Panelized Kit Homes and Landscape Designs

Panelized Kit Homes and Landscape Designs

Show Notes:

Panelized home landscape design and how important it is to the health of the house in general.  Kit home landscape designing, lawns, gardens, they’re for more than just putting plants in. There are many other reason to choose certain landscaping over another. It’s not just the beautification of the property, but also functional, technical and safety that needs to be considered.


Interviewer: Hey, everybody, and welcome once again to the Panelized Prefab Kit Home Building Show. With me in the studio in his usual seat is the President and Founder of Landmark Home & Land Company, a company which has been helping people build their new homes where they want exactly as they want across the nation and worldwide for, what, 25 years now since 1993, and that would be Mr. Steve Tuma.

Steve, say hello to the listeners if you would.

Steve Landmark: Hello, home world.

Interviewer: Panelized Home Building world.

Steve Landmark: Yeah.

Interviewer: We – we’ve been having some fun with the last couple of podcasts, the last few. And I wanted to kind of get back on, you know, sort of on track as far just talking about some real basic problems, issues that people come up when building. And basically, just kind of go over what I believe, you know, a lot of the customers just have these questions that Landmark is fully qualified to answer. So if you’re ready, I’m ready.

Steve Landmark: Yeah, let’s do it.

 Interviewer: So I’d like to some – a couple of things I’ve written down. One of them, we haven’t talked a lot, in fact, hardly any of in all these podcasts about landscape design and how important that is to, you know, the health of the house in general. I mean, obviously, landscape designing, lawns, gardens, things like that, they’re – they should be for more than just, you know, putting plants in. There should be, in my opinion, there’s got to be another sort of reason why you might choose certain landscaping over another. Can we get into that a little bit?

Steve Landmark: Yes. It’s really interesting because I think when you talk about landscaping, people are like, “Oh, where do I put my Petunias, or the Tulips, where is my pine tree? Where is this? Where is that?” And there’s actually deeper reasons for landscaping. It’s not just the beautification of the area, but you got to watch a lot of landscaping. And I think all of us have heard all the fires in Colorado, the West Coast, and Canada, everywhere and these fires are getting bigger and bigger.

So a lot of landscaping is a design to make sure that emergency vehicles and – or emergency personnel can get to your house. So for example, you don’t want to build a house in a big forest that’s prone to fires and just have a hedgerow all the way around it so no one can get to your house.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: So a fireman couldn’t get up there. So in a lot of those places, there’s a abatement procedure showing that you’ve got to have a certain distance between bushes, you can have certain plants or certain boulders, you know, so that our firemen has got to, you know, rock climb to get over to your house.

So in some of those areas, we’re able to work with people on their landscape design or site planning to make sure that the house conforms with the requirements for that area because it’s an innocent situation that people don’t realize. They might be like, “Hey, I want to put a row of apple trees across my front yard. Won’t it be beautiful or, you know, the cherry trees with all the blossoms in spring?” Well, if it stops the ability for people to get to your house, it could be an issue. So of course, that doesn’t apply everywhere. But everywhere, you know, the big forest fires is what I meant by that. But the – you still want to make sure that people can get to your house in case of emergency.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

Steve Landmark: And another thing that people don’t always look at is how your landscaping affects your drainage.


Interviewer: Oh, right, yeah.

Steve Landmark: So if you take a house – let’s just say you had a house and you had a back yard and you just wanted the ultimate barbecue spot, you know, an area for, you know, where you’re going to put cement down and different details and have cement around the pool so it’s easy for people to walk – you know, they’re not walking across gravel or dirt, you know, in front of the house. Sometimes people don’t always realize that water doesn’t go through cement. It rolls across cement until there’s a point where it can drain.

So sometimes what happens is by someone putting a lot of cement, say, around a pool, suddenly, there’s an increased water flow across their property or into a neighbor’s property.

Interviewer: Oh, right, yeah.

