first-time home buyers to relocating buyers to empty-nesters
building the house of their dreams, the concerns, wants, demands
and expectations of a home buyer vary greatly depending on what
sort of home buyer they are. Nobody knows these differences more
acutely than the architects and builders who deal with a broad
spectrum of buyers on a regular basis.
and Anne Selzer have built their dream home in Mequon.
Bruce Jackson is a registered
architect with over 40 years in the business, and together with
his two sons works for Bruce Jackson Architects, Inc. in
Shorewood. Jackson has had extensive experience designing homes
for the proverbial empty-nester buyer, one whose children
have grown and moved out of the house.
Jackson recently designed Amos and
Ann Selzers dreamhouse in Mequon overlooking Lake Michigan.
Recently retired, Amos is in his 60s and Ann in her 50s.
Sized at around 4,000 square feet, the Selzers home boasts four
bedrooms, plus a sitting room, library and computer room. They
drove me around Mequon and showed me some of the homes in order to
get design ideas, says Jackson. But I didnt like anything
they showed me. I wanted to design their home to take advantage of
the lake view and wanted to design it around a great room and open
concept. Jackson did just that, adding a dormer and observation
room, and a guest bedroom with separate access through the back
hall and mudroom. I led them into a lot of these ideas. Eighty
percent of the features they ended up with I had to talk them
into, Jackson says. Lots of wardrobe space and a large
master bathroom, together with bedrooms which they dont
immediately need, assure the resale value of the home should they
decide to sell at a later date.
Amos Selzer agrees that Jackson was
very creative. I gave Bruce five pages, single-spaced, full of
detailed specs for each room. I detailed everything we wanted and
looked to him to come up with the floor plan. But Bruce was
convinced he was going to do something different, and Im glad
he did. Although Selzer is a retired engineer and computer
manager, Jackson influenced him greatly on many of the details of
the house. The first floor was designed for my wife and I,
says Selzer. The second floor is for the children when they
come to visit. We have the main master bedroom on the first floor,
but there is an additional master bedroom on the second floor,
complete with a balcony overlooking Lake Michigan. The children
compete now to see who can get home first so they can stay in that
room, Selzer adds with a chuckle.
and Chris Tiahnybik, at left, discuss their home building
progress with Jane Wolf, right, of Hoffman Builders.
We mostly eat in, Selzer
continues, and Ann does most of the cooking. There is also a
sit down bar area facing into the kitchen, a popular item among
empty nesters and buyers stepping up in size and price. We do a
lot of entertaining, Selzer says.
The kitchen is quite elaborate
and spacious, says Jackson. But youd be amazed at how
many elaborate kitchens never get used. One client with such a
kitchen invited me over for dinner and then ordered a pizza, he
laughs. But Amos and Ann do use their kitchen.
Their home also boasts granite
counter-tops, a home office, and many of the newest home
Jane Wolf is director of sales and
marketing for James H. Hoffman Builders, Inc. in Mequon. The
company focuses on higher-end homes that appeal to upwardly mobile
professionals relocating from one state to another.
Relocating buyers have a much
clearer idea of what they want in a new home, says Jane. They
come to us with a well-defined wish list and are generally
more concerned with good school systems, a sense of community and
neighborhood, and are aware of the costs associated with building
a home. The company is currently building a new home for Leo
and Chris Tiahnybik, who recently relocated to Milwaukee from
Chicago. He is an airline pilot for United Airlines and she is a
homemaker. They moved to Wisconsin with their four children,
ranging in ages from 41/2 months to six
years, in order to find a quieter life, a sense of smaller-town
values, and to escape the hectic life of Chicago. But the
pressures of big-city life were nothing compared to the pressures
and experiences they had in relocating.
The first builder they selected
went into bankruptcy and they lost their deposit, recalls Wolf.
As a result, we had to work hard to earn their trust and
confidence. There are different pressures and concerns experienced
by relocating buyers, as opposed to first-time home buyers. They
are making a cross-country move, leaving friends and sometimes
family and basically starting over. You have to be sensitive to
these things. I asked the wife of one relocating couple whether
she had any friends she could lean on, and she replied No,
would you be my friend? Relocating buyers generally have
less of a support network to rely on in dealing with the stresses
of a big move.
On one occasion, Chris Tiahnybik
recounts that she was nine months pregnant and was driving from
Chicago to Milwaukee to check on the basement being dug. She
feared that they had dug the hole too far back from the property
line, virtually eliminating the back yard for the children. I
called Jane in tears, Tiahnybik recalls, and she calmed me
down and patiently explained the setback requirements and such,
and when I got there I realized that there still was plenty of
back yard. According to Tiahnybik, she and Leo called numerous
references to check on Hoffman Builders before selecting them. We
called people they didnt even know about, she says. We
wanted to be sure we got a reputable and dependable builder.
and Randy Ladwig of Grafton, at left, are pleased with the
affordable quality provided by their builder Bradley
The Tiahnybik home is approximately
3,500 square feet and features five bedrooms, something they
considered a necessity with four children and the anticipated
visits from relatives from out of town. We utilized every inch
of space in the house, Chris Tiahnybik says. We also located
ourselves near to two major highways so that Leo could commute
back and forth to OHare Airport in Chicago more easily. We
lived for one year in a two bedroom apartment in Chicago, because
our house sold within a week of being on the market. Then we
struggled to find a rent house while our house here was being
completed. Jane worked well with us considering these additional
stresses, and she was very understanding.
According to Wolf, being a woman is
an asset when dealing with buyers who are relocating from out of
state. She takes the time to talk and listen to her buyers about
many problems that may not even be related to the home she is
building. I just think women are better at that than men are,
she adds with a laugh. Chris Tiahnybik agrees.
First-time new home buyers bring a
whole new set of concerns and priorities into the home-building
picture. Bradley Kimmel with Bradley Kimmel Properties, Inc. out
of Mequon has been building homes for first-time buyers for 15
years. Years ago first-time new home buyers were concerned with
basic house structure: furnace specs, window quality and
insulation, etc., says Bradley. Today, they are more into
the bells and whistles. They want cathedral ceilings, whirlpool
hot tubs, upgraded plumbing, Pella windows, and all the
niceties...until they see the bottom line. Then they get sticker
shock. Suddenly, according to Kimmel, amenities are sacrificed
one by one, until the home returns to their price range. Its
like walking into the car dealership with a Ford Excursion in
mind, and coming out with an Explorer. Bradley Kimmel
Properties recently built a new home for first-time buyers Randy
and Jane Ladwig in Grafton.
Our main concern was affordable
quality, says Jane Ladwig. We could have gotten a
slightly cheaper home with another builder, but Kimmel gave us
First-time buyers also have
different stress points to be dealt with. We didnt expect or
anticipate weather delays, says Jane Ladwig. At one point
last winter it snowed before we got our roof on, and we were
shoveling snow out of our house. The neighbors were laughing.