The first half of the 20th century witnessed the rise of the midwestern marvels, the bungalow and ranch/rambler-style homes. In Chicago alone, more than 80,000 small to mid-sized homes have been built in these styles, and make up entire “Bungalow Belt” neighborhoods. Historic Victorian gilded mansions from a bygone era, as well as an abiding interest in urban architecture, also define the Prairie State and its urban behemoth, Chicago.
Illinois is continuously being reborn and redefined when it comes to its residences. Making this constant evolution possible are talented contractors and home builders in rural Illinois and in Gotham City itself. Here we feature the top 14 general contractors ready to build and renovate your home. These contractors were selected based on their experience, the scope of their projects, the awards they have earned, and the press their work has generated.
14) Creasey Construction
3540 S Park Ave., Springfield IL 62704
Springfield-based Creasey Construction is one of the leading home construction and remodeling firms in central Illinois. Its proud 30-year history is filled with various new construction and remodeling projects. Its excellence in quality customer service and success as a locally owned business earned it a Springfield Business Journal’s 15 under 15 Award.
Owner and president Jan Creasey developed an interest in construction during his adolescent years. He spent most of his summer days and weekends working for his father’s small construction company. Learning the ropes at a young age enabled him to develop a strong sense of responsibility, razor-sharp attention to detail, and a high value for the quality of homes.
The firm favors white tones and minimalist layouts; it also likes to incorporate statement pieces in its projects. This basement remodel—where an authentic, handmade, sliding barn door made from 100-year-old wood acts as the focal point—is a good example. A stage platform was also removed to open up space for a more spacious and airy feel.
13) M Five Chicago
2001 N Halsted St. Suite #301, Chicago, IL 60614
One of Chicago’s premier remodelers, M Five Chicago, is a boutique, design-build construction company specializing in mid to high-end renovations. It started as a development business responsible for the conversion of three and four flat rental buildings to single-family homes in Lincoln Park and Old Town. When the real estate market collapsed in 2008, owner Robert Meltzer changed the business model and offered design/build projects to Chicago residents.
Owing to its origins, the firm is particularly skilled at gut-out renovations. These labor-intensive projects make up the bulk of the firm’s projects, but the team knows its way around a kitchen and bathroom remodel and provides additions and commercial build-outs as well. This pictured renovation of a Lincoln home showcases industrial styles brought by stainless steel, exposed pipes, and light wood flooring. Other projects of the firm have been featured in Chicago Magazine and Voyage Chicago.
12) MAW Chicago
830 W Northwest Hwy. Suite A, Palatine, IL 60067
MAW Chicago is a multi-awarded general contractor and residential remodeler in the state of Illinois with over 80 years of combined experience in remodeling and building. An acronym for Men At Work, it is a merger of three existing firms with specialties in custom home building and remodeling. Its projects include custom homes, historic renovations, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, and condominium renovations.
The firm is currently run by partners Mike Nagel and Scott Sevon. Both men are accomplished veterans in the homebuilding business, having learned the ropes at a young age from their carpenter fathers. Nagel specializes in remodeling while Sevon takes the reigns in custom home building. Together, they lead the firm through its day to day operations and personally handle its projects.
The firm has proven its expertise through numerous awards for both for its projects and its leaders. It holds the 2015 NAHB CAPS National Certified Aging In Place Specialist of the Year and has earned multiple Homebuilders Association of Greater Chicago (HBAGC) Crystal & Gold Keys for custom homes and renovations.
11) DJK Homes
26108 W Stewart Ridge Dr., Plainfield, IL 60585
DJK Homes has been building and remodeling quality custom homes since 1988. This design-build firm has built a reputation for being green and sustainable while creating distinct homes throughout the state. Its efficient homes are Energy Star Certified and EPA Indoor Air Plus Certified. The firm has also won Gold and Silver Key Awards from the HBAGC in 2018 and 2016 for its custom homes.
Principal Dan Kittilsen started his building career working in masonry. He worked his way up, learning everything there is to the business until he established his own firm. His hands-on approach and leadership are praised by the firm’s clients and peers alike. Kittilsen is a member of the local home builders association and has earned his Certified Graduate Builder credential, and he is a Certified Green Professional from the NAHB.
The firm favors Cape Cod, Craftsman, and Ranch style homes. Traditional materials like stone, brick, and stucco are often used in the firm’s exteriors. The firm can also incorporate industrial and modern elements in the exterior. This master suite renovation features the industrial style as seen the distinct ceiling beams and custom fireplace.
10) Rock and Wall Construction
2020 West Concord Pl., Chicago, IL 60647
Rock & Wall Construction is a general contractor that specializes in building custom homes, vintage restorations, and new developments. For more than 35 years the company has built and renovated more than 250 homes. Some of its notable projects include landmark properties such as the Wrigley Mansion and the Marshall Field Mansion. Rock & Wall was also one of the original contractors to the Loft developments in the late ‘70s in Chicago.
