Behind the Build: Linda Staszak

From sales staff and tradesmen to behind-the-scenes troubleshooters, dozens of personnel bring a Gallagher and Henry home to life. In “Behind the Build,” the Gallagher and Henry blog celebrates spirited members of our team.

In this installment of “Behind the Build,” we spotlight Linda Staszak, Gallagher and Henry’s director of operations. Linda joined Gallagher and Henry in June 1972 and has spent much of the last five decades becoming Gallagher and Henry’s resident Swiss Army knife – a dynamic, uber-enthusiastic soul handling any task thrown her way. She adds a touch of whimsy to her emails by using Comic Sans font, devours novels, and enjoys a slice of chocolate cake every now and again.  

What did you know of Gallagher and Henry when you applied for a job with the company as a soon-to-be high school graduate in 1972?

I was raised on the southwest side of Chicago and in 1966 my family moved into the Crestline community located just west of a Gallagher and Henry subdivision known as Bogan Manor. The Gallagher and Henry homes were the most desirable homes in the neighborhood, so I was naturally excited about the opportunity to work with one of the most recognized homebuilders and businesses in the area.

What position did you apply for and what were your earliest responsibilities?

I applied for a secretary/bookkeeper position and Gallagher and Henry co-founders Bob Gallagher and Dan Henry conducted my interview. Mr. Gallagher called me back that same evening and offered me the job. Truth be told, I thanked him for the offer, but told him the commute – I had interviewed at the company’s offices at 79th and Pulaski not far from my home, but was told that the company would soon be moving to a new office in Countryside – would be too far. He must have interpreted that as a negotiation maneuver, so he offered me a higher salary. After deliberating for a bit, I decided to give it a try and accepted the position. I started out typing 40-plus hours a week and taking shorthand during meetings. After a few months, the person who handled the closing document preparation took ill and I transitioned into that role.

Did you find the work and the company interesting?

Every aspect of the construction process was fascinating to me and I couldn’t absorb the information fast enough. I worked much of the time directly with Mr. Gallagher and he was an excellent mentor who shared so many lessons applicable to business and life. I consider myself an “alum” of the University of Bob Gallagher.

Having been with Gallagher and Henry nearly 50 years, does that excitement remain?

Absolutely. There’s never a dull moment and our industry has endured various cycles over the 48 years I have been with Gallagher and Henry. The most enjoyable times are when new construction experiences a surge, whether due to the economy, a new home plan, or the debut of a desirable new community. Watching a family go through the process of their dream home becoming a reality never gets old and to also see this company transition from the founders to a second-generation now putting its mark on the business has been amazing to follow.

Speaking of that longevity, what has been so neat about seeing Gallagher and Henry grow through the decades?

It’s easily been the long term relationships we have cultivated with clients. We have constructed homes for clients who were born in Gallagher and Henry homes and also built second and third homes for the same family. It’s not uncommon that previous homebuyers reconnect with us as they consider downsizing from their more traditional two-story home to one of our more open-concept ranch floor plans.

What is your current role as director of operations like?

It’s a multi-faceted position that touches a little bit of everything related to construction, sales, and marketing. I hold weekly meetings with the construction superintendents for status updates and monthly meetings with the sales staff. I process all new sales contracts, handle all residential processing like the title and closing documentation, and give the green light for construction to start. I will also research new house plans, order advertising media, and update marketing materials. It’s really a potpourri of things that make sure we are an efficient, responsive, and accessible company for our clients and our staff.

What do you think differentiates Gallagher and Henry from other local builders?

Inspired by the offerings they see on HGTV and other home improvement shows, today’s buyers really want to personalize their new home. We take the time to listen to their ideas and turn them into a reality by modifying our home plans to accommodate buyers’ requested changes. As we speak, we are designing a covered patio to accommodate a hot tub and are also working with clients who want to create an additional en suite on the first floor. We work with every client to satisfy their specific needs and wants.

In the Spotlight: Goodings Grove

Gallagher and Henry first proposed the Goodings Grove community in 2000, one year before Homer Glen would complete its historic vote to incorporate as a village. Still the most significant new home development in the history of Homer Glen, Goodings Grove devoted 124 acres of vacant land to residential development, including more than 200 single-family homes and six four-story condominium buildings.

