1860 Lincoln Park
I am writing this letter just three weeks after moving into our single family home in Lincoln Park. Our home was built in 1886, and we did a full, four-floor gut… all the way from the basement to the attic, and all the way from the “bones” to the “face” (plumbing, drainage, HVAC, insulation, electrical, floors, kitchens, baths, woodwork and trim, roofing, exterior, front and back yards.) You name it, we did it- and we could not have done it without our team at Foster Design Build (“FDB”): Bob Berg, James Vinyard (Project Manager), Eric Millon (Project Manager), Emily Healy (Interior Design) and Jocelyn Ricks Interior Design).
From the beginning, we knew we had picked the right firm because of each team member’s patience, knowledge, responsiveness, and commitment to our long-term happiness. For example, we were originally unsure how we wanted to deal with an enclosed stairwell in the back of the house- we were contemplating leaving it, or removing it and integrating the
square footage into the rest of the house. It was a big decision, and we were really torn because we did not understand the budget or design ramifications of each option. Bob, James, and Emily patiently walked us through the options, and did a great job explaining the details of each- and thus, we were very confident in our choice (getting rid of the stairwell).
The patience and communication continued throughout the project- FDB held our hand, provided clear information, and made us feel like we really understood what was going on at any given moment- no small feat considering the scope of the project.
Project Management. For example, given the scope of the project, we received quotes from a plethora of trades and various vendors- demolition, insulation, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, framing and painting to name but a few. James and Eric clearly and concisely
kept us posted on the trades needed, the options for each trade, and their recommendation for each. Moreover, we were impressed and grateful for the times when James / Eric thought that pricing was too high, and they spontaneously negotiated with a vendor for a
lower price. Overall, it was truly amazing how they coordinated so many different trades, and how such a large percentage of the project went off without a hitch.
And perhaps even more importantly, when something did go wrong, FDB (and particularly Bob Berg) was incredibly proactive and resourceful. For example, when the flooring company somehow lost our order and failed to ship our four-floorsworth of 5-inch walnut, Bob actually got on a plane (on a Friday night, no less), flew to South Carolina, and found a lumberyard that could immediately ship what we needed.
As another example, when the roofing company installed shingles of the wrong color, Bob got the work re-done at no cost to us.
We are now in the punch-list phase, and although our list is pretty small, FDB is attacking it with gusto.
Indeed, we must have exchanged a thousand emails over the course of the project, and FDB was always quick to respond to a question. In addition, Eric Millon sent a detailed project update every Thursday night, complete with pictures attached.) The updates were super-easy to follow, and even fun to read – Eric has a cool, down-to-earth way of explaining everything.) Moreover, the quality of all of the work done was top-notch: truly awesome, without a single corner cut.
Interior Design. The interior design team is just as stellar. As a threshold issue, Emily and Jocelyn (“Joc”) were SO much fun to work with- we truly enjoyed our meetings with them, and we were really impressed by their commitment to making our house into a forever-home.
Their process is extremely “user-friendly” – they first got a sense of our design style by having us “pin” on Pinterest, and then we’d walk through the pictures and discuss what we liked and didn’t like. They were clearly listening 110% because when they presented us with suggestions for particular items (tile, lighting, paint etc.), we were always amazed at how spot-on their suggestions were. In short, Emily and Jocelyn always seemed to know exactly what we wanted…and when we weren’t sure what we wanted, they were great at discussing the options, and the pros and cons of each. And like the project management team, they were great at organizing all of the various trades, presenting us with multiple quotes, and giving us their overall recommendation. They were also super-flexible – they met with us in the evenings, they met with us on a Saturday, they even came to my office downtown.
Also, it should be noted that Emily and Joc were awesome about discussing even the smallest details. I really felt like they cared as much about the final design as I did- for example, they were actually excited about engaging in a discussion about whether we should put pulls or knobs on the kitchen cabinets. (In the end, we went with the linear pulls to accentuate the height of the cabinets and the ceiling.)
As another example, they mocked up renderings of our bathrooms with different sizes of medicine cabinets so that we could make a truly informed decision.
Similarly, they also mocked up furniture placement for our daughter’s room so we could decide if we wanted a hanging chair, and also for our front room so we could see what size piano would work.
