Green Landscaping Tips

22 Apr

Spring is finally here!  Here are some Green landscaping tips to get your green thumb rolling this spring. WqYYvmvQd7DbSjBp911NZH6nb

What is Green Landscaping?
Green landscaping is a method to design, create, and maintain your landscape to save time, money and energy. There are many benefits to green landscaping, including reduced harm to the environment, saved time and money with lower maintenance, healthier places to work and play, and habitats for wildlife.


  • Use native plants that flourish in your area.
  • Plant a wall of hedges instead of building a fence. It looks great, provides a new home for wildlife, and is “Green”!
  • Plant trees on the South and West side of your home to gain shade on hot summer days. Deciduous trees, like Oak, Maple, and Cherry, shed leaves in fall and winter to provide sun and warmth for those cold winter days.

Water ResponsibilityRain Barrel

  • Collect rain water with a rain barrel and use to water your plants.
  • Install a rain garden.
  • Water lawns in the morning. This allows the most water absorption and the least amount of evaporation.
  • Look into xeriscaping. This sort of landscaping focuses on selecting plants for water conservation

Reduce Chemicals

  • Test your soil. You may find that you do not need to add any chemicals at all. If you need added nutrients, use compost or other organic materials.
  • Apply fertilizer to lawns only in fall and spring when it is most beneficial to the grass.

Reduce Fuel Emissions

  • Avoid spilling gasoline when filling a gas tank.
  • Switch from gasoline-burning to clean electrical-burning machines.
  • Use manual tools, such as push mowers and hand tools.
  • Mow less. Did you know that keeping your grass at least 3 inches long in summer preserves moisture and maintains healthy root structure?
  • Transform part of your lawn into a garden to reduce fuel emissions and save time.

Other Green Landscaping Activities

  • Avoid bagging your lawn clippings. When the clippings fall to the ground, they will decompose and add natural nutrients to your lawn.
  • Buy mulch in bulk to avoid using multiple plastic bags.
  • Recycle garden pots.
  • Use recycled bricks, stone, glass and other materials for landscaping.
  • Use permeable pavers for hardscaping. They allow water to flow into the ground instead of becoming run-off.
  • Use motion detected and solar-powered lighting to reduce energy consumption around your yard.

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Meet the Team

14 Apr

Name: Lisa Gilbert

Division: (MSN or MKE) MKELisa Gilbert

Length at TOH: 1 ½ years

Title: Accounting Coordinator

Favorite part of TOH: They treat me like family

Favorite Floor Plan & Why: The Camellia – love the open floor plan, 1st floor master, overall style

Favorite part of a home: the great room

What do you do for fun?: Running, gardening, hiking with my husband and dogs and spending time with our daughters and grand babies

The best part of waking up is?: Sipping on a hot cup of coffee and knowing that I have a whole day ahead of me to enjoy

Random Fact About Yourself: I love power tools and my John Deere, which I don’t share readily with my husband! He rarely gets to mow the lawn :)


Name: Sue Frohling

Division: (MSN or MKE) MadisonSue Frohling

Length at TOH: Since July 15, 2013

Title: Office Manager

Favorite part of TOH: The people I work with.

Favorite Floor Plan & Why: The Lilac, (I have actually seen this one!), love the galley kitchen overlooking the Great Room.

Favorite part of a home: As a person…the family room, as part of a building team, the bathrooms (Might be from the 15 years at a plumbing company before working for a builder). There are lots of fun things out there for bathrooms!

What do you do for fun?: I love to dance, but don’t get enough time to do it. Love motorcycle riding – it’s on my “list” for this summer.

The best part of waking up is?: Can you say “coffee”… I am a total coffee addict.

Random Fact About Yourself: Other than being a coffee addict? I was raised on a farm and when young boys would come around looking for a job at the farm, my dad would set them up to work against me and told them if they could outwork me, he would hire them. I’ll let you guess how many got hired. (I am a little competitive and ALWAYS wanted to please my dad). :)



New Home Construction Loan Seminars

7 Apr

NHB Germantown and Brookfield 2014

10 Ways to Stay Connected with Tim O’Brien Homes

31 Mar

Staying connected to Tim O’Brien Homes and information on home building, home ownership, and more is easy! Below are the top 10 ways to stay connected to Tim O’Brien Homes.

