30 Years of Helping People Build Their Dream Homes

30 Years of Helping People Build Their Dream Homes

Show Notes: We discuss how our 30 years of experience will assist in building your dream home.


Steve Tuma: Something which is interesting, a lot of people think, well I’ve never built anything, I’ve never swung a hammer. We have a lot of extremely successful customers that have been successful in building because they understand the management of a project.

Interviewer: Hi everybody and thank you for joining us for episode 52 of the panelized prefab kit home building show. With me as always is the president and founder of Landmark Home and Land Company, a company which has been helping people build their new homes where they want, exactly as they want, nationwide and around the globe since 1993. Mr. Steve Tuma and Steve you must be proud this is the 30th anniversary of Landmark, that’s pretty cool.

Steve Tuma: Yeah yeah a couple weeks ago it’s kind of weird I woke up and I was like something’s up today what’s going on and then like oh it’s a birthday you know and it’s kind of interesting because I remember starting the company and working through different growth phases, coming up with new products, expanding across the country, working internationally in different places and you kind of look back and go this is cool. Yeah. It’s amazing and just the knowledge and attitude we’ve developed to help people really get their house projects going.

Interviewer: You know it’s one thing I found kind of interesting is that sometimes it seems like the companies that are family-owned, family-started, are the ones that last forever. What do you think that is?

Steve Tuma: Well there there’s more of a desire for long-term planning. It’s not like you know let’s do something today and hurt us tomorrow. It’s like let’s do something today that benefits our customers today, next week, next month and tomorrow. And when you’re in for the long run it’s just like compounding money. You’re compounding goodwill, you’re compounding knowledge, you’re compounding the methods of helping customers and refining your product and services as you move along. So I think that’s the difference is we’ve had some customers, I’m not suggesting anyone try to break this record, but took ten and a half years of working with us before they actually signed the contract. Because they had to go through this, then they had to go through this, then this happened, then a little bit of this happened, and then they had to get their land and you know so it goes through. So this isn’t something where you’re like hey honey on the way home pick up a gallon of milk. You know people think about it. It’s a big step, big step. Yeah but it’s a big step but it’s also a beneficial situation. It’s a situation where you build and get a new home, save some money, get some equity, control the quality and get the house you want instead of someone convincing you that you need a house. It’s kind of like sticking a square peg in a round hole type of thing. It’s like why not just get the house you want.

Interviewer: I wanted to start off this episode by asking you about something you have listed on your website. Something called standardized plans and I think what that is, is plans that are generic but still they need to be updated for local building departments, code applications, specific building sites. Can we get into that with you exactly? How standardized plans start from a certain space and how they can change along the way?

Steve Tuma: That’s something what happens. There’s websites all over and some of them are actually decent but people will have a set of plans that they’ll buy and they’ll be like well I paid whatever I got them online and here’s a set of plans and they must be good for the building department. Maybe they are and most likely they’re not. So you never know. It really comes down to what the building department needs but even so sometimes these plans are drawn up for the purpose of selling them online instead of really having the details of what’s there for building departments, any changes that you may want and real structural concerns.

Everyone I’ve seen I should say has stuff saying you should run it by a structural engineer, that they’re not necessarily designed for your building department. They might be designed for one town in America and so what are the chances that someone designed it for one town in America that it fits your code? But also building departments are getting more and more sophisticated even in places where they may not have been sophisticated 5-10 years ago where they need different details, they need sections, they need accuracy. They don’t want plans that say size of beam to be determined, trusses by designer. The building department wants to see the trusses, the building department wants to know what beam you’re using. So sometimes those standardized plans are kind of generic for the purpose of maybe an idea but generally we have found our customers want to know exactly what they’re building. They want to know what the ceilings are right. They don’t want to look at a plans and say optional. What does that mean? So if you give them a builder he gets to make the option and say oh this is easy for me, you’re not getting your cathedral ceiling. So that’s one of these things. So they’re kind of a generic guidepost on building. A lot of people think that plans are there to get your building department to approve them. That’s a portion of it.