The firm offers a wide range of residential remodeling services which include kitchen and bathroom remodeling, additions, green remodeling, and property rehabilitation. Architecturally-centered designs are also one of the firm’s strengths. You can see that for yourself in the firm’s diverse portfolio, which showcases restored Victorian gilded mansions and urban homes with contemporary finishes. These have also been featured in acclaimed magazines such as Chicago Magazine, AIA Chicago Focus, Crain’s Chicago Business, and Metropolitan Homes.
9) Middlefork LLC
One North Wacker Dr. Suite #4125, Chicago, IL 60606
As its URL (Middleforkluxury.com) suggests, Middlefork specializes in multimillion-dollar custom homes and renovations. The firm has built homes in upscale Chicago neighborhoods of Lincoln Park and Lakeview, and it has completed rehab projects along the suburban North Shore. The historic and dense nature of those communities has created a demand for home renovations and restorations, a need the firm efficiently addressed.
The firm was established in 2008 by Andrew Bowyer. He relies on his business acumen and a strong sense of design to guide the firm to success. He says that no two home plans from the firm are the same. “Every home has been designed to be responsive to its owner’s program, the context of the site and of the neighborhood in which it has been built.” Its one-of-a-kind homes have been featured in many articles in Chicago Magazine, Modern Luxury, Kitchen and Bath Business, and Modern Home Builder.
An example of the firm’s quality work in renovations is this landmark home in Old Town, Chicago. Middlefork worked with the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to retain the facade and other exterior walls which date back to the original 1890 Chicago cottage.
8) Heritage Luxury
1741 Harding Rd, Northfield, IL 60093
Leo Birov founded Heritage Luxury Homes in 1989 when he decided to build his own home in Winnetka. Birov has extensive engineering experience, including a successful career working at Motorola as a senior electronics engineer and earning a master’s degree in engineering. His wife Milena helped him build his dream home and many homes after that. She now serves as a realtor for the company.
The firm is notable for its opulent, well-appointed homes. Over the years it has built more than 160 one-of-a-kind beautiful luxury homes in affluent areas of Illinois such as Winnetka, Glencoe, Kenilworth, and Highland Park. It is particularly good at creating Victorian, Colonial, and French Country-inspired manors and residences.
The featured project is a renovation of a traditional home in Winnetka. It features a Cape Cod exterior and transitional interior decor. The updated kitchen exudes luxury with its clean all-white palette. Rare Calcatta marble gleams on countertops while custom cabinetry finishes the overall look.
7) Benvenuti and Stein
899 1/2 Green Bay Road, Winnetka, IL 60093
Since 1977, Geno Benvenuti has been working on improving Chicago homes. He started creating small additions and progressed to building entire homes. Soon, he purchased his own cabinet shop. Today, he continues custom renovations through this leading design-build firm in Chicago and the North Shore area.
The firm has won numerous awards in remodeling and renovations. It has earned four Chrysalis Awards; Historic Preservation Awards from Winnetka, Evanston, and Glencoe; and a Market Leader Award from Professional Magazine. The design-build firm’s success is based on its attention to detail of old master craftsmen married with today’s ideas, style, and technology. Signature Benvenuti and Stein homes are custom renovations of residences from the early 1900s, and date as far back as 1855.
This style can be seen in one of its recent projects, a renovation of a 1950’s Winnetka home. It won a 2016 Winnetka Home Preservation Award for Rehabilitation, a 2015 Professional Remodeler Magazine Design Award, and a Marvin Integrity Red Diamond Achiever Award. The full-gut renovation involved a lot of structural work as well as design work. The result is a country-inspired home mixed with the comforts of southern California living.
6) Leader Builders
6327 Dempster St, Morton Grove, IL 60053
Leader Builders is a leading residential and commercial remodeler that specializes in home additions and renovations. For over 30 years, this design-build remodeler has served Chicago, Naperville, and nearby areas. Its most popular projects include second story additions, two-story kitchen/master suite additions, and bungalow dormer additions/attic conversions.
The firm has built and renovated various projects throughout the years—from a historic restoration of a castle-inspired, nineteenth-century stone residence to a green and sustainable glass house behind a historic Victorian facade. Publications like Trends Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and Wall Street Journal have featured its unique projects.
Another successful project of the firm is this 1950’s mid-century modern house renovation featured in HGTV’s “House Hunters.” The new open kitchen is great for entertaining while the intricate bathroom tile adds a graphic pop.
5) A. Perry Homes
1220 Washington Ave., Wilmette, IL 60091
When it comes to luxurious custom homes and renovations, A. Perry Homes has honed its skill through years of experience. This design-build firm brings 20 years of intricate architecture and progressive building techniques to Illinois, Florida, and Washington D.C. The firm’s work has won multiple awards from the Parade of Homes of the Lakeland Builders Association.
Tony Perry has over 30 years of architectural and construction experience. His designs stem from his extensive travels throughout Europe, where he studied the architectural details of historic buildings. Using this knowledge, he has designed more than 400 homes with authentic detail. He has also shared his knowledge with his peers by being a speaker at the National Custom Builder Conference and the National Remodeler’s Conference.
