Panelized, modular, prefab or stick built homes reviewed. How to properly develop a home design and plans for our new home as an owner builder. Discussion of architectural and structural plans and energy codes. Developing an accurate and complete set of plans to submit for permits for your specific building site and building department.
Panelized home plans and kit homes and their benefits. Standardized home plans compared to plans customized to our own home design and building site. Benefits of proper planning.
Hello everyone, and welcome to the first ever edition of the panelized home show. I am your host, Stephen Savage and with me is my good friend Steve Tuma, President of Landmark Home and Land Company. A company that has been helping people build and design their dream homes in the US and Worldwide since 1993.
How are you doing Buddy?
Excellent! Pretty good day to talk about a new method of building a home. Getting it designed so that people can build their own home, control the quality, gain equity and know exactly what they are getting for their money.
That is awesome because I think that is why people are tuning in. To hear this type of information. Let me tell the audience what our hopes are for this show and what we are going to be about as we move forward in other episodes. About the unique world of panelized homes and what it takes, these days to build the perfect dream home for you. He has some great insights in how to make that happen. So Steve, let’s start off, could you explain to the audience, the difference of panelized homes, which is what your company Landmark does and modular homes and of course the traditional home building project.
Yes, there are a variety of different ways to build a house. There is conventional building which is considered to be stick building. You take the sticks, two by fours or sixes cut them and nail them together to make a wall panel, sheath them and lift the wall panel up. You work outside in the weather on the building site. Modular homes are kind of made in modules. You probably know them by seeing them go down the road. The two halves of the home that are being driven down the road that is then brought to a building site set with a crane and then finished on site. So the modules are say, 80% completed, drywalled, wired, details are there, they just need to be tied together. Those modules have limitations and have to be built on a production line. The stick built can do custom, pretty much anything.
By stick built you mean…
Conventional framing. Like when you see guys on a foundation taking two by fours, cutting them, nailing them making a wall section that’s the conventional stick framing. What we do is panelized which is closer to stick building.
It’s a more efficient process of stick building. The reason for the efficiency is we can design and engineer all the cuts in our computer systems, know the material counts, reuse any extra materials and then also build them in a production facility on a flat table. So you are able to get square walls and things that are just more efficient.
So it’s made in a production line and then put on a truck and brought out to the building site so instead of the actual framers cutting studs, plates, different materials to make a wall, they just take the wall off the truck, stand it up and then go around.
So, the example is if you had a 40’ wall on your home we might make that into five 8’ sections. So it is very quick to go up and in some cases can put up a couple thousand square foot home in two to four or five days. Where stick building will take much longer.
The efficiencies are there of the production line but it also allows for the customization where you can pretty much do any home design that you want. We have just refined the processes by involving our designing engineering, energy codes, site planning, green codes so that we can develop a complete plan set so a customer thoroughly understands what it is they are building.
They can control the budget, the schedule and then monitor the end result. It also will help with easy planning, building processes as well as the inspection processes so overall its efficiency. Control of your project and cost savings. Those are the advantages.
I know that this sounds like, the way you are explaining it, sounds very simple and that’s great. I know there is probably a lot more involved. Let’s say I am a customer that calls you and I am looking to build a house. Give me kind of a quick rundown of the design and process of permitting and all that stuff. What does landmark do for me as a new customer right off the bat?
Well, you are right in that there is a lot more to it. That is where we come in. Because most people aren’t structural engineers, green code or energy efficiency geniuses, but they know what they want we can help. They say I want a house with an octagon bump out, 12’ ceiling, energy efficient home with some green code details to make sure the home is a sustainable design.
They know what they want but they don’t necessarily know how to execute it. That is where we come into play. We can take them from A to Z. They have the concepts that they want to build a Victorian home in Denver, so they know where they are now, they have a piece of land and the last is the Z, which is moving in the home.
We can fill in the places by making the design so that the home is laid out the way they want it so they can determine where they want rooms, window doors, garages, and kitchen and bathroom layouts. We then do all the behind the scenes work of making work it complies to building department requirements, supply all the documentation, structural calculations, energy codes and then make sure that all the plans match.
Now that sounds a little odd, plans match? You would think they are but not all plan methods are the same. So if your energy code says you need to have a certain insulation in the wall, all of our plans will match that. Makes it easier to obtain permits, make sure your contractors, need to know what needs to be done and gives you, our customer, the ability to retain control of the project which means you can stay on schedule and your budget works better.
We tie all the loose ends together. We are the one-stop shop behind, the scenes, a cross of Architect, Structural Engineer, Energy Efficiency Person and Production Manager all in one. We are able to, through one point of contact, make it much easier for our customer to design and build their own home.
Its ease and convenience, knowledge and responsiveness.
So, that’s great and answers a lot of questions. What I am thinking is Landmark is pretty much a one-stop shop for the new owner builder. The guy who has an idea for his dream house. You mentioned a couple of times now about energy efficiency etc. Can you give us a layout of those details? The permits in different areas vary and you probably have to deal with that a lot. Can you give us a breakdown of what Landmark does as far as building energy efficient homes and how you deal with various building departments in different regions across the country?
There are a couple of points there. Energy efficiency can go house by house and building site by building site. A lot of people think that you just put R21 insulation in the wall and the home is energy efficient. Well that may be the case, but what we do is look at the overall structure of the home and where it is placed.
The prime example is, say you were in the desert South West and you were in a house with a big glass wall facing south. Glass doesn’t have a big R value. It is not a good insulator. If your wall is 80% glass, which glass is going to act as a magnifier and heat your home. So in the summer, you will need extra air conditioning. In winter it can be beneficial.
