Sometimes it’s best to put one foot in front of the other and let life take you where it leads. Tim O’Brien, of Tim O’Brien Homes, was introduced to the building trade at a young age, knowing that it’s a good fit for him. At 15-years-old, O’Brien worked for a commercial plumber. In college, he worked for a commercial general contractor. “When I was in college, I met someone that got me in to residential construction,” he remembered. “After college, I started with the largest builder in the country and have been in the industry ever since.”
What do you enjoy about building?
The building process starts with one idea and transforms into a beautiful finished product. I love working with a team and being involved in the process of bringing an idea to life. I enjoy the connection with the homeowners.
What advice would you give someone looking to build?
If someone wants to build, I suggest narrowing a list down to three builders who are members of an accredited association like the MBA. Building a home involves a long-term relationship, so make sure the builder is your ideal fit. Clients should be comfortable with the building team. Ask, ask and ask again…don’t be afraid to ask many questions until you are comfortable. Also, understand all the costs and specifications. Consider not only today’s cost, but future costs like energy usage and replacement costs.
How has being an MBA member helped your business?
When I started my business, the MBA provided a network of industry professionals for me to seek guidance, develop relationships and provide education opportunities. In fact, the MBA gave Tim O’Brien Homes the opportunity to build the first Wisconsin Trend Home in 2008, showcasing green, energy-efficient products prevalent in homes built in the future (2020). In addition, the MBA provides credibility to the homebuilding industry.
How has technology changed your business?
Technology helps us stay more organized, enhances communication and provides a more efficient process for our homebuyers and vendors.
We continually stay connected to new home trends and building systems to provide the most popular choices for the buyer. In addition, national manufacturers approach Tim O’Brien Homes to be a pilot builder, bringing green and energy-efficient initiatives to the marketplace. Currently, we are testing a new insulation system and sealant package.
How do you see your business changing over the next 10 years?
I see homes and lot sizes becoming smaller with enough space in the right places, and a focus on how buyers use technology at home. Within the next 10 years, we’ll focus on encouraging the Millenniums to build by communicating the benefits of homeownership. We will see an increasing demand in solar power as costs decrease. All our homes are solar-ready with code piping for future solar additions Again, to buyers, I would say be truly ready.
What advice would you give someone looking for a career in the building industry?
Try a few things within the trades. If you have a skill and passion for something, work hard and success will follow. We are fortunate to partner with Oconomowoc High School’s Building Trades 3 Course to provide students hands-on experience for the past three years. Each year, our trade partners worked side-by-side with 12 students to build a new home. We wish more schools had this type of program to introduce students to the skilled trades.
What is your favorite quote or saying that represents your business philosophy?
“Positively Impacting People’s Lives” is our core purpose and the driving philosophy behind our company’s core values.
What charitable groups are you involved with?
This year, we are donating the funds raised from “Fit for a Cause” to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. In addition, we partner with Habitat for Humanity in Waukesha County to build homes, plus our employees participate in the annual Cancer Walk to show generosity.