build community,” said Matt Nix, principal of REVA Development Partners.

Those with a vacation home to sell are increasingly likely to do so via an auction, according to real estate

Fifield Cos., known for its amenity-rich luxury rental towers, will offer its first arcade gaming center

at NEXT, a new River North building. The game room will feature retro arcade games, and include old-school favorites like Pac-Man and Galaga. “With people delaying homeownership and electing to rent until a later age, it’s important that our amenities cater to a broader range of renters’ ages and interests,” said Randy Fifield, vice chairman of Fifield Cos. “The NEXT game room will offer classic games that appeal not only to Millennial renters, but also to our Generation X and older Gen Y renters. These games have a way of transporting gamers back to their youth.” Ditching the game room rulebook is FitzGerald Associates Architects, which is designing a band room and recording studio, complete with recording equipment and acoustical treatment, at The Millennium apartment tower in Chicago’s Loop. “These days, everyone is a DJ,” said Rick Whitney, principal of FitzGerald. “With technology, you can essentially have an entire band in your iPad and create music anywhere. We’re giving residents a ‘home studio’ experience, but with a professional-quality recording studio and a place where the band can jam.” 7. Delivery Dilemmas: With residents increasingly using online sites to shop for everything from clothing and toiletries to groceries and household items, multifamily developers are paying more attention than ever to the logistics of delivery and how to handle the hundreds of packages that arrive at their buildings each day. “We’ve pretty much seen every type of delivery, from a full set of car tires, to doggie wheelchairs, so we need to be prepared for whatever comes,” said Zach Ktsanes, asset manager at Crescent Heights, which has managed more than 5,000 units in Chicago. In addition to dedicating storage space to accommodate deliveries, its buildings use technology to manage the receipt and notification of each delivery.

RMK Management also uses a scan-and-notify electronic package management system, in addition to offering extra storage space at the nearly 30 communities it manages throughout the Midwest. “Efficient management of deliveries is key to staying on top of the volume of packages, and that starts with notifying residents nearly instantly when an item has arrived so they can collect it,” said Diana Pittro, executive vice president of RMK Management. And at Hubbard Place in downtown Chicago, The Habitat Company, which manages more than 23,000 units nationwide, James Bond makes the deliveries.

Residents are notified via text message with a secret code they can use to open a custom wood drawer built into the lobby wall to retrieve packages. “The system, which we affectionately call ‘James Bond’ internally, lets residents access their deliveries 24/7 and allows our staff to focus on other priorities,” said Sheila Byrne, executive vice president of property management for The Habitat Company. 8. Master Baths Go Minimalist: Citing Remodeling Magazine’s 2015 “Cost vs. Value” report – in which midrange bathroom remodels returned just 70 percent of their cost at sale, and upscale remodels returned just

60 percent – many local experts predict sweeping master baths with supersized showers and tubs will fall out of favor with buyers in 2016.

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At Provenance, a luxury new-home community in Northbrook, Red Seal Homes is shifting square footage from the master bath to a master sitting room, dressing room or larger walk-in closet. “Buyers are preferring a walk-in shower with a custom tile base over the separate shower and soaking tub, which takes up far more space,” said Brian Hoffman, an executive with Red Seal Homes. Similarly, developer Sedgwick Properties has started foregoing tubs in the master bath in favor of larger, stand-alone showers. “Typically, other bathrooms in the home already have a tub for guests, making them less essential in the master,” said Marty Paris, president of Sedgwick Properties. But a smaller footprint doesn’t mean homeowners want their master bath to be any less luxurious. “The decrease in size not only frees up space elsewhere in the home, but also makes it possible to splurge on fixtures and finishes that might not otherwise be economical.” Perhaps the biggest change is the overall perception of the master bath. “Many of these larger master baths were modeled after spas or hotels, but some homeowners discovered they would rather go to the spa for the full experience than try to replicate it in their home,” said Jeanine McShea, managing broker of Chicago-based Related Realty. Taylor Johnson was established in 1977 as a marketing-communications firm specializing in real estate. Over the course of three decades, Taylor Johnson has produced and managed dozens of successful public relations campaigns involving a variety of marketing disciplines, including media relations, social media and events, to build and strengthen client brands, raise awareness and increase profitablity.


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Greater Chicago Building News - HBAGC | DECEMBER 2015  

Greater Chicago Building News is the official magazine of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago published by Brandit360.

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