Goodings Grove broke ground in spring 2001 and began welcoming its first residents soon after. The community has been growing and prospering ever since, blending new residents and amenities with the ever-rising appeal of Homer Glen to make Goodings Grove one of the Southland’s most desirable addresses. Prices for new single-family homes in Goodings Grove start at $441,800.

Find Goodings Grove: Goodings Grove community is located east of Bell Road on 143rd Street.

Sister Communities: Goodings Grove is one of two Gallagher and Henry communities in Homer Glen. Its sibling community, Kingston Hills, sits approximately one mile to the south.

What’s in a Name: The name Goodings Grove derives from the area’s long-held status as a census-designated place (CDP) in northeastern Will County. CDPs are settled concentrations of population that are identifiable by name, but are not legally incorporated under the laws of a state. With the incorporation of the Village of Homer Glen in 2001, Goodings Grove shed its CDP status. In adopting the name “Goodings Grove” for its residential community, Gallagher and Henry paid homage to the area’s historic moniker.

Fast Fact: At the time it was approved for development, the entire Goodings Grove community consumed nearly 200 acres. While Gallagher and Henry dedicated 124 acres to residential development, the remaining 73 acres was earmarked for commercial space. The Goodings Grove commercial development at 143rd Street and Bell Road currently hosts a Meijer store, The Home Depot, and numerous other retail and dining establishments.

The Great Outdoors: Honoring Homer Glen’s motto of “Community and Nature … in Harmony,” the Goodings Grove community features more than 40 acres of green space, including the 3.5-acre Goodings Grove Park that opened in 2017. The nearly $500,000 project features a walking path, two playgrounds, a full basketball court, and a picnic shelter.

Super Schools: Goodings Grove families and school-aged residents have access to accomplished public schools. Both Homer Community Consolidated School District 33C, which serves some 3,800 preK-8 students, and the 3,800-student Lockport Township High School District 205 outpace state averages in English Language Arts, Math, and Science proficiency.

Happy in Homer Glen: In its most recent National Citizen Survey, more than 90 percent of Homer Glen residents rated the village as a “good” or “excellent” place to live and raise a family. Residents also gave the village stellar marks for safety, ease of travel, K-12 education, and the natural environment. Nine out of 10 residents, meanwhile, reported they would recommend living in Homer Glen to others.

A homeowner’s perspective: “Strangers have become friends and we feel like we’re on vacation. We love it here – the shopping that’s nearby, less traffic, and a peaceful feel,” Maureen G. says.

Interested in learning more about Goodings Grove? The sales office is open Thursday-Sunday from 9am-5pm. To schedule a visit or to request additional information, please contact the Goodings Grove sales office at (708) 301-9790 or here.

Here to Stay: These Home Trends Aren’t Going Anywhere

Once upon a time, homeowners covered up hardwood floors with carpeting, scoffed at the notion of a three-car garage, and paid little attention to a home’s energy-efficient attributes. As the years passed, however, hardwood flooring gained favor, homeowners clamored for extra garage space, and energy efficiency became engrained in the American consciousness.

While home trends regularly come and go, some elements have firmly established themselves as mainstays. Award-winning homebuilder Gallagher and Henry, meanwhile, has responded by incorporating such elements into its homes as standard features, confident that these one-time trends hold lasting power.

Here to Stay: Energy Efficiency
These days, energy efficiency is table stakes. Surrounded by energy-efficient, environmentally friendly messaging across the consumer landscape, from automobiles to appliances to hospitality, homebuyers expect energy-efficient characteristics in their home. In fact, 89 percent of buyers want an energy-efficient home, according to a survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). That includes features such as ENERGY STAR-rated windows and appliances, efficient lighting, high R-value insulation, and tight construction practices.

All newly built Gallagher and Henry homes carry the ENERGY STAR label. Independently tested by a third-party Home Energy Rater, ENERGY STAR-qualified homes meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s stringent guidelines for energy efficiency, which reduces a home’s utility costs, ensures a more comfortable home, and contributes to a healthier environment.

