A Yorkville, IL Custom Home Build (Behind the Scenes!)

A Yorkville, IL Custom Home Build (Behind the Scenes!)

When my family and I set out to build a ranch-style house in small-town Illinois, we had no idea the kind of challenges we were in for.

But bringing our dream home into reality taught us so many lessons and brought us a home we’re going to enjoy for many years to come.

So how do you build a home from scratch that reflects your personality?


Choosing Between Renovation and New Construction

First things first, decide whether a renovation or new construction is in order. Renovations make the most sense for homes that are already the proper size and layout.

We researched many existing homes, but just couldn’t find anything that felt right. They were all too large, previously farmland, and/or without the mature trees we hoped to find. It was always on our bucket list to live in a home on a wooded lot.

From pretty early on, our closest property matches were in Yorkville, and we took our time finding the right neighborhood.

Colleen Mcnally Interior Designer Yorkville Il

Why Build in Yorkville, IL? 

We were drawn to the area because of the wide open spaces, hilly terrain, Saw Wee Kee Park hiking trails, and views of the Fox River. We were looking forward to embracing a slower speed of life after 16 years in a larger city.

The lot that we purchased has many mature trees and tons of wildlife. Once we walked it, we couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities.

Colleen Mcnally New Construction Lot Selection

Finding a Custom Home Builder

Research is key when you want a custom home! Consulting with recent clients of the builder you are interested in is a great way to get practical feedback. You could also seek out new communities where new construction is taking place and research the builders already working there.

Most builders avoid working outside their boundaries so search local to the area you plan to build. Some builders will have photos of recent work they have performed. Others may be able to give you a tour of current or recently completed projects.

You may not realize that the design and construction process takes a great deal of time to come together. It can easily be two to three years before your home will be ready for you to move in. With a timeline like that, it’s so important to find a building team that you trust.

Yorkville Il New Construction Design Colleen Mcnally

Constructing a New Home to Stand the Test of Time

Prepare a “nice to have” and “want to have” wish list for your home. Think about how your family functions in your current home and how you want it to improve.

Do you need a dedicated office? Would a super pantry serve well as a back kitchen? Do you want a main floor primary suite?

Also, think down the road a bit. Consider changes that will occur in your family: kids going off to college, your aging parent moving in, or a dedicated hobby space.

Once the house design and function requirements are thought through, it’s time to think about how you want it to look. 

Building French Cottage Style in Yorkville, IL 

Find three to five inspiration images for both the exterior and interior. When we built our home, we were inspired by an elegant 1930s cottage style with French influences.

We had to pivot from a ranch home to a two-story because as we got into the design process, we found that the style didn’t suit the mature trees and other neighboring homes. But the style we wanted kept the design feeling like ours.

This is one of the benefits of getting very specific about the design characteristics and vibe you want to create. Don’t just use zoomed-out inspiration photos, circle exactly what you like in each image and share these ideas with your designer. It could be an antique light fixture or a specific entry door style.

The finer the details, the more on-track the design.

New Construction Yorkville Il Colleen Mcnally Interiors

From Scratch for the Long Haul

Lastly, don’t get too far ahead of yourself. The process of building a custom home is a long one. Keep a list of the finish selections and address them as the construction process unfolds.

There will likely be many changes, so expect to revisit certain selections multiple times.


Before I jump into making selections for your new construction, I’d like to preface that it takes a lot of time and thought.

It can also get a little overwhelming. These choices take more than a trip to Menards to correct and so the most important part of the process is to go slow and steady.

It can be tempting to dive into all the options at once and you can end up running out of steam and making hasty choices. Take time to think each item through!

New Construction Selections Colleen Mcnally Interiors

Making New Construction Selections

Keep notes on any selections that just feel “so-so.” You can come back to them when you have more attention and avoid a costly replacement down the road.

Peruse homes for sale in the area to understand if something is regionally popular for a reason you might not be aware of. There were choices being made in Yorkville that were very different from say Chicago.

Getting Windows to Yorkville

We found our builder by looking at other new construction in Fox Valley. Once we had the plans finished and the foundation was being poured, it was time to start looking way into the future again.

Our builder correctly pointed out that windows and garage doors would have the longest order fulfillment times. So we started out with those. We inquired with a couple of window places before we decided to go with Pella Windows. They took about seven months, which worked for our schedule.

Yorkville Il New Construction Windows

Mechanical Systems in a New Construction

My least favorite surprise of this phase was discovering that homes approaching 3,000 square feet ought to consider an auxiliary furnace. We didn’t realize until our home construction was underway that we would need a second furnace to accommodate the layout. It was also one of our more expensive upgrades. Not the most fun!

Electrical & Plumbing For Your Home

Decide on your light fixtures before you meet with the electrician. Also have all the specifications for each fixture prepared. It’s not a bad idea either to have the bathroom mirrors selected also by this point so there are no surprises when they come together.

Plumbing fixtures include the sinks, faucets, toilets, and tubs. Once these selections are made, send them off to the cabinet designer so they can start maximizing your storage space!

Roofing the House

Selecting the roof can be tricky! Take the time to visit the showroom and zero in on a couple of choices. You can often borrow larger samples so you can see how they look in the actual space.

When you look at the shingle colors, notice that there are a few different flecks of color intermingled. You can choose which colors to play up depending on your brick or siding choices.

Ask the showroom to provide a few addresses of finished installations. We looked at three homes and sure enough: the roof looked different on each one. Seeing them in the field and after some sun exposure was valuable time spent and made selecting the brick color much easier.

Yorkville Il New Construction Roofing Colleen Mcnally Interiors

What happens next?

Stay tuned for Part 3! Join our community of design lovers for project updates and our Instant Makeover Plan.

(3) Comments
  • Nancy
    | 25 April 2023

    Very interesting Colleen, bet you’ll receive lots of comments. Good advice and photos are great. Keep up the good work!

  • Linda King
    | 25 April 2023

    Thanks for allowing me to come along on the journey!

  • Cheryl Wagemann
    | 29 August 2023

    Lol! My goodness! I drove past Coach today and thought, I’m going to contact Colleen to see how her new place is coming along… here you are! 

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