Show Notes: How detailed building plans will control your schedule, budget, timeline and the cost of your home.
Steve Tuma: Now, a lot of people say, well, I don’t need detailed plans. I’m like, well, you might not think you need detailed plans, but if you want to control your schedule, your budget, timelines, communication with your subcontractors and your supplier, the better set of plans you have, the less changes, less headaches you’ll have during the process. So it’s kind of like, do your homework up front, design the home properly, not just for permits, but also the building phases. I think you’ll find that your budget will appreciate it your timeline will appreciate it and it’ll work better for you.
Interviewer: Hello everybody and welcome to episode 50 of the panelized prefab kit home building show with me as always is the President and founder of Landmark Home and Land Compay 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 and that man is Mr. Steve Tuma. Steve how’s it going?
Steve Tuma: Yeah, things are well. I think we got a lot to talk about today. Yeah. Plans and it’s a kind of a little bit of one of these things that it’ll compound it like a snowball. It can get big and deep and but we can help. We’ve done it before.
Interviewer: I’ve got plans for to talk about plans and a million other things. I thought for this episode I’d like to go just go back to the basics. I’d really like to go back to the Landmark Home and Land Compay website, and talk about everything you list on there that makes your company, Landmark Home and Land Compay, unique among not just other panelized home designers and builders, but among home construction companies in general. I know it’s a very open-ended question, but I think you might be able to give the listeners and future owner-builders a rundown of exactly how Landmark Home and Land Compay stands out among the rest. If we go the way I want to do this, which is just go through the website and ask you a few things about what’s listed on there. So are you good with that?
Steve Tuma: Yeah.
Interviewer: Cool. Let’s do it.
Steve Tuma: This is an interesting spin on it. I guess a lot of customers find us on the website. Look at it. So we may as well talk about the details to help them understand.
Interviewer: I was thinking that people could go to the website at LHLC.com and follow this podcast while you’re going through the website and I would actually be a good companion. They would complement each other. Let’s start with what you guys have listed on the website as a complete building plan services company. I’m not exactly sure what that encompasses, but give us a rundown of what complete building plan services means.
Steve Tuma: Well, that’s really interesting because it’s a, it could be very definite or it could be a broad scope type of a situation. If you go to certain parts of the country, you don’t even need building permits. They don’t issue permits. They think you don’t even need plans to do it. Now, a lot of people say, well, I don’t need detailed plans. I’m like, well, you might not think you need detailed plans, but if you want to control your schedule, your budget, timelines, communication with your subcontractors and your supplier, the better set of plans you have, the less changes, less headaches you’ll have during the process. So it’s kind of like, do your homework up front, design the home properly, not just for permits, but also the building phases. I think you’ll find that your budget will appreciate it, your timeline will appreciate it, and it’ll work better for you. A lot people say, hey, we’ll just design our home and build it as we go. It’s kind of, I’m not sure how successful people are that just think you’re going to design a home real time, because there’s a lot of things in place.
So what we found is it’s best to take the time, like we say, do your homework upfront, to find out what your land is about the type of house you want to build any zoning restrictions, planning department restrictions, building department ideas, homeowners associations whatever it may be so that we can help you actually develop a set of plans that make sense we don’t look at the big challenges being the building department they’re an important part in obtaining a permit because a lot of building departments don’t ask the right questions or don’t have detailed enough questions to go through so if you’re building for some building department developing a set of plans only for the permit In some of these areas, it’s still very open-ended as to what your house is going to look like. There’s building departments that don’t ask for sections. They don’t ask for electrical layouts. They don’t even ask you where your septic’s going to be. So I guess they think someone’s just going to go out there, dig a hole, put a septic in and hope your house ends up on the right piece of land. So there’s a lot of details that we found. The better you have it, it in a sense gives our customer more ammunition to understand their project to properly budget it, to properly schedule, and the most important thing, communicate with building departments themselves, any financing sources, their sub-contractors, and with owner builders, a lot of friends and family are helping, so that it’s clear what’s to be done. Instead of saying, hey, just give me a big bedroom, it’s defined on the plans what a big bedroom is, where the windows are, where the doors are, how tall the concept of just designing a home and kind of building it on the fly is probably gonna end up being very aggravating for people. So we think it’s better to plan it out so everyone knows what’s going on and it’s just easier.
Interviewer: Yeah and then no pun intended you think it’s easier to plan it out so let’s continue with the basically the plan structures that you guys offer and let’s go with structural plans. Run that down for us. How does landmark, home and land company help the customer, you know, develop structural plans.
Steve Tuma: Well, it’s kind of interesting. First is you do the architectural plan. So you do the design. You do the design of the home. So you know what the outside looks like, the foundations like, the roof is like, sections are like cutaways through a home, like a slice through it so you could see where ceiling heights are, our floor systems work, how the look of the house. The floor plan show the inside, the exterior elevation show the outside, roof plan gives more details on a roof and a foundation plan shows how the home is going to be supported, the attachment to the ground.