Steve Landmark: So there’s a lot of situations where people might want to consider that and we can help them with their designs to make sure that they don’t create an issue where they flood a neighbor’s lot or they flood a different part of their yard. And, you know, there’s bigger storms everywhere, so more water is there. So it’s an important thing to take a look at that.

Now, if you’re out and building on 50-acres and, you know, you’re kind of out there and building a house on a property, it typically isn’t as big of a concern, you know, for drainage issues, but it is something that you want to consider because you don’t want to have a walkout basement in the ravine, you know, just different details. I mean, you can do and take advantage of it, but you’ve got to design things in certain ways to make sure that water doesn’t enter the house and you also want it to be safe. You know, you don’t want to have a walkout basement and have a 2-foot drop down a cliff.

So, you know, there’s a lot of details and – again, it – 99 out of 100 people will say, “Hey, let’s work on your landscape plan.” And they’re thinking about where they’re going to put their Petunias and Tulips. They’re not thinking of that it’s kind of water flow, it’s access for emergency vehicles and stuff to make sure that it’s – that it’s taken care of properly.


Interviewer: Mm-hmm. Well, and there was – there was something that came up in an earlier podcast that I wanted to revisit. Let’s say – because we talk about building on slopes and hills and, you know, things like that. But how do I make a decision like, let’s say, I buy a – I bought a land and I’m building on the side of this hill. Is it better to actually figure out a way to build on that slope or should I actually cut into the hill, make a pad and the – and have the house sort of sit into the hill? What – how do I make decisions like that?

Steve Landmark: Well, that’s a pretty interesting situation because, you know, a few years ago, you’d hear about landslides where houses that have been in places for 40 years, nothing has ever one, and then one big rain comes along and suddenly, there’s a landslide and a couple of houses around it. Suddenly, these houses go skating down the side of a hill. So as the code people and engineers look at this, they realize there’s certain things that have to happen.

So in some situations, there’s – there are certain calculations that depend on the slope of the hill and it’s better to have the house kind of crawl down the hill or if it’s better to cut into the hill and create a flat pad and then like a retaining wall holding the part of the wall there. It really is project by project because it’s not just how was the house going to sit properly, it’s how where you’re going to have proper access, you know, driveway access. And a lot of places they don’t just want to know you have a driveway, they want to know a fire truck, or emergency vehicle can get in there and also return. So that’s when it’s good for us to work with the civil engineer and the structural engineer and have a conversation and the best approach.

In general, it’s cheaper to build on a flat pad than it is on the side of the hill. But a lot these really depends on the soil conditions, the local scenarios and code applications, as well as the house design.

Interviewer: Sure.

Steve Landmark: So there’s – we’ve even done some houses that project over a cantilever over and have, like, beams supporting the house below.

Interviewer: Like Malibu – Malibu, California case in point.

Steve Landmark: Right. Now, some of those can get pretty expensive.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: So it’s something where you’ve really got to look at the budget and sometimes that’s the deciding factor. If someone’s got a little bit higher budget and being higher up a hill creates for the ultimate view. Maybe it makes sense. But, you know, depending on where you’re at and what matter.

So you bring up the situation that decision will also vary in different places. It’s different of what people consider a hill to be. I’ve seen people call 5,000-foot mountains, hills, just because it’s a local thing. And then I’ve seen in other places where there’s this rolling hill that goes up 12-feet, some people say, “Oh look at that mountain.”

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: You know, so sometimes you can use that to your advantage. So in the case where there’s, you know, a rise of 5, 10, 15 feet, you might be able to put a lookout or a walkout basement, enhancing the use of the home for that particular piece of land.

So it is a good thing to review. Sometimes you can just send us pictures and we could look at it and give guidance. Some other times you need a civil engineer to go in and really figure out the way to do it. The civil engineer is in more areas where there’s more sophisticated building departments and more complex building in, like, true mountains. But in places where it’s, like, rolling hills, like the Midwest or South might have it, you can generally just, you know, figure out how to put a pad there or have a walkout basement or whatever it may be to adjust it. But that’s a really interesting situation, because this is kind of one of this little hidden situations that it can really affect the cost of your home.