1. Facebook - We have a Facebook page for both our Milwaukee and Madison Divisions.

2. Houzz - See photos of many of our staged models and floor plans here!

3. Blog - You already know about this one! Keep an eye out for a new blog post every Monday.social_img

4. YouTube - View videos of Tim O’Brien Homes, Green Building, and New Home Construction.

5. Pinterest - See, read, and share decorating ideas, floor plans, news, and more!

6. Website - View our website for Ready Homes available, neighborhoods, testimonials, and more!

7. Email / Phone - Do you prefer talking on the phone or through email? Call our Pewaukee office at 262-542-5750 or our Madison office at 608-681-1100 or email to get your questions answered!

8. E-Newsletter - Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter on our website. Included in the newsletters are green building facts, news within the home building industry, Tim O’Brien Home events, and more!

9. Models - We have model homes located throughout Southeastern Wisconsin and Madison for you to visit:

  • Mequon -  Concord Creek- 11270 N. Concord Creek Drive
  • Germantown - The Glen at Blackstone Creek – N114 W17823 Blackstone Circle
  • Brookfield – Linfield Crossing (Coming in April!) – 1345 S. Elm Grove Road
  • Waukesha - Rolling Ridge – 1707 Coldwater Creek Drive
  • Pewaukee - Creekside Preserve – N28 W24389 Single Tree Court
  • Oconomwoc - Longmeadow – 1298 Winterberry Road
  • Muskego - Belle Chasse – W146 S7740 Stags Leap Court
  • Sun Prairie – Scenic Point – 1699 Silverado Drive
  • West Madison - Hawk’s Ridge – 9205 Silverstone Lane

10. Design Studio – Our new Design Studio at our Pewaukee Office is having a Grand Opening on Saturday, May 10th! Stay tuned for more details.

Spring Decorating Tips

24 Mar

Below are 10 spring decorating tips from our Interior Design Specialist, Carey Podlesnik.

Spring is finally coming our way!  After this particularly long winter, I imagine, like me, you all are feeling a burst of energy and the need to welcome it into our homes. Below are my favorite spring design tips, which provide a great way to use that extra energy and give our homes a well-deserved airing.

  1. Glimpse of an Eye – In each room, close your eyes and then open them.  Note the top three things that bother you or that you want to change. This will help with prioritizing the top items to modify.
  2. Yellow - Simply adding yellow accents can help freshen up a home.  Whether it is a buttery yellow pillow, brilliant flowers (daffodils are my favorite), or a tall vase of uplifting lemons, this color will brighten up a room and add some spring in your step!
  3. Upcycle – We all have a dresser, table, nightstand, even a lamp that could use a bit refreshing.   Repaint that drab table in a cheerful color, purchase a patterned lamp shade, add a patterned fabric to your headboard, or freshen up your cabinet hardware.  Attempt one new project a week.
  4. Lighten Up – Pack away the heavy drapery and comforters and replace with light and airy items such as linen panels, soft bedding (ecru, white with coral, or yellow pillow accents).  Fill vases with sea glass.
  5. Switch it Up – Rotate your artwork.  Store away the winter scenes or dark, rich colors and replace with lighter, pastel colors.
  6. Keep it Clean – Now is a great time to refresh the appliances you have used to create all the comfort foods from the winter season.  Here are some of my favorite tricks:
    Sparkling Microwave:  Heat a bowl of water and vinegar for 5 minutes in the microwave. The steam will get rid of stains and then you simply wipe clean.
    Easy Clean Oven: Heat oven to 150 F. When it is hot, place a cup of ammonia in an oven safe dish on the top rack and a pot of boiling water on the bottom rack. Leave overnight and clean out oven in the morning.
    Renewed Garbage Disposal:  Slice lemons and put small pieces in an ice tray mold.  Fill each cube with vinegar (do not dilute).  Place in plastic bag in freezer.  Once a week, throw a handful in the disposal and run until dissolved.
  7. Splatter the Walls – Paint is an inexpensive way to give a room a face-lift.  Try one of the new Pantone Colors of 2014.