The structural component of it is in a sense what’s holding it up. Where are there beams? Where are there posts? Where are there headers? Where are there sheer walls? You know different details like that so that you can justify how is. Now both of these are interesting because it’s the level of detail. Some building departments don’t ask for structural details. They may ask for architectural details. Others may ask for basic structural details saying hey how big is a beam? How big is a post? You know is it a four by four? Is it a six by six? Others get a lot more complicated and need a licensed structural engineer to actually go through and do beam calculations shear wall calculations justify the connections and what you’ll generally find is as you get to higher wind speeds like hurricane areas or higher wind speeds in mountain areas higher snow loads earthquake conditions expansive soil conditions or different soil conditions is when the building departments were requested but yes there are building departments out there even in these areas that do not ask for complete structural design. They just figure somehow it’ll get worked out on site. And if their inspector seems to see an issue, he’ll just have you change it on site. To us, it’s kind of weird to build it and then have them say, hey, that’s not right, let’s rebuild it. Why not design it upfront? So we can work in whatever condition someone is, their building department or their choice of design level.
But so we can go through, simple designs for simple homes but if it gets to be a more complex home even though the building department may not ask for engineered plans if you have a house with 20 foot walls something needs to be done there because a lot of people think it’s like hey but we don’t have a big snow load what’s the issue well you’re in a seismic zone so the home may shake or there’s wind mm-hmm so if you take a 20 foot wall 20 foot tall wall with a lot of in it. There’s not a lot of structural components. So in strong winds that wind can kind of flex or the wall can kind of flex. So we’re a believer in making sure the design is right. It’s better to take the time upfront to design it right than it is to build something and then later find out that you’ve got cracks in walls or sagging beams. So the architectural plans are done first, the structural plans follow. So the architectural plan is more look. What’s it looking like? How big are the rooms? How tall are the ceilings? Where are their cathedral ceilings? Is it a basement? Is there a crawl space? A slab? Or is it a house on piers? The structural plans explain how it stands up. It’s kind of cool stuff.
Interviewer: Yeah and speaking of cool stuff, so let’s move on to site plans. Explain what site plans are as opposed to any architectural plans or whatever and explain also how landmark helps develop site plans?
Steve Tuma: Well the site plan is basically a bird’s-eye view of your lot. So for simplicity purposes let’s just say you had a 100 foot by 100 foot lot. You know whether it’s rural or in a city type of a situation the site plans the building department and planning and zoning may ask for where the set the building setbacks. So your front setback might be 20 feet the rear setbacks might be 20 so that gives a kind of a building potential building envelope so if you have a hundred feet wide you take five off each side that’s ten feet of a hundred feet so you have a 90 foot wide footprint if it’s a hundred deep and you have 20 foot setback on the front and 20 on the back you’re taking 40 off so you’ve got 60 so you basically have a 60 by sorry 90 foot wide by 60 foot deep potential footprint they want to know where the house is distance to the lot lines you know where your water supply is where your sewage is where your driveways are where sidewalks are and they may get on to details of how much of the lot are you covering you know different details like that so that that’s generally the basics of what they want to know but some building departments will get a lot deeper you know do you have patios, do you have exterior decks, are there outbuildings, you know, is there a storage shed, if it’s an agricultural property, is there a chicken coop, is there a barn, or whatever it might be, a man cave, a separate building. So they just want to know what’s on the site plan so they can check for zoning, building setbacks, and also just building conditions.
Some of these can get a little more complex if you’re building say on the side of mountain there’s terrain issues topographical details are you building on a slope are you building on a flat piece of land if it is a slope how steep is it mm-hmm you know different things like that which affect you know how the house sits on there you know can you do a walkout basement is it a lookout basement is it a crawlspace so the site plan gives the people in the building department and understanding what’s going on but where it also relates to people involved with the building process sometimes people look at it your cement contractor will likely go to the land but if he had a site plan you could send him the complete set of plans he could he could plan out hey this is where the cement trucks can go this is where we can stage things the site plans also help builders understand okay when we deliver the materials how the truck can get in there where their crew needs to be and kind of kind of get an understanding what’s going on other site plans can get very complex with landscaping details lot coverage details and like I say topographical details, drainage plans, different things like that.
At a certain point, you have to get a licensed civil engineer to come in and take care of it. So a lot of it depends on how deep the building the department is requesting. And sometimes even if the building department doesn’t request details, it’s just smart to have on there because we’ll need to know the topographical details to see what your foundation’s like. So it kind of ties together. so for example like topographical details which are basically showing you know is there a slope to the land is the land flat that that’ll affect your foundation so if you have a if you’re building on a slope piece of land you might have a walkout basement well that would have a complete different structure that would be a different architectural design than if you had a flat piece of land with a basement right so that that can affect the structural thing. So they kind of work together and in general, you want to make sure the foundation and the house works on the site and move forward through the processes. So site plans are generally done.
