DIOR Builders celebrates its 40th anniversary by continuing to build healthy, smart homes.
By Mark Lawton, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
In 2009, 2010 and 2018, DIOR Builders has constructed model homes that were honored by the American Lung Association for meeting its healthy building guidelines. “We have a lot of focus on healthy indoor air quality and limiting the chemicals put into the homes,” General Manager Mario Di Iorio says. DIOR Builders does that largely by vetting the products it builds with.
For instance, the company uses adhesives that are formaldehyde-free and no VOC paint and carpeting that is corn- rather than petroleum-based. When a home is complete, DIOR Builders tests it for chemical traces. While there is overlap between green building and constructing homes with healthy indoor air quality, it’s not exactly the same thing.
“Just being green built, it might still have VOC,” Di Iorio says. DIOR aims for green construction too, using sustainable technology, low impact and locally source materials, water conservation and energy efficient technology. Its 2018 healthy home was constructed in the village of Inverness, Ill, a north Chicago suburb. The biggest challenge was with the products used in the home.
“Some of the products were new to the market,” Di Iorio says. The 5,700-square-foot, five-bedroom home includes environmentally friendly air ducts, wall switches that act as electrical kill switches for EMF and a fully sealed gas fireplace that doesn’t expose occupants to gas. Instead of a microwave, a steam oven is used in the kitchen.
Rock wool, which melts rather than burns in case of fire, is used behind the walls instead of foam or fiberglass. Water tanks are lined with glass instead of metal and the homes occupants are further protected by a a whole-house water-filtration system and a radon mitigation system. The home also boasts a hospital-grade air filtration system, which is something DIOR Builders occasionally installs in other homes.
Peter Di Iorio moved to the United States from Italy at age 16 to attend school and later started doing remodeling jobs for a bank before he founded DIOR Builders in 1979. He built his first home in in nearby Long Grove, Ill., where he helped with the millwork, tile flooring and interior painting.
The business is now into its second generation with Peter’s sons Mario, Carlo and Anthony Di Iorio along with sister-in-law Victoria. Most of its projects are in the upscale north and west suburbs of Chicago, although Di Iorio says, “we will go pretty much anywhere.” DIOR Builders focuses on custom homes although it also does remodels along with some commercial work such as shopping centers. Its homes range in cost from $800,000 to more than $5 million.
Staying with Clients
DIOR Builders has a good reputation that Di Iorio says is based on several factors. First, the company listens to clients. “In sit-down meetings with people and hearing what they really want –everyone has different wishes and wants,” Di Iorio says. “And we work within their budgets too.”
To maintain communications, DIOR Builders makes sure each client has a primary point of contact with one of DIOR’s principals. Each may be reached by cellphone and at least one of them is out on a building site. “Some of the subcontractors have been with us a long time,” Di Iorio explains. “The [clients] are comfortable with them since they are longtime partners of ours. The subs can start a [client request] like adding a vent here or moving it. The HVAC trade is already working on it and lets us know about it to have the request expedited.”
Then there is DIOR’s long-term connection with clients. “We stay with the clients even after the home is built,” Di Iorio says. “People have called us 18 years later. When there is a leak or a generator stops, [DIOR] is the first people anyone calls. We go back to the home.” And clients appreciate that. “We have multiple clients that have had more than one home built by us for them and their children,” Di Iorio says.
Wide Open Tastes
Di Iorio has worked at DIOR Builders for at least 30 of the company’s 40 years. During that time, client desires have widened. “We used to build similar styles” for all clients, Di Iorio says. “Now it’s wide open from completely contemporary to completely traditional.” Light has become more of a consideration too. “Homes are designed more with taking into account how the sun will come in,” Di Iorio says. “We call it window-scaping. Bringing in the natural light. Some homes are angled for solar panels.”
Clients are also interested in what materials are used. “People care more about what’s behind the wall,” Di Iorio says. “Now it’s the type of insulation they care about. People are aware of the products and where they will end up and are conscious of recycled materials.” But it’s not only homebuyers who have evolved. Banks, too, have changed in the past decade.
“The banks got more firm on their loans during the recession,” Di Iorio says. “In the old days, restrictions were eased. Now they are more involved. We’ve had mortgage lenders attend a lot of meetings [between us and clients].” One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that new homes still beat existing homes for DIOR’s clients.
“Though there are still homes available from when the recession hit, people want new homes,” Di Iorio says. “It’s kind of reverted to the old days when people believed they would be in their houses a very long time.”
DIOR Builders has a dozen homes left to build out of 78 in the 190-acre Glencrest subdivision of Inverness. It aims to break ground on an adjacent subdivision to be named Fountain View Estates in 2019.