A Partnership Approach

There are more ways than one to build a house, and George Foster Jr., president, McFoster Custom Homes in Naperville, Ill., builds custom homes in a way that works best for him.

Foster relocated his business from Chicago to the suburbs and decided to focus on single-family custom homes. Not knowing the area, the next logical step was to learn the market quickly and get some help to build the top-quality homes he wanted to build. So Foster began forming his team by finding a real estate broker with intimate knowledge of the market.

He then found an architect who also knew what the market wanted, and who could get things done. Foster located an independent designer with ASID certification, and was studying at Harvard for construction management certification. The next team member was a cabinet designer who can make a $3,000 bath look like a $30,000 bath, he says. These people form Foster’s team of partners, and together they build, as equals.

Foster likes the partnership approach and the nature of outsourcing, because when working with partners outside an immediate staff, a new flavor is added to each project. “They are working for others as well as with me, so my clients get the benefit of diversified perspectives without paying extra for it. I know some big builders in my area, and they all have someone who works in their office on their designs, but is limited to how the owner wants to design houses.”

Foster and his wife don’t follow the crowd. “We go the other way. We are students of our craft, and we don’t do what everyone else does. We like to set the trends. People ask us, ‘What made you do that, and why? We never thought of doing it that way.’ We bring innovations to our clients.”

One reason Foster’s team approach works so well is how everyone is treated as equals. “You need synergy and continuity to your buildings by using the same trades and outsource providers on every job, which we do. Together we build houses. They don’t build houses for me, they build them with me. And by treating them as partners, they have a vested interest in doing a good job.”

Foster believes the partners to which he outsources have a different interest in their work than an employee. And employee will do a job and go home, but because outsourcers are business owners as well, they put their heart and soul into their work, he says. “They want to keep their good name intact. My outsourcers know their name is on the job, too, so they make sure the product looks spectacular whereas an employee might just do a job and not take ownership of their work.”