Category Archives: Construction

RedBuilt features project by Hardin Builders, Inc.

RedBuilt™, a leader in the design, manufacture and support of patented engineered structural wood products for commercial and industrial applications, recently featured a Hardin Builders, Inc. project – Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery.

Specialty’s Café serves made-from-scratch breakfasts, lunches and baked goods. Yet this 7,000 square foot dine-in or take-out café provides guests with more than just good food.

“The building is unique from a design standpoint for its use of exposed wood trusses, glass, and steel,” says General Contractor Neil Hardin. “It offers a West-coast type of design creating a unique Midwest look.”

To achieve the sloped roofline, RedBuilt’s tapered Red-H™ open-web trusses with RedLam™ LVL chords were specified. The 13 trusses are 72” deep at one end and 24” at the other. While at the manufacturing plant, additional effort was made to ensure no finger joints were revealed within the chords as the trusses are in an exposed application.

“As a design-build project, you need efficiency,” explains Hardin. “RedBuilt was efficient, accommodating and delivered the product per expectations. The trusses were ready for installation without any customizing. This doesn’t happen often, usually there is something I have to adjust.”

“I’ve gotten other jobs based on this one,” says Hardin. “Other opportunities presented themselves because of our timely construction on this project. Keeping to strict schedules goes a long way in developing credibility and RedBuilt was a key partner in our success.”

– See more at:

Construction Underway – Specialty’s Cafe and Bakery

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Construction Underway – Specialty’s Cafe and Bakery

Chicago, Illinois – June 15, 2015 – Neil Hardin President of Hardin Builders, Inc., is pleased to announce that construction is underway for the new flagship restaurant Specialty’s Cafe and Bakery. The new restaurant is being constructed at 17W626 Butterfield Road, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181.

Hardin Builders, Inc. has been selected as the general contractor and is providing construction management services. Genzler Architects is serving as project architect for this build-to-suit project. Construction began in late May, 2015 and is scheduled to be completed in Fall 2015.

About Hardin Builders, Inc.
Established in 2003, Hardin Builders, Inc. has set the standard for commercial building in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs. Hardin Builders, Inc. offers integrated design/build and build-to-suit construction services for the manufacturing, distribution office, healthcare, hospitality, recreational, retail and multi-family markets and is recognized for unique architectural design, unparalleled craftsmanship, extraordinary quality, and exceptional service.

For more information, please visit or email

About Specialty’s Café and Bakery
Founded in San Francisco in 1987 by Dawn Sandnes and Craig Saxton, each Specialty’s location features an exhibition kitchen where premium sandwiches, wholesome soups and organic salads are handmade and where fresh breads, pastries, and cookies are mixed and baked from scratch daily. And, with their coffee/espresso partner, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, there is a full range of hot, iced and blended Peet’s beverages that will perfectly complement any Specialty’s meal. When this award-winning menu is combined with its proprietary cutting-edge technology and prompt delivery or pick-up service, the Specialty’s concept and experience is unrivaled in the food service industry and it why Specialty’s has become a favorite among consumers as well as the preferred corporate caterer of top companies throughout San Francisco, Silicon Valley, San Jose, Seattle and Chicago.

The Home Office – A Must-Have Feature

With mobile technology, it’s easy to work in any room of a house. And yet, the home office is becoming one of a home’s must-have features.

Dedicated office space might not always be a full room. In fact, it might be a nook with desk space on the landing of a staircase or a corner of a bedroom or family room. As people do more work away from the office and kids do more work outside of the library, the home office is growing in importance. Some say it is as essential as the family room no matter how large of a home it is, from a small apartment to a large single-family home.

There’s also some evidence that home offices can make a home more attractive to buyers. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost versus Value report, you can recover an average 48.9% of the cost of a home office remodel at resale. A midrange office remodel, as defined by the report, is a $28,000 investment that involves installing custom cabinets that include 20 feet of laminate desktop, a computer workstation and wall cabinet storage, along with rewiring of the room for computer, fax machine, cable and telephone lines.

If you don’t currently have a home office but want to kick off 2015 with your own workspace take a look around your home, it’s possible you have a hint of space here or there that can be transformed with the addition of a desk. You may find the room in a nook under the stairs…

For those of you that have a home office, use these tips make your home office work better for you.

1. Look at nature or water. Looking at green, leafy scenes helps us de-stress and restocks our mental energy, something that gets depleted when we perform knowledge work. No nature to look at? Add a fountain with burbling water outside your window, if possible. Even three or four green, leafy plants in your field of view are better than nothing.

