For some, the word "development" conjures images of cookie-cutter, pastel houses in neatly ordered rows, surrounded by a sea of Astro-Turf. Hawkeye Development and Builders has a very different vision.

The firm's properties, peppered across the Berkshires from Pittsfield to Great Barrington, boast homes as unique as the households within them. What Hawkeye's houses do share is an unmatched attention to detail, from the floor plan to the finishes. Homeowners have the option of customizing every aspect of production to build the house they've always imagined, or sitting back and letting the experts at Hawkeye create a living space beyond their most luxurious dreams.

The personal treatment

Hawkeye's concierge development service puts the customer at the center of the construction process. "We are very hands on," said General Manager Mike Levesque. "We meet and greet before the home's even wired, and try to go custom from there."

As a result, Hawkeye builds reflect the needs and wants of their clientele, which is primarily second home owners or retirees looking to trade in city life for the wooded quiet of the Berkshires. The typical Hawkeye client wants the very best when it comes to materials and amenities, but they also care about function and accessibility.

First-floor living is a common feature of Hawkeye homes. Situating the master suite on the ground level with the kitchen and living room makes navigating the home easier and safer. "We have built some pretty elaborate lower levels," Levesque said.

Partner Mike Ward pointed to the importance of considering traffic flow in the home — creating a short path from the garage to the kitchen, for instance, to make carrying in groceries easier. "It's simple things," he explained, "but things that make a big difference."

All Hawkeye homes come with attached, oversized two-car garages, for safe and convenient parking no matter how unfriendly the Berkshire weather becomes, and the vast majority include walk-out basements. Optional in-law suites offer visiting family a more dignified alternative to a pull-out sofa in the living room.

Every home is built to surpass the EPA's strict Energy Star efficiency standards. High-efficiency appliances, hybrid water heaters and zoned heating systems cut utility bills significantly. In many cases, these systems are Wi-Fi enabled, and can be controlled from a smartphone. Regular upkeep like lawn care and snow removal are taken care of by HOAs, for maintenance-free living.

The finer things

None of this is to say that Hawkeye's properties are all work and no play. The typical Hawkeye customer has a taste for luxury, and the firm is happy to provide it. "We're primarily a second home builder," Levesque said. "They want `very nice.' They want to go as far as they can go without going over budget."

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This means investing in quality from the foundation up. "Strong building," Levesque calls it. "Strong framing. Strong furnishings." Hawkeye sources most of its materials from local providers, many of whom have worked with the company for years.

Hawkeye's homes take full advantage of the Berkshires' famous scenery. "We try to incorporate the views in everything we build," Levesque said. Patios and screened-in porches make for great spots to take in the natural beauty around each development. Levesque noted that outdoor living was a common target of customization, with customers requesting backyard amenities like fire pits, private pools and even pre-built camping spots.

Inside, the homes feature high ceilings and high-quality finishings, courtesy of the firm's own design center. As Levesque pointed out, Hawkeye's connections within the home design industry give them access to top-notch products at lower prices than a customer could get purchasing for themselves.

Each of Hawkeye's developments has its own unique extras: Lenox Landings sits across the street from the newly opened Wyndhurst Manor & Club (formerly Cranwell); Devon Meadow, in Lee, is just five minutes away from Wyndhurst; and The Estates at Barrington Brook, in Great Barrington, offers peaceful, wooded lots along Long Pond Creek while still being just minutes from downtown. And, for a limited time, when you reach out to the developer at 800-436-4695, your home purchase includes a one-year membership to the resort with access to the golf course, fitness center and other amenities.

The only way to truly sample each development's individual flavor is to visit in person. Hawkeye offers 24/7 concierge appointments to view sample homes and to discuss design possibilities. "These are all details that we like to go over personally," Levesque said.

Unusual times

COVID-19 jostled every industry out of its usual mode of operations, home building included.

While a typical build takes about six to nine months to complete, the pandemic has slowed down the process considerably. Banks unable to conduct business in person are struggling to keep up, leading to a backlog of appraisals. On the job site, social distancing requirements limit the number of people who can work at one time. COVID-specific PPE is required for construction as well as in-person client meetings.

There have been positive developments, however. After massive outbreaks in densely populated cities like New York and Boston, more rural regions such as the Berkshires have taken on a new layer of appeal. Urban residents concerned for their health see the area as a way to stay safe while remaining within a few hours' drive of the city. With work-from-home policies likely to remain popular even after the pandemic has passed, living full-time in the Berkshires is even more feasible.

Despite the pandemic's challenges, progress continues on Hawkeye's newest properties. Potential homeowners eager to skip the construction process are in luck: Lenox Landings has one move-in-ready home available for purchase; Devon Meadow has two finished properties that are ready to move into. If a one-of-a-kind, character-filled spin on condominium calls to you, Levesque encourages you to reach out and schedule a private tour at 800-436-4695. Pictures alone can't capture the personality of each development, he said, adding, "you absolutely have to come down and see it."

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