We believe that the plans are there so that the customer understands what needs to be built as the financing source, as the building department and any contractors involved as well as us. So when you have a standardized plan they’re not likely to be detailed to the degree that you will really need so you know what is being built. So it’s a variety of situations. It’s code applications, building department requirements, clarity for your contractors, clarity for yourself. You know so you know what’s being built. You should you should know what’s on your plan set. You shouldn’t look at your plan set and said room size to be determined, ceiling height to be determined, trusses to be determined. A lot of people think well a truss it’s just a truss. Well no it isn’t. It could have a tray ceiling, it could have a cathedral ceiling, it could have an energy heel on it. There’s a lot of details that that can be worked out but that’s that’s where we come in. We can help. We don’t expect every customer to know every single detail. We just want to get an idea and then help them move along for the plan set.

Interviewer: And you’re talking details like details that are very specific like like working with contractors or the or the you know trying to get building departments things like that. But let’s let’s move over to the details of the build and I mean things like ceilings, walls, windows, you know roof structures, relationship to the foundation. How does Landmark go about helping the customer know exactly what they’re building so they can be like you just said a customer wants to be clear and they want to be clear in their own mind as well as you know with the contractor working one on one and everybody isn’t just standing around guessing on a build site.

Steve Tuma: Right that’s what we do is we kind of plug in where the customers ideas where they’re formulated and then we get them you know across the line. So customer may have the general concepts of what’s there but they probably haven’t thought about grade, drainage plans, gutters, how to how to attach a beam. They might not have thought too much about the windows. You know windows are the perfect thing. People go through and say oh just put a standard window in. Well window manufacturers do not have standard sizes. Right. So they might have a window that’s three by five but is that the rough opening size or is that the window size? Right. Or is it a slightly different size if it’s a casement window versus a single hung? Mm-hmm. So it’s all those little details that once we work with the customer in a process that we have that’s a proven process to help them get the information as we need it through the design process so that they’re not out there you know they’re ordering windows and suddenly the wrong size window comes in. Right. So there’s a lot of little tricks and nuances that that we can help make it easy for them. So in a sense we kind of help coach them through different situations see what’s going on and take it from there. Like ceiling ceilings it’s you know it’s something people to understand more. Some people be like I just want a flat ceiling.

Other people say oh I want a big volume ceiling which might also be a cathedral or might be a vaulted ceiling. Kind of the same idea three different words for the same thing. But what does that mean exactly and what are they intending to do with it? So some people would say hey we have big holiday celebrations we want a spot for a big Christmas tree or hey we we want a tall ceiling so that we have big windows so we could have a view of the mountain range or the night sky. So we can work with them on on details like that. Different walls. Just had a customer working on a project and he said Steve I want a great insulated home it’s my last home I’m gonna live in it for 30, 40 years I want to do it but I want to save money and go with a two by four wall. And I’m like well I don’t know if you’re actually saving money because in a two by six wall you can get a lot more insulation if you’re going to live there for 30 years you know we could work those details out. So there’s structural concerns, insulation concerns, just different details we can work with them. A lot of people like on the plans they think hey I got a beam in my basement but who’s thinking about how that beam’s attached to the post or how that beam’s attached to the foundation.