Overall, it is so clear that Emily and Joc love their jobs, and I really cannot say enough about them. Obviously, we are thrilled to be in our new home, but I am going to miss Emily and Joc! I hope this information is helpful- please feel free to call me if you would like to discuss.
Bill & Rachel
1722 Old Town
I am writing this letter as a formal recommendation for Bob Berg and the crew at Foster Design Build. My wife, Susan and I moved from Toronto to Chicago in the winter of 2013. We spent considerable looking for a home and eventually settled on an old brick town home in Old Town. The house had good ‘bones’ but required significant updating as there had only been two owners since the house was constructed in 1874. We interviewed three contractors but at the end felt Bob and his team had both the expertise and design knowledge we required to update the home with a more modern esthetic while maintaining the integrity and historical feel to the house.
I worked closely with FB Team (the Company has grown considerably since we first met Bob in the summer of 2012) to design a house that we could call a home. The project was actually two houses. A main house and a smaller coach house which occupies a separate address on St. Michaels Court.
The project was not without its headaches – many associated with building permits and historical ramifications of living in a heritage property. Construction lasted about 8 months with a compete gut on the inside of the property. Some of the mechanicals were maintained such as the furnace and electrical which had been replaced by the previous owner. Otherwise everything with the exception of the master
bathroom was torn out, redesigned and replaced. The FB team and I sourced all the design/materials and core decorating features of the house. FB provided monthly financial breakdowns and weekly status reports on building progress. I was lucky, as I lived close to the project, and was able to visit the site on a regular basis as an ‘extra’ set of eyes and ears on the project. The project was essentially completed in April 2014.
No large renovation/construction project is ever perfect – but we are thrilled with the finished product! I think the things that most impressed me about FDB was the work they did after we moved in. They were very responsive on finishing off the final ‘hit list’, replacing poor/defective products and fixing items as they inevitably occur when working in a new house. In fact, FDB came back to re-condition the stairwell that connects the main house with the coach house last winter as an additional project – something we should have done when we first renovated the house. Bob is always available via text/phone/email. Sometimes the news he tells you is not exactly what you want to hear but he provides you the ‘straight goods’.
If I have the energy to proceed with any more or additional or renovation work I would not hesitate to call Bob and the team at FDB to work again on the next project.
If you have any additional questions, would like to see the house or want to call me directly my contact information is below.
1642 Lincoln Park
We recently built our home in Lincoln Park with the help of our project manager, Bob Berg. We had a wonderful experience working with him. We formed a great relationship with him as we were so pleased to find someone who was extremely organized, attentive to detail, trustworthy, knowledgeable with such a sense of integrity.
If anything went awry (such as if materials needed to be back-ordered, or if the weather delayed construction significantly), we never had to worry. Bob seamlessly handled everything behind the scenes to make sure everything stayed on track. We simply attended the design meetings and made our requested selections; Bob took care of the rest in a very smooth and professional way, maintaining the construction schedule and guaranteeing top quality craftsmanship on each piece, no matter how small. When people ask us the process of building a house was, we simply say “A walk in the park.” Indeed, it was!
The finished product is a home that we love and one that meets all of our expectations. It is an amazing space for our family that we thoroughly enjoy. Building a home was an interesting learning experience for us, and we had a lot of fun throughout the process. Bob was even able to hone his expertise to build our Brazilian barbecue grill and a roof top deck outdoor spa, amongst other unique features of our property. This explains the number of “Wow’s” we hear when we have people over. Our guests tell us that we have the nicest house in the neighborhood, and compliment us on the superb job done.
Although our house was completed over two years ago, we still talk to Bob on a regular basis. He has continuously helped us to maintain our home to be the fantastic leaving space that it is – he even stops by to ensure everything is OK when we are out of town visiting family in South
America! For Bob, excellence and customer satisfaction are synonyms. He is incredibly nice, very responsive, approachable, and a pleasure to work with. Trust us, first time homeowners: If you build your house with Bob Berg, you will not be disappointed – we guarantee it!
Demetrius and Isabella
This letter is to confirm that our firm has worked with Mr. Robert Berg on a number of projects including the following:
1. 165 North Canal Street in Chicago, Illinois, a residential/office and commercial building. KMI was the engineer of record for the Mechanical HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing engineering services and worked with Mr. Berg as the project manager for the Contractor.
