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Northbrook IL 60062
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Since 1988, Canada & Klein, Ltd. has been serving the Greater Chicago area by providing the highest level of craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Whether it's a remodeling project, addition or custom home construction for which you already have architectural plans, or a design/build project for which we can provide both the architectural and construction services, Canada & Klein has a proven track record of successful projects.

Owned by Jeffrey Cohen, the firm has a strong commitment to preserving the natural environment, conserving natural resources and protecting the health of its clients. Depending upon a client's needs and interests, Canada & Klein can offer a variety of products or equipment that promote energy efficiency, use recycled materials and create a healthy indoor environment.

Canada & Klein was given an outstanding rating in the Franklin Report, which also noted:

"When clients say adding a room or having their home remodeled was 'a great experience' and that their contractor was 'fun to have around,' they've either gone over the edge, or possibly used Canada & Klein for the work. The comments are real and typical of the raves we hear about this firm and its principal Jeff Cohen. Cited again and again for outstanding quality and attention to detail, Canada & Klein earns its stripes from the Gold Coast to Lake Forest, revitalizing grand Victorians, tailoring smart penthouse interiors and giving growing families more breathing room...Architects tell us Canada & Klein is on their permanent bidding list, primarily, but not just because the firm's work is of such high quality. Cohen and crew exhibit an eye for architecture and creativity with carpentry and are also punctual, trustworthy, and easy to work with. Cohen himself visits the job sites every day and always returns calls promptly. While Canada & Klein isn't the least expensive of contracting companies, its pricing is said to be realistic and fair - another good reason why many people who have used the firm once, call on it again when the need arises."

Meet Jeff Cohen

Jeff Cohen

In the 1980s, while Jeff Cohen was practicing law in Chicago, he was also renovating two and three flat buildings in Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park and starting a family. He found more joy in solving the exhilarating problems of renovating old buildings than he did in writing briefs. So in 1987 he took the risky step of leaving the law firm to apprentice with a North Shore builder. In that year he learned a great deal about construction and developed his own best practices.

Jeff founded his own north suburban Chicago custom construction company, Canada & Klein Ltd. in 1988. Many people ask about the origin of the company name. This is the story: One of Jeff's great-grandfathers, Louis Klein, emigrated from Eastern Europe through Canada in the late nineteenth century and settled in the midwest - thus, the inspiration for Canada & Klein, Ltd. The maple leaf on the logo is not only a nod to the country of Canada, but also an allusion to Jeff's long standing interest in sustainability and environmentally conscious lifestyles.

Every aspect of construction poses interesting options. Part of Jeff's enthusiasm for the job stems from the need for creative solutions for unusual challenges. One client asked Jeff to construct his master bath in a Japanese style which would feature a large window in the shower with a view of the homeowners' moss garden. That request was straight forward enough and easily accommodated. The problem was that the steam from the shower fogged up the window and obscured the view of the garden. Jeff went to the internet and, after several days of research and phone calls, was able to persuade a medical supply company to sell him a certain kind of film that is used on physicians' surgical goggles to keep them from fogging during surgery. The film worked effectively on the bathroom window, the client was happy, and Jeff had lots of fun!

There are a vast array of products and services available to builders and homeowners today. It is a challenge to stay informed and to weigh the options available for the successful completion of each project. Many of the most exciting products today are designed to make energy use more efficient and cleaner. It is very satisfying to build beautiful homes and workplaces for our clients' changing needs that consume fewer resources and pollute less than ever before. Jeff never stops learning and never gets bored.

Jeff Cohen serves as a General Contractor in Chicago

If you are working with an architect of your choice and have plans ready for construction, Canada & Klein can serve as General Contractor to complete your project. Canada & Klein will use its breadth of experience, skill and knowledge to assist you and your architect to construct a durable, efficient and beautiful home.

What does a General Contractor do?

When we work with clients in the capacity of a general contractor we are hired to oversee the construction of a residential or small commercial project in of any size from waterproofing a basement or replacing windows to a single room renovation or addition or building a whole new house. The GC's responsibilities include:

  • Obtaining multiple estimates (costs based on the work specified on the architectural plans) from licensed and insured subcontractors such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, flooring and tile installers among many other trades
  • Assembling the most cost-and-value-efficient estimate for each trade into a total contract price for the client's approval
  • Managing the contracts of all the chosen sub-contractor tradespeople
  • Obtaining the required permits and becoming familiar with local building codes
  • Scheduling the sub-contractor work and overseeing every step of the construction process from preparation and protection of the site through final inspections, clean-up and 'tweaks.'
  • Communicating constantly with the architect or designer and the client to answer questions and facilitate on-site adjustments
  • Providing construction expertise and solving on-site problems as the giant jigsaw puzzle that is modern construction is assembled. Each piece of that puzzle from excavation, sewer, concrete, framing, roofing, insulation, windows, electricity, plumbing and HVAC to flooring, tile, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, appliances, hardware, paint and landscaping must be installed as perfectly as possible for a successful completion of the project.
  • Processing all the paperwork that is generated by the purchase of materials and the labor of sub-contractors, managing the payments made by the client and paying the sub-contractors in a timely and equitable manner What if you don't have a preferred architect or don't know how to choose an architect for your project?

