Lincoln Park Takes The Number One Spot For Chicago Luxury Home Sales

Chicago is a city known for its neighborhoods, and there are certainly a few that stand out. One of those is Lincoln Park, which saw a lot of action in last month’s luxury home sales in Chicago.

Lincoln Park is a hub for high-end homes, with several well-known blocks that are renowned for the beautiful homes found on them. Orchard Street, for example, is considered one of the most prestigious streets in the city. It’s also home to last month’s most expensive home sale at $5.5 million. A drive down this block with quickly showcase its appeal—many of the homes sit on oversized lots, allowing for tons of space inside and out. This is not just a block for the wealthy, but the mega-wealthy—such as billionaire Chicagoan Penny Pritzker.

But sought-after streets aren’t the only thing drawing luxury buyers to Lincoln Park. The neighborhood is home to everything from top-rated schools (both public and private), bars and restaurants, theaters, parks and much more, all just a short distance from downtown Chicago. You’ll also find a variety of real estate in Lincoln Park, from luxury condos to single-family homes to townhomes.

Overall, sales of single-family homes in Chicago were strong in September, showing that buyers are certainly still in the market for ultra-luxury homes. The top 1- most expensive sales topped a $2 million price tag, and homes overall totaled $82.7 million for the entire month.

Let’s take a closer look at what drew buyers to the luxury Chicago homes that sold last month. Here are the top five sales, in descending order from the most expensive:

image1870 N Orchard St
Original list price: $5.5 million
Sold price: $5.5 million
This brand-new home was developed by Environs on the most prestigious block in Lincoln Park. Thoughtfully designed from top to bottom, this home features spectacular upgrades and state-of-the-art appointments, all on an extra-large, 28 foot by 131 foot lot. Gracious space indoors and out make it ideal for entertaining, especially on the penthouse roof deck that features panoramic views. The extra wide lot makes way for more than 7,200 square feet of living space, plus a rare, huge yard and attached garage. Also included is a true luxury for Chicagoans: heated front steps, driveway, garage and back patio. High-tech details like total home automation, upgraded security cameras, a 6-zone HVAC system, remote-controlled fireplaces and radiant-heat in every bathroom are some of the details that make this home truly special for a luxury buyer.

image456 W Huron St
Original list price: $4.6 million
Sold price: $4.3 million
This custom, San Francisco-style home offers a generous 10,000 square feet of living space in River North. The property is perfect for entertaining, thanks in part to 3 outdoor spaces, one of which is a landscaped roof deck. Inside, you’ll find a Titan Security system, elevator, Crestron System, Kaleidoscope TV, electric shades, 750-bottle wine cellar and more, with quality finishes throughout. The home’s covetable downtown location makes it easily accessible, being close to the highway and in a supremely walkable neighborhood.

image469 W Superior St
Original list price: $4.9 million
Sold price: $4 million
With a in-the-heart-of-everything location in River North, this Chicago home has much to offer—including a whopping 11,000 square feet of living space. Located on an extra-large 34 foot x 109 foot lot, this 5-bedroom home includes a master suite with his-and-her baths, a stainless steel and mahogany staircase, state-of-the-art AV control system, wine cellar, 2 lush terraces and a rooftop deck with city views. With an dramatic and sophisticated interior, this home was a fit for the most discriminating buyer.

image2026 W Wilson Ave
Original list price: $2.922 million
Sold price: $2.922 million
A new construction property in Lake View, this 4+ bedroom home was sold before the listing sheet was even printed. That quick turnaround can likely be attributed in part to the building’s huge lot—75 feet by 122 feet, making it oversized on both ends and allowing for a generous amount of space.


image712 W Schubert Ave
Original list price: $3.15 million
Sold price: $2.875 million
This Lincoln Park home sits on an extra, extra, extra wide lot—161 feet wide, more than three times the standard lot size for Chicago. With 7 bedrooms and 7,500 square feet, this home features a bevy of opulent details, from a double staircase entryway to a curved staircase that serves as the focal point of the home, to a lavish master suite. The expansive living and dining areas feature extra tall, coffered ceilings and custom finishes. A grand kitchen includes custom cabinetry, honed marble countertops and high-end appliances; the space also connects to a great room, making a large, open space ideal for entertaining. An elevator moves between all floors—the top of which you’ll find a guest suite with roof deck access, and on the lowest level, a family room, two additional bedrooms and a mudroom.