Interviewer: I can imagine.

Steve Landmark: So it’s a good idea to have an understanding of how to best use your land, if you’ve got one of those more challenging situations of building on the side of the hill.

There’s also other things that come into and a lot of people will go through and say, “Oh, my house will fit on the side of the hill.” Well, if you’re in an area with septic, you also need to know that your septic will work.

Interviewer: Oh, right, yeah.

Steve Landmark: So you got to make sure, like, your driveway will work, your septic will work, you can work in all of the setbacks and different details. So it’s something that’s easy to overcome with the right information and that’s why we say it’s more of an extreme situation, get a civil engineer, most places where it’s more extreme, the building department will dictate a grading plan.

Interviewer: Right. Well, we’re talking about pads and there’s a question I always wanted to ask you and I haven’t, because we talk about pouring foundations and building a house on it and have them fit the design. What if I find a piece of property and let’s say, I want to just destroy the house sits on it, call Landmark and design a house, but there’s already an existing foundation there. What’s involved there?

Steve Landmark: Well, that’s interesting because those projects come up. We’ve done quite a few of them. And sometimes existing foundations are there because people just stopped building, sometimes they’re there because people are demolishing an old home or in the case of the burn situations, they –

Interviewer: Oh, yeah.

Steve Landmark: – they might, you know, for insurance reasons and codes and building department, they may have to build on that exact same footprints –

Interviewer: Oh, right, yeah. of course.

Steve Landmark: – that they had.

So existing foundations can be tricky because we’ve had people go through and they say that they bought a farmhouse from 1890 and they want to use the existing foundation. Well, the chances of that foundation passing code are probably zero, you know, unless they just happened to build some super sophisticated foundation. But there’s also the approval by the building department and then there’s some also common sense. So someone might go through and say, “Hey, I’m going to build this half million dollar home and I want to use this 1950 foundation.” Even if the building department says it’s good, you might want to wonder, “Hey, is it square? Is it still level? What is the foot like?” We had them on the East Coast and at Charlotte where there was an old foundation, the building department requested a check, there weren’t footers.

Interviewer: They weren’t? They just weren’t there?

Steve Landmark: Right. They just had a wall going down, so an eight-foot poured concrete wall going straight down without a footer. So initially upon looking at it, you’d say, “Hey, that looks like a foundation that’s been there for 100 years – or even just 20 years.” You don’t know the standard that it was built. So a lot of this, the building department will send someone out that will ask you to get a builder or an engineer to review, to see if it’s viable.

Little complications can’t come into it, but we understand what those complications are. So we can do it. We’re working on a project like that right now, where the building department says, “Hey, the foundation’s great, you can go use it.” But the particular home that they had needed a post in the middle, it was a chalet design. So this post had to go from the foundation going all the way up to their bridge beam to carry a load.

The problem is we don’t know if there was a footer underneath the cement slab in the basement to support the point load of this post. It showed on the original plans that were approved that it’s there. But it didn’t show dimensions as to where it was or what size. So, do you assume that it’s kind of centered? Or do you think that maybe they just didn’t leave it there?

So what we did is the customer verified the perimeter walls. We redesigned the roof system and the floor system so that all of the weights were carried to the exterior wall of the house. We didn’t have to have post. So now, we ended up with a chalet with a clear span in it so that the living rooms and all of these different situations were wide open. And it actually ended being more usable.

Interviewer: That’s interesting. That’s – that is – that’s something.

Steve Landmark: Yeah. So sometimes this, you know, getting in awkward situation of what is this foundation allows you to turn that situation into a very unique home.