Canada & Klein has completed many projects of all sizes and complexity working in tandem with the architect to serve our clients. We have worked with many fine architects throughout the city of Chicago and the northern suburbs. We can help you locate an architectural firm that meets your needs both stylistically and with respect to the scope of services it offers.

Jeff Cohen
new construction

Custom homes by Canada & Klein

The construction of a new home is similar to producing a new baby. The process is long and arduous - sometimes even longer than nine months - and it demands a commitment to planning and making thoughtful and far-reaching choices. Towards the end of the production, some of the participants wonder why they ever initiated such a project. But when the house is complete, fresh and clean, and featuring the dreams and idiosyncrasies of that particular family, production fatigue is replaced by pride and pleasure.

It is exhilarating to be part of a team that creates something as large and significant as a new home, especially when the homeowners' tastes and needs are taken into consideration in its design. Because the planning process is so crucial, it is important to trust in the skill of the designer to foresee how the lines on paper will take shape in space. It is equally important to trust in the skill of the builder to oversee every step of construction and to have the experience to offer thoughtful on-site solutions to the inevitable adjustments required.

Canada & Klein serves an area of metropolitan Chicago where there is little undeveloped land. Therefore constructing a new building nearly always involves the deconstruction of an existing structure (see our "Green Building" section for information on recycling material from the old structure.) Between initial planning and final application for the Certificate of Occupancy, the following is some of the work that is usually particular to new home construction:

Termination of all existing utilities Installation of a temporary electric service Having asbestos testing done (and removed, if present) on the home Obtaining a demolition permit from the County Removing all trees and landscaping that are in the proposed footprint of the new home Installation of all site engineering (storm sewers, manholes, downspout connections) Installation of new water, sewer, electric and gas mains from the street Obtaining interim/preliminary surveys during construction Maintaining construction fencing and driveway Coordinatation of phone, cable, satellite TV connections Finish grading and landscaping the site per the approved civil engineering drawings

While every community has its own particular rules for new construction, almost all have some variation of the same set of issues and rules. Our experience in working in the City of Chicago as well as in most North Shore communities is a real benefit to the homeowner who is building a new home. We have seen it all and know how to get it done.


Remodeling & Additions Enhance Older Homes & Condos

At some point, every house needs an update. Chicago's climate is very hard on house exteriors. Sometimes exterior work is undertaken to repair or add architectural details. Homeowners want to freshen the look of the interior or to update the function of a room. Room sizes or traffic flow just don't work anymore and need to be adjusted. Whatever the reason, remodeling and additions to an existing home require something most new home builders don't have' patience. In general it is more difficult to transform a dated and dysfunctional space into a beautiful and useful one than it is to create new space from the ground up. These are some of the challenges facing the professional remodeler:

Most remodeling and addition building is undertaken in homes where the owners continue to reside during construction.

  • The work site and adjacent spaces must be carefully tended to limit access by pets and children. 
  • The work site must be kept clean and orderly so no one is hurt. 
  • The existing house must be protected from damage during the construction.
  • Existing mechanical systems must be evaluated, revised and reworked so that they can work efficiently and effectively with the new interior plan. 
  • The idiosyncracies of the original home must be carefully considered when connecting the new addition.

All of these things require a general contractor who has experience, skill and the patience for follow-through. Since 1988, Canada & Klein has been remodeling homes and condos and taking care of the clients who reside there during construction. Let us show you how it is done.

design build

Design/Build: An Efficient, Cost-Effective Construction Method

What is design/build? Some describe it as the answer to a homeowner's prayer. Others describe it as a savings of time and money.

Design/build is a process during which an entire remodeling project - from the initial design concepts, drawings and budgets to permits, regulations and zoning laws to actual construction and final walk through - is organized and performed by a single entity, a single point of contact, a single point of responsibility. That single point is Canada & Klein, Ltd. The efficiency of this process allows for tight control of costs; management of the construction schedule; and a quick turn-around between design, construction and completion.

Canada & Klein has been supplying design/build services to our clients since before the term came into common usage. Throughout decades of years of experience working with talented architects and designers, with skilled tradespeople and with clients who have great taste, Jeff Cohen has built a team of professionals who can translate ideas and dreams into beautiful, comfortable, and energy efficient living and working spaces. Whether the client desires a room renovation, an addition to an existing home or a newly consructed house, Canada & Klein's design/build services provide the solution to what can be a very complicated problem.

What if the clients aren't sure about exactly what they want?

The design team has worked in as many and as varied styles and conditions as exist in Greater Chicago. The design/ build team can help you discover where your peferences lie if you are not sure, or they can expose you to new ideas and new products even if the clients do have stylistic predilections or constraints.

