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Tim O’Brien Homes

Tim O’Brien Homes focuses on improving the home building experience, as well as a commitment to energy efficiency, innovative designs, green building practices and renewable technologies. Tim O’Brien Homes is recognized as a National Leader in Innovation and Quality through numerous US Department of Energy Housing Innovation Awards as well as National Housing Quality Award Gold and Silver recognitions.


Locations: Wisconsin
Tim O'Brien Homes recently started a Podcast called Building Sustainably, which covers green building and sustainability through the eyes of a homebuilder.

In this month’s feature, we asked Tim O’Brien to share some insight on building HERS® homes for their customers.

Q: What is special about a HERS® Rated home?

A: Tim: What I think is special about a HERS® rated score is that there is transparency in the home’s performance that can be benchmarked against not only other new homes but also older homes in the marketplace. As a national standard for rating home energy performance, the HERS® score can be compared consistently to homes all around the country

Q: Why should consumers ask for the HERS® Index Score on homes they are shopping for?

A: Tim: A home is obviously a complex system. Think about the amount of planning, drafting, engineering, and modeling, that needs to take place before it is even built. Then add in the amount of parts and pieces that require humans to assemble and install in order to complete the structure. There will always be something that doesn’t go 100% to plan; we build the last great handmade product in the world! Having a HERS® Certified Rater calculate the home’s energy rating score helps us catch things that may have gone not 100% according to plan. Some builders may claim that their homes are built to a high energy-efficient standard, but there is nothing to back those claims up without a third-party certification.

Q: Why does Tim O’Brien Homes choose to have their homes HERS® Rated?

A: Tim: At Tim O’Brien Homes we pride ourselves in always striving to be innovators in our industry. We know that having all of our homes backed by a third-party certification would only help us improve our building process and provide assurance to our homeowners. Having partnerships with RESNET and other local entities is an essential part of our commitment to being a National leader in High Performance homebuilding.

Q: Why should consumers expect energy-efficient homes?

A: Tim: We believe that consumers should expect energy-efficient homes because it is the right thing to do, and it’s where new homes are moving towards in the future. We could take shortcuts leading to lower costs and possibly higher margins, but we’d rather be associated with the builders who are making homes that have long-term value and contribute to less waste of resources, a lower carbon footprint, and ultimately saving our customers money in the long run on their utilities.

Q: How many homes does Tim O’Brien Homes build with HERS® per year?

A: Tim: All of our homes have a HERS® rating and in 2020, we had 229 homes rated.  We have had every home go through the HERS® program since we started this company back in 2007.

Q: How do you market HERS® Rated homes?

A: Tim: We do our best to educate the public on what a HERS® rating is and why it is important. We have several areas on our website that highlight Green Building and why we build the way we do, with the common HERS® rating bar that goes from red to green with our average marked more clearly towards the green side. We also place our average rating on all our Ready Home listings. We spend significant time training our New Home Sales Professionals on the HERS® third-party certification process as well as why we choose to build ‘High Performance Homes’ and the benefits these great homes provide our customers.

Q: How do your customers feel about HERS® Rated homes?

A: Tim: We believe our homeowners understand the benefit of the High Performance Homes that we build; especially after they move in and begin receiving their energy bills! They see that we are not the cheapest homes in our market but are definitely not the most expensive either. That is where we find we fit best; by offering High Performance Homes at a competitive price and superior value.