2. Use unpainted wood. Seeing wood grain while working calms us in the same way that nature views do.

3. Stare into the distance. Most people stare at computer screens and cubicle walls all day. But it’s important to look up from your work and stare several yards into the distance. This allows your eyes rest. The 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes stare at something 20 yards away for 20 seconds — can help reduce eye strain.

4. Use reconfigurable furnishings. Control of our environment has been linked to improved professional performance. This means leaving yourself options to rearrange things and move around as you work. A rolling chair and multiple work surfaces will give you the freedom to switch positions and manage tasks more efficiently.

5. Build in options. Go for built-in shelves or drawers, or create a whole new room using extra space for a home office.

6. Paint the walls green. Seeing greens on surfaces has been linked to thinking creatively. The sage color on these walls is pleasant and energizing enough to optimize performance. The red flowers have to go, however. Seeing even a small amount of red, even briefly, diminishes performance on analytical tasks, according to recent psychological research.

7. Show yourself the door. Whenever possible, you should have a view of the door to the room in which you’re working (along with that nature view). We humans tend to get a little on edge if we can’t be sure that someone’s not creeping up on us — and that distracts us from the work at hand. Combining both is tricky, however. When you must choose, choose to look outside.

Adapted from: Houzz and MarketWatch


Housing Satisfaction – Do you have what you want?


The ideal home is elusive to many. In fact, The Demand Institute recently polled more than 10,000 households — both renters and home owners — across income levels to find their top unfulfilled housing needs and desires. Their research reveals a whole range of unmet housing-related desires in America — gaps between what Americans have and what they say they need or want.

They call this the “Satisfaction Gap.”

“The biggest overarching thing is that when it comes to their homes, there are still a lot of things that Americans want to improve,” says Jeremy Burbank, vice president of the The Demand Institute, about its report, “The Housing Satisfaction Gap: What People Want But Don’t Have.” “There’s a desire for things like more space, privacy, and safe neighborhoods that are often attributed to single-family homes and ownership.”

According to the households polled, here’s what they don’t have that they wish they did:

Energy Efficiency:

Most households value energy efficiency; few describe their homes as energy efficient. Average household spending on home electricity has grown 56% since 2000, outpacing other housing-related expenses (which grew at 38%). This has many households looking for ways to make their homes more energy efficient — 90% of households have taken some measure in the past five years to consume less energy.

A desire for energy efficiency will drive renovations, maintenance,and new technology use: for instance, 51% of households would consider buying an energy-use monitor.


America’s housing stock needs work. More than three-quarters (78%) of households in the United States say their home requires repairs. The Great Recession led households to delay major improvements and repairs: Home renovation spending decreased each year from 2007 to 2010. Since 2010, however, spending has been steadily increasing.

Top 5 Major Home Improvement Jobs

(% Likely to Do Job in Next Three Years)

1. Painting Walls – 30%
2. Replace Carpeting/Flooring – 25%
3. Remodel Bathroom – 20%
4. Remodel Kitchen – 18%
5. Replace Windows/Doors – 17%

Hinsdale Bath2

Hinsdale Bathroom Remodel – Hardin Builders, Inc.

Consumers plan to increase spending on home improvement in the next few years. A desire for move-in-ready homes will drive a continuing demand for new home construction.

Updated Kitchens and Finishes:

The kitchen remains one of a home’s most important rooms, but many American kitchens are in need of an upgrade, particularly after several years when spending on major appliances and renovations declined. With Americans reporting that they are cooking and eating at home more now compared with five years ago, the kitchen may only grow in importance.

Sixty-two percent of households say an updated kitchen with modern appliances and fixtures is important; only 38 percent are satisfied with their current home’s kitchen.

The kitchen will remain a key driver of home renovation activity. New “smart” appliances could drive continued growth in home appliance spending: 49% of households would consider purchasing a smart appliance.

Kitchen - Copy

Energy Efficient Kitchen – North Shore – Hardin Builders, Inc.

Accessibility – Aging Friendly Homes:

The population is getting older — the number of households headed by someone 65 or older is expected to grow 10 times faster than other households between now and 2020. Most older movers will “age-in-place,” but many are still looking for homes where they can age more comfortably.

Seventy-six percent of Americans surveyed believe a home they can stay in as they get older is important, but only 53 percent think their home meets that criteria. Baby boomers are increasingly interested in single-story homes, but they aren’t necessarily interested in slimming down the home’s square footage, Burbank notes.