The cost of the design process and the build process are not segregated. The entire process from brain-storming to final certificate of occupancy is contained in one integrated contract price.

As the design is being developed, the client's budget is shaping the choices that are under consideration. Canada Klein's experience with the real costs of every phase of construction keeps the process of making selections realistic. Why fall in love with costly custom cabinets if semi-custom cabinetry is the affordable option? On the other hand, if custom cabinets or gorgeous mosaic stone tile or photo-voltaic panels are the client's hearts desire, our team can save money in one area to make that dream option available in another area.

The design/build approach can save money. The builder can recommend to the design team alternative construction methods or materials that attain the same function or esthetic equivalent at a lesser cost. The design/build approach is time efficient. The design need not be retooled to be buildable. The builder need not refer to the designer with endless questions and concerns once the project is under construction.

Using Green Building Technologies in the Chicago Area

For decades, quality construction materials and techniques stayed remarkably similar. Then, due to concerns over changes to the climate and the costs of energy, the old standards were questioned. What is a better insulation? How best could these better insulations be installed? What is the cost and payback? What if the heat always present in the ground was used to heat and cool buildings? How can the energy of the sun be utilized? Could the sun be used to heat domestic hot water and/or power the electricity in buildings? Could it be done successfully in metropolitan Chicago construction?

Jeff Cohen has considered questions like these and embraced the possibilities. Jeff has attended design/build courses in photovoltaic (using the sun's energy to generate electricity) and solar thermal (using the sun's energy to heat water) technologies from Solar Energy International and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. He has attended numerous conferences and seminars presented by construction associations and the US Green Building Council.

New techniques and products are everywhere. Unfortunately, not all builders embrace change. The excuses are numerous. Builders usually say that the reason they continue to do things the way they always have is that new techniques or products are... too expensive, too difficult, not available, haven't heard about it, don't know where to get it...

In one project, Canada & Klein and its clients decided to disassemble an existing house rather than using a backhoe and carting the demolished structure to a landfill. Undeniably, disassembling the house took longer and was more expensive. However, due to a Federal tax code provision, a very substantial tax credit was available. The vast bulk of the house was recycled. It made good economic sense and was good for the planet.

Why don't more people do this? We all have heard it before. Too much work, too difficult, too slow, too expensive. These comments are simply wrong. It just takes some thought, a little initiative and the desire to explore the possibility of a more sustainable ethic of consumption. An energy efficient home need not look ultra-contemporary - although Canada & Klein admires that look. All four of the newly constructed houses in which Canada & Klein has installed energy saving systems are traditionally styled.

At Canada & Klein, we are continually seeking out new products and techniques. We are also staying informed of the rebates and tax credits offered by the state and federal governments. It seems that our clients now are also embracing these green technologies. The most effective insulation available, closed cell foam, has been used on many of our projects. We have introduced geothermal heating and cooling to our clients and have installed it in four new construction projects. Once our clients are educated about the importance of fresh air in their homes, they often decide to include energy recovery ventilators in the project. In addition to the products and technologies that save money and make homes more comfortable, our clients are interested in the use of recycled products, and they are asking questions about the sustainability of new products.

Canada & Klein believes that architects, contractors and homeowners should explore the new construction products and techniques that are out there. If even some of those things are used in a project, we will all be better off because of it.


built green
urban construction

Urban Construction Offers Unique Challenges

What distinguishes urban from suburban construction is the increased difficulty of even modest renovations. Many contractors refuse to work in the city because of the complications. Traffic is more congested for longer periods, and parking is an ongoing problem for the trades. Houses are closer together which limits access. Locating or making space for stockpiled material is much more problematic. The security of stockpiled materials and tools is a constant consideration. The integrity of adjacent foundations is always a concern. Inspections are difficult to schedule and obtain. The inevitable trash that is generated must be dealt with promptly and efficiently and often by elevator in a high-rise. Issues that are not that much of a concern when the construction occurs in the suburbs can be of critical concern in the city.

Canada & Klein has remodeled houses, town houses and condominiums. Canada & Klein has built additions and new homes. We know the important questions that must be asked and answered correctly.

For new homes and additions:

  • How close are the adjacent foundations?
  • Is an engineer needed to plan shoring so that no harm occurs to adjacent properties?
  • What are the names of the adjacent landowners?
  • Can we get their approval for access to their property for some of our work?
  • Do we have room for a dumpster on the site or will we need to take other measures?
  • Are there any local parking restrictions?

For condominiums:

  • What are the buildings' by-laws regarding remodeling work?
  • Where is the construction elevator?
  • When is it available?
  • Must elevator use be scheduled?
  • Does the building have parking available?
  • What are the building's rules for construction hours, sound-proofing, trash removal, water shut-offs?

Each and every project in Chicago requires careful consideration and planning so that all city based issues are minimized. Canada & Klein's experience and attention to these details is our clients' best protection against an eagerly anticipated project turning into an aggravating experience.