We have an understanding of the site conditions at the beginning of a project, but information may become available as we move along with the plans or more detailed information. So a customer may start out saying, Steve, I have a slope and I went out there and then the house is 40 feet deep there was a six foot drop from the front to the back now maybe later their foundation guy comes in or a surveyor comes in and says hey that’s not a six foot drop it’s a six and a half foot drop and then we can adjust so it’s all stuff that kind of works hand in hand it’s interesting stuff and again if someone hasn’t really worked with it can give the appearance of being confusing but what we like to do is when a customer’s that is talk specifics on their project. So then we can explain to them hey this is this is how you know a good foundation would be for your type of land.
These are you know an architectural design that that would be good for your type of land and we can help people whittle down. We’re not going to tell people the house that they should build. We’re going to work with the ideas that they have and then you know work at work at so that it does work the land. Sure.
Interviewer: Now something you guys list on the website is energy calculations and I know people are confused by that or who even knows what that is. It sounds complex. Is it really complex?
Steve Tuma: And yeah just kind of give us a rundown on what developing energy calculations is all about. Well in most parts of the country, most states, there’s a there’s a process where they just go through, generally called res check, or an IECC, where they’ll go through and say, hey, the house is to comply. And it’s a calculation that our designers can do. And they basically look at the zone where the home is being built, and then what’s necessary for the house to comply. How much insulation needs to be in the roof, the walls, the floor, foundation, the energy efficiency of windows and doors and things like that. Got it. So our designers are very good at calculating that out.
A lot of places don’t ask for energy calculations. It’s something that we provide as our service because we think it’s important. I think that energy bill comes every month and it’s probably not the most, it’s probably not the favorite piece of mail that people get. But the point about it is if you’re gonna do, if you’re gonna insulate your house, do it right. So you’re getting something effective out of it. There’s a lot of stories people will say well the code in the areas You have to have an R19 wall And I’m like, I don’t know that that’s necessarily the case. It might be the common knowledge But if you have a big glass wall overlooking, you know Your favorite backyard or meadow That glass isn’t an R19. So it’s not a nature of the wall has to be it’s the It’s the home as a unified object. So if you have an area with weaker insulation, say a glass wall which is essentially our values are so low, it’s little in relation to a studded wall with insulation, they might have you beef up, you know, add more insulation in the roof or other walls or get a better window to have it. So we can work through those details and it’s important that people understand it so that they get the right window, the right furnace, the right type of insulation there. But it’s easy to understand once you see the form. Now the other side of that are states that are getting a little bit more complex.
California for example, you essentially have to build a net zero home. So the orientation to the sun, the efficiency and type of the furnace. Do you have duct work? Where’s the insulation? Your hot water heater? Your furnace? What are the fuels? And then the solar requirements. So, it gets a little more complex but again, we have geniuses that work on all these things so that they come up with a simple printed report and in the areas where it’s more complex, it’s actually registered with the state and they’ll have guidelines and in some case some deeper inspections to make sure it’s installed right. I’ll take a little side diversion that we’ve spoken about. Energy calculations are good.
That’s the theory of what you should have in your house. Making sure the items are installed properly is the key to it. Sure. So for the simplest idea of that is if you have a piece of insulation say an R-19 which would typically go into a two by six studded wall that has to be installed properly because the insulation is made up of the materials with a lot of air space which limit the transfer of heat or cold. If you compress that insulation, you’re, you’re removing some of the air spaces, which then don’t allow it to perform as well. So it’s the proper, it’s a kind of a tongue twister, the proper installation of your insulation is something that that needs to happen. So people can put duct work in if it leaks like crazy, you know, right? Yeah, this is another topic. I’m talking about insulation, but now the duct work off of a heat system, if your ducts leak you could be losing 25% of your heat or cooled air just in the channeling of the ducts to your house. Sure. Or through your house. So people you know people don’t always sit there and at a cocktail party say hey man I got the coolest furnace you know it’s doing this and you know there’s less than 5% leakage.
Generally they’re talking about, you know, their fireplaces or the family room or the garage or their big, you know, entertainment area in the basement. But the energy is something that we can get all the details so someone can work to comply and, and go to just be more energy efficient and have it more affordable to, to run your home. So again, it varies by what is done in each area. And some of like California are getting more and more strict and the areas that are more and more strict they’re not just hitting on the calculation they’re hitting on the verification that it’s Installed properly. Got it. So that that’s a key you want to make sure that someone’s doing it. So I’ve run into situations where people say hey son I’ve been doing this for 40 years what are you gonna tell me? Maybe like well the code changed last year are you installing it properly?
If you installed it improperly for the last 40 years on this project you need to do it right you know and that that’s the thing so just because someone’s been doing it forever doesn’t mean that they’re doing it right so you want to make sure that people do duck leak you make sure that there aren’t duck leaks they can test for that make sure the insulation is installed properly and kind of go from there and we can give them guidance on that but there’s also like I say it’s not just insulation it’s not just duct work it’s a proper installation it’s the right hot water heating systems, a lot more places are going to the instantaneous. And then also, more energy efficient furnaces, and then also the use of solar. So it’s pretty deep. And if people want to geek out on it, this is one of those really interesting things, where it can it can go on and on. You know, sometimes it’s simple stuff, like some places, and I’m sure people have seen us, you know, someone’s there, they, they frame up a house, the plumber comes in, he a hole through a wall for a spigot or an electrician cuts a hole for an outdoor electric socket and they don’t put caulking around it.