As you can see, the features and amenities of luxury properties can vary widely, from generous square footage to opulent architectural details to exquisite details—and all of those come with their own price tag. Looking at last month’s real estate sales helps put a number to the features you’re hoping to find in your own purchase. Then you can have an expectation for adjusting your wish list or budget accordingly.

For more information on last month’s Chicago luxury real estate sales, or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

New Day, New Rules: Navigating the Strong Chicago Real Estate Market

The Chicago real estate market is on a tear–which means navigating the road to a home purchase is changing quickly. The strengthening market means buyers and sellers alike need a new strategic approach.

A few things have changed: Homes in sought-after neighborhoods are selling in a fraction of the time they were not long ago. Consumer confidence is up as buyers move from the sidelines into full-on purchasing mode, creating more buyers than there are properties to actually buy. And mortgage rates are experiencing their first climb in recent history, and buyers are charging the market before another increase could take affect.

So, if you’re in the market a Chicago real estate purchase, what’s a buyer to do? First off, waiting on the sidelines is no longer an option if you want to avoid a “coulda, woulda, shoulda” scenario. If you’re looking to make a purchase, the time to act is now.

But in this changing market, there are a few things buyers need to know before they plunge into a purchase. Here are a few great tips from an article this month in the Wall St. Journal:

Cash is (still) king. You probably know by now that cash buyers always have the upper hand. But like many, if you aren’t prepared to make an all-cash purchase, the bigger the down payment, the better. Jumbo loans typically require at least 20% down.

With bidding wars happening on many coveted properties, there’s a chance a lender’s appraisal could come in less than the purchase price. If that’s the case, the buyer and seller must agree as to whether the seller will lower the price or the buyer will pay the difference in cash (or something in the middle). So, having enough cash on hand could be even more important in getting the home you want most.

Get pre-qualified. Even with the market’s comeback, mortgage lenders are still looking closely at borrowers, ensuring they can repay their loans. Sellers can also be hesitant to accept an offer that hinges on securing financing. Buyers who have pre-qualified are that much more attractive to the bank and the seller.

One caveat–buyer can’t lock in a mortgage rate until a contract is available. To avoid being surprised by a suddenly-raised rate, look for a lender that will let you lock in a rate for 30 or 45 days without an additional cost.

Prepare for a bidding war. With some properties being overwhelmed with offers, some sellers have turned to this strategy: reject them all and simply ask for one best-and-final offer from each interested buyer by a hard deadline. That might mean a buyer might want to move right past an initial proposition and put their very best offer front and center.

That means having all of your ducks in a row in terms of the offer: price, any contingencies, closing date, pre-qualification and escrow amounts. Having all of these details nailed down paints you as a serious buyer, and can get your offer moved in front of one even with a higher dollar amount.

Have a well-connected agent. Don’t simply pick an agent because you have a shared acquaintance. Your realtor should know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, building, and recent sale in the area or type of property you’re interested in. I’ve been in Chicago real estate for nearly 25 years and certainly know how important it is to be informed on the nuances of different floorplans, the differences in amenities and services between condo buildings and what certain neighborhoods can mean for resale value down the line. Those details are key in every part of the process, from finding the right property, to getting a fair deal, to making a sound investment in Chicago real estate.

To take a closer look at the market and how it lines up with your potential purchase, give me a call. The time for buyers to take advantage of still-low rates is limited, and this is a key time to start the process. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Top Seven Chicago Homes Sold in May are the Ultimate in Luxury

When we talk about luxury real estate, it’s often about the price tag–properties priced at $1 million and above. But true luxury homes are all about the details that set them apart from anything else on the market.

The most expensive home sales in May are a great example of going above and beyond simple “high-end,” with features, amenities and details that deliver the elegance and panache associated with true “luxury.” Ranging from over $3 million all the way up to $4.4 million, these single-family Chicago luxury homes certainly stand out form the 51 $1-million-plus homes that sold in May.

And as we often see, the top properties sold were in Chicago’s best neighborhoods–6 of the 7 were in Lincoln Park, and one in the Gold Coast.

Here’s a closer look at why these home demanded the prices that they sold for, in ascending order:

May Chicago home sales 52130 N Seminary Ave
Original list price: $3.2 million
Sold price: $3,022,500
This new construction Chicago home was just completed by Envrions Development. With 6 bedrooms, 5.5 baths, the home is more than 5,000 square feet of stunning space, from the striking limestone facade to to the generous living areas inside. Features include an elevator, a stunning kitchen, a two-tiered deck and a heated 2-car garage. The luxurious master suit and two en-suite bedrooms occupy the second level, and a top-floor penthouse room boasts a wet bar, roof deck and guest suite.