Now, the key to that is we have the designers, the structural engineers, the mileage and also the desire to help people in those situations. Because a lot of people that come with those foundations, sometimes they just bought it, it’s at a lake, they’ve always wanted to do it and there was a special deal on this property. Others, it’s been in the family. You know, grandpa put the foundation in but for whatever reason, he – they never built the house.

Interviewer: Got it.

Steve Landmark: So there’s personal attachments to these, so it’s pretty cool to be able to go through and take this and continue on with the family’s dreams.

Interviewer: Right. Necessity can be the mother of invention. They’re right.

So, let’s talk about something we haven’t hit too much on in the past, and that’s all this new smart home technology. How can – how does Landmark fit into that, and what are you guys doing about people who are looking for that kind of home?

Steve Landmark: Well, the smart home technologies are becoming more and more prevalent. You know, first people had these home assistants where you could say, “Hey, so and so, what’s the weather?” or “Hey, so and so, play this song.” And that’s, kind of, the basic one. But a lot of people are getting into really automated houses, you know, controlling heat, flood warnings –

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: – different situations of opening and closing blinds, and whatever it may be. And some of these can be extremely basic, like, go to your local store, buy something, plug it in, and have some fun with it, as the hobbyists do, being a few hundred thousand dollars.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: So what we can – generally, if someone wants to design their own system, we could work with them on the plans and, you know, kind of the hobbyist guy could say, “Hey, I want to do this. I want to have this light controllable so that when I drive in the driveway it senses my car and it knows that I want the house at this temperature, and you know, these lighting conditions with this music.” And then, also there’s other people that work with, you know, the pros that are getting into ultra sophisticated leading edge technology. In those cases, we can go through and supply CAD files or different situations so that they know exactly what works.

Sometimes people say, “Hey, why do you need a CAD file for, you know, where to put a socket or a smart socket or something like that?” The reason being is you never know where there’s a structural member that they say, “Hey, I want to put a TV here, is there the right structure behind it to hold the TV?”

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: Or, you know, different lighting situations, or whatever it may be. And what’s interesting about this is a lot of people look at this as it’s a convenience, you know, just to sit there and say, “Hey, I’d like to listen to this blue song and have it played.” Well, a lot of these are becoming accessibility and mobility issues for people that have restricted movement or eyesight, or whatever it may be. So sometimes people will have that, or they have a system of knowing that there’s movement in a house. So, let’s just say you had an elderly friend or relative, there might be motion sensors in the house so you don’t have to call them every five minutes. You could just say, “Hey, there’s been no motion. Let me go check on Uncle Fred.” That type of stuff.

So, a lot of people are really getting into these technologies for the enjoyment and also for quality of life issues.

Interviewer: Right. You know, we’ve kind of talked about something a few times before but I don’t think – I don’t think we can talk about it enough because I think people run into this a lot. And that’s – you go to an area, you’re going to build a home in a certain location, and the building department in that location just happens to be super picky. And what role does Landmark play in a situation like that?

Steve Landmark: Well, it’s pretty interesting because a lot of people think they have the pickiest, hardest building department. And maybe in their area or their experience, it is. But we’ve likely – you know, when we’ve worked with different building departments in the US and in Europe, we’ve likely run into situations where we’ve had more complex scenarios that we’ve already worked through.

Interviewer: Oh, right.

Steve Landmark: We also have the team of people that has a lot of knowledge to understand it. So, a lot of times when people say, “Oh, it’s picky,” it’s because their friend did something or someone that didn’t keep up with the codes, you know, tried something and they chose not to learn what was required. So therefore, they call the building department picky.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: I would say, since 1993, I’ve run into three, what I call, picky or unreasonably picky building departments. That means there’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of other building departments that are just wanting to make sure your house gets built right, so.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: So that’s – we don’t look at it as being picky. They just happen to ask things that make sense to no one else or that they have special, you know, “hot buttons” on what they want. So we have an ability to go through and get the information.