Here to Stay: Hardwood Floors
A generation ago, carpet was the norm in many Chicago area homes. While hardwood flooring gained traction in the early 2000s, it is now the prevailing underfoot choice with 83 percent of homebuyers wanting hardwood flooring, according to NAR data. Though certain colors, plank sizes, or species of wood flow in and out of style, hardwood is expected to maintain its popularity for the long haul. In addition to being more durable than carpeting and better for those with allergies, hardwood offers a cleaner, more textured look and can rather easily exist within any decorating style, from modern to farmhouse chic.

In its six Lifestyle Series home plans, Gallagher and Henry supplies 2-1/4 inch hardwood as a standard feature in the home’s foyer, main hallway, kitchen, dinette, and mudroom. All floors are sanded and varnished on site in the color of the homebuyers’ choice.

Here to Stay: Brick Construction
Despite rampant innovation in exterior materials like vinyl siding, brick continues to be the preferred exterior material for homes – and particularly so in the Chicago area market that birthed the brick bungalow. Brick speaks to sturdiness, quality, and durability as well as authenticity, environmentalism, and aesthetics. In addition, brick is low maintenance and offers cost-saving energy efficiency.

In 1954, Gallagher and Henry used brick to construct its first homes near Chicago’s Midway Airport. Today, the company continues favoring brick construction. All new Gallagher and Henry-built homes feature brick on all four sides of the home’s first-floor exterior.

Here to Stay: Kitchen Islands
Kitchen islands were first introduced into residential construction in the 1970s and gained popularity in subsequent decades. A place for residents or guests to congregate, kitchen islands also provided extra counter space for meal prep and added extra cabinetry to a kitchen as well. In more recent times, islands have become bigger while more daring design choices with cabinets or countertops have elevated the island as a kitchen focal point.

Gallagher and Henry has heeded the call for kitchen islands, as its five most recent Lifestyle Series home plans – the Briarcliffe, Calysta, Danbury, Eden, and Fremont – all host kitchen islands for added work, storage, and congregation space. In fact, Gallagher and Henry doubled down on kitchen islands – quite literally – in its new Fremont ranch plan that features two kitchen islands, including one with a sink and dishwasher.

Here to Stay: Walk-In Pantries
In a recent report from the National Association of Home Builders, buyers identified a walk-in pantry as their most coveted kitchen feature. And for good reason. As the kitchen and its cabinets can quickly become crowded with pots and pans, cereal boxes, kitchen gadgets, food storage containers, glassware, and the like, a walk-in pantry provides extra – and convenient – storage space.

In a number of its Lifestyle Series home plans, including the Amberwood and Fremont ranch plans as well as the Briarcliffe two-story, Gallagher and Henry has dedicated space to walk-in pantries.

Here to Stay: Front Porches
As far back as the Victorian homes that peppered historic American towns, front porches have enjoyed a prominent spot on the nation’s real estate scene. Interest in front porches, however, has accelerated over the last decade. Data from the New Home Source Insights Panel shows a steady uptick in front porches since 2005 and finds that nearly half of new homebuyers are willing to pay extra for the covered outdoor space. The novel coronavirus pandemic, meanwhile, has only intensified homebuyers’ desire for outdoor spaces, particularly in the front of the home where residents can interact with neighbors and cultivate a deeper sense of community.

Noting both the community-driving aspect of front porches as well as their architectural appeal, Gallagher and Henry has introduced home plans that include front porches. Both the Briarcliffe and Calysta, a pair of two-story home plans from Gallagher and Henry’s Lifestyle Series, feature rather spacious front porches for relaxation and gathering.

Here to Stay: Three-Car Garages
Once seen as a luxury, three-car garages have gained heightened importance among homeowners, especially two-car (or more) households. An additional bay provides indoor parking for a third car, while the added space can also be used to create accessible storage for bikes, lawn equipment, patio chairs, holiday decorations, sports equipment, and more.

When Gallagher and Henry surveyed homebuyers in 2010 to inform the development of its Lifestyle Series of home plans, respondents overwhelmingly identified three-car garages as a highly desired feature. Gallagher and Henry then responded by installing three-car garages as standard features in all Lifestyle Series home plans.

