egent Custom Homes is new only in name to the Chicago area home building industry. Regent President Bob Calzaretta has long been recognized as one of the north suburbs' top builders of fine custom homes, and is now taking his nearly quarter-century of experience to an elite market of home buyers.

The incorporation of Regent Custom Homes represents yet another venture into the avocation that has become Calzaretta's life's work. As president of Calia Development Corp. for 13 years while also president of Regent Marketing Associates - a consulting firm serving both buyers and builders - he has marketed, sold and built an extraordinary portfolio of extraordinary custom homes.

Combining the home building and marketing firms is a natural partnership, explains Bob. "What Regent Custom Homes is marketing now are homes at the very pinnacle of the industry. Both the marketing and building operations are focused almost exclusively on homes selling in the millions of dollars."

Calzaretta points out that today's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, retired executives have determined that the rewards for their success can be built into a home embodying all of the features they've ever wanted. Regent Custom Homes builds homes for just these buyers.

"Our clients have built their own or former businesses with the idea that only the best is good enough," says Bob. "And they've brought that same concept to their personal lifestyle. They want to live in homes that reflect their success and status, homes that afford them and their families an unparalleled quality of life."

To say that Regent Custom Homes epitomize the ultimate in design and craftsmanship for luxury living would be an understatement. One of Regent's most recent projects is an 8,500 sq.ft. home on a very private 10-site situated on the tip of lake peninsula. This $2.5 million estate features a classic revival style architecture, elegantly combining brick with cast stone on the exterior, complemented by an open, contemporary floor plan. Two libraries, private guest suite, theater, exercise rooms, maids quarters and an elevator are just a few of the homes luxurious features. The Scholz Design home was featured in an east coast home show last year.

Nothing, of course, is left to chance when building such high-end homes. Calzaretta explains that subcontractors and specialty building teams are handpicked for their experience and expertise.

"In the customer niche we've targeted, you don't 'hire' subcontractors. You partner with top building professionals, the best in the business, and work as a team from the first day forward."

Before designs are even reviewed, Calzaretta usually visits clients in their present home to get a feel for their lifestyle and neighborhood environment.

"All of our clients have very specific ideas about what they want," he notes. "Aside from actually building the home incorporating those features, our job is to interpret what the buyer's dreams are and realistically bring those elements together. Then we get down to the nuts and bolts of floor plans and drawings." Calzaretta relies on Regent's architects to make suggestions, and on his own experience to make things "work" for the customer.

Scholz Designs, as well as those of other luxury home designers and in Calzaretta's own portfolio, are frequently modified, scaled down or enhanced to meet those clients' needs. Calzaretta quickly points out, however, that no one home will ideally fit two families. "A truly customized home," he asserts, "is a distinctive reflection of the people living in it." The same design may have been built in Atlanta, Baltimore and/or Los Angeles, he says, but will incorporate the buyer's unique touches and details - inside and out - to make it his or her own.

With such design techniques, Calzaretta emphasizes that Regent Custom Homes isn't creating a new, never-before-built portfolio of luxury homes, nor leaving the buyer to ponder the inevitable question, "What do you want to build?"

Instead, through Regent Marketing Associates, he has gathered (and continues to add to) a collection of the finest, most opulent, must luxurious homes from all over the country. Some homes are already built and on the market; some are occupied and serve as "showcase" homes for new clients; others are under construction. Owners and/or architects of these homes have agreed to let Regent build, modify and further customize the plans for a fee each time a house is built, locally or in another market altogether.

"Everyone benefits," says Calzaretta, "especially the buyer, who saves enormous time and effort in finding their ultimate dream home."

In arranging such agreements through Regent Marketing, no conflicts of interest arise from unauthorized use - intentional or unintentional - of builders' or architects' plans. Those participating in Regent's marketing program get the best of both worlds: They can earn royalties from rebuilding of their plans, and set whatever limitations they believe necessary to maintain the integrity of those plans and their names.

In considering plans from architects and/or builders from all over the country, clients can't always see the finished home "in person." So Regent bridges the gap between imagination and reality, however, via CD-ROM technology.