One of them was in Ohio where a building department decided to ask us the allowable size of an air bubble inside of a poured concrete foundation.

Interviewer: What? Wow, that is picky.

Steve Landmark: What was interesting about that is here’s someone in a moderate climate asking a question that should be applied in a colder climate. So I called the guy up and I say, “This is interesting. Why are you asking this?” He goes, “Well, I used to work way up in the north, and now that I moved, you know, to a moderate climate, I thought it was important.” And I said, “Okay. That explains why you’re asking it.”

It was something that in the winter – in the winter pouring of cement, they put certain chemicals in the cement so that it can cure in colder weather. And that affects it. Well, he was just asking the thing that was important to him, in a place where it didn’t apply. The cool thing about it is we got the answer, and we answered that.

We’ve had other situations where people want to put synthetic grass in their yard for an easier to clean dog run, for water savings, for savings on, you know, lawn care fees, whatever it may be. This was in an area that involved a drainage plan. We had to document how water would pass through the synthetic grass to make sure that it didn’t create a flooding issue for a neighbor. And then the geotechnical engineer had to verify that there was enough of a support and flow rate for that to work properly.

So, sometimes these odd and seemingly crazy requests do have a fundamental version. It’s just that not every building department asks them. Most building departments, 80% of what they ask is extremely similar. They want to know that, you know, your hallways are certain widths,  your windows are egress so you can get out. They want to know that you got energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. They want to know your foundation’s built right.

But sometimes you get to these extremes and so far, no one stumped us. Every customer’s got their building permit and we’ve worked through it. So, sometimes even though the inspector may sound like he’s being picky, the codes are put in place mainly for safety issues and to make sure that the home is solid so that it stands in 10 years, 20 years, 100 years, so it doesn’t devalue the neighborhood. But even so, people shouldn’t be concerned about their plan check person. We’ve been able to work through issues to make it happen, and we have the knowledge to help people so, you know, we’ll take care of our customers.

Interviewer: So what you’re saying is that building departments aren’t necessarily trying to keep you from building your house.

Steve Landmark: No, no. It may give that impression –

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: – but generally, they just want to know that it’s safe, you know. Like there was a person I was talking to that wanted to do something and to squeeze little space, an extra bedroom and like a bonus room area above the garage. They had this great idea to have like an 18-inch wide hallway, and they said that this room would work. And I said, “It’s three feet.” And he said, “Well, why is big brother telling me what to do? It’s my land.”

And I asked a question that’s kind of interesting. I’m like, “If I walked down that hallway, it’d probably be shoulder to shoulder.”

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: So if there was an emergency where you needed medical help or get out or just –

Interviewer: Yeah, good luck.

Steve Landmark: – or yeah, or you happen to be walking down the hallway where one of your big dogs is and you get stuck in there, you know, that’s the point. So even though it may not sound logical, sometimes, if you think about it a little bit, there’s a reason for it.

Now I’m not an advocate of building departments taking our life over, telling us that we want to build, but I think it is good to have a scenario where, you know, your structure is solid, the foundation is solid, your water is going to be heated properly, your cooling system is going to work properly, because there are contractors and people out there that will go for the low big, and suddenly, they find out their furnace isn’t big enough or strong enough –

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: – or their air conditioner isn’t good enough.

So in those cases, we’re able to substantiate situations to make sure that things are done right. Ultimately, you don’t want to spend a dollar and then later have to go back and spend more to fix it. We want to do it right the first time.

Interviewer: Let’s talk a bit about basements. Now here in California, basements are not really a thing, but in other parts of the country, they’re a big thing and some people wouldn’t even think about building a house without a basement. Let’s talk about designing basements from the get-go and how that process works.

Steve Landmark: Well, the basements or the foundations are interesting. And yeah, generally, like you say, California, you know, the South West, it’s a lot of slab foundations. In Florida, there’s a lot of slab foundations, but we’re getting more and more customers wanting crawl spaces.