2. Sidway 700 Touhy, LLC Building Addition in Elk Grove, Illinois. KMI was the architect and engineer of record for this 10,000 sq ft high rack storage/distribution building addition and worked with Mr. Berg was as the project manager for the Contractor.
I have personally known Mr. Berg for over ten years and enjoyed our professional working relationship. His prompt attention to client needs and knowledge of construction is greatly appreciated..
Kaltsouni Medhi, Inc.
I am writing this letter just as Foster Design Build has completed the full remodel of our penthouse condominium. We recently relocated to Chicago and purchased our condo knowing that we wanted to redo the interior, but without any local contacts to suggest or vouch for any contractors or trades-people.
Our first contractor referral came through our realtor. We were initially impressed by the outward professionalism, but became cautious when paperwork and responses were not presented in a timely fashion, and then we could not get a firm commitment on a start or finish date. We eventually grew concerned and decided to seek other options. We found some online referrals about FDB and decided to give them a call, and we couldn’t be happier with that decision.
Bob Berg met with us, and quickly ascertained our needs, along with our compressed timeline since we had wasted months with the previous contractor and were running out of temporary living options. Right from the start Bob could’ve promised us an unrealistic finish date to make us feel better, but instead he carefully documented the job and delivered to us a reasonable quote along with an honest promise of a completion date. We were impressed with the level of detail and Bob’s apparent willingness to offer a realistic completion estimate, not a fabrication just to win the job.
Needless to say we were very pleased with our choice. Without overstating, FDB’s project manager (Denise Kendall) was terrific. She and Bob both brought a strong project management mindset keeping all deliveries ontrack, as well as orchestrating all of the sub-contractors like clockwork. We also appreciated FDB’s sensitivity knowing when to offer aesthetic advice and when to allow our personal vision to march forward. For us this was an important FDB attribute since we had some strong perspective on how things should look, but FDB managed to
fulfill our vision and to save us from some potential mistakes along the way.
Since we were undertaking this project while relocating from out of state, another important FDB strength proved to be their level of communication. We must have exchanged 1,000 emails and photos between Bob and Denise. It didn’t seem to matter whether the communications came from Bob or Denise; they were both intimately involved in every detail. Most importantly they really cared about the outcome of every decision.
Of course with any major project there are always issues that pop up. It may be a cliché to say that it’s how a person or company handles the problems that defines them most. In this regard we would hire FDB again in a minute. Whenever issues arose with a sub-contractor or any product, they absolutely treated the problem as if it were their own and largely shielded us from any of the impact, while still keeping us informed of what was going on and any schedule impacts. While there were certainly a few issues on our job, we became more and more
pleased with our FDB choice as each one was handled with the utmost professionalism.
I would be more than happy to discuss our Foster Design Build experience since we are confident that if you choose Bob Berg and his team you will be as satisfied as we have been.
I recently worked with Foster Design Builders to have my master bath upgraded. I was very pleased with the process from start to finish and thrilled with the end result. The bathroom is just beautiful.
Bob Berg hires only experienced professionals who are competent and trustworthy. The designer Denise Kendall took a very personal approach to helping me make my selections. She quickly caught on to what I was envisioning and tailored all of her suggestions accordingly, going over and above to do what was needed.
The work crews that did the work from the plumbing to the carpentry to the tile to the electricity were all top-notch. Every day they would show me what they had finished and the pride in their work was evident. The worksite was well maintained and cleaned each
day, which was much appreciated.
I was very pleased with my overall experience and would definitely work with FDB again.
I am writing to recommend Foster Design & Build as an outstanding luxury builder of single family homes. My wife and I had the pleasure of working closely with the Foster Design Team for the design and build of our current dream home. We moved into our home a month ago and absolutely love the final product. When starting the home building process, my wife and I desired a combination of old and new elements.
We wanted a home that felt brand new home while keeping with the character and charm of this historic neighborhood. We wanted a custom, rebuilt home that was uniquely different than other homes on the block.
We struggled to find a builder who could accommodate this type of request until we met Bob Berg, President of Foster Design & Build. Unlike other builders in the Lincoln Park area, FDB brings expertise of designing new homes as well as designing and rebuilding old homes. FDB has the skill set to handle a broad array of needs.
In designing a unique home for us, Bob proved to be very effective at negotiating with the alderman and City of Chicago to achieve exceptions to code otherwise restricted. For example, our home has a gorgeous walk out raised yard off of the family room. While the alderman restricted raised yards, Bob understood an available work around and was able to get this done. This is just one of many examples.
