The Hallbeck family has built the reputation of Hallbeck Homes Inc. on quality construction.
AS THE LUXURY custom homebuilding market took a turn for the worse during the Great Recession, countless homebuilders went out of business because they couldn’t adapt to the changing times. Hallbeck Homes, however, continued to thrive by finding new revenue streams and staying relevant by forging key relationships throughout central Illinois.
“In the past seven years with the downturn in the real estate and building market, we had several developments where we got creative trying to work with other builders to get lots sold,” says Dan Hallbeck, president of Hallbeck Homes “We also have new developments and projects in the works, like an assisted living building in Champaign [Illinois], as well as a few custom homes going on.”
Hallbeck Homes Inc. is a family-owned and operated custom homebuilder capable of designing and building single-family homes, townhomes and commercial properties.
Joe Hallbeck launched his company in 1964, delivering smaller custom homes throughout the 1960s and ’70s before adding subdivision development around 1976. Dan and Rick Hallbeck joined the business in the late ’70s, and throughout the 1980s and ’90s, the company built between six and 12 custom homes a year.
Also throughout this time period, homes began getting larger as the number of potential buyers continued to expand. To adapt to the market, Hallbeck Homes brought more capabilities in-house, including the home design department and interior decorating.
“We more or less became a one-stop shop for building custom homes,” Rick Hallbeck says. “We moved heavier into design/ build in the ’80s.”
Since 1964, Hallbeck Homes has developed more than 1,500 home sites in the Illinois county of Champaign. The company also is responsible for developing some of the region’s most beautiful neighborhoods, including Lincolnshire Fields, Cherry Hills and the Trails developments – Trails at Brittany, Trails at Chestnut Grove and Trails at Abbey Fields.
“From the structural quality of the home to finishing, we pride ourselves on going above average and offering very quality-oriented carpentry and finishing work,” Hallbeck says.
According to Hallbeck, he and his company witnessed the homebuying from the ’80s through the mid-2000s focus on larger custom homes with more amenities and higherquality features. Since 2007, however, customer tastes have shifted to smaller, smarter homes. Hallbeck says this includes custom homes – homes that were built as large as 7,000 to 12,000 square feet are now between 3,000 and 4,000.
“Buyers are not nearly as extravagant in terms of finishes,” Hallbeck says. “People are simplifying a bit in comparison to what it was 10 or 15 years ago.”
For Hallbeck Homes, this means construction operations have to be more efficient than in the past. Smaller homes means smaller budgets, so the company often is forced to do more with less.
However, that does not mean Hallbeck Homes will skimp on quality.
“Our expectations and our standards are the same whether we’re building a small or big home,” Hallbeck says. “We try to put the same effort into every home we do.”
And whether customers are building the large home of yesteryear or a modest custom home, Hallbeck Homes delivers the highest level of customer service. This is exemplified by the design work at Hallbeck Homes that is unparalleled in central Illinois.
“Our customer service and design more than anything sets us apart,” Hallbeck Homes says. “We’ve been doing our own design work since the late ’70s and early ’80s, and we always design in the quality of the building.”
A few of Hallbeck Homes’ developments are the Trails developments in Champaign. These developments occupy
approximately 160 acres of residential lots on the southwest edge of Champaign. The communities features pedestrian trails, lakes, boulevards and multiple green belts.
The first of the developments, Trails at Brittany was originally designed for larger homes on bigger lots and, due to its timing in the early ’90s, experienced slow sales to start.
Since then, the company has experienced a rapid pace of home building project growth, leading Hallbeck into the second of the developments, Trails at Chestnut Grove and further into Trails at Abbey Fields.
“It was very slow to start, but it ended up fitting our mold a lot better in terms of designing and building quality custom homes,” Hallbeck says.
“We had several people in that area who would buy two lots because they wanted a lot bigger area,” he adds.
Suiting Any Size
Wyndemere Point at Abbey Fields was designed for larger custom homes sitting on an acre size lots with more restrictive covenants.
A majority of the large lots have been sold already, which means Hallbeck Homes is focusing on the new trends for more normal-sized lots that are in demand these days on their next developments.
“When the downturn came, it hit most all builders pretty hard,” Hallbeck says. “It took about seven to nine years in a subdivision. In previous years, it would have been maybe a three-year project.
“Therein lies the challenges we’ve had to deal with in terms of the economic downturn – trying to maintain our business by offering good land to our remaining and new builder-buyers,” Hallbeck adds.
The recession unfortunately wiped out a significant portion of the company’s nearby builder community.
Future of the Family Business
With 51 years of history on its side and a third generation of the Hallbeck influence, Hallbeck Homes has seen the ebb and flow of the homebuilding business and knows how to adapt and regroup when necessary.
Now that more clients are ready to build their dream custom homes again, Hallbeck says his family’s company is ready to cater to their demands.
“We don’t need or want to build every home in the area,” Hallbeck says. “We want to do custom homes that fit what we like to do and are good at.”
Hallbeck says the company will maintain a focus on building quality into each project.
“We’ll take one at a time because that one house and client is very important to us,” he says.