One in five Americans surveyed say they are unsatisfied with the cost of their current living situation. Twenty-six percent of owners and 40 percent of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing expenses. Eighty-one percent say it’s important that their housing costs fit their budget without requiring sacrifices. However, 60 percent say they’ve achieved this, while the rest say they do have to make sacrifices to afford their home. Hybrid options between renting and owning, such as lease-to-own arrangements, may provide opportunity for renters who aspire to ownership.


While crime across the country has been consistently falling for more than two decades, many Americans still do not feel safe in their communities. More than one in five households say their neighborhoods have become less safe in recent years. This is no
longer just a big-city sentiment — two-thirds of households claiming their neighborhoods have become less safe are in non-urban areas.

More-affordable wireless, smart home-security systems and public-safety apps will make home and neighborhood security options available to more Americans.


Privacy still matters to Americans, and they regard their homes as a refuge from the outside
world. More than half of all households (54%) report that they are spending more time at home these days. Only 9% say they are spending less time there.

Suburban and single-family homes will continue to appeal to many Americans — in part because they afford more privacy. Outdoor space
is also going to continue to be a priority for many.

Residence - Lakewood, IL

Private Residence – Lakewood, IL – Hardin Builders, Inc.

More Space for More Stuff:

Americans still love to shop, yet lack enough space to store all their acquisitions.
Nearly half (47%) of households have two or more refrigerator/freezers, and 48% have three or more TVs. Indeed, more than half (52%) are “always looking for ways to create enough storage space for their households.”

A home with ample storage space is an important feature households identified, and it’s one of the key reasons they want to renovate, too. Fifty-five percent of households say a home with storage space is important, but only 35 percent are currently satisfied with their home’s storage space.

Lakewood IL 4

Custom Storage Space – North Shore – Hardin Builders, Inc.

Source: “The Housing Satisfaction Gap: What People Want, but Don’t Have,” The Demand Institute (2014) and REALTOR® Magazine

5 Steps to help you hire the right contractor

Building your dream home is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do, but all that excitement comes with a lot of responsibility. Hiring the best general contractor for you and your project is an extremely important decision. That choice will determine the quality of craftsmanship and will minimize emotional stress and unexpected costs. Bringing in the right contractor early in the design process is one of the most important ingredients in staying on budget and on schedule during construction.

Here are five simple steps to help you hire the right contractor for your project.

Custom Home by Hardin Builders, Inc. - Lakewood Illinois

Custom Home by Hardin Builders, Inc. – Lakewood Illinois

1. Get referrals. Talk with people you know and trust. Your architect is an obvious source, but talk with family, friends, neighbors, lawyers, real estate agents and others who have built projects similar to yours.

Browse professional listings such as Houzz to find general contractors in your area. Check out their reviews and browse photos in their portfolios to see how their work lines up with the scope of your project. You can even message them to get a conversation going.

Are there recently completed or under-construction projects in your area? Ask the owners about their contractor and the working relationship they have with him or her.

It's the details that make the difference.

It’s the details that make the difference.

2. Verify licenses. Make sure your contractor candidates are licensed and in good standing with your state license board. Ask to see the contractor’s pocket license, picture I.D. and certificate of insurance.

Proper licensing demonstrates a company’s best practices management, but hiring a licensed contractor will also protect you. For example, worker’s compensation insurance is a contractor’s responsibility, not a property owner’s, but that’s not the case if a contractor is not licensed or does not carry proper insurance.

3. View recent work. After looking at a contractor’s portfolio, request to visit a few projects similar in size and style to yours. Try to check out one that was recently completed, one that’s under construction and one completed five to 10 years ago. Ask yourself:

  • Does the work carry a warranty, and are problems corrected?
  • How does the construction site look?
  • Did the older finished project stand the test of time?
Custom Home by Hardin Builders, Inc. - Lakewood Illinois

Custom Home by Hardin Builders, Inc. – Lakewood Illinois

4. Check references. Ask for a list of references. You can view our Testimonials and our customer reviews on Houzz. In private, discuss with previous clients their experiences working with the contractor. Ask:

  • Was it a pleasant working relationship?
  • Did they and the contractor communicate well?
  • Was the contractor fair and honest?
  • Was the project completed on schedule and within budget?
  • Were there extra costs or surprises?
  • How were problems handled?
  • How was the quality of craftsmanship and follow-up?
Custom Home by Hardin Builders, Inc. - Barrington, Illinois

Custom Home by Hardin Builders, Inc. – Barrington, Illinois

5. Understand the contract. Decide on the contractor you wish to hire and while your plans are in the permit-review process, discuss the different kinds of contracts available and ask for one to review.

