Tim O’Brien Homes Inc.
N16 W24132 Prairie Ct. Suite 220, Waukesha
In five years, Tim O'Brien Homes has overcome the challenges of a housing crash, won over homeowners leery of "going green" and has become one of the largest homebuilders in metropolitan Milwaukee.
It's proof that a little confidence can go a long way, said the firm's owner Tim O'Brien.
The Waukesha-based custom green homebuilding firm specializes in single-family homes in five areas of green building: water conservation, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, resource efficiency and site design.
O'Brien launched the company in 2007, one month after he lost his job at a national housing firm. The civil engineer said he identified a niche in the market and decided to go all in.
"I was scared," said O'Brien, adding that at one point he considered putting up his home to fund the venture. "But, I was convinced it was the right thing to do. I really believed it was the future."
Along with his two partners, O'Brien networked his way into business. After breaking ground on their first home, O'Brien continued building successful relationships with contractors, and learned everything he could about green homebuilding.
Nothing convinced him that "going green," was a fad, but he says it continued to be difficult to convince homeowners of the same outlook.
Educating homeowners would take time, but the firm had other benefits. It was small, agile, and without the heavy burden of land or overhead. More importantly, it was affordable. Homeowners began to catch on.
"It was easier with Gen X and Gen Y," O'Brien said. "We feel (green homebuilding) is going to be mainstream. We still have to keep it affordable, and (buyers) have to see the benefits. We have to show the value."
Since 2007, O'Brien Homes has built more than 300 homes all over southeastern Wisconsin. The firm is on track to building about 115 homes in 2012.
O'Brien said the firm strives to be the best, not the biggest. The company's biggest competitive advantage lies in the company's culture and people, he said.
"I love the homebuilding industry," O'Brien said. "There is so much satisfaction in getting someone into a new home."