Bob and his team were very patient and attentive to our specific needs throughout the building process. The design team was an absolute pleasure to work with. They were terrific. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the numerous planning meetings that were conducted in the Foster Design Conference room. Led by Emily Healy, the team is friendly, creative, insightful, genuine and fun.
George Baker, our Project Manager, was also helpful at providing us with weekly updates with photos and videos of the project. If we had questions after hours, (and, my wife and I had many), he was always attentive and receptive to our requests. On the occasion that something unexpected popped up, the team always took the time to listen and address the item in question. There exists strong collaboration
between the design team and project management team which is very important in the building process. The entire team is conscientious and acts with a sense of urgency.
FDB is well connected with a diverse group of trades and does not cut corners in optimizing the best available option. FDB is committed to delivering excellence. It goes without saying that the quality of workmanship of FDB is superb. The team was continually supportive of delivering on our vision. We are very proud of our new home on Dayton, and this would not have been possible without the great work by
the FDB team. We couldn’t be happier with the result.
1652 Lincoln Park
Sage and I want to thank you for all your hard work and dedication as being the general contractor for our new project. As you know, we were very nervous about selecting a general contractor given the experience we had with the previous builder.
Sage and I promised ourselves we would choose a general contractor we respected both professionally and personally, and who would be truly interested in delivering a high quality home for us or our newly expanded family.
The building process had its usual challenges, but you did a great job addressing any issues that arose. The subcontractors you use are professional, clean and true craftsman. It's very easy to see you demand the best out of everyone you hire. Every phone call, every e-mail gets answered and you have always made sure we informed of changes in the schedule or challenges that arose. Everything was done in an orderly and efficient manner, and you completed the project faster than we ever expected. We also appreciated the fact that you visited the job site daily, and made sure everything was being done correctly and on time.
Now that we are living in our new home, we love it! It really is a great design, and meets all of our needs. We've received nothing but positive feedback from friends and family. We have even had people we don't know stop us out in the front yard to comment how much they like the home and ask about the design, exterior materials, and of course, the name of our general contractor. We always speak highly of you, and
would recommend to anyone looking to build a home that they should chose you and they won't be disappointed.
I don´t know if we could have ever expected to have such a great experience in working with a general contractor. People all around us only related horror stories about builders and contractors and delays and budgets, etc., but they obviously hadn't done work with you. From our initial meetings with you through the actual building process to the tidying up of some of the little punch list items we have had I would rate
our experience with you - excellent.
Sage and Kyle
Architecture and Design
I have had my own architectural office for 22 years. I have completed one project with Foster Design Build LLC and I am working with Bob’s team on two others at this time. It is a pleasure to experience the design and construction process with Foster Design Build. Bob and his staff are motivated, principled, and patient individuals. These characteristics translate into a project that meets the clients’ functional, economic and scheduling goals.
They respond to clients’ and my concerns any time of the day or night, and I see the clients appreciate their quick responses. They keep me on schedule with reminders and they always have the client’s scheduling needs in mind. During the design process, their advice (based on prior experience) on code and construction issues is excellent. Whereas some contractors advocate the least expensive option, or getting around the codes, Bob and his team have a sensible view that balances initial costs with life cycle costs and safety. As an architect I appreciate that, as do the Owners.
Foster has quickly priced out design alternatives so that my office does not waste time drawing a design alternative too expensive to build. I believe they can do this due to the quality relationships they have with industry subcontractors. The subcontractors seem to enjoy working with Foster. His sub-contractors are known as quality companies within the industry. During this process, I got to know the subcontractors and was able to get their advice on up-to-date construction methods and code issues. The sub-contractors participation in the design process helped to make a better set of construction documents.
Finally, Bob, Jennifer and Patrick (the Foster personnel I have worked with) seem to have no limits on the amount of work they will do to help a client. The always offer to explore construction and design alternatives for the clients from a cost and scheduling perspective throughout the process. They are flexible and a pleasure to work with. In this way, once we get to construction, there are no surprises for the Owner or the subcontractors. I am confident that through the creative exchange of ideas, Foster Design Build will produce a project that will meet all of your functional, economic and scheduling requirements.
Michael Hershenson Architects
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