Midwest Homes of McHenry is flourishing as green building grows. Owner John Blake and his staff prove that quality and customer service are keys to success in the industry.
Midwest Homes: Building Green in McHenry County
Experienced. Flexible. Up for a challenge. Personable. Unique.
Combine all of these qualities and you get the epitome of John Blake’s business phi-losophy. Blake, contractor and owner of Midwest Homes in McHenry, builds homes, dreams and lasting relationships with his clients — all while encouraging a green building environment.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), buildings across the nation account for 39 percent of total national energy use, 12 percent of total water con-sumption, 68 percent of total electricity consumption and 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Midwest Homes helps to reduce these percentages on a local level. Its distinct contracting process gives homeowners the opportunity to custom design their ideal home.
In recent years, more homeowners have been asking about high-quality energy-efficient windows, higher thermal resistance values (R-values) in their insulation and other green features they can implement in their living spaces. Midwest Homes has the answers to make their green dreams come true.
Midwest Homes was established more than 30 years ago, but Blake wasn’t always a green builder.
“Back in the day ... my first company built homes in the stick-built fashion,” he said. Stick-built is a traditional style of building a home that involves constructing it right on the site where you intend to live in it or in situ (in position). This style, however, didn’t last long as a part of Midwest Homes’ building processes.
“Then the modular-built and panelized home was getting popular,” he continued. “Looking at that building system just made so much sense to me: a faster move-in time for the homeowner, a smoother construction process and easier decision-making for both the homeowner and me. So, I decided to pursue this innovative way to build.”
About Eco-friendly Building
Panelized (or modular) home construction means just what the name insinuates — that certain sections or rooms of the house are built in an off-site location, then transported to the build site and then finally assembled together as one unit to complete the house. This method of building is truly green in every sense.
“Absolute precision [is used],” Blake explained. The combination of computer-programmed saws and lathes — which leave behind little waste and scrap — and the high quality of the lumber, as well as other key building components, make the homes extremely eco-friendly. Because this very efficient process results in fewer modifications down the road, this means less tweaking and potential concerns for the owner, too.
Midwest Homes has even received praise from subcontractors who “love to work on [our] homes because walls and corners are straight,” Blake said.
A Little Help from Friends
Blake acknowledges that this pioneering method of homebuilding cannot be completely achieved without the help of some of the best manufacturers. “It is helpful nowadays that manufacturers of household components — furnaces, air-conditioning units, hot water heaters, for example — now manufacture their products aiming for green energy efficiency,” he said. The efforts of these building producers without a doubt contribute to the green movement.
Another company cultivating a relationship with Midwest Homes is Envision: Home At Last, a 3-D, computer-generated building program that creates a pre-designed home with customized adjustments. Envision has an expansive library of floor plans and styles, and a broad range of budget plans. It’s no surprise that Midwest Homes calls itself an Envision: Home At Last builder. Envision uses a proven method to homebuilding that pledges the utmost efficiency and quality integrated with state-of-the-art technology. The two companies have formed the perfect marriage between technology and efficiency to achieve a spotless, green status. “Being an Envision: Home At Last builder allows our customers an easy process for a stress-free, enjoyable homebuilding experience,” Blake said.
Successes and Challenges
What certainly helps Midwest Homes grow is its great attention to clients. Customer orientation is the firm’s mantra and it shows. “I oversee every part of the building process,” Blake said. “Our insistence on quality is well-known and understood by our subcontractors. A job is not done until it is done right.”
Midwest Homes’ prerogative is to establish a good working relationship and friendship with its clients. Even after a project is completed, Blake hopes that past customers drop an occasional line to let the company know how they are doing. Midwest Homes also offers after-service to customers as part of its warranty and will extend service within a reasonable time of the warranty’s expiration. “[Maybe] they need a replacement window sash or need a plumber, for example,” Blake explained.
One of the biggest challenges Midwest Homes deals with involves the unique terrain a customer chooses to build on. Since many of its customers would like to live on or near water, such as the Fox River or Chain O’Lakes, the company has to adjust its blueprints to accommodate floodplains and wetlands, making for a more complicated process.
Another common challenge is getting a customer to square one. “Where do we start?” or “What do we do now?” are questions clients often ask Midwest Homes. The company’s experience and flexibility allow it to answer customers’ questions and guide them through the process. “That’s where Midwest Homes [shines],” Blake said.
Love for the Region
Although Midwest Homes has served McHenry, Lake, Cook, Kane, Boone and Kenosha counties, the majority of its work is in McHenry and Lake counties.
Blake emphatically enjoys servicing the people of the McHenry County region. “[My staff and I were] born and raised in McHenry,” Blake said. “This is a great area to be from, to live in and to work in — the people here are awesome.”
And Blake doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. He and his company plan to continue pursuing new technologies and innovative and green building products and processes.
What clients are saying about Midwest Homes ...
“I highly recommend their services to anyone. It was a bit nerve-racking and overwhelming at first, but they helped us through the entire process, from start to finish, making everything simple and easy.”
~ Yolanda Drake-Krysiak, Johnsburg
“I was glad that our whole experience went so smoothly — from the demolition of our old house to moving in to our new, beautiful home. Our whole experience with Midwest Homes was a good one and I would recommend
~ Dave Zabielski, McHenry
“I was totally happy with all phases of the work. John is an easy man to work with and resolves issues quickly. John is really good at what he does. I would welcome anybody interested in building with John to visit my home and see
the fine quality of work that he does.”
~ Rainier Pilati, Crystal Lake