2005 Chicago Luxury Home Tour

Ahu and I went on the 2nd Annual Chicago Luxury Home Tour on September 17th. The Tour is sort of like a mass open house for new luxury homes. A number of builders in the Chicago area open up various homes to the general public. The homes are typically over 5,000 square feet in size and priced over $1 million. The Tour is, for many people, the only way to see first-hand inside the homes of the very wealthy. For those who are very wealthy, it is a chance to see the craftsmanship of these builders and to help determine which builder would be the right builder for their new dream home.

The builders who participated in this year’s Tour include Case Homes, KLM Builders, Chic Martin Signature Homes, Michael J. Graft Builder, Chestnut Hill Development, Southampton Homes, Reese Custom Residences, Lane Custom Homes, Silvestri Custom Homes, Sebern Homes, Avondale Custom Homes, Airhart Construction, Environs Development, Landrosh Development, Coda, Orren Pickell Designers & Builders, and Wellington Homes.

The homes are completely finished in most cases, including the basement, and are fully furnished for the Tour by furniture stores in the area. For example, Walter E. Smithe, as one of the Tour sponsors, provided quite a few pieces. This is certainly a nice touch because houses as large as these would look very, very empty unfurnished. Additionally, there are pamphlets and brochures from all of the contractors who provided services used in the construction of each home. These were located on tables near the exit (usually the garage) of each home. So, for example, if you particularly liked the trim in a home, there is information on the way out about the contractor who did the trim so you can contact them directly.

Admittance to each home requires a “Passport Ticket” which lists each house, with local directions, as well as the rules of the Tour. A ticket costs $15 and gains one person admittance to each home once. That’s right, when you walk into a home, they stamp your ticket marking that you have visited that home. You can’t revisit the home without another ticket. So bummer to you if you want to see a particular home twice. This is one little rule I think they could get rid of. I mean, in general, most people will only want to see a home once. If they want to see it again, that is probably because there is something about the home that they like. I can only imagine that this is good for the builders, contractors, and suppliers.

Most of the houses on the Tour are still on the market. A few, however, have already been sold. In both cases, there are a number of rules that must be followed when viewing the homes. These rules, obviously, help keep visitors from accidentally damaging or dirtying the homes. This is from the paragraph from the last page of the Passport Ticket:

No bare feet, shoes, strollers, or cameras allowed in the homes. Please bring stockings; a limited number of shoe covers will be available upon request.

This is all true: no cameras are allowed, which is the reason this article is not accompanied by any pictures of the houses we saw. I can support this rule to some extent because I respect the privacy of those who do or will own these homes. But on the other hand, these are the types of homes which end up featured in various magazines like Better Homes & Gardens and there will be pictures there anyway. As far as shoes, you will have to take them off. To this end you should wear socks or stockings to walk around the homes. Sandals are a particularly bad footwear choice when visiting these homes. If you do not have socks or stockings, they have boxes of little plastic foot coverings which you can use. They seemed amply supplied with these when I was there but should they run out and you are in bare feet without shoes, tough luck - no house tour for you!

In another article I will write on some of the features of these homes and the little touches that really set them apart from the average, or even above-average, home.