Madison is a young city. Its population of 250,000 is dominated by two overlapping demographics: millennials and families with children. The reasons for this are hard to miss. For one, the economy in Madison depends on industries we tend to associate with the young, it’s among the top five cities for software publishing, for instance. It’s also a great university town. The cost of living is low, being two percent below the national average. These variables attract people who want to start and build something: young entrepreneurs are coming to Madison to set up shop. And it’s a great place to raise kids for all of these reasons.
Madison, in other words, is livable when it comes to work, play, and family. And livable cities mean a flourishing residential construction business. Homes are affordable in Madison, and that refers to homes that are already built, but we also noticed that homes that people want to build are affordable.
If you’re thinking about Madison, and you’re thinking you’d like to pursue that custom route, we have the list for you. We looked at a number of Madison custom builders and considered the awards they had won, the media recognition they had attracted, and of course their years of experience. This list of 15 is the result, and we’re confident that you can find the right builder for your needs—and your dreams—here.
15) Heffron Homes
Website | 608-643-8525 | 2000 Prairie St., Prairie du Sac, WI 53578
Heffron Homes is a 25-year-old firm that performs creative design and on-the-job construction. The firm’s team is composed of 18 talented individuals, including carpenters, an in-house design team, project managers, and support staff. Aside from a capable team, Heffron Homes makes a point of rigorously sourcing quality materials for the homes it builds.
The firm also makes a point of keeping up with the times, and continuously embraces innovations in technology. Heffron Homes uses state-of-the-art building systems, software, and products, with the goal of building efficient homes that meet—or even surpass—Energy Star and Green Built standards.
14) Leader’s Custom Homes
Website | 608-772-7687 | 717 Big Stone Trail, Middleton, WI 53562
Leader’s Custom Homes has been building affordable luxury homes for the Madison area. The firm differentiates itself by promising to build customized homes that are unique; they refuse cookie cutter. Leader’s Custom Homes wants smart designs, and challenging, intriguing projects. And that approach has worked: the firm’s current principal Josh Bieber was named one of Madison’s top builders in 2010 by the Wisconsin State Journal. Bieber is hands-on with clients, working with them personally from the start of the building process to project completion.
Leader’s Custom Homes’s awards also proved its mettle. These include awards from the 2018 Madison Area Parade of Homes, the People’s Choice for “Best Kitchen & Bath” in the 2018 Madison Area, the People’s Choice Award for “Best Lower Level,” and the People’s Choice Award for “Best Interior” in the 2018 Madison Area Parade of Homes-The Vineyards.
One of the most interesting projects of Leader’s Custom Homes is an equestrian estate recently built in Cambridge, WI. The project included building an attached horse stable. The firm’s layout and design make it easy for this equestrian to fold his sport into his everyday life.
13) Bill Butler Builders Inc
Website | 608-831-1111 | 7138 Hubbard Ave., Middleton, WI 53562
With 47 years under its belt, Bill Butler Builders Inc is another Madison industry veteran. The firm is one of the members of the esteemed Madison Area Builders Association (MABA) and Wisconsin Builders Association.
Like so many contractors, Bill Butler Builders makes the usual promises: it will build the home of client dreams. But the firm doesn’t stop there. This group of craftsmen also tells you what it refuses to do. Bill Butler won’t force you to choose from a limited set of options that give the firm the best margins. Bill Butler Builders refuses to build a home that looks like everything else in your neighborhood. The firm will not settle for anything less than the best solution to a given set of challenges. And they also absolutely reject compromise, if that compromise means choosing profit over quality.
12) Custom Construction Builders
Website | 608-798-4345 | 2809 Birchwood Pas, Cross Plains, WI 53528
Yet another veteran custom home builder, Custom Construction Builders, Inc has been constructing luxury homes in Madison for more than 25 years. Jamie Zajicek founded the company with the dream of making home construction easier for clients in almost every regard, including design.
Zajicek started the firm modestly, but it has now grown to a firm that can construct impressive homes in any style, from rustic to contemporary to prairie. The firm’s designs and architectural ideas are truly innovative. Some of the firm’s home designs that stand out include large log homes built near Wisconsin lakes and rivers.
11) Hart De Noble Builders
Website | 608-831-4422 | 7923 Airport Rd., Middleton, WI 53562
Family-owned Hart De Noble Builders has been around for more than 35 years and has built more than 400 homes. Its works have been featured in media like Brava magazine. Some of its featured designs have included stylish ceiling fans over avant-garde home decor.
Its award-winning Best Kitchen in the 2018 Madison Area Builders Association Parade Of Homes was featured in an episode of “Car to Table by Dream Kitchens.” Another project that stood out to us is the contemporary longboard house built by the firm. The mansion is modern with a stylish wood and stone exterior, and a favorite with young, pet-loving families.