May Chicago home sales 73830 N Wayne Ave
Original list price: $3.3 million
Sold price: $3.1 million
A custom new home on the best street of the Southport corridor, this Lincoln Park property is in the highly coveted Blaine School District. Exquisite finishes are found in every room and amenity; the home high ceilings, a large butler’s pantry and a great room that opens to a large backyard/terrace. The master suite opens up to a rooftop deck with hot tub. Details like 5″ walnut floors, 2 laundry rooms and heated driveway and sidewalks take things up a notch.

May Chicago home sales 31255 W Draper St
Original list price: $3.2 million
Sold price: $3.2 million
Located on a quiet cul-de-sac in Lincoln Park, this 6,100-square-foot home was custom built on a 110-foot-wide lot. Exceptional finishes throughout, a large, light-filled cook’s kitchen and 3-foot-wide sport court are just a few extraordinary features found in this Chicago home. The space also includes five bedrooms, a craft room, exercise room, an attached heated garage and wonderful outdoor space.

May Chicago home sales 62726 N Mildred St
Original list price: $3.395 million
Sold price: $3.25 million
This masonry home was built on an oversized lot and designed to blend old-world details with contemporary style for the ultimate in function and grandeur. Featuring custom millwork, 10.5-foot ceilings, a deluxe security system and 5-stop pass elevator, this 7-bedroom Lincoln Park property has all the details that make a property truly luxury.

May Chicago home sales 156 E Bellevue Pl
Original list price: $3.95 million
Sold price: $3.525 million
Built in 1888, this Classic Potter Palmer home was recently updated to add all the modern conveniences of luxury living but retain the Romanesque style of its era. Spanning 7,500 square feet, this greystone home is on an extra-wide lot in an unbeatable location between Lake Shore Drive and Rush in the Gold Coast. Features include high-end appliances, double ovens and granite countertops in the kitchen, custom floor-to-ceiling built-ins, five en-suite bedrooms, 4 fireplaces, and a large deck that is perfect for hosting and entertaining.

May Chicago home sales 2433 W Webster St
Original list price: $3,875,000
Sold price: $3,787,500
Also found in Lincoln Park, this home sold before the listing sheet made it off the printer. This property is a combination of two row houses into a single-family home that includes two rental units on the first floor. A recent renovation brought spectacular light and space, with a master suite and spa bath, lofted office, and workout space. A 600-square-foot coach house with full bath is also on the property.

May Chicago home sales 41872 N Howe St
Original list price: $4.2 million
Sold price: $4,373,242
The priciest Chicago home sale in May, this Lincoln Park stunner was also sold before the listing sheet was printed. A new construction property with 7,100+ square feet, this stately home boasts seven bedrooms, 9 bathrooms and an extra-wide floor plan. The focal point of the interior is a dramatic, 11-foot-diameter circular staircase that ascends from the lower level to the fourth floor roof decks. The entire second floor is dedicated to the master suite.

For buyers who are in the market for a Chicago luxury home, it’s very important to take a look at the prior month’s sales to make sense of what properties are selling for and how those features, amenities and details play into the final sales price. This will give you a better understanding as a buyer of what’s happening on the market and help you plan your own purchase with your own needs, wants and budget.

To learn more about the single-family homes that swept the Chicago market in May or to discuss your own real estate purchase, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Obtain the List and Photos for Top 20 Luxury Chicago Home Sales in September, Totaling $35 Million

For buyers who are interested in luxury Chicago real estate, there’s always one great place to start: Look at previous sales. Even though these are properties that have moved on the market and aren’t available for a current buyer, they are a key way to outline what types of properties are selling and at what price.

Looking at these properties lets you then compare recent sales with your own budget and list of must-haves for a real estate purchase. To obtain the most recent list–September’s luxury home sales–just send me your name and email address. I will forward you the list so you can see several examples of what is considered a luxury home and why it might have a price tag of $3.355 million. A simple click here: will give you access to some of the most valuable information you can have as a buyer, and I am happy to explain the nuances of various properties and how they align with its original and sold prices.

This September, there was nearly $35 million in Chicago luxury home sales. Here’s a closer look at the top five:

3442 N Greenview Ave
Original list price: $2.395 million
Sold price: $2.3 million
With 7,550 square feet, this newer 4+-bedroom property is on an extra-wide lot in Lakeview, with all the bells and whistles of a Chicago luxury home: elevator, huge kitchen, mosaic flooring, sweeping custom sweeping, penthouse room, finished basement and more.

