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As interest rates continue to hover at all-time lows, there’s no doubt that now is a great time to seize the opportunity and build the new home of your dreams.

It goes without saying that homebuyers today are budget conscious. Even so, they are also significantly more design conscious and environmentally conscious than ever before.

Whether it’s a first home or next home, buyers across all price ranges are looking to maximize their investment with the most livable space, energy efficiency and overall appeal their budget will allow. As a result, they’re discovering that new construction is an incredibly compelling option right now.

“We’re seeing a lot of builders getting back to basics, but I don’t think that’s necessarily what buyers want today,” Rich Cook, founder of Cook Builders and a former president of the Building Industries Association of Northwest Indiana (BIA), says. “Looking back at what worked in the 50s, 60s or 70s is not the way to go. What we do know from the people we’re talking to is that there’s definitely a movement toward smaller and smarter. I can tell you that everybody wants energy efficiency and curb appeal. They want a nice looking house that conserves natural resources and reduces energy costs.”

There’s no doubt that stricter budgets, as well as looming concerns over energy prices and global warming, have tempered the desire to create space that isn’t useful in everyday living. As a general rule, homebuyers are asking for less, cutting back on options and reducing square footage. People are carefully considering how to make the most of their livings space with open rooms that offer greater flexibility, according to Cook.

“One of the first things people are willing to give up today is a formal dining room,” he says. “We’re also seeing a movement toward eliminating dedicated home offices or home theaters and replacing these areas with spaces that are more multi-functional. It’s all about what fits your needs and budget. Some of the more common requests today are for piano rooms or computer rooms. We’ve also had a few people inquire about custom gymnasiums.”

In the business of custom home building, remodeling and restoration since 1974, Cook Builders is currently working on new homes that start below $200,000 and range up to over a million dollars throughout Northwest Indiana. Featuring the company’s legendary craftsmanship, every Cook-built home reflects the personal style and needs of its owner.

“It’s always amazing to see the reaction of a potential client when we sit down and show them how we can build a smaller, more affordable home using the very same exacting standards, professional tradesman and personal attention that we apply to the larger, more ornate homes,” Brad Ericks, operations manager of Cook Builders and current BIA president, says. “Whether you choose to start with one of our favorite floor plans, something you’ve found elsewhere or completely from scratch, we’ll work closely with you to create the home of your dreams based on your budget.”

While over half of their recent clients have come to Cook with a homesite already purchased or selected, you can also rely on their expertise to help narrow down your choices based on desired commute times for work, local schools, shopping options and more.

“The fact that we’re seeing so many people coming to us with their own lot is a big departure from what we were seeing over the last few years,” Cook says. “It was much more difficult to find the right site in the past. I think it shows how much our options have expanded at all ends of the spectrum. People’s dream homesites are more readily available.”

You can also consider one of the desirable neighborhoods where Cook has reserved home sites. These include Lake Hills in St. John, Feather Rock and White Hawk Country Club in Crown Point, Park West in Munster and Emerald Crossing in Dyer.

For people in search of the simplicity of a maintenance-free lifestyle who prefer the privacy and autonomy of a detached home, Cook has partnered with Kelly Construction on the Cottages at Emerald Crossing. What makes these homes decidedly unique and irresistible is the fact that they come complete with all the extraordinary custom details you’d normally find in a larger custom home with pricing that starts in the $190s.

“As a true custom home builder, we are flexible with our design and building process,” Ericks says. “While other builders only build specific models and often have to say ‘no’ to personal changes or charge extra for things like changing the color of the off-white paint, we say ‘yes’ and only charge if it’s an additional expense for our contractors. When you choose Cook Builders for your new home, we will do everything possible to ensure that our reputation remains one of the best and most respected in the area.”

For information on building the new custom home of your dreams, contact Brad Ericks of Cook Builders at (219) 322-3303 or e-mail You can also learn more and preview highlights from the company’s impressive portfolio at