10) Classic Homes of Madison, LLC
Website | 608-06-0492 | 116 Nicole Circle, Oregon, WI 53575
Classic Homes of Madison, LLC has built over 100 homes in the past 14 years. The firm has devoted itself to building affordable custom luxury homes, with a price range between $350,000 and $1,000,000. Classic Homes are proud of being able to maximize resources effectively from its vendors so that clients can be given an affordable price.
Principal Chris Schmidt has lived in the Oregon area—10 minutes south of Madison—all his life. He currently resides in The Legend at Bergamont neighborhood, which he helped to build. Schmidt graduated with a degree in General Business Management in 1994, something he put to use when he began his firm. He became the expeditor and project manager of two firms from 1994 to 2005 before he began Classic Homes of Madison, LLC.
9) Legacy Building & Design
Website | 608-643-4321 | 707 Water St. Suite #101, Sauk City, WI 53583
Legacy Building & Design is a family tradition based on a business that began over 60 years ago in 1957. Principal Bill Schluter began the home building tradition, and it is through his son’s initiative, Jerry, that the firm continues to thrive and build on that family tradition. Legacy believes not only in family tradition but also in quality design and craftsmanship, and not just for its own sake: tradition creates stability, and stability creates the space to uphold project quality and provide consistency to employees and customers alike.
The firm’s services include, but are not limited to, new home construction, additions, remodeling, new cabinets, and custom design services. When it comes to the firm’s home building, it uses a fun, personal approach. The firm works closely with clients to bring projects to life. Clients come into a showroom to complete the personalization process, and then they receive copious guidance, support, and collaboration as they begin to bring their vision to life.
And Legacy Building & Design has four season expertise, they know how to make a build embrace the variety of weather that Wisconsin can throw at a home. Each project is customized for each client so that it meets their specific needs and lifestyle. Legacy Building & Design prides itself on quality craftsmanship at affordable prices.
8) Keuler Construction
Website | 608-798-1771 | 8308 State Rd. Suite #19, Cross Plains, WI 53528
A custom home builder that serves Dane County and nearby areas, Keuler Construction was founded by Willy Keuler after he spent 22 years as a carpenter. A family-oriented business, Keuler believes in making each client experience a personal one. The firm makes a point of making personal connections with customers, they want trusted friends as well as clients.
Keuler Construction homes are usually large luxury homes in the ranch or the Northridge style on large fauna filled lots. The home exteriors are usually composed of an inviting, aesthetically-pleasing stone veneer. Keuler Construction also offers green building, home remodeling, and general contracting.
7) Premier Builders Inc
Website | 608-849-6770 | 102 N Holiday Dr. Suite #1, Waunakee, WI 53597
Premier Builders Inc began in 1992 with just three employees. Now, the firm has 19 employees, 15 of whom live in the Mount Horeb village area. This growth can be attributed to the firm’s family-centric business principles, with many in the principal’s immediate family involved. Principal Kevin Acker, his wife Jeanette, and their four sons are lifelong Madison residents. The entire family is active in the community, and this public-spirited approach informs their home-building.
Principal Kevin Acker and his son Kyle are immersed in every aspect of the home building process. In fact, Kevin has been quoted as saying to Modern Builder & Design Magazine, “We strongly feel that a family business benefits our customers and homeowners.” Kevin’s wife, Jeanette, supervises the sales of new homes, overseeing the firm’s real estate services, selling a client’s existing homes with the aid of her son Travis, also an experienced real estate professional.
6) TDS Custom Construction
Website | 608-251-1814 | 1431 Northern Court, Madison, WI 53703
TDS is a 34-year-old design-build firm based in Madison, Wisconsin. It offers to remodel for whole house renovations, historic preservation, room additions, exterior improvements, kitchens, and bathrooms. A green builder, TDS Custom Construction’s puts emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainable designs, the kind that produce high-performance homes and green building techniques. In fact, it offers Zero Energy Ready Homes, a line of homes so efficient, a renewable energy system can offset most or all annual energy consumption.
TDS Custom Construction has received over 40 awards and recognition from local, regional, and national organizations since it began in 1985. The firm is a Master Certified Remodeler, an MCR Green Certified Professional, a PHIUS certified builder, and a GCP Universal Design Certified Professional. It is also a UDCP Certified Kitchen Designer. And when it comes to awards, the family has cleaned up. It’s a winner of the CKD NARI Contractor of the Year Award, it’s claimed a Chrysalis Award, and it received recognition in the form of a Madison Trust for Historic Preservation Award.