Prospective buyers can actually "tour" the Barrington Hills home mentioned earlier through an amazing CD-ROM virtual reality presentation that provides a 360-degree view of each room. The buyer, as well as Realtors and other marketing partners, can use the CD as a brochure for the home (and others in Regent's portfolio). Such easy-to-see, easy-to-use, state-of-the-art marketing technology benefits the builders and architects of these best-of-the-best homes as well.

From his start in the home building industry in 1973 as a sales manager for a large national builder, Calzaretta always set his sights high and targeted well-defined market segments one at a time. Noting what he calls "micro marketing techniques and strategies," he founded Regent Marketing Associates in 1981 to develop and offer to other home builders strategic marketing plans for select segments of the market. Calzaretta is responsible for the building and marketing of thousands of homes; he has opened dozens of projects and closed out others with innovative ideas. He has also designed and built hundreds of custom homes receiving numerous awards for excellence in exterior and interior design and construction.

"The 'micro-marketing' concept is simply one of listening to the needs of a specific target market of home buyer, one market at a time," says Calzaretta, "and giving them what they want."

Through Regent Marketing Associates, Calzaretta draws on his own home building background and years of experience to show builders how to deliver that product at the price the buyer wants, and still maintain profitability. Regent also provides a wealth of marketing expertise for production, semi-custom and under-$1,000,000 custom builders who want to complement their lines with high-end ($1,000,000+) homes.

As founder of Calia Development Corp. in 1983, Calzaretta introduced customization of production housing at residential development in Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg. With an already successful background in sales management and builder marketing, he finished the remaining vacant lots in four subdivisions with broad customization of standard plans and introduced many one-of-a-kind homes to the marketplace.

As his homes became larger and more elaborate - and garnered the attention of discriminating, high-end home buyers - Calzaretta decided to pursue that market. He purchased a dozen one-acre lots in South Barrington on which to build even more luxurious spec homes and in 1989 he built his renowned "Chateau Maison" for the Inverness Parade of Homes.

The 7,000-sq.-ft. Gothic-style mansion with turreted entry, which received a number of show honors including Most Unique Exterior Architecture, has become Calzaretta's signature home. Known to both industry peers and northwest suburban residents alike as "The Castle Home," Chateau Maison found its buyer early in the show and been built for three other buyers since. Chateau Maison, along with a dozen other million-dollar-plus homes by other top local builders, helped draw tens of thousands of visitors to the Inverness "show of shows" in three weeks.

Calzaretta continued to build custom homes for markets at both ends of the price spectrum in Cook and McHenry counties through the early and mid-'90s. Calzaretta's experience and expertise served the firm's customers well by bringing together the economy of semi-custom home building and luxuries of elegant custom estates. At the height of his success, in 1990, the builder delivered more than 50 custom homes to satisfied and delighted customers.

In customizing production housing to almost any extent buyers wanted, Calzaretta rebuffed the typical practice of making home buyers choose from a relatively short list of pre-selected options. He pioneered "semi-custom customization" and essentially changed the new home marketplace to the benefit of home buyers. They responded enthusiastically to make the FoxCroft project in Cary a huge success for Calzaretta; buyers snapped up the 69 customized, affordably priced homes.

Positioning the company as the "True Custom Home Builder" for the mid-range market, Calzaretta went on from FoxCroft to build more than 150 such homes in McHenry County, as well as dozens of larger, high-end custom homes throughout the Barrington area. "We built these magnificent homes with the idea that the construction process can only be successful when there is a collaboration between the builder, buyer, architect, tradespeople and suppliers." A warm thank you letter Calzaretta received from one of his customers, noting the "joint effort of buyer and builder to create our dream home," let Calzaretta know he was on the right track. He keeps that letter in his desk, he says, and refers to it often as a reminder of what custom home building is all about.

Acknowledging that there are more home buyers in this highest-end market than he can build for each year, and alluding to the number of master custom home builders he knows, Calzaretta predicts that Regent will become a "bridge" builder.

Calzaretta believes that marketing is building the bridge between the home and home buyer. He plans to enlist the talents of a selected number of his peers to build some of America's finest homes, creating and maintaining that bridge here in the Chicago home building market.

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