Testing out a few, or all, of these spring decorating tips will help you feel the renewal of warmth and energy in your home that comes with spring!


Meet the Team

17 Mar

Once a month we will be highlighting two of our team members, one from the Milwaukee Division and one from the Madison division. Check out below who we are highlighting this month!

Name: Craig North
 Craig North - Director of Construction MKE
Division: (MSN or MKE) Milwaukee
Length at TOH: 5 years (seems like it was just yesterday though)
Title: Director of Construction
Favorite part of TOH:  Support not only from my team, but also from other departments and divisions.  Challenging and fun at the same time.
Favorite Floor Plan & Why:  Kendall – I could have a giant basement.
Favorite part of a home: Garage……That’s where my hobbies take place.
What do you do for fun?: I like family time and alone time equally.  Oh, and also playing pranks on Angela (our Marketing Director).
The best part of waking up is? : Folgers in your cup :) 
Random Fact About Yourself: I grew up on a dairy farm and exhibited cattle at the State Fair.  Was Grand Champion in Showmanship 1994.
Name: Danny Lowery
Division: (MSN or MKE): Madison
Length at TOH: 1 year Danny Lowery - Operations Manager MSN
Title: Operations Manager
Favorite part of TOH: Our new copier – its sweet :)  Seriously – growing with our developing team and solving problems.
Favorite Floor Plan & Why: Bayberry – It lives great & has a kick butt basement.
Favorite part of a home: Kitchen
What do you do for fun? : Build – anything. Mainly hang out with the family – I have 4 young kids 7 and under.
The best part of waking up is? : If its 2am and you realize you get to go back to sleep.
Random Fact About Yourself: I asked my wife to marry me in Paris.  I’m not that much of a romantic, but most guys can’t beat that story!

Checklist for Hiring a Home Builder

10 Mar

Deciding to build or buy a home is one of the largest investments you will make.  Because of this, choosing the right home builder is important! The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has created a checklist for helping home buyers choose the right home builder.

1. Get meaningful recommendations. Local and regional home builder associations are a great place to start your home builder research. These associations can provide you with many helpful materials, including builders in good standing and legal and environmental information specific to your area. The Metropolitan Builders Association (MBA) is the home builder association for the Great Milwaukee Area, and the Wisconsin Builder Association (WBA) is the home builder association for all of Wisconsin. These would be two great places to start if you are looking to build in Wisconsin!

Remember your friends, family, and co-workers! You would be surprised at how many people are building homes and the great recommendations you can receive by just reaching out to new home owners. If you don’t know anyone in the area, looking online for reviews can be beneficial. Be careful with online reviews, though, because they may not cover exactly what you are looking for. Make sure to talk to someone about your specific questions.

2. Learn about the company. Being knowledgeable about prospective home builders will help you make an educated decision on who should build your dream home. One important key to look for when researching home builders is if they have a permanent office. Home builders with permanent offices have a good reputation with lending institutions, subcontractors and suppliers. It will also be easier for you when you are dealing with warranty services and any questions that may come up during the building process.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a great tool when researching home builders. Check to see if there are any complaints filed against the builder, and read specific positive and negative feedback about the builder. Make sure to stay with a rating no lower than a B.

3. Talk to your prospective builders. After you discover which builders stand out the most to you, schedule a time to meet with each one. Talking to the builder in person will give you an even better understanding of their company. When talking to prospective home builders, make sure to note how you feel and how well the communication is between each other. You will be working with this builder and their team for many months, and having good communication is key in a successful building process.

Make sure to ask about previous work when talking to prospective home builders. Quality home builders will welcome questions about previous jobs. If possible, schedule a visit to a model or newly built home. There is nothing more reassuring than seeing the final product be exactly what you want! 

4. Read features, prices, and contracts carefully. A clear, complete contract is important to protect you and your builder. If you have any questions about the features, prices, and contracts, do not be afraid to ask! Your prospective home builder is meant to be there for you through the whole building process. New homes should also come with a full home warranty and a custom homeowner’s manual. Make sure this is included in the contract.


Choosing the right home builder for your new home is crucial in making the building process smooth. Follow these four steps and you are on your way to finding the right home builder for you! 



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