So sometimes, the foundation design is a result of, you know, just what’s customary in the area, and other times, it’s a result of the ground conditions. So like we talked about a slough piece of land, if you have a slough piece of land, you might be able to put a walk-out basement. Suddenly, your basement area becomes a little more liveable. Instead of just an enclosed cement wall, there’s a wall on one side where you can go in and out, you can have a drive under the garage, you can have extra space, an in-law apartment, whatever it may be.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: So in California, we have a lot of customers that build inbounds. So they do have walk-out basements.

Now, if that same customer was building, say, in a flat desert area, say in Coachella Valley or something like that, it’s more likely, if they’re in flat land, that they’re going to be building on a slab. But if they put a little slope to the land, maybe it’d be a stem wall or crawl space.

But I think that what you are getting at is using the basement. So just like the house I spoke about just a few minutes ago, on an existing foundation where we were able to create a floor system and a roof system, where we wouldn’t need posts, the idea – let’s just say you had a drive-under basement. You could do different things. And let’s just say this house is 24-feet wide, and on the 24-feet side you had two garage doors where you could drive in to your man cave, your garage, your – you know, your recreational vehicle storage, whatever it may be. Typically, you’d have posts going down the middle, right at the center at the 12-foot side, and then the floor joist above would be 2-by-10s or 2-by-12s spanning from the outside foundation wall to the center beam, and then from that center beam to the opposite foundation wall. So you have a post.

So Steve, every guy knows, every woman as well, knows that no matter where that post is in the basement, it’s in the wrong place. If you put a pool table there, you’re going to be at that shot where you’re just going to win the tournament and that post is going to be there. If you’re a guy that likes to do his own oil changes, that post is going to be right where the jack needs to be.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: You know, if you’re building an entertainment area, that post is right in front of your 65-inch TV.

So what we’re able to do, when we have an understanding of this, is figure out different floor systems for the floor system above that can span farther. So then, like for example, this 24-foot wide home, we can go with engineered I-joist so we can get rid of the post and the beam in the middle. Suddenly, you have a 24-foot wide open area –

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: – that you can do whatever you want.

We can also get into open-web floor trusses that can span extended length, 20, 30 feet without huge issues. And within the open-web floor systems, you can run ductwork and plumbing, so it’s not hanging below your floor. The idea being that we’re talking about is the usability of this basement.

So if you have an 8-foot basement wall with a 4-foot cement slab on the floor, that gives you, give or take, 7 feet, 8 inches. It’s actually a little more with the plate but for easy math, let’s say it’s 7 feet, 8 inches. If you have a floor joist going across there and you decide you want a ductwork or plumbing or whatever, suddenly, that ductwork might hang down a foot. So suddenly, your head clearance in certain areas is 6 feet, 8 inches.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: Okay, maybe in some areas, maybe it’s all the way across. Well, if you could take that same ductwork and put it within the floor truss, you have that 70 ceiling height.

Interviewer: Got it.

Steve Landmark: So there’s a lot of work, like we’re talking about in the upfront work of designing the home properly, so that if you’re going to use this basement as an additional family room, office, workshop, you have a ceiling height that’s advantageous

Steve Landmark: – as an additional family room, office, workshop. You have a ceiling, how you could say advantageous for what you do. So that’s an important factor. And it’s easy for us to sort it out. We just have to have a conversation to figure, hey, what are you doing with your basement? If someone says, “Oh, I just put boxes down there as storage.” That’s a different story than if, you know, your in-laws might move in in the future or if you’re going to, you know, have your hobbies of, you know, home theater, bike repairs, woodshops, stained glass, craft shops, whatever it may be.

Interviewer: Now, let’s move out of the basement and upstairs and let’s talk about, you know, kind of specialty rooms like we had mentioned in the, I think, our last podcast about people designing home offices and people telecommuting. And what about things like that or like convertible room design, you know, rooms that can become two rooms, things like that?