Right. You know to stop the air infiltration. So yeah it’s one of those things people don’t pay a lot of attention to but every time they get the monthly bill for utility they get reminded about it.
Interviewer: Yeah it’s very involved but it’s also something that yeah everyone who’s planning on building a home should keep an eye out and You know, it just everything is let’s stick with design a little bit because everything is sort of it all comes back to the initial design So let’s talk about the Landmark Home and Land Compay offering plumbing electrical and heating design And that’s a whole another design aspect in on in itself. I would imagine.
Steve Tuma: Yes it is Plumbing, electrical and heating design is getting to be more and more interesting. Now, most places plumbing, they just want to know where the water supply lines come in, where hot and cold goes and drainage line goes, where toilets are, where sinks are, where spigots are.
That’s relatively simple and straightforward. Sometimes building departments will ask for different individual details which we can take care of. Electrical design, kind of like plumbing, is a relatively simple project that we take care of. It’s simple for us because we do it so much and it shows where electric sockets are, where switches are, any typical lighting for codes. But some building departments get a little deeper. They want to know the size of wires or other separate circuits and say appliances in the kitchen or islands or things like that. Other times, customers will have special requests. We’ve helped a lot of people, you know, car guys, they have a big garage where they restore cars or they like working on their own cars or, you know, father son projects or father daughter projects on, you know, restoring the old truck where they’ll need special circuits or in some places even special computer circuits, you know, if people want certain cables. So we can work with those details as well, as well as more day.
Sometimes people want to detail out hey I want a ceiling fan here, I want a ceiling fan here, I need extra ventilation. And in some cases the electrical plan is tied to the energy calculation because the energy calculations may dictate recirculating fans for the house. Whole home fans so that there’s certain amount of air exchanges in the house. So that’s so we can work with it but most people 95 percent are typical layouts showing where the electric sockets are where the switches are where lights are things like that it works but if someone’s building department or their individual desire to have extremely complete plans we can do it most homes are 200 amps at that case generally they don’t need electrical engineering if they get above 200 amps some building departments will ask for actual electrical engineering load calculations and other details which we can do.
Now the one which is getting to be more and more popular is actual heating design because a lot of people say well you know I’ve been building for 30 years and I always put 100,000 BTU furnace in a house. Well 30 years ago people weren’t insulating houses the way they are. They didn’t have the better performing windows as they do today. So sometimes if you have too big of a furnace you’re going to be wasting fuel. So actually a lot of these bigger homes need smaller furnaces because they’re not losing the heat or the air the cool as they would have 30 or 40 years ago. So sometimes the building department will just ask us hey where do you want the furnace you know where do you want the hot water heater. Other customers will ask us to go through and actually do a manual J.S. manuals J.S. and D. which are heat locks calculations, sizing of the furnace and duct layouts and in some cases actual register design as well to make sure that the air circulates properly. So what that is, is a justification of the heat design based on the energy calculation. So they’ll go through and say hey here’s house of a certain size it’s in this type of a climate you know whether it’s hot cold moderate and they’ll figure out the heat loss it’ll have and then they’ll will design specifically the exact furnace and air conditioning system that are there now what’s really cool is you know technologies evolving and these mini split systems are coming out that are sometimes easier and more affordable for people to install and it also allows for easier zone heating and cooling. So we could work with the mini-split systems as well, air pumps, whatever might be typical in the area.
We also are working with people that are going off-grid. Even so, sometimes, even though the customer wants to build off-grid, sometimes the building department says, well, you still gotta stay a little. You still have to have a heat system to keep a house to a certain temperature under certain conditions. So we can work with people through those different details. It’s pretty interesting. Another thing on heating is people with wood stoves and fireplaces. You know, what wood stove are they using? What fireplace are they using? How does it fit in there? How does it need to be ducted? What types of clearance are there? So there’s a lot of details that we need to look at. And we can help people with it. And we’re glad to explain it with them as well.
Interviewer: It’s a lot to remember, so it’s nice to know that your Landmark Home and Land Compay’s a phone call away because there’s a lot to building and it’s not daunting. It’s actually sounds like it could be a lot of fun in a lot of ways, but it’s just nice to know that you guys are a phone call away to help out with this stuff.
Steve Tuma: The key to it is when I start working with people, they have my direct cell phone, so it’s also a phone call that’s answered. For some reason, I’m on voicemail, you get my voicemail, I’ll call right away. And get you taken care of. So it’s the customer service that allows a customer to keep on moving forward and understand their project. That’s the key element.
Interviewer: Right. And you guys talk about coordination with civil engineers. Tell us about that process.