Ask for updates to the construction bid if plans change for any reason.

Do not sign the contract until your permits have been approved and all costs have been finalized.

Be aware that there are always unknowns in the construction process that create change orders and additional costs. This is normal. Expect it. Allow 5 to 8 percent of your total budget for these extras. With good planning, design and management, they can be minimized.

With proper planning and research, you will find the perfect contractor for your project. Invest the time and remember that spending a few extra dollars in the beginning could save you thousands of dollars in the end.

Tell us: What are your experiences with hiring a contractor — good or bad?

Source:Dylan Chappell via Houzz

Top 10 Reasons Home Buyers Prefer New Homes vs. Used

Here’s a quick list of the Top 10 reasons why so many home buyers prefer new homes to used houses:

1) Design Your Dream Home Your Way: Why settle for someone else’s choices when you can select your favorite cabinets, countertops, appliances, carpets and flooring? While you’re at it, you can choose gorgeous bath and kitchen fixtures, lighting and other options that you love. Your new home will reflect your style, not someone else’s taste.

2) Choose a Floor Plan and Room Layout that Meets Your Needs: Want a master bedroom on the first floor? It’s yours. With massive his and her’s walk-in closets? Done! Want high ceilings and a luxurious, resort-style master bath? Perhaps you’d like a sitting room with a fireplace in your owner’s suite or French doors that open to your private patio or the pool? It’s easy, when you build your master suite your way.

3) All New, Under Warranty: A used home likely has tired products that may soon need replacing. Your new home — and the products that comprise it — are brand-new and under warranty. What’s the cost to replace a roof, appliances, countertops or a water heater on a used home? Those components of your new home feature the latest designs and building materials and should offer you years of comfort and enjoyment before needing replacement.

4) Energy and Cost Savings: Today’s new homes are far more energy efficient than homes built just five years ago. Versus homes built ten or 20 years ago, it’s game over, advantage new.Why settle for drafty, energy-wasting single-pane windows in a used home? Many new homes offer double or even triple-pane windows. Special window coatings and inert gases between the layers of glass are often available, saving you even more energy and money in both heating and cooling season.

5) Comfort and Indoor Air Quality: Today’s new homes meet stringent energy standards and codes not in place in the past. They combine high-performance energy efficiency with state-of-the-art ventilation and air filtration. The result is year-round, draft-free comfort and higher indoor air quality.

6) Low Maintenance: New cars today are computer-designed and computer-equipped. That’s why they perform much more reliably than a car that’s 15 or 20 years old. Homes are the same. Today’s new homes have open floor plans and high ceilings that reflect the way we live today. They’re also made of cutting-edge building products that require less care and maintenance. Another plus? The latest building systems and components are designed and engineered to work together.

7) Community Amenities: Many new homes are built in lavish master-planned communities with resort-style community centers, pools and clubhouses. Many new home communities also feature hiking trails, protected open lands and some of the best new schools and shopping near (or even within) your new home community.

8) Advanced Technology and Design: It’s possible to replace all of the single-pane windows in a resale home with today’s high-performance windows. It’s also possible to add insulation to a used home. However, it’s very expensive to replace dated appliances, cabinets and countertops in a used home — and you still won’t have the high ceilings you dream of on the first floor of an older two-story home. All are reasons to build your new home your way, to reflect the way you live today.

9) Safety: State-of-the-art circuit breakers. Electric garage door openers with infrared beams that stop if a tricycle or child is too near. High-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners that use the latest environmentally-friendly coolants. Cabinets, carpets and paints that use fewer volatile organic compounds, so that you and your family can breathe easier.

10) That New Home Feel: A used home was someone else’s dream, not yours. It reflects their choices and family memories. You may learn to love avocado-green appliances (and you may be willing to scrub stained countertops or grease-encrusted ovens and cooktops) but more and more people prefer that never lived-in feel.

After all, when was the last time you went to a department store and selected used clothes? Or visited a car dealer and paid more for a used car than a new car?

New homes offer the latest designs, style, comfort and quality. They provide a care-free lifestyle so that you can enjoy your home, not work on it. Start shopping now on, the world’s largest and most complete new home website. You’ll be glad you did.

Source: Jay McKenzie via

DIY or Hire a Professional?

Reality home improvement shows and publications are making Do-it-yourself (DIY) projects quite popular. For some, a small DIY project can be rewarding and fun – if you are prepared and have the proper skills. For others, the “reality” may be far from entertaining and may lead to frustration and inconvenience.

