A Guide to Building a Chicago Home

  1. Establish a Budget

    Before you make any plans or talk to any builders, determine a budget. Keep in mind that actual costs can exceed the original estimated price by 10%. Also, make sure that you allow for any "extras" during or at the end of construction.

  2. Identify Your Desired Location

    It is important to determine the exact location since land acquisition costs can very significantly by neighborhood. Make sure that the location holds up in value to the house that you want to build.

  3. Select a Builder

    Identify a least three potential builders. Referrals from architects, realtors, and clients who have worked with builders is a good place to start.

    • Interview the builder. Personal chemistry between you and you r builder is extremely important. Look for signs of the builders attentiveness to you and your needs. For example, does he/she return your phone calls in a timely fashion or does it take days to call you back?
    • Do a background check on the potential builder. Check out financial references. Has this person ever entered bankruptcy? Left any properties uncompleted? Have any liens on any property? Have any history of not paying creditors on time?
    • Determine whether or not the builder has a reasonable system in place to keep you apprised of all costs and scheduling. Be sure to clarify what fees may be incurred by any changes or delays on your part.
    • Clarify planning and proposal fees. Find out if there is a fee for the proposal and what is included. Will the architectural planning be done by the builder and his/her staff or are you expected to provide the plans at your own expense?
    • Find out what the prospective builder considers "substantial completion". Ask what amount of work will be left to finish after substantial completion and how long it will take.
    • Check out what kind of warranty the builder gives on the new construction. What does the warranty include and how long does it last?
  4. Once You Have Selected the Builder

    Establish a meeting schedule that works for both you and the builder. Determine budget allowances for all of the components for your new home. The following is a partial list of considerations:

    • Architectural fees
    • Kitchen and bathroom cabinets budget
    • Lighting fixture allowance
    • Wood trim packages (crown molding, base boards, etc.)
    • Audio visual components and wiring
    • Landscaping
    • Brick
    • Flooring (carpet, limestone, wood, etc.)
    • Appliance package (stove, washer, dryer, etc.)
    • Plumbing finishes (faucets, shower head, etc.)
    • Counter tops
    • Painting allowance

    Be sure to obtain warranties for all appliances and products used in the new home.

    The process of building a home in the city of Chicago can be very rewarding. It all begins by doing a thorough job of research for an appropriate budget, location and choice of builder. Pay careful attention to the details when planning and making your selections, and work closely with your builder to obtain the desired results. This will insure a quality home that you can enjoy and will pay off in the future.

I have represented over two hundred million dollars of new construction and guided clients in selecting builders and evaluating proposals. My personal involvement in new construction has continually proven the importance of understanding all the nuances in building a home.

David Marc Drew of D. Drew Development, Ltd. has developed high-end homes on the North Shore and completed major renovations in downtown Chicago since 1993. His scope includes new construction, remodeling and home additions. Davids personal involvement is seen in the sensitivity to scale and proportion, the quality of materials, and quality of construction. Visit his website at