We can work with you on the design of the home to create shade in certain times of the year so that not as much sun gets in. We can also work on the orientation of the home for energy efficiency to keep the sun in or out. We also work in different methods to insulate different ways and recommendations for heating and cooling systems. The key to this isn’t more insulation, it’s knowing that it gets specified properly and then make sure it is installed properly. So there are a lot of situations where the simple example, is people go out and buy the R21 insulation, compress it, and then they have defeated the purpose of the insulation.
It is the proper installation of the insulation materials that is also important. That is why we suggest guidelines are put together, mandatory measures, so people know the contractor is to follow a specific method and follow it to make sure it is installed properly. You then have a good home. What has happened previously is people have done energy calculations with improper installation and then they complain that their home isn’t energy efficient. That is what we do, we point these details out to our customers, the owner-builder so that they understand the process. We shorten their learning curve so it is easier for them to understand and control their project.
You had a second question about building departments.
A lot of people say they have the toughest building department. Well, it’s a national code, it’s the application of that code to your building site that is important. So, if you are going to build a home, let’s say, for example, a simple 1,200 square foot ranch and you were to put it Key West, Florida. You have storm surge situations and high wind speeds from the hurricanes. The house may look the same but the structure, the skeleton, is going to be a lot different due to the high wind speeds and storm surge than if you took the exact same home in Iowa, on a flat piece of land where there are no earthquakes, hurricanes, high snow loads, say you would have in the Rockies. What we are able to do is take the home that you want and design it for your exact site.
So the example of that 1,200 square foot ranch home. If you build it in Key West, Florida, it would likely be on piers 8’ to 12’ tall. In Iowa, it may be in a crawlspace, basement, or slab foundation. If you put it in the Rockies, says Leadville, Colorado on the side of the hill where the land slopes down, you may have a walkout basement. We can work with you to make sure all these details are put together so the home fits the land. So there are efficiencies in building and cost control also energy efficiency.
Also to make sure it is planned properly, you can confirm your budget and then continue on with a plan that makes sense. Eliminates having to do changes throughout the process. Those changes cost money and will hurt your schedule. Better to plan it out up front, make sure it is accepted by the building department and then execute the building. It’s the homework you do up front and the planning that makes the permitting and building much easier. That is the key element.
As a customer, if I were in California and I am building a pretty basic home, windows where I want them, and for a slab foundation, etc. Exactly what I am responsible for as the customer and give me an idea of what the home looks like when it’s delivered. When it comes to my building site, what can I expect to see?
What you can expect is that we will give you the support that you need. Some customers are more advanced and some need more help. We can go through and provide help as a “one-stop shop.” Details you may need include energy codes, lot planning, and all details included for the building department. You bring up California. They are strict but even in California there are building departments which are much stricter than others. Some of the details that have been requested and we gladly supply are more extreme in different areas. That is the key element, helping you through the process. We understand it and have gone through it. If a curveball question comes up by a building department, we have likely already taken care of it in other projects. This is the case across the country including New York, Illinois, Colorado, California, Florida, Washington State and Iowa. We have a lot of experience with that.
As far as what we deliver, It is interesting. A lot of people think we deliver a manufactured panelized wood home which is true, but we also deliver the complete plan set in paper or electronic format. Whatever your building department needs. People forget this. They think, hey plans, I’ll just go online, or go by my neighbor and give him $500 for plans. It’s not that simple. Not all plans are created equal. We deliver the plan set and paper copies so you can submit for permits. If there are checklist items from the building department, we then supply the answers on another plan set so you are ready to go. You have all the paper plans you need.
After you install the foundation, we deliver the panelized home package on a flatbed truck. Stephen, it’s just like the flatbed trucks you see on the highway every day. A 53’ foot flatbed with a tractor on the front that is up to 80’ long. Wall panels are stacked like pancakes and banded together in groups of 8 to 10 panels. Roof trusses are stacked and banded together as well. Loose materials, floor framing, I joists floor trusses, etc. are banded together. It’s a clean precision delivery. We deliver on the date that we work out with you. We work along with your schedule and it works well. The key to it is we also supply complete assembly pans, showing where each component is placed. Wall one goes here, wall three there, etc. truss one goes here, etc.
Like a big puzzle!
Well, we give you the answer. You aren’t there scratching your head. It’s very easy to follow. Lastly, is customer service. If you need help, you pick up the phone and we will take care of you and get you what you need to move along. People find that to be extremely important. In today’s world, there isn’t much customer service that should be there, but we work extremely hard to make sure that people are taken care of and supported. If they need help we help them.
I have dealt with that lately in my life. Customer service is a thing of the past. Landmark is known for their great customer service which is a good thing. Always a plus.
So Steve, anything else before we end today’s episode. Anything you want to run down before we give out the website.
I think it’s important to know that now is the season and give yourself enough time to plan through. If you are in a state that needs engineered stamped plans, it can take 4 to 6 months to develop plans and obtain permits. Simpler areas can just take a week or two. The key is to take the time to understand your project. We will help you with it. Also, help you understand your project and also plan it properly. You want to know what you are doing and we are here and can provide that help at our convenience.
On your website, you have informational videos.
Yes, we have videos at LHLC.com. There are plans, details on permitting processes, what’s included in our package, videos, and also ways to contact us. People can call or send a direct email. Call us at 800-830-9788 or email at mike@LHLC.com
We will work with you right away.
You mentioned that Mike as the email address. This a family owned business which is rare in America and it’s nice to see that you and your brother have started this amazing company.
It all started all with an idea in 1993. Started as a local company to a national and international company. We can help you as well.
Yes, that’s LHLC.com. You can find videos, information and all you need to start building your new home.
Steve, Thanks so much, it’s been a great show.