    Before you start knocking down walls and buying books about wiring, let’s explore the
    following questions:

  • Do you have a clear idea of what you want your project to look like?
  • Do you have the time to complete this project?
  • Do you know everything you will need (materials, tools, etc.) to complete the project?
  • Are you familiar with building codes and the permit process?
  • Do you enjoy physical labor?
  • Do you have all the tools you will need?
  • Do you have the necessary skills for this project? If not, do you have the time and
    resources to learn these skills?
  • Do you know where to purchase the necessary materials?
  • What if the project takes longer than originally expected? Are you (and your family) prepared to handle the resulting inconvenience?
  • Will you need assistance with this project? If so, who will assist you?
  • Do they have the time and skills required for this project?
  • What about safety? Do you understand all the safety issues associated with this project?
  • Are you familiar with the architecture and structural makeup of your home (i.e., which walls are load bearing and how knocking down one wall will affect the rest of the

    • Consider the hidden costs in the time and tools associated with doing it yourself. It is
      possible that you may actually decrease the value of your house if the result isn’t up to
      professional standards.

      It’s easy to look at the cost of hiring a professional remodeler thinking only about labor and materials. But remember that a professional remodeler offers an important service – years of experience, the right tools, a network of suppliers and subcontractors, an in-depth
      understanding of building codes, regulations, cost estimating, scheduling, and the latest
      construction techniques.

      Hardin Builders, Inc. has delighted homeowners who have entrusted us to build or remodel their dream home. Our passion is to create distinctive luxury homes that reflect the
      individual character and lifestyle of each owner. We are committed to making your home-building and remodeling experience rewarding and flawless. It is our goal to be your
      homebuilder for life.

      Have more questions? We’re here to help. Leave a comment or Contact Us.

Construction News

Rebound in commercial construction should lift up steel industry

Steel gets put into ship hulls, wind turbines and paint cans, but one of its biggest end uses is in construction.

Construction accounted for 40 percent of the market for steel last year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

But the construction industry’s demand for steel has been soft lately. The economic downturn caused construction projects to screech to a halt and bankers to get stingy with financing for new development over the last few years. Cash-strapped governments cut back on road and bridge construction. Few banks, strip malls and warehouses were built.

New construction is finally picking back up, at least in Northwest Indiana and Chicago’s south suburbs. More than 700,000 square feet of new industrial space is under construction in Lake and Porter counties, which is the highest amount since 2007, when about 1.2 million square feet was being built, said Craig Hurvitz, director of research for real estate firm NAI Hiffman.

Nearly 380,000 square feet of new retail space was under construction in Northwest Indiana and the south suburbs at the end of last year, as compared to about 37,000 square feet just six months earlier, according to Colliers International.

The steel industry needs construction to turn around to get out of its slump, said Charles Bradford, a New York-based steel analyst.

“The biggest market for steel is non-residential construction,” Bradford said. “That’s highways, schools and shopping centers.”

Nationally, non-residential construction reached $560 billion in July, up from $543 billion in January, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That spending has fallen off sharply from a recent peak of $719 billion in October 2008.

Local steel mills, including U.S. Steel Gary Works and ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor in East Chicago, serve the construction industry, as well as the automotive, appliance and canning sectors.

Construction projects have started to pick up in Northwest Indiana and in the south suburbs, said William Hasse III, president of Hasse Construction in Calumet City.

More road construction is taking place, and the commercial activity is the strongest it has been since 2007, Hasse said. Retail, health care and senior housing projects are coming back.

“It’s probably at 75 percent of what it had been in 2006 and 2007, when it was running at a record pace,” he said.

Businesses again are looking at growing or updating older facilities, Hasse said. Developers also have brought back projects that were mothballed during the downturn, including the $112 million Shops on Main in Schererville.

Crown Point-based Scott Steel Services will install about 350 tons of structural steel in the new shopping center, or about seven times as much as goes into the average strip mall.

“It’s a good-sized specialty center,” President Robert Scott said. “It’s big, especially since retail dropped off dramatically.”

Other major construction projects that are underway include a new 350,000-square-foot cutting-equipment facility Urschel Laboratories is building in Chesterton and a 115,000-square-foot distribution center Dawn Food Products is constructing in Merrillville. Heavy-equipment parts distributor ITR America LLC is pursuing a $6.4 million expansion of its Hobart headquarters, and cold-storage distributor Hanson Logistics is pumping $11 million into its Hobart warehouse.

Visit Hardin Builders, Inc on Twitter, chat with Neil Hardin about your next commercial project.

Source – Joseph S. Pete