You know different details and that that’s what we work on so with a complete set of plans the customer and us can work on it the customer understands it it’s on the plan so it’s clear to the contractor minimizing uh-oh moments and gee I forgot I didn’t know it’s on the plan so they can review the plans before they start the project and the contractor can can go do their their work. Right. You know you brought something up relationships to the foundation that’s one of those things that people never even think about. Right. You know so so let’s just say you were building a house on a flat piece of land you and I might stand out there and go yeah that looks like a flat piece of land but if you had a surveyor there might be a two foot rise in 30 feet. Right. That appears flat but in reality it isn’t so depending on the foundation you have you might have to adjust some of the the the foundation or grade around it. Also relationships to the foundation sometimes people want to a walk out basement sometimes they want to look out basement kind of half basement underground windows above ground sometimes they want a slab but they’re building on the side of a hill how does this work how do we get stuff uh together and then a lot of stuff it’s also how the energy codes work how do you insulate this so that you don’t have a cold floor and then you know the you you have an energy efficient and comfortable home so there’s a lot of details all of us will know about it’s like when you mention it you’re like yeah that makes sense I knew that well you do when that when it’s brought up in conversation going through the design process but it’s not something if if you asked a typical customer to list it that they would right yeah when’s when’s the last time you were at a cocktail party and said hey let me tell you about the relationship of the foundation to my grade on the side of a granite cliff you probably never heard that you probably also never really heard about someone just putting a slab on a fat on a flat piece of land so that’s that’s one of the things that that we work with because people don’t realize that can affect drainage to your septic system or sewer line it can affect drainage of water off your roof so it’s kind of important stuff yeah those are things that you know we’re so comfortable in our life we never think about the things that we have to do to do it but that’s what we do we we kind of geek out on this and and help people get through the process.

Interviewer: You know it just occurred me what I wish is that there were companies like Landmark Home and Land Company for all aspects of life like buying a pair of jeans online you know every every company makes so their sizes are completely different you know a Levi’s or a Wrangler and a 34 waist isn’t going to be the same in every one so if there was a a Landmark Company sort of like that for clothing where you could call them and they could talk you through this yeah that would be great.

Steve Tuma: Well what it’s true and it but it’s but it’s really a true understanding to your specific project your project in your house one thing that you bring up is like I joke with people I saw this ad for a large pizza so I ordered it and it showed up as 12 inches right I think a large peach is like six when I was a little kid there was 16 inches it was like you feed a family but now for different marketing things it’s so it’s like so what are you really getting and that’s the time that we go through and on a set of plans go through and show it dimensions what the house is like sections of a house so you could see what a cathedral ceilings like so you can see the relationship of a ceiling height in a hallway and how it transitions to an outdoor patio you know so there there’s a lot of cool stuff that that we could do and what we try to do is have an extremely complete set of plans so your excavator understands your foundation guy understands the framer the window people the roofers the electricians the building department the inspectors banks and your own family so you know what it is that you’re choosing to build.

Interviewer: It sounds to me like having the having the right plans knowing what the plans are are going to be they’re going to help not just with hey look how my house is going to look but the budgeting the schedule the overall keeping control of your own project it seems like that all is sort of shoved into what a really detailed plan would be.

Steve Tuma: Right right but we don’t it’s not something that’s so overbearing where you got to understand this all right away it’s piece by piece you work on this you work on the schedule you work on the budget you know so like like someone told me way back how do you eat an elephant you don’t do it in one bite you do a bunch of little bites you manage it you prioritize things and and we can help uh people people through the process to to get them uh push started and be there for continual support through throughout the project right something which is interesting you know a lot of people think well i’ve never built anything i’ve never swung a hammer we have a lot of extremely successful customers that have been successful in building because they understand the management of a project and they choose to go through so even though they’ve never really built anything before i mean maybe when their kids used a lincoln log or legos or something but they’re able to understand the process work with the right people to to to get the uh the the home built and that that’s what’s amazing about it so you don’t have to be an electrical engineer you don’t have to be an hvac design genius you don’t have to be the master drywaller you can be if you happen to have those skills or you have friends and family that can help right or you could be someone that hires subcontractors to get the job done and what you’ll find is when you have a real set of plans with accurate details those people take you seriously if you show up with what i call you know jokingly called cartoons the people aren’t going to take you seriously you know just think of it if you were someone offering a service and someone came to you saying hey i’m building at one two three main street here are the plans you’re going to take them a lot more serious than well we might build something that kind of looks like this you know what i mean you know so that that’s what it is it makes the the overall project go better.