Steve Tuma: That’s happening more and more. Basically flood situations, drainage situations, grade situations. So you know it seems now that we’ve just got a lot more situations where you hear more about natural disasters. I don’t know if they’re happening more, their internet just spreads it quicker. But the point is there’s floods. So someone might go through and say, ah, you know, it’s a hundred year flood zone. This never happens. Well, there’s a lot of places where there’s been hundred year floods every couple of years. So what people want to do is make sure that their house is positioned properly. First, there’s a variety of different situations, floods, storm surges, and then different situations like, can a fire truck get in the driveway? You know, just working on things.
If you’ve got a more complex piece of land, say on the side of a hill, in any mountain range, how does the house sit on there? How is the driveway going to get up there? Where’s the septic going to be? How are the utilities going to get in? So it’s just kind of engineering the land so the house can be usable. sure you can’t just always take a piece of land and stick a house on it and think that it’s just going to naturally work maybe on a flat piece of land with a simple design it would work but as your land gets more intricate whether it’s in hurricane zones flood zones storm surges mountainsides different communities that have you know control more of their drainage situations that that will work now this is one thing which is interesting we were working it working in a very nice beach community in Southern California and in those cases the we had to work with different things hardscape which you know in a simplicity is like a cement patio where that actually helps because it’s not something that people water and introduce water to sure so then also if people so by working with that you need someone to do the calculation to say hey under a big rain what are the conditions hey if this is um if this is landscape land that’s going to have water what’s happening with that water that’s there so that water from this house doesn’t go into the neighbors the neighbor’s property so there there’s a lot of uh a lot of cool situations where the civil engineering really helps put it together everyone can say You know everyone knows a friend that whose house was fine up until the neighbor next door built a house And then suddenly a puddle ended up in their yard It’s to avoid things like that sure but also make sure you can easily get in and out of your driveway.
You know make sure that Emergency vehicles can access it make sure it’s reasonable You know where are the utilities and it places with people with pools? They make sure drainage is right you know make sure you got patios so that you don’t design something where say you had a beautiful home with a cement patio in the back and then you know the husband has his man cave with a car with more cement patio and then you find under a big rain that all the cement the water doesn’t go through the cement it flows over the cement and find out that you created a funnel in your yard right so it’s a lot of that just working with it to make sure it works now like I say some areas they don’t even care about it they’re like oh the contractor will figure it out he’ll put the slab in the right place and maybe that’ll work other places are very specific and knowing that the exact design is there and some of these that we’re working on and some of these areas that it’s pretty interesting to see what’s going on we have one project in southern California right now where the nature of the road conditions the roads that were planted create essentially a pond at an intersection right where one of our customers houses is. Right. So someone says in southern California that doesn’t rain there.
Well there’s mega rains and storms that can come through there and every once in a while they do it. So it’s better to know before you get into the project that there’s one of these flooding areas that’s created by the nature of the road that’s there. So it’s pretty cool. Again we don’t want to scare people with this. It’s just the nature of the project. If your building department requires or you want to get it done we you would get your own civil engineer but we work with them with the plans to kind of work together to make sure the house fits on the land for the for the proper design more and more places are becoming concerned with civil engineer mainly we’re big mountains mm-hmm or you know parts of California Washington State and occasionally on the East Coast you were we’re seeing some states that are now adopting it. And then these grading and drainage plans, we’re also starting to see more of that in Florida because of the storm surges. After each hurricane comes through, a little bit more data has changed. So just because someone told you that 10 years ago base flood elevation is 10 feet in an area, FEMA could have changed it. Now it’s 12 feet. So it’s stuff where you want to have accurate information.
Interviewer: It sounds like Landmark Home and Land Compay is really in like helping the customer just to review the building department requirements I mean that that could be a daunting task I’m sure it’s nice to have you a phone call away again you know.
Steve Tuma: Right but it’s not just the building department because they don’t cover all the things so the goal is yes the goal is to have an accurate set of plans for building but the building department doesn’t guarantee that their check is sensible mm-hmm for the land so that that’s why we have the capability of looking at the project. What a lot of people don’t understand is you can have someone draw a set of plans. You know some people have a son or friend or neighbor some associate somehow that for five hundred dollars will draw a set of plans and the customers think all plans are the same.
That’s kind of like saying every chicken sandwich in America is the same. It’s just a piece of chicken on a bun. It’s not the case. So that’s why going through with Landmark, we help with the plans to work so that the home fits on the land. It’s not just a panelization service saying, hey, here’s your panelized home. Hope it goes together and hope it doesn’t flood and hope your driveway works and hope your energy codes work. And by the way, you have to get your own structural engineer and you have to do your own energy calculation. It becomes a little bit of spider’s web there where you can get caught so it’s good to have a complete understanding and like I say we answer the phone we’ll talk to you we’ll spend the time to explain to you what the process would be for the best design possibilities so that you end up with a well-designed home you don’t want to have a beautiful home and then find out your basement floods.
