Evolution of a U.S. Department of Energy Housing Innovation Award Winner
Custom Home Building- Start to Finish


In January of 2015, our first model was completed and merchandised. When I was hired in August of 2014, the initial design of the model home had already been selected by the Director of Operations. He selected a design from architect Jack Arnold’s collection. The HOA requirements of the community dictated French Country exterior aesthetic, which I planned to incorporate in the interior design as well. Due to an increase of investors/financial resources I was able to staff an interior decorator to help with market selections and staging, although the responsibility was mine.

Example work: Interior and exterior design suggestions and interior structural layout. Exterior structural design was formatted by third-party architect.


Washington Post

Due to the function, design, and award-winning nature of this model The Washington Post published a two-page article. It was my responsibility to work with the PR team to create the media release and pitch the story. This was a huge success garnering a mass amount of national attention, including a call from my parents asking, “do you know that you are on the cover of the Chicago Tribune?”

  • The Washington Post article was picked up by 118 media outlets with a potential audience over 50 million.
  • Article was published Saturday February 13, 2016 Washington Post.
  • This article is the primary reason that the owner learned of our company.

Q3 2017-Q1 2018


Required a large amount of work and attention dedicated to this project. The client contacted me after holding onto the 2016 Washington Post piece. Once they were ready to start discussion of their new home after retirement, I invited them to our model home for discussion and training.

I had previously developed a DOE training program that I used for continuing education credit courses for AIA architects, Realtors, and appraisers. This (with adapted language based on the skillset/knowledge of the clients) is how I begin all customer presentations. I train our clients to understand the value of our custom homes using this training material. After this client was sold on the unique benefits of custom homebuilding, it then became my responsibility to start the initial design process. This includes an interview of wants, needs, and budget. Next step is partnering my clients with the best fit lender to guarantee qualification as an early stage. Once budget and client’s wants are established, I start the design process. This usually starts with hand sketches to layout a design. I hesitate to spend money on architects until the buyer can have a clear understanding of their interior design. This client offered me a Pinterest picture of an exterior they liked, told me a bathroom count, their European furniture that would need to be considered in the design and that was about it. After hand sketching ideas of interior layout to match their exterior design preference, the client was able to confirm it met their needs. At this point I included our architect to start CAD drawings after a design deposit was secured from the clients.

While the client worked with architect to finalize structural details, I engaged the clients in initial design selections for bidding purposes. The client was able to meet with my distributors and make flooring, cabinet (design and style), counters, lighting, plumbing and detail selections. Once I received these items and bids from my distributor, I was able to put these into an excel spreadsheet and create allowances for these particular items. The builder is responsible for costing the excavating, site developer, basement walls, above grade walls, roofing, exterior, framing and labor for trades. Once all bids are received, we work together to apply my excel sheet to his and create a contract agreement price with established allowances.

  • Please see email attached word docs for prelimiary tracking done
  • Please see attached PDFs for CAD designs of final plan and siteplan

Q2 2018-Q2 2019


This phase took a bit long due to permitting to complete. This included all the customary meetings with pre-construction, electrical, final walk through and trade meetings along the way. During this time the clients also made changes which required change orders created with a combination of excel and word, tracked in a customer Dropbox shared filing system. This buyer did make changes after the initial contract so I was responsible for tracking all changes.

Q2 2019

At the completion of this project, I created a 40-page narrative with 100 attachment application for the U.S. Department of Energy’s review. After their review DOE named this home the 2019 Housing Innovation Award (a top 5 in the country award), in October 2019 the Grand winner will be name which will place the home as #1 if it wins.