European architecture takes center stage in this firm’s portfolio. The firm often renovates period homes—including Victorian castle details or Tudor flourishes—with the greatest care. Urban architecture is also present in the firm’s catalog of work, especially in its exteriors. The firm’s projects have graced local and nationally design magazines like Luxe, House Beautiful, and Better Homes and Gardens.
4) Goldberg General Contracting
3510 N Elston Ave., Chicago, IL 60618
Goldberg General Contracting specializes in renovation, restoration, and new construction of custom residential and light commercial projects. Its expertise in modern design paired with its extensive know-how when it comes to renovation and restoration positions it at the forefront Chicago’s most intriguing construction contractors.
The firm relies on a team of highly-skilled craftsmen who have long-standing relationships with many of Chicago’s leading architects and interior designers. These experienced men and women of the firm have put together a number of award-winning projects. In the last decade alone, the firm has been honored by the American Institute of Architects, (AIA) with more than twelve (12) awards. Additionally, the firm’s restoration work was honored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The firm recently celebrated its thirty-year anniversary.
The photo above showcases the Burling renovation. The firm focused on bringing in as much natural light as possible via an open floor plan complemented by an array of new window openings. The firm completed a third-floor addition and accented the home with a central atrium, including a prominent steel and glass staircase. This home was recognized by the AIA Chicago in 2016 with a Small Projects Award.
3) Orren Pickell Building Group
740 W Fulton St. Suite #601, Chicago, IL 60661
Family owned and operated Orren Pickell Building Group boasts 40 years of custom homes and renovations completed throughout Chicago and the Midwest. It is one of the leading design-build-remodel companies in the state. This reputation is backed by more than 350 awards for design and innovation, including nine Crystal Key Awards, the HBAGC’s highest honor.
Orren Pickell started the business as a custom homebuilding company solely focused on luxury homes. Over the years, the Pickell patriarch began to perceive a need for additional construction services. Soon the company grew to include the OP Trim Division, OP Maintenance Group, CabinetWerks Design Studio, and the OP Remodeling Group. Today, the firm has also expanded its service areas and builds and renovates magnificent projects throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan.
With decades of service comes a varied portfolio of homes. The firm has built everything from traditional homes with warm, cozy spaces to modern contemporary residences with industrial twists in its designs and finishes. The project above is a renovation after the home was ravaged by a fire. A custom fireplace with poured concrete shapes a seamless hearth, and it’s framed by custom metalwork and rivet detail.
2) Normandy Design Build Remodeling
440 E Ogden Ave., Hinsdale, IL 60521
Normandy Design Build Remodeling is a multi-awarded remodeling company founded by Jack Steindl and Reg Marzec in 1979. This once small firm has grown steadily over the years to become one of Illinois’s premier remodeling companies. It now has a staff of over 40 designers, architects, project managers, and craftsmen ready to create top home remodeling and improvement projects. These include room additions, kitchen, bathroom, and basement remodeling, and exterior renovations.
The firm boasts an impressive list of local and national accolades. Some of these include a 2018 Professional Remodeler Design Award, multiple NARI Regional Contractor of the Year Awards, and numerous NARI Remodeling Excellence Awards. It has also consistently ranked among national remodelers in Qualified Remodeler’s Top 500 and Remodeling’s Top 550.
From kitchen and bathroom remodeling to historic preservation, the firm is seasoned and accomplished in every aspect of remodeling. Its style is also varied: Dutch Colonial kitchens, Tudor and Cape Cod additions, and Craftsman whole house renovations can be seen in the firm’s portfolio.
1) Nicholas Design Collaborative Ltd
509 N Wolcott Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Nicholas Design Collaborative (NDC) is an award-winning Chicago firm that builds architecturally-focused residences and commercial buildings through its design-build arm NCA Build. The company was founded by principal architect and owner Peter Nicholas. Nicholas is a California-native that has gained experience working with many prominent firms in San Diego, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Captivated by Chicago’s urban architecture, he moved to the Windy City to establish his own firm. He acts as an architect, general contractor, and real estate developer for the firm.
The firm’s style tends towards the clean and modern. The firm always aims to produce a project that reflects the individuality of the client and its specific project goals. For these broad and ambitious projects, the firm has received local and national acclaim. The AIA Chicago, the Illinois Chapter of the Association of Licensed Architects, and the National Association for Registered Architects have all recognized the firm with various awards. Publications like Luxe Magazine, Crain’s Chicago, GA Houses, Chicago Tribune, and Trend Ideas have featured the firm and its homes.
One of its notable renovations is the Periscope House in Edgewater. The most notable feature of the home is the master bedroom addition that extends over the plane of the existing front garden wall. This glass periscope is paneled in cedar and aluminum, announcing a provocative and sculptural element as a light, visual counterpoint to its heavier neighbors. The project has been featured in Curbed: Chicago and Chicago Architect.