Steve Landmark: Well, that’s really interesting because what’s happening, you know, what the internet and people’s jobs and gig economies and different hobbies and different economic situations is people almost need to have homes that have multiuses.

Before, you know, might say, “Hey, I need a three-bedroom, two-bath, dining room, living room, kitchen.” It’s extremely rare that someone starts talking about designing their living room. It’s more of a great room or a gaming room or a convertible room that it’s the home office, but when the grand kids or guests come over, that home office becomes that.

So way back when people were building mega mansions you say, “Hey, just put another wing on the house.” Well, the world isn’t like that anymore. So people are kind of condensing the design to have these kind of flexible areas. Sometimes the different furniture works that way to give room, you know, Murphy Beds, different situations where rooms are flexed.

But the one that everyone will relate to is depending upon what age you are, way back, you probably sat down at the kitchen table or dining room table and ate dinner with the family or lunch with the family.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: Now, there’s snacks bars. There’s islands in kitchens.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: And things are kind of on the go more or people’s work schedules are different. It’s a little bit of more informal. So I think people will see where the dining is kind of phasing out. The great room is phasing in. Gaming, entertainment areas are coming back in as well. Well, if you’re someone like most people where you’ve got a certain amount of money and you – this certain amount of money you got to get a 1,700 square foot room – home, sometimes that family room becomes a gaming room. Sometimes that third bedroom becomes an office or whatever it may be. So that’s what we’re able to work on these different design elements, we call it universal design, so that there’s more flexibility in the space that you have.

And sometimes an individual space becomes a multiuse situation. And sometimes these multiuses aren’t necessarily just now. You know, if you look at as kids grow up, they might need different bedrooms, they might need different game rooms, they might need different homework rooms. There might be different hobbies. So sometimes it’s the evolution of, hey, the kids might be moving out, but then the parents might be moving in.

So sometimes we got to look at, you know, what’s going to happen in 5 years and 10 years to come up with a design that’s sensible for the people.

Interviewer: Right. Something I’d like to hit upon as well is we’re talking about, you know, creating a home environment that suits the family. What if we have a family member who is handicapped, you know, someone who I need to build a house that’s accessible to myself or my family member who happens to be in a wheelchair or otherwise, you know, handicapped in some way.

Just pretty much, a handicapped-friendly house. How difficult is that to work into the design?

Steve Landmark: Well, it all really depends because you brought something up there which is interesting. You used the word handicapped-friendly, which generally means, “Hey, let’s make doors three feet wide and make sure there’s a ramp to get in and out of the house,” and, you know, that’s good enough.

And then there’s other people that want to get full ADA compliance.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: The Disabilities Act. And that can involve your whole building site. Like can I –

Interviewer: No, I should – I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I should go back and fix that. I think disability is the word to use. I think that’s the more proper use, my mistake, I shouldn’t have said handicapped. Yeah, the disabled-friendly home is what we meant.

Steve Landmark: Right. And that can come into the site plan. So if you had a vehicle to help you maneuver, that vehicle may need certain clearances to turn in for you to get out, for you to travel up a ramp. And a lot of people think of the disabilities of being a physical thing, maybe it’s a mobility restriction. It can also be a visual restriction.

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: You know, or different things like that or an arm or whatever it may be. So we are capable of going into the full ADA compliance if that’s what someone chooses to do. Most people just say, “Hey, I want to know that I can get through a three foot door that, you know, my cabinets are here that I can move around and take it from there.

So depending upon the depth of what someone chooses to do, we could do the quote friendly where we’re just doing the simple things, wide doors, easy access, ramps. Or you can get deeper into it, you know, where do you locate electric sockets, where do you locate light switches. So if someone, you know, is restricted, they can access it. And I think it kind of gets back in the smart home technologies.

Interviewer: Right, right.