1854 N Burling St
Original list price: $2.595 million
Sold price: $2.44 million
A 5,000-square foot Lincoln Park home on a quiet, prestigious street, this traditional home boasts 12-foot ceilings, arched doorways, marble finishes, custom cabinetry, extra-wide rooms, and a huge marble master bath. This property has great features outdoors as well, with a French garden, terrace, and huge roofdeck with a skyline view.

2020 N Clifton Ave
Original list price: $2.8 million
Sold price: $2,781,868
Another Lincoln Park stunner, this 5-bedroom, 5,600-square foot home has an elevator, 12-foot ceilings, gorgeous millwork and oak floors, a magnificent kitchen with built-in banquette, plus a luxury master suite, penthouse room with wet bar, and an enormous rec room.

48 E Cedar St
Original list price: $3.5 million
Sold price: $3.25 million
Located in the coveted Gold Coast neighborhood, this luxury Chicago new construction home is 6,300 square feet of grace and elegance. With beautiful stairways, fireplaces, exquisite moldings, wood/marble flooring, six bedrooms and 5.2 spa baths. Outdoors, this home features a terrace and garden with fountain and a deeded parking space.

1538 N Dearborn Pkwy
Original list price: $3.55 million
Sold price: $3.55 million
Also located in the Gold Coast, this 6-bedroom home sold the same day it was listed. With a generous 6,700 square feet of living space, and a great location (with a Walk Score of 92) in one of the city’s best neighborhoods for luxury living.

To see the full list of these properties (plus photos) to get a feel for today’s Chicago real estate market, give me a call at 312-264-5853 or email me at

Historic Farwell Building Part of the Most Prestigious Condo Building in Chicago

At left, the original Farwell Building at N Michigan Ave and Erie. At right, the Ritz-Carlton Residences in 2011. Images from City of Chicago / The Ritz-Carton Residences Chicago

Not every Chicago real estate building has a story behind it, but the architectural history behind what is now The Ritz-Carlton Residences is special. While these may be the newest downtown Chicago condos, the building and the location have deep historical roots in the city. The location of The Ritz-Carlton Residences on the corner of North Michigan and Erie was originally home to the Farwell Building, built in 1927 and one of the most acclaimed structures on Michigan Avenue.

A Landmark Building with History

Back then, the 11-story Farwell Building was developed to be a distinguished piece of architecture on Michigan Avenue, aiming to set the bar for future development on this block. For the design, architect Philip B. Maher looked to French-inspired classical and art deco influences, with clean lines and a limestone facade that represented the aesthetic of the late 1920s.

He was also inspired by classical revival elements, and these various inspirations for the building’s design helped the Farwell Building become an eclectic jewel that represented North Michigan Avenue’s turn to becoming the Magnificent Mile.

The Farwell Building was a landmark building in Chicago, and the Landmark Commission agreed to having The Ritz-Carlton Residences built on the site if the original building was kept.

Architecture of The Ritz-Carlton Residences

Jumping forward several decades, the developers of The Ritz-Carlton Residences were sure to make every effort to incorporate the original Farwell Building into the new building. From the Farwell’s limestone panels to its stonework and bas reliefs, these key pieces of the original building were carefully conserved and incorporated into the design of The Ritz-Carlton Residences.

Just as the Ritz-Carlton name is known for meticulous attention to detail and service from its staff, the Chicago condos were built with that same diligence to conserve the Farwell Building’s history and to make the new building an outstanding piece of architecture. By design, the new building’s classical and art deco characteristics will encase condominium units with the same exacting details that should become iconic in the years to come. The Ritz-Carlton Residences are destined to become a Chicago landmark all on its own.

The architectural significance of this building places it among the ranks of other luxury Chicago condos. I would be happy to give you a first-hand look at the design The Ritz-Carlton Residences and its tributes to the Farwell Building. Contact me at 312-264-5853 or email me at

Image credits: The City of Chicago / The Ritz-Carlton Residences

Chicago Luxury Detached Home Sales Anticipated to be Better in 2012

Despite the volatile market that the Chicago real estate market experienced throughout much of 2011, luxury real estate in Chicago continued to sell. Added evidence of this comes from the sales numbers from December—homes continued to sell in some of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Lakeview, North Center and Bucktown.