Interviewer: Right so they’re acting you guys are there to do basically that building department checklist and make sure that you go by one by one of what the customers’ needs are going to be regarding plans and how the building department looks into those.
Steve Tuma: So that’s right project specific. Right yeah. Like your house on your piece of land. You know so it’s the building department requirements but checklist is interesting because they typically have some building departments most of them will have a checklist of what they want on the plans. But what’s interesting about it some of these building departments aren’t as organized as you would believe they are or they should be. Right. So some of them won’t even pay attention to their checklist. Some of them will be very specific and on top of it and organized. Others will give you a checklist. You turn your plans in and they may have a follow-up checklist saying hey we need clarification on this and that which is fine. If that that shows up it’s common. We can do those changes and turn it in. Generally after you do that they give you a permit but we are running into more building departments that will continuously have a new checklist because for some reason, they don’t have an ability to look at the set of plans up front and do it.
They do pieces here and pieces here and bring this out and bring that out and a second checklist could have items that were never even on the first checklist. So, those are things that we can deal with and a lot of people get intimidated by that. Well, it’s our game. It’s what we deal with every day. So, Chances are what your building department is asking for, even though it might sound like some alien language to you, chances are we’ve seen it and we can get it taken care of. So that’s what we do is we look at the building department checklist to see what’s required, make sure the plan set’s complete, but also have our own details on the plans that we know are of essence to building the house properly. So it’s not just a matter of make sure the building department’s right, make sure the plan set is right so your contractors understand it. Right. So that’s why you want to do it. Planning the home is the most important thing. Make sure the house fits on the land. Make sure the foundation’s right. It avoids changes during the building process. It avoids hurting your budget. It avoids hurting your schedule. It just gets rid of headaches. And that’s what we do. So you got to watch out when someone says hey I bought this set of plans. You know my neighbor who’s the best guy on earth and planning is you know put it together. Or hey I got it from this plan service they told me I could build from them, and I’m like, well, you might be able to build, but chances are it needs a lot more detailing to apply for your project, your building department, and get that taken care of. And that’s what we do. We put a reality check of the dream of drawing to how does it actually get built.
Interviewer: Yeah. There’s something on the website where you guys offer the panelized package to match the approved plans. And it seems to me like that’s pretty cut and dry, but there’s got to be more it than that. So explain to that what that what that service is.
Steve Tuma: It sounds weird, right? It’s like why wouldn’t someone send a panelized home that matches the approved plan? Right. Well, if they didn’t pay attention to the panel, if they didn’t do the plans, if they didn’t do the plans accurately, if they weren’t involved with the plan check, they may not even know it’s approved. they might it and this happens it’s as weird as it may be people will buy material lists or different packages that are for a house of what that vendor chooses to sell you uh-huh right okay so there’s a difference of what’s designed what fits on your land what meets energy codes what’s right for your land what you want what your building department is approved compared to what a supplier will choose to deliver. There’s a lot of work to be done on energy code, structural design, and architectural codes. People don’t want to go through the work. That’s our forte. That’s what we do. That’s where we’re very good at figuring it out. So where it helps the owner-builder is say that there’s ten steps to getting, you know, something approved. There’s actually way more. I’m just using that for an example. There’s a confidence that what’s drawn gets approved by the building department, the budgets will send the matching panelized package so that they don’t go through and say hey why did this change hey I wanted a two-car garage you but only one was there right we do the plans make sure it’s built through the process of designing developing the permit plans in the back we’re working with a production facility and make sure trusses are built right idroids layouts are right. Bean positioning is right.
The connections are there. And that is the key element. It is an incredible amount of work to make sure that the right materials show up for your approved plans, compared to some people that might be like, well, let’s just get a bunch of materials out there and see what else we need. Well, that’s a way to get into cost overruns, frustration, and breaking your schedule. It’s aggravating. It’s stupid. It’s all controllable up front, but people don’t want to spend the time to plan it out properly up front. And that’s what we do.
Interviewer: Right. So you guys offer a complete and accurate set of building plans, of course, but how does that lead into like the basics, like easier permitting and building and inspection phases with, you know, unified plans that work for the permitting and the building of the actual house?
Steve Tuma: Where it’s easier as a lot of people don’t realize this but they think hey you go to someone that’s a quote pro in the business you think that they’re doing a complete set of plans okay kind of kind of like a doctor you go there and you say hey my knee hurts and then he says well take an aspirin and see what it’s like tomorrow another doctor will like look at your knee and wonder what’s going on and say, hey, your knee isn’t working right or you’re old or weight or whatever conditions are there. Someone else will go back and say, hey, what were you doing that created? So it’s a different level of knowledge and caring to get it taken care of. So a good accurate set of plans with a building department that’s paying attention will be easier for the plan checker to understand and raise less questions. So they can tell that, hey, complying with their codes the way they enforce them.
