Environs infill Chicago home

Many of Architect Ken Brinkman's infill homes have the older characteristics of Chicago's old, stately neighborhoods with modern interiors (Photos: Herbie Rooprai).

June 30, 2017
By Stacey Freed

About 170 homes ago, architect and builder Ken Brinkman designed and built his first spec home, a small frame house with vinyl siding on a narrow lot.

June 27, 2017

Last fall, a salesperson from a solar company knocked at the door. He was in the right neighborhood—in sun-baked Los Angeles, our pocket is one of the sunniest.

March 24, 2017
By Scott Hobbs

We know the plans aren’t finalized, but we’d like to get some idea of costs. We won’t make any decisions based on these numbers; we just want a ballpark figure.” 
So begin all too many problem projects. 

March 30, 2017

They arrive almost every day, via design blogs, emails, colleagues, and friends. Modern or gingerbready, space-age or shingled, from the Netherlands to Nashville to New Zealand. They have clever storage that lays to waste the idea of unused square footage.

January 09, 2017

The custom building game is an endeavor fraught with potential minefields. Sure, the sites are often majestic, the budgets are usually stout, and the products and materials are likely to be luxurious.

Rustic French kitchen in home designed by Barnes Vanze Architects, Washington, D.C., and built by Jim Gibson Builders, Washington, D.C. Photo: Anice Hoachlander

January 09, 2017
By Susan Bady, Senior Editor

Kitchens and baths are opportunities for a custom builder to really shine. When clients bring photos of European cabinets, pro-style gas ranges, steam showers, and other sexy features to a meeting, builders are inclined to go all out in order to please them.

October 03, 2016

You can blame (or credit) architect Sarah Susanka for giving rise to the small-house movement. It depends on your perspective.

July 08, 2016

Few things in construction cause as much confusion as green building.

House 610, in San Antonio’s Alamo Heights, was designed and built by Craig McMahon Architects. Craig’s brother Cavan McMahon, owner of Half Inch of Water Studios, did the detail work, including building the home’s steel and wood cabinetry, concrete countertops, and weathered steel fireplace (Photo: Dror Baldinger).

July 01, 2016
By Teresa Burney

Craig and Cavan McMahon’s mother didn’t want her sons to go into the construction business. She hoped to spare them the toll the family’s concrete business took on loved ones’ bodies and souls, so she steered both sons toward artistic endeavors.

April 14, 2016
By Mette Aamodt, AIA

Big egos. Incomplete documents. Design changes. These are some of the common complaints builders have about architects. 

April 08, 2016

Italian architect and engineer Renzo Piano once said, “If you have total freedom, then you are in trouble. It’s much better when you have some obligation, some discipline, some rules.” Piano’s quote nicely encapsulates why my favorite housing type is urban (and suburban) infill. 

January 11, 2016

If you’ve been building homes long enough, you probably recognize this scenario, or something close to it: A client phones you, perhaps at an inappropriate time, frantic that maybe the pantry your subs just drywalled is a bit on the small side.

November 12, 2015

The ability to step back and look at the big picture is a luxury, particularly for anybody running his or her own company. 

September 21, 2015

Being able to walk between two studs without bumping your toolbelt against the wall frame or having to turn your torso to fit through the space is a simple pleasure that could win over the trades to see the broader benefits of pushing the envelope.

July 01, 2015

Writing a couple of articles for this issue and for the previous one about recycling and salvage conjured memories of my Dumpster misadventures years ago. When my brothers and I were old enough to pull a hoe, my dad had us labor for his tuck-pointing jobs on Saturdays.

May 11, 2015

Efficiency is in the blood of a carpenter, and Florida builder Josh Wynne, profiled in “Custom Builders on the Move,” relies on a lot of common sense to build what he has learned along the w

February 26, 2015

When I see surveys that show most Millennials aspire to buy a home, I think of Australia.

November 11, 2014

During a question and answer session at a recent industry conference, a home builder asked Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi for his thoughts about the labor situation in light of young people not being interested in entering the trades. 

Numbers can be funny things. When the population for a subset of consumers is large enough, then plausible projections follow about how that group will impact macro economics.


July 2017

This Month in Custom Builder


Silgranit, has a 10-inch-deep front apron that sits flush with surrounding cabinetry.


Custom home builders share the red flags they look for when screening clients and deciding whether to keep them or let them go

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