These numbers are even more promising considering sales are often down during the month of December—cold weather and lower inventory leads many sellers to take their properties off the market during the holidays and winter months. So sales like these imply that luxury real estate in Chicago, especially in these neighborhoods, should be stronger in the coming year.

Chicago Real Estate Selling in Top Neighborhoods

The most luxurious detached homes sold in December were in Lincoln Park, by far one of Chicago’s most loved neighborhoods. Residents love this community for its luxury real estate, beautiful park, great schools, and ideal location—Lincoln Park has the look and feel of a residential neighborhood, but is close to downtown Chicago and anything you’d need for shopping, dining and entertainment.

In addition to great location, there is another common denominator among the top single-family home sales in Chicago: many are on extra-wide lots, a unique characteristic in city real estate.

There were 19 total single-family homes sold in December for a total of $28.8 million. The breakdown of these sales were as follows: 9 in Lincoln Park; 5 in North Center; 3 in Lakeview; and 2 in Bucktown. Let’s take a closer look at the top six sales, all of which were in Lincoln Park:

2430 N Surrey Ct
Sale price: $2.325 million
This home is a five-bedroom, extra-wide brick and limestone custom designed home. Featuring a chef’s kitchen, a penthouse sitting room, 11-foot ceilings, and three private decks.

1874 N Howe St
Sale price: $2.35 million
On one of the most coveted streets in Lincoln Park, this Chicago home is ideal for entertaining, with an elegant living room and dining room and a bright, open eat-in kitchen. The home also boasts a private backyard and a top-level sun room opening to the roof deck with skyline views.

2230 N Dayton St
Sale price: $2.18 million
This home on the best block in the DePaul community was recently renovated to accommodate large rooms: 5 to 6 bedrooms on the upper floors, a top floor office, and a playroom, mudroom and exercise room on the lower level. The home’s renovation’s merged classical touches like original stained glass with modern additions like new finishes, top-notch appliances and a limestone bath.

2325 N Orchard St
Sale price: $2.175 million
On an extra-wide corner lot, this 140-year-old home underwent a spectacular renovation, creating a home that combines a modern lifestyle with historical appeal. The home has six bedrooms and 6,700 square feet, built to the edge of the lot lines for maximum space.

1919 N Burling
Sale price: $2 million
This French-inspired Chicago new construction property is also on one of the best blocks in Lincoln Park. Located on an extra-long lot of 131 feet allows for yard space, while the 3,800 square feet inside allows for a flexible floor plan. With five bedrooms, this single-family home also features hardwood floors, Viking kitchen appliances and an upstairs private deck.

2447 N Racine St
Sale price: $2 million
This huge six-bedroom detached Chicago home sold for a fantastic price. With 5,800 square feet on an extra-wide lot, this home’s features include a custom staircase, Brazilian walnut flooring, a professional grade kitchen and an attached garage.

The sales of these Chicago homes is a sign that the market could see single-family homes fare better in 2012 than they did in 2011. Unique homes with generous square footage and extra lot space are what buyers are looking for, even in an unpredictable market. To take a look at the one-of-kind single-family Chicago homes for sale today, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or by email at

Building Chicago New Construction: The Decision-Making Process

Once a client has chosen an architect for a Chicago new construction project, it’s important to understand the decisions that will need to be made and what to expect from everyone involved. The client and architect work closely together to ensure the home is exactly what the client is looking for.

I asked Chicago architect Allan J. Grant to share with us the many decisions that a client may want to be involved in when working with an architect on a Chicago new construction project. “It has been my experience that the greater a clients’ involvement in the selections, the fewer unpleasant surprises will occur and the more the client feels the residence truly reflects his or her own aesthetic sensibilities,” Grant said.

Working with the Architect and Designer
Clients want to be involved in the decision-making process for their new construction home and see the products and materials that will be incorporated into kitchens and bathrooms, as well as closet configurations, lighting, and cabinet layouts and design. The numerous choices can be overwhelming to a client, and Grant noted that having an architect and/or designer who will be involved in these decisions can make the difference between a builder/developer house and one that is truly a custom home made for one individual client.

Many architects/builders request that the client hire his or her own interior designer to help with material and product selections and provide insight on the overall budget.

Ideally, the client and architect/designer will meet with outside vendors and showrooms to choose products and materials for the home. This allows the client to see and choose from a breadth of choices, with the architect along side to guide him or her. Such customization decisions that need to be made include:

Kitchen appliances
After the preliminary kitchen layout has been established, the client will choose appliances with the architect involved to ensure it fits with the specifications of the room.