Their interpretation of what they believe they need to issue a permit. Where it goes through in building is there aren’t any loose ends. Sure. Okay we’ve gotten plans and we’ve worked with different customers that say well you know my cousin’s a builder he’ll just make that work and I’m like well I’m sure he can make that work but what’s the end result going to be? Is it going to be what you want? You know, and the people say, well, he’s been doing it for 20 or 30 years. I’m like, that’s great. But don’t you want to build a house that you want and understand where your cathedral ceiling is, how big your window is, how big your garage is and avoid that. So by planning it upfront and getting through all of it, there’s less changes through there, less what ifs. And the funny thing about this, all these what ifs come up five and six o’clock on Friday before a holiday. Right. It’s just annoying. Take the time up front to build it and then you avoid the issues. People say home building is stressful and yes it can be. But how much of that stress is because people aren’t paying attention up front? Doing the job right to properly design and specify the home on a piece of paper, get it approved and build it compared to saying, oh we’ll just deal with that later. That’s kicking the can down the road and it is going to lead to a bigger headache. So, what ends up happening is when you have an accurate set of plans, permitting is easier, the building phases are easier, and then when we build what’s approved on the plans, you don’t run into as many inspection issues. If someone’s out there just haphazardly saying, I’m going to add a window, I’m going to move a door, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that, well, that can affect a lot of the structural components. So if you’re in an area where building inspectors pay attention, and most of them do, they’re going to say, hey, your shear wall is affected. You proved a 3 by 5 window. You now have a 20 foot by 10 foot nano wall, one of those big accordion walls.
The shear structure is there. What about the size of your head or what about the wind loads against it? It creates issues. So someone might say, hey, the inspector is being a jerk. Well, is the inspector being a jerk or is he avoiding the problem? Now, I don’t want to sit here and say inspectors are good and bad. But the point is, by having a well-designed home, a good execution of that with the right panelized package that we supply, there’s less of a chance of issues like this arising where someone says, hey, what if, what if, what if. So that’s what it is. It’s the unified plans project that what is on the plans and gets approved by the building department, the materials we supply are going to match that. Sure. Yeah. So it’s, you know, it’s going to be a situation where it just makes the whole process easier. And it’s not just the ease, it’s staying on schedule, staying and, you know, working and staying in your budget and just avoiding aggravation.
Interviewer: Yeah. This may sound like a dumb question but, you know, you know, on the website it talks about how Landmark Home and Land company offers a complete and accurate set of building plans and a clear and accurate set of assembly plans. What is the difference between a building plan and an assembly plan? I’m curious.
Steve Tuma: Well the building plans are like a complete setup. The architectural, structural plans, electrical plans. So let’s just say an electrician he could look at the electrical layout and go okay now I know where the sockets are now I know where you know the ceiling fans are, any computer cabling, you know, any special circuits that need to be in a home. A plumber knows where the toilets are, you know, where the sinks are. The foundation guy knows the size of the foundation, the dimensions of the details of the foundation to build. So that would encompass the building plans.
The clear and accurate set of assembly plans is the assembly of the panelized package. Where does each wall panel go? Where does each truss go? Where do the beams go? The puzzle pieces of actually building the house. Yeah in a sense puzzle piece is an easy way to put it but they usually don’t give you the answer in puzzles. So we’re kind of saying you know for example let’s just say for simplicity purposes let’s just say someone had a 40-foot wall in a conventional ranch home. We might make that in a five eight-foot wall sections. So it’s start wall one, wall two, wall three. So you can go to the panels and say hey here’s wall one, wall two, wall three and you put it up. So what that does is it allows people to understand where the placement of the panels go. So it’s quicker to assemble the home. They know where each truss gets placed. There’s a detail of each truss so you see what it looks like as well as with the wall panels. So you is eight feet wide and has two windows in it. They can see that. So, that’s the key. So, the building plans are more the design for permitting and the execution of the complete building process. The assembly plans are more for the panelized package. Where do the floor joints go? Where are the beams at? Where are the wall panels? Where are the roof trusses? Details like that. And it’s very important. A lot of people don’t do it. They put stuff together and then later look at the instructions we say look at the instructions it’s right there and it just goes together fast it’s amazing you know the calls that we get from people saying man this is up I’m halfway up and they’re two days into it and they’re on a big house or the execution you know where it’s more of an assembly instead of a thinking cutting calculating it’s more of just put wall panel one up wall panel two up that’s the that that’s the key to it and those are things people don’t think about. When they call they’re like, hey I want a panelized home.
I’m talking to a stick builder. I’m thinking about going modular. Well that’s one component but what about the overall plan? You can’t just look at the tree in the forest. You got to understand what’s going on in the forest is a good relationship to it to help someone understand how the whole project is because we are providing way more than panelized homes. People find us wanting to purchase a panelized home. They buy from us and working with us because of the design the support the assembly plans the ease of executing the panelized package the panelized packages I’d like to say I don’t want to undercut it but it’s actually the easier part the designing and making sure things flow and the customer support that kind of you know is where we shine on it and I think that’s why people really under enjoy working with us because it’s not like a lumberyard where someone says, well, you ordered a two by six, we gave it to you. We tell you why the two by six is there, what it’s doing there, where it needs to be positioned and go on from there. And we also have the capability if someone needed to do a change to be able to guide them on how to properly do the change, so.