Interviewer: Well it sounds to me like one of the the aspects of landmark home and land company the the I’d say one of the tightest things that you guys offer one of the most amazing things you guys offer is it sounds like you’re helping the customer keep an overall control of their house build you know and that’s got to give people confidence.

Steve Tuma: That’s that’s it that that’s it because when you retain control you you control the budget you control the schedule you control the quality you control what’s being built right yeah and that’s that’s i think ultimately why people work with us now people come to us saying you know they’ll find panelized homes on uh on our website they’ll see it but when they get into the support of the plans and they start seeing the control and how they can get it put together that’s that’s really the the key element of it yeah because it’s people build their house it’s a lot of work but the end result is something that they’re not likely have been able to get any other ways and by understanding your project controlling your project knowing about your project you’re going to get a better product you’re going to get a beautiful home.

Interviewer: Yeah and you’re you’re allowing people to be flexible because there’s a lot of of plans plan designs on your website to choose from but i doubt very often that somebody buys one of those plans and the house ends up being exactly what that plan is.

Steve Tuma: I think in 30 years it happened once like 22 years ago someone said i want that exact house right and i’m just kind of like wow you know but you know people people always go through and do it that’s the cool thing because you know everyone’s watching their budget whether it’s a hundred thousand dollar adu or a five or ten million dollar home everyone’s watching the budget but there’s still stuff that they want they want to make it their house i want my kitchen with my window overlooking the yard i want my garage with my workbench i want my basement with the pool table and a walk out to to the garden or whatever it may be so that’s that’s the the thing that we have so you know there’s a lot of ways to get a house but i look at it as when you’re done you you give yourself the best chance to sit there at the end look at it go this is cool this is what we want we designed it the way we want it it works and five ten years later still have it work.

Interviewer: Yeah yeah well you know we talk about plans on this show a lot because that’s where everything starts but we all but plan isn’t just one piece of paper it’s not just a letterhead with here’s your plan and i’m there’s there’s so many aspects to just the plans themselves explain that explain what what plan sets are and and how they work as a tool between you and the owner builder.

Steve Tuma: Well i look at it as a communication tool you know so that everything is there in a drawing and writing with details showing what the customers have built so the banker understands if financing’s involved the building department contractors the the owner us to go through and get it put together so it’s details it’s architectural design sections structural designs electrical layouts plumbing layouts different levels of availability of hvac design energy calculations site plans if a customer wants it green codes in certain areas but the key is not just that you have those individual items but it’s that they work together and the plan set is consistent right so that you don’t have a conflict here you know the energy calculations say you should have R and R 19 and the drawing says R 13 right to have everything there so so so that it uh so that it works together and that allows the customer to fully understand the process so it’s it’s a communication tool first of all in the early stages for the customer to kind of communicate with us and the customer to go through the process of of thinking it through because you know sometimes the design process it kind of starts the overall form what does it look like where’s the big window where’s the garage but as you get into it suddenly it’s like hey wait a second where do i want the dishwasher hey where’s the pool table going to be where where is the big screen going to be where you know some customers they they have different shifts or they want a room that’s quiet you know what room’s going to be super insulated is there a theater room how’s the theater room going to work how’s the garage going to access where’s the utility room and and just by spending a little bit of time we can go through and and help people through through the process to get the home they want so we don’t expect people to understand everything the first time through it’s it’s an it’s an evolution kind of to go through and get the plans good together and you know what’s interesting um i’ve actually never counted how many customers we’ve helped but in in 30 years every project is different and we’ve had customers build the same house multiple times and there’s always different concerns sure yeah because one lot’s different than the other the sewer comes in on the back instead of on the front or hey it’s on a septic or hey the evolution from regular hvac systems to mini split heating and cooling systems you know different different situations a lot more people are going with heated floor systems how do those work so as people go through they they get different questions and you know some might be more involved with the windows some people might be more concerned about their basement in their garage some people might be uh more interested in other things.