Kitchen cabinets
Kitchen cabinet centers are typically located in the Chicago Merchandise Mart, and clients can visit these to establish the overall preference for cabinet quality, style and finish before deciding.

Stone slab
It is up to the client if he or she would like to personally select tile material from stone slab vendors, or the architect may make these decisions alone after discussing with the client.

Plumbing fixtures
The client will choose kitchen sinks, faucets, toilets, shower fittings, tubs and more, including colors, metal finishes and any additional features. Once these have been chosen, the architect can choose coordinating bath accessories with minimal input from the client.

Door hardware
The client and architect/designer will choose everything from hinges and doorstops to locks and other specific door hardware.

Cabinet hardware
Many clients prefer to select their own cabinet hardware, and may want to visit a showroom or two to see the selection of all custom cabinetry pieces.

Closet interior fittings
If the client is interested in a custom closet, it may be more cost effective having a closet-fitting company create one, versus one that  architect-designed and contractor-built, but the flexibility in these products is often limited.

Glass shower and tub enclosures
Enclosures can be performed by the architect with some preliminary and follow up conversations with the client, without the need for a showroom appointment to specifically decide on these products.

While lighting showrooms can be confusing and overwhelming, it’s important for a client to see actual fixtures and not just photographs whenever possible. Grant assists his clients in narrowing down selections for surface-mounted lighting fixtures that are appropriate for adequate illumination and aesthetic appearance. A designer can also assist with additional decorative lighting that will need to be installed.

Some clients may want to accompany their architect to select tile roofing, stone wall material, patio stone or pavers, brick, etc., or the architect can provide samples for the client to choose from.

Ongoing Meetings with the Architect
In addition to these off-site meetings, the client will meet often with the architect to address any concerns and specific requirements. In one-on-one meetings, the client and architect can discuss everything from the layout to the exterior, to reviewing drawings and design development and progress.

When building a Chicago new construction home, there will also be a number of planned or unplanned miscellaneous meetings to discuss ongoing parts of the project, like contractor pricing, payout requests, contract terms or many other matters and circumstances that come up during the course of building the home.

The Role of the Realtor
In addition to helping you get the right people in place, an experienced realtor can help with choosing selections as well. You’ll want to enlist a realtor experienced in Chicago new construction and who has been exposed to upscale finishes and the most “au current” trends in new homes, as they can provide an objective view on the home’s market value.

Many clients find it helpful to have the realtor become the coordinator for meetings with the various people involved in the home-building process. In my experience with new construction, I’ve found that clients who run their own companies or travel extensively find this service extremely helpful, especially from a realtor who has acted in this capacity for clients who have built homes from scratch in the past.

Whether you are considering building a brand new home, adding an addition to your home or reworking a floor plan in a luxury condo, please do not hesitate to contact us to get answers to your architectural question or to obtain insight as to redesign the property for maximum resale value.

Sheldon Salnick, realtor: 312-264-5853 or
Allan J. Grant
, architect: 312-943-5522 or

Building Chicago New Construction: Working with the Architect

If you’re looking to build a Chicago new construction home, it’s important to find an architect who has the same expectations that you do. You likely want to work with a detailed, client-oriented architect that will personally see the new construction project all the way through to completion.

A crucial piece in the new construction process is the architect’s drawings. These help to obtain permits, communicate objectives to a builder for pricing, and act as a guide for carpenters and other professionals who are working on a new construction project. Chicago architect Allan J. Grant gave some insight into what can be expected from an architect at this point in the process.

Architect Drawings for Permits
What will be delivered in terms of drawings depends on the architect. There are permit drawings—the bare minimum required to obtain permits—and highly detailed drawings, which are produced by client-oriented, residential architects.

Permit drawings are a minimal drawing set and include only the required information for obtaining permits. While it may seem like a wealth of information to the client, these drawings aren’t enough for a builder to accurately estimate construction costs (a huge disadvantage to the client) or for additional trade professionals to have their questions answered before they begin work on the project.

On the other hand, Grant says, the set of drawings produced by a custom residential architect for the client and builder include all of these details and specifications. That information is organized in drawing details, light fixture schedules, plumbing fixture schedules, door schedules and specification notes, separated into each trade.