Interviewer: Well, all of this leads to one thing that I know Landmark Helm and Land Company is quite famous for, and that’s customer service. I mean, from just working with you on these podcasts, I’ve learned so much. And mostly what I’ve learned is just how knowledgeable Landmark Home and Land Company is. I mean, understanding the building codes, the permitting. You guys have 30 years of experience. That’s insane. There’s also the…
Steve Tuma: Same ownership. We founded it.
Interviewer: Right. 30 years. That’s insane. That’s great.
Steve Tuma: We broke a record a month ago, a customer from 23 years ago called up and said, Steve, remember me? I want to do it again. I’m like, yeah, Rich, what’s up? Let’s help you build another house. That’s amazing.
Interviewer: That’s amazing. Yeah, and I think that all stems from the fact that you guys, first of all, your responsiveness, your quick reaction to, you’re not famous for a lot of voicemails, you guys are there answering the phone, you resolve issues, you build relationships with your customers to allow a project to run much more smoothly, your attention to detail, that’s just something that people don’t even think about when they think about customer services. Like, it’s all the little things that help to sort of build this partnership with the owner builder and take a lot of the stress, as we were saying, out of home building. And you’ve got to be pretty proud about that.
Steve Tuma: Oh, that’s actually the fun part. In a sense, it’s, you know, we have a very strong pulse. I work with every single customer on every single project. So I have a very strong understanding of what’s going there. we don’t have 50 layers of people it’s very lean trim you know if someone calls me up and says hey Steve what about this window can I do this can I do that if I don’t have the answer I have a direct line to the designers and engineers to get an answer very quickly to see how we resolve it but a lot of it’s because we are directly involved every day with the pulse of it we don’t have big community meetings we don’t have a boardroom with 20 tables at it for people to ask questions and create confusion. It’s kind of like the buck stops here type of thing. If the customer needs something now, hopefully we’ve taken care of it upfront, so they understand it’s in the plans. But if they come up with something and say, hey, we have something happening, we’re having a kid, we suddenly need to change this family room into a fourth bedroom or a nursery that can later convert to this or hey, we bought a boat, can we change it? We have an understanding of how to get it taken care of so that when a customer calls, emails, texts, whatever it may be, we can work with them, understand the situation and get them taken care of in an accurate and effective way. I’m a consumer myself and all of us have great experiences with our cable companies or internet companies or whatever where someone says, I’ll get back with you.
A week later, you’re twiddling your thumbs after you leave five messages. No, we answer the phone. If we can’t answer right away, we’re likely on the phone with someone else and we’ll get back with you right away. We pride ourselves in communication, knowledge, responsiveness, passion, and tell you the truth, have a good time doing it. Right. It’s a lot of work. We work long hours. We do everything we can to help every single customer specifically to their problem. We want to enjoy it. It’s a two-way street. Customers want a good company, good designer, good structural engineering services. We want to know we have solid customers that are intent on building good homes. Solid homes, the best home that they can do.
Interviewer: And when you bottom-line everything, really what you’re saying, what Landmark Home and Land Compay are saying, is why should the experience of building a new home be a pain? There’s always going to be issues on any project, but why does dealing with and solving issues necessarily have to be unpleasant.
Steve Tuma: Right and the thing is you know I’ll relate it to like an internet outage that’s gonna happen but when you don’t get a call back or you get empty answers that’s when it really becomes annoying and it’s just it’s played plain stupid you know you know so what we do is we work to have a relationship with our customer to understand what’s going on what’s cool about is our understanding of details building 30 years working with owner builders working around the country and around the world is a customer may ask a question and sometimes it’s a very precise answer other times they’re asking a question because they don’t know what it leads to the domino effect of five and ten follow-up questions so we’re able to work with them to say hey you’re asking can I my driveway but I’m saying hey wait we need a grading plan can the fire department get in there is there a big boulder there you have to work around a tree are you on a hill so we need to have an understanding what’s going on so if even people that have built a long time there’s stuff that just it doesn’t hit them sure it doesn’t say doesn’t say something people send us plans for a house on a slab and they’re building on the side of a hill well you can do that but you might have to do a lot of work so is it better to do a crawl space or some type of a walkout basement so sometimes the question is there and I think what people will really appreciate is the understanding of the problem so it becomes a problem-solving situation not just an answer the question right someone says hey can I put a slab on the side of a hill in a mountain yeah well someone might take that as an answer the reality is but wait before we decide to slab what’s situation.
Is there something with the side of a hill? Can you have a building pad there? Can your driveway still access it? Why do you want a slab? Maybe a basement with different height walls is actually better. You know so there’s a lot of different situations that can go through. People say things like hey I was out with my friend and he said that I definitely have to put solar on my home and I’m building up in Humboldt County California with redwoods all over. Do I have to cut this beautiful redwood down? No. You don’t have to do that. You know someone will go through and say, hey my neighbor has a house