5) Acker Builders
Website | 608-850-6650 | 331 E Main St. Suite #104, Waunakee, WI 53597
Acker Builders has been family-owned for over 40 years and has built over 1,000 homes during its tenure. The firm is owned by couple Wayne and Jenny Acker. Jenny started in the construction business when she was just a young girl. As current vice president, Jenny’s responsibilities include handling sales and visiting job sites. She also selects the finishes for the model homes and helps design the interiors of the homes of clients. On top of those impressive qualifications, Jenny is a licensed realtor and is part of Acker Realty. She is also vice chair for the Madison Area Builders Association (MABA) Parade of Homes, and this is the second time she has held the position. She is familiar with the way the industry interacts with pop culture and has appeared in magazines, websites, and HGTV for her clients’ designs, and eve made an appearance on the popular show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
As for Acker Builders’ home styles, the firm creates intriguing fusions, including rustic meets contemporary, stylized ranch, and vintage style farmhouse. The firm also offers turnkey financing, which allows for a range of payment options.
4) Zimmer Builders
Website | 608-279-6871 | 60 Arboredge Way, Fitchburg, WI 53711
Another long-time builder, Tom Zimmer, has been serving Madison, Dane County, and the surrounding areas for more than 25 years. Zimmer and his team use quality materials and bold designs, yet retain a focus on being cost-effective. They pull off this budgeting balancing act through careful planning, and by using the latest technology when it comes to home-building.
Zimmer Builders is a member of the National, State, and Madison Area Builders Association and has long been active in the Parade of Homes. Tom Zimmer himself has been involved the roles of President, Treasurer, and as member of the Executive and Finance Committee of the Madison Area Builders Association. Tom was also a Parade of Homes Chair, Parade Site Chair, Chairman of the Greenbuilt Committee, and Builder of the Year. Tom also believes in giving back and has served as a member of the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity.
3) Schwingle Builders
Website| 559-351-1142 | 8383 Greenway Blvd. Suite #622, Middleton, WI 53562
Another expert builder serving Madison for 25 years, Schwingle Builders has been bringing luxury custom homes to the area for a long time. The multiple awards that the firm has received include three People’s Choice Awards for the 2017 Westbridge Parade site in Waunakee. One is for Favorite Curb appeal, Favorite Interior Design & Decor, and another for Favorite Kitchen & Bath. Schwingle Builders is also a member of the Madison Area Builders Association, Wisconsin Home Builders Association, and National Home Builders’ Association.
Testimonials attest to the firm’s organization, integrity, and neatness. And customers do go back for the customer-friendly, low-pressure experience during the building process. “We take care of the headaches for you,” says the firm. The firm also offers both turnkey and cost-plus contracts, so customers can choose financing that works for them.
2) JG Development
Website | 608-437-6181 | 701 E Washington Ave. Suite #103, Madison, WI 53703
JG Development was founded in 1990 by Jeff Grundahl and is currently co-owned by Jeff and his spouse, Mary. This husband and wife team are still looking to grow, even after recently expanding the company into four divisions, and brought their workforce up to 50.
Jeff has more than 25 years of experience in residential and commercial construction and remodeling. His accolades include being a National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Certified Remodeler and the 2016 recipient of a NARI Lifetime Achievement Award. Jeff is also currently on the NARI of Madison Board of Directors and MHAEDC Land Use Development and Workforce Development Committees.
Mary, on the other hand, handles sales. She is the present president of the Mount Horeb Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is also chair of the Mount Horeb Economic Development Corporation New Business Outreach Committee (MHAEDC). This company is bold. In 2014 JG Development completed an industrial home made entirely out of shipping containers. This one-of-a-kind home in Wisconsin has three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, and a two-car garage. The distinctive features of the interior include shipping containers used as a closet and pantry and exposed steel ceiling trusses. According to Custom Home website, materials including horizontal steel, rectangular and vertical fiber cement panels, and EIFS (exterior insulation finish Unsystem) were used on the home’s exterior portion.
1) Tim O’Brien Homes
Website | 608-661-1100 | 2601 Crossroads Dr., Suite #140, Madison, WI 53718
Tim O’Brien Homes take the top spot on this list, and for good reason. The firm has been featured in multiple media like Builder Online, Business View Online, and Milwaukee Magazine. More than one feature referred to the firm’s ability to rise above challenges, including how it reinvented itself during a carpenter shortage. One of these pieces also details also how Tim O’Brien and his team qualified for the Gold National Housing Quality (NHQ) Award. The firm was also the Silver Award winner for the 2017 National Housing Quality and took home the 2018 Avid Benchmark Award, and a 2018 Housing Innovation Award. The firm generates fantastic results by focusing on five elements of a home: organization, storage, gathering and entertaining, flexible spaces, and de-stressing areas.
Principal Tim O’Brien graduated with a degree in MS Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a Green Home Builder and a Board Member of the NAHB and the Wisconsin Builders Association. The firm focuses on Energy Star and Green Building.