Drawings from a Custom, Residential Architect
The drawings show everything that will be built into every part of the space, allowing the client to see how each room and area will appear. These types of drawings also feature:

  • Every built-in cabinet so that a client can see and understand where the drawers, doors and shelves are located, as well as heights for components and counters.
  • Every room door or closet door, along with door trims, crown mouldings, chair rails and base mouldings.
  • Any tile patters or inset borders within wall or floor tile.
  • Heights of every wall-mounted plumbing item, such as shower controls, heads, body sprays, etc.
  • Specific custom details like concealed doors, tubs set in decks, and curbless showers.
  • All interior elevations are drawn on a scale suitable for planning and understanding what is occurring on each wall, and so the architect can ensure there is room for every wall-mounted outlet, light fixture, towel bar, door trim, etc.
  • Structural details generated by the engineer are incorporated to include detailed framing plans.
  • HVAC, plumbing pipe diagrams and electrical information as it relates to mechanical equipment may also be included on more extensive projects.

During the construction process, the client-oriented architect regularly observes the construction (“supervising” is the builder’s responsibility) and documents any changes, additions or deletions that come up. A complete set of drawings that incorporate all of the client’s product and material selections benefit all involved in the process, as well as addressing functionality and aesthetics.

The Role of the Realtor with a New Construction Purchase
Throughout the process of building your Chicago new construction home, it’s important to keep your realtor in the mix. Have him or her review drawings with you along the way so that there are no floor plan issues from a design standpoint. Such issues can negatively affect future resale value of the home, and the realtor can help guide you through what works and what doesn’t, as well as up-to-date home trends that will benefit you if you are to sell the home down the line.

To learn more about working with an architect to build a Chicago new construction home, give me a call at 312-264-5853 or email me at, or contact architect Allan J. Grant at 312-943-5522 or at We’ll both be happy to answer any of your questions or conduct appropriate research to help with your new construction project.

Building Chicago New Construction: Choosing an Architect

I recently wrote about the different types of Chicago new construction properties and the nuances of each. As discussed in that post, the most involved type of new construction purchase is starting and building a home from scratch—this is the biggest undertaking in terms of time, money and decision-making. But building your own home, literally from the ground up, is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that can’t be matched.

But of course, you can’t build a new construction home on your own. Designing a custom home requires close collaboration between the new construction buyer, the architect/builder, interior designer, realtor and more.

With the help of Chicago architect Allan J. Grant, A.I.A., I wanted to take a more in-depth look at the relationship between the client and the architect in particular. The joint efforts between these two ultimately creates a unique home that fully addresses the wants and needs of the client.

Finding a Client-Oriented Architect for a New Construction Project
The role of the architect working on a new construction home is pivotal, as he or she will assist the clients with the many decisions and product selections that come with building a custom home. The architect can (and does) also coordinate with other design professionals, engineers and specialty consultants.

A client will want to be very selective when looking for an architect, the same way you might go about hiring someone for any sort of job. There are a number of questions you’ll want to go over with a potential architect:

Will you need a designer?
Find out if the architect expects you to hire your own interior designer—many request that you do. Although some architects will accompany the client to vendors for selections of tile, stone, plumbing, lighting, etc., an interior designer can also assist the client with making selections based on the overall budget. However, not all interior designers have experience in the nuances of new home selections, so this should be determined up front with the architect.

Does the architect act as the general contractor?
Usually, no. It is generally believed that the architect and contractor should be two separate entities with two separate contracts with the client to avoid conflicts of interest. The architect acts as a checkpoint for the general contractor’s construction and progress.

There are, of course, other possibilities for this, but this is the preferred arrangement between the architect and the general contractor.

What is the responsibility of the general contractor?
It is the general contractor’s responsibility to supervise his tradesmen on a day-to-day or minute-to-minute basis. The contract that the client has with the general contractor should refer to the architect’s plans and specifications as the product he will produce for the client and that the architect has the authority on the client’s behalf to reject any of the work that does not conform to the contract documents.

How do proposals work?
The very high-end builder, who may offer design expertise, will typically draw up a proposal and/or preliminary drawings, which could cost as much as $15,000. The proposal fee is given back or incorporated into the fee structure for the client once building has begun, but the specifics of drawing one up should be discussed in the builder interview. If an architect independent of the builder is being retained, preliminary design work is part of his service to the client and may be compensated in a number of ways.

What’s the fee structure?
Finding out the architect’s procedure for fees is an important element in building a home from scratch. Is it a flat fee, hourly charge or percentage of construction costs? What about overruns? The buyer should nail down these details before choosing an architect to avoid any surprises.

How will payments be made?
The new construction buyer should also learn the procedure for setting up an escrow account and how the money will be released for payments to the builder and possibly the architect.