We had a customer great guy todd hey todd he’s in wisconsin built a uh a retirement home and and his concern was he saved his life for his life to get a lake property so he wanted to be able to sit in a chair his lazy boy look out the lake nice see the fireplace and his big screen tv and he didn’t want to really have to rotate so we actually we actually worked to make sure the windows were there the fireplace was there and the tv was there so i jokingly said with him because we we got along and just had a great time like we do with all of our customers and i i said but todd who’s going to bring your your soda he goes oh my dog does that he knows how to open the fridge and bring me bring me bring me what i need so in that case this particular customer that was an that was his dream that he worked for for 30 40 years to have a home where he could watch the lake the swans on the lake watch the fireplace and he was a green bay packer fan well so he could be in one place he knew what he wanted get that taken care of we’ve had other people that have exceptional views of mountain ranges and the sierras um in the rockies or in the plain states or oceans whatever whatever it may be and there’s specific things that they want to be able to uh to look at and this doesn’t always mean that you have to have the most expensive coolest piece of land on the property everyone’s property has something that that they that they like that we work with we’re we’re actually just delivering a house uh this friday um a nice two-story kind of colonial design where we actually shifted a roof line in the garage so that a window coming out of the the upstairs master suite would get a better view of the the sunset you know it’s just this this little thinking of like hey wait if we jockey the garage back two feet he’ll get the sunset because this particular customer bill he could watch the sun rise in the kitchen in the morning with coffee and then at night when he’s winding down reading he could look out the opposite window and see the sunset and those two things the inviting the day in and closing the day out were extremely important in in this house a beautiful home yeah and that that that’s that’s the cool thing about it so when we get to standardized plans it’s like yeah that’s someone’s idea and they’re they’re in the business of duplicating plans we’re in the business of saying but what about you what about your land how how do we get the most out of it because the time it takes to adjust a window size slide a garage back a little so that you get the sunset that you want it’s just a little bit of thinking yeah and and and we uh we we got it taken care of.

Interviewer: How how good have you gotten over 30 years at at playing let’s say psychologist in the way that people you know if i were building a house i know there’s going to be panic times and the fact that you guys are so available and on the phone so readily and uh you know talking somebody off the ledge who really thinks a small problem is really much bigger than it is.

Steve Tuma: You know amazingly that doesn’t happen a lot really because i i think the process of finding us and working with us the people have a level of comfort we’ve got great reviews you know people could read the reviews on our on our website from the better business bureau it’s right at the top of our web page you can click it and i think that there’s a comfort there that hey you’re being taken care of because all of us have been consumers where you know there’s some company that’s got some award from who knows what company and then you you get to call in and your hold time is 52 minutes you know 10 minutes later your hold time is 56 minutes oh but if you want us to call us back you won’t lose your position yeah you know just leave your number and you never get a call thus you give a call and there’s there’s a knowledgeable person likely me that will go through and work specifically to answer your question right not with a canned standard answer but with an answer that relates to you your house your project and what you need and sometimes we’re we’re even able to jump ahead of it because sometimes people ask questions and they don’t realize that there’s a downstream question right so so we could kind of say hey we’ve been here before you’re asking this question but let me let me expand it a little bit farther and help you through this process.