Here to Stay: Basements
Basements have long been a part of Chicago area homes, though their reputation as dark, damp, and enclosed spaces was well earned. And yet, basements offered additional and flexible space that could accommodate fitness equipment or children’s toys and be used for entertainment, storage, or hobbies. Homeowners continue expressing interest in basements as comfortable blank-canvas spaces for their specific household’s needs.

Bolstered by construction technology and civic projects, including overhead sewers, the basements of today’s Gallagher and Henry homes are a distant cry from those of yesteryear. With higher ceilings and more natural light, the full basements present in all of Gallagher and Henry’s Lifestyle Series home plans provide homeowners added living space to address any of their needs or wishes.

Why That Fixer Upper Isn’t Such a Steal

In any given community, the price of existing on-the-market properties will almost always sit below the cost of newly built homes. Comparatively, that 15-year-old home on a cul-de-sac lot seems like a steal. But dig a little deeper and the value of a new Gallagher and Henry home – both in dollars and cents and quality of life – begins to shine through.

Consider this example:

A New Home at Covington Knolls: $495,000

At Covington Knolls in Lemont, the Briarcliffe, a 4-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home covering 2,732 square feet, starts at $495,000. The home includes:

• An open-concept floor plan that includes an oversized kitchen island, dinette area, and spacious family room
• A luxurious en suite that includes two walk-in closets and a bathroom featuring a soaker tub, walk-in shower, and water closet
• A flex room buyers can adapt to their specific household’s needs
• A formal dining room that can be used for entertaining or converted into a home office
• Three second-floor bedrooms with walk-in closets
• A second-floor laundry room
• A three-car garage, mudroom, and full basement
• Face brick on all four sides of the home
• A large suburban lot with a concrete driveway
• Central air conditioning, copper water lines, and gas-forced air heating
ENERGY STAR certification, which Gallagher and Henry achieved by employing high-quality construction practices, installing energy-efficient appliances, and using energy-efficient materials, such as Andersen low-e windows, insulated patio doors, 10-inch thick, insulated concrete foundations, and cellulose insulation
• A limestone address block
Interior selections made by YOU, including flooring, countertops, wood cabinets, tile, and more

The Existing Home in Lemont: $500,000+

Now, let’s explore the cost and potential expenses of an existing home in the same southwest suburban community. As of March 2020, Zillow’s Home Value Index pegs the median value of a four-bedroom, single-family home in Lemont at:


Want to remodel the outdated kitchen? According to Home Advisor, the average national cost of a kitchen remodel is $25,273. Expect to eat takeout for weeks and see your home investment climb to:


What about remodeling a bathroom? That runs $10,563 per bathroom. Let’s keep it to the en suite for now, though. The first-floor powder room and second-story hallway bath will have to keep their outdated vanities and gaudy tile for now. Renovating a home to your tastes, after all, can be expensive. Your new investment:


Ah, the home’s flooring is outdated – a $2,936 project – and the walls need a fresh coat of paint to the tune of $1,803. The mustard yellow living room walls just weren’t cutting it for you. The investment:


Older homes come with ongoing maintenance costs, too. The furnace, air conditioning unit, and water heater are all 15+ years old. Your utility costs climb with the outdated mechanicals struggling to operate at peak efficiency. All three will need to be replaced. A new furnace runs $4,399. A new air conditioning unit sets you back $5,623. And a new water heater costs $1,062. The tally is rising and your investment is now:


The Verdict

To bring this existing four-bedroom Lemont home up to par with the aforementioned Briarcliffe, you’ve now spent nearly $500,000 – more than the cost of the new, never-before-lived-in home Gallagher and Henry was offering in the established Covington Knolls community. In addition, you’ve spent time tracking down contractors and corralling estimates, turned your home upside down with projects, and endured the stress renovations inevitably bring.

By investing in a new, move-in ready home, you escape the frustration, inconvenience, and expense of remodeling and immediately inhabit a home created in your image. You can also expect 10-15 years of minimal maintenance costs, as a newly constructed Gallagher and Henry home includes new mechanicals, a one-year home warranty, and a track record of quality craftsmanship that spans nearly seven decades.

So, as it turns out, the real steal isn’t the fixer upper; it’s the new home.