Once an architect has been chosen, he or she should sit down with the client and learn more about the client’s lifestyle, wants, needs, preferences, wish lists, etc. and be sure they each have the same expectations for the Chicago new construction project.

The Role of the Realtor
As I’ve said before, the realtor can play a very important role in this process as well, and he or she should have experience in Chicago new construction. A realtor with a background in helping clients build homes from scratch should also be able to recommend different architects and designers and should know about the different professionals they work with.

Next, we’ll take a look at the actual processes or working with an architect to build Chicago new construction. To get an idea of all of the questions you should be asking a prospective architect, contact myself or architect Allan J. Grant:

Sheldon Salnick, realtor | 312-264-5853 |
Allan J. Grant
, architect | 312-943-5522 |

5 Chicago Buildings Garner Top Luxury Unit Sales for June

The numbers for June’s luxury real estate sales are out, and downtown Chicago and Michigan Avenue in particular have once again proved to be a great location for real estate sales. Luxury real estate is still selling, with 25 luxury condo sales in June (those that sold for $1 million or more), totaling $39.8 million in luxury sales for the month.

Virtually all of the luxury Chicago real estate sales in June were on Michigan Avenue or just a block or two off of the famous mile. In addition to a great location, factors like walkability, uniqueness and how new a property is also play a key role for buyers in this market. Here’s a look at the top buildings for Chicago condo sales in June:

Chicago condos at 10 E Delaware

10 E Delaware in the Gold Coast.

10 E Delaware: Four units were bought in this Chicago new construction building, totaling $7.3 million and the most sales in one building for the month of June. Off Michigan Avenue in the Gold Coast, 10 E Delaware is a boutique development that allows its residents to access a la carte amenities of the adjacent Talbott Hotel. The can’t-beat location puts you right in the heart of fine dining and high-end shopping and very close to the a few of the city’s best beaches on Lake Michigan.

On top of the availability of Talbott Hotel’s amenities, residents of 10 E Delaware also have a 24-hour doorman, a heated rooftop pool, access to the TEN Club for entertaining, and a state-of-the-art exercise facility all at their disposal.

One of the Chicago condos sold at 10 E Delaware was a penthouse unit originally listed at $2.5 million. With 3,075 square feet, the unit sold for $2.325 million, or just $756 per square foot.

800 Michigan Avenue: A $2.7 million sale of a 3-bedroom unit in Michigan Avenue’s Park Tower was the highest-priced Chicago condo sale in the month of June. Park Tower is one of Chicago’s most coveted luxury buildings, located in front of the historic Water Tower. This unit is located on the northeast corner of a high floor, allowing for dramatic views. The condo also boasts a cozy terrace, custom millwork throughout, a great entertaining kitchen and much more.

Chicago condos on Lake Shore Drive

999 N Lake Shore Drive.

999 N Lake Shore: Located on what is considered the most prestigious block in the city, this co-op building had a $2.6 million sale in June. The 3 bedroom unit in this Benjamin Marshall-designed building underwent a total gut renovation to include a stunning entertainment space, vast dining area and sun parlor. Adding to the luxury appeal are the views—the living room, study and master bedroom all provide views of Lake Michigan, as does the building’s rooftop deck.

159 E Walton: A $2.45 million 3-bedroom unit sold here in the enviable Palmolive Building; it’s one of the city’s most significant buildings in terms of architecture, history and in the last decade or so, luxury living. Located on the corner of Walton Place and Michigan Avenue, units in the Palmolive Building are a quick elevator ride or walk away from upscale shopping and five-star dining. Many of Palmolive building condos have amazing lake views and relatively unobstructed views of the skyline. Plus, each residence from the twenty-second story on up consists of the entire floor.

View from the Park Monroe Chicago

A park/lake view from The Park Monroe in downtown Chicago.

65 E Monroe: The Park Monroe is known for its ideal location, great amenities and the unbeatable views, with condos starting on the 42nd floor. The unit sold at Park Monroe in June for $2.2 million, features floor-to-ceiling windows that enable panoramic vistas of the city, sky and parks. The building itself offers everything from finely appointed finishes, to a theater room and a 24-hour doorman.

Looking at June’s top sales, its clear that buyers are looking for walkability in their luxury Chicago real estate purchase; they want units with a great location that gives them easy access to everything they need. To see the full list of June’s luxury sales or to learn about the Chicago homes for sale in these top buildings, contact me at 312-264-5853 or by email at