Interviewer: Yeah and just it’s you guys help people prepare that’s the thing so that’s the more the more preparation the less of those um panic of talk me off the ledge moments there’s

Steve Tuma: But but it compounds so a lot of people are like they don’t realize the value of the the right set of plans and when building so what it does by compounding is we also build the panelized home package that matches this plan so a good decision in the early stage allows us to build we’ll develop the final set of plans that go through permitting and then build the the panelized home package that fits that plan set so it matches the plan set which makes for easy assembly and easy building department inspection and approval so it’s kind of a compounding of good decisions and good decisions make for a better project so the key to it is the the unity and the design and the panelized home package so that you don’t end up in a situation where someone has a set of plans and then a local contractor sticks builds something that might be easier more convenient different that doesn’t match the plans and then an inspector says hey that doesn’t match what we approved and you the customer gets to pay for that that’s not the way we do it we do the set of plans that matches the panelized home so what’s delivered is what was approved by the customer the bank and the building department right yeah so that’s that’s an extremely important part we’re doing a lot of talking about the the plans which are good but the plans it’s it’s the kind of the roadmap to the construction of the house so how it ties into the panelized home package the floor systems the walls the headers the roof systems electrical layouts plumbing layouts that’s that’s what the key issue i don’t want to simplify it too much to say it’s kind of like a recipe but it is if you have a good recipe you’re gonna have a better meal and that that’s kind of the same situation of uh.

Interviewer: Well it’s kind of life i mean preparation builds confidence that’s how our confidence comes from the more prep you have

Steve Tuma: And that’s why when you say to people you know are they on the ledge it’s like no they start seeing this they start seeing how we help right there you know some people be like well what’s a section i’m like well it’s kind of a slice through the house and i’ll be like well why do i need that well because you see the relation of the land to the foundation to the floor system to the walls to the the ceilings to the roof systems how how you approach from a garage into a house how you know make sure that you have all these accesses so you do so things are well thought out so you’re not out there building something and someone goes well this isn’t working you know we we’ve already worked through those items and that’s that’s the the key element and another thing is we also suggest that during the plan phases our customers share the plans with the contractors because sometimes different places people have different ideas of how to do the same thing the end result is likely the same but maybe they like to do something differently sure you know there are just some places where people do block foundations other people do icf other people do poured cement you know so there’s different theories you can’t really say one’s better than the other there it’s just a different one and each has their benefits you know to work with so we like to go through and make it make an accurate set of plans so that people do so that people work with it the the important thing about this and the very interesting thing is people appreciate it when they’re into it they don’t realize the value of front but when they’re there and it’s going smooth and maybe their friends building a house in different methods and this house gets done quicker it’s easier and they still have their hair there they’re all doing i gotta be honest about it building a house is a lot of work it can be stressful but it’s in the management and like you you brought up confidence and understanding of your project that puts you in in position to build it better right it’s the pre-planning that goes through to uh to make the actual execution of building a lot better

Interviewer: Awesome well that’s gonna wrap it up for us today for this episode of uh the panelized prefab kit home building show and uh but before we let you go Steve i want you to tell our audience how to get ahold of you guys over at landmark home and land company.

Steve Tuma: I think the best thing to do is check out our website um maybe you found our podcast on the website or you just found them floating around the internet but our website is l h l c dot com kind of like the initials of landmark home land company l h l c dot com and there’s videos on there there’s these podcasts there’s thousands of plans there’s general discussions about different things and you can submit inquiries on plans or just general comments through the website but you can also give us a call at 800-830-9788 again it’s 800-830-9788 and you could work with Mike he’ll work in the initial phases to find out what you need how we can help you do you have land you know what kind of help you need and get you you know preliminary concepts and then once you’re at a point where you’re ready to go um i would contact the customer and then then we get into the you know the details of actually getting the project going it’s a kind of a seamless process it’s easy going and we work at the pace that a customer wants to work at we don’t push it along you know it’s i mean if a customer needs us to push it along we will but we work at the pace that that they do for their timeline their budget and and the expectations so it’s a lot of fun it’s it’s a great time.

Interviewer: Perfect well thanks again for taking time out today Steve and thanks to all of you for listening to the panelized prefab kit home building show always informative always helpful so for Steve Tuma and myself have a great day and we will see you next time thanks Steve.

Steve Tuma: Thank you.

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