Steve Landmark: You know. When someone could sit here and say, “Hey, call my mom,” you know, or have a little signal go back to say, “Hey, there’s movement in the house. You know, the person is likely to be okay.” It really, really helps. So we’re capable of doing that to whatever degree someone would choose to do it.

Interviewer: Before we close out today, I want to give you a chance to do something that we haven’t done in the show before. I just want you to kind of give me some anecdote that you’ve come across that you think might be interesting to our listeners, just anything that’s happened in your 25-year career at Landmark.

Steve Landmark: The weirdest thing, you know, there’s always stuff that happens, you know, there’s something here and someone gets a survey to find out that the city has a different lot record in their name, you know, the weird little stuff, or they think the sewer connection is in the back of the lot and then they find out it’s at the front of the lot because something at the city wasn’t recorded right, or a surveyor made an issue, or whatever it was.

One of the absolute weirdest ones, and it was in a rural property in the Midwest – we get along with our customers and we have a lot of fun, and this guy’s name was Gene. And he calls me up and he says, “Steve,” with a couple little expletives. “You won’t believe what I just found in my yard.” And I thought there’s like a bobcat or, you know, a neighbor’s horse is running around, or who knows what’s going on. And him and his family were doing a lot of the work. They were doing the excavation, and the electric work, the roofing. They just had the family in the trades. He had a 1954 buried in his yard right where they were digging.

Interviewer: The entire car?

Steve Landmark: There was a car. It was kind of crushed –

Interviewer: Right.

Steve Landmark: – but it was buried in the yard. And I say, “I just hate to think that someone’s going to look in that trunk.” And it was just, like, to bury a complete car. So that’s still one of those things. You know, weird things have happened. People excavate and they find granite, or this happens, or that happens, but it’s just one of those things that it kind of takes the cake and to think that it was a buried car.

Interviewer: Was the story ever found out how that car got there?

Steve Landmark: No, no. They owned the land for 20 or 30 years but when this was – the car would have been 10, 15 years old but no, they didn’t know anything about it. But that’s the point, you know, how are you going to know that until you excavate. You know, it’s not like there’s pre-excavation car searchers out there. I guess he’s got a huge metal detector. But that was kind of one of the weirder, funnier things that I remember. And it was just – oh, then another one, bring up one of the basement houses.

The people had a basement that they had forever, and they’re showing it to me. And they just got back from grocery shopping, and they had this grocery bag on the counter and it was just going crazy. And I couldn’t figure out what it was. They apparently left their door open and a little baby raccoon came in, started to just eat their cereal and throw it all over the room. So, yeah, it’s was always fun, there’s always a story. But those are two of the weirder ones.

Interviewer: Awesome. Well, as so often happens, we do run out of time here on the show so I want to thank all of you for joining us again, listening in on the Panelized Prefab Kit Home Building Show. And as always, before we go, I want to give Steve a chance to let people know how to contact Landmark Home & Land Company.

Steve Landmark: I think the best way is people can look at it at any time. It’s our website. The company name is Landmark Home & Land Company. The website is That’s like L as in Landmark, H as in Home, L as in Land, C as in Company, .com. And you can browse plans, just see different discussions on different topics, see some videos on what we can do. And you could send a message through there at the email button, or you can also call us at 800-830-9788 and Mike will answer the phone and he can walk through the preliminary phases.

His email is or you can contact me and my direct email at And we’re very responsive and proactive. We want to help people get the right home. They work hard for their money and we want to make sure they get the best home possible.

Interviewer: Right. And I would encourage all of our listeners to go to the website, to go to There’s great information on there, so many design possibilities you can’t even believe, and some amazing videos.

There’s tons of videos on there, you know, basically showing the process of panelized home building from A to Z. And if you’re looking to get that visual, there’s a lot on there. So once again, we’re going to say adios for Steve Tuma and myself.

Thank you everybody for joining us on the Panelized Prefab Kit Home Building Show and we will see you next time.

Steve Landmark: Have a great day.

About Landmark Design Team