Kitchen Key to Custom Homes

What is luxury? That subject was explored recently at a Luxury Home Builder Roundtable in Oak Brook, Ill., sponsored by public relations firm Sharon Windle Inc.

July 01, 2003

What is luxury? That subject was explored recently at a Luxury Home Builder Roundtable in Oak Brook, Ill., sponsored by public relations firm Sharon Windle Inc. Eleven builders analyzed issues such as the changing face of custom home buyers, what amenities consumers are asking for and what challenges they face in Illinois.

"Luxury is no longer based on size," said Scott Pjesky, executive vice president of Kensington Homes. "It's now based on finishes, location, details and the quality of appliances."

Most of that attention is focused on the kitchen - bigger spaces and higher-end products. Keith Jacobs, president of Jacobs Homes, said that list includes "pot fillers over the range and the stove; built-in coffee stations; French cooktops; multiple dishwashers; heated floors; copper, concrete and wood countertops; and walk-in refrigerators."

Tod Desmarais, vice president of Optima Inc., added, "We've started bringing everything from the rest of the house into the kitchen - stone floors, fireplaces, glazed finishes."

Buyers also seem to be splurging on garages, but because suburbs such as Highland Park, Ill., are limiting the number of attached garages to four, builders are getting creative. "For garage floors, we are using Spancrete so that we can put another garage underneath the actual garage," said Curt Langille, president of Lanco Development Co.

While these builders face many challenges - frequent permitting changes top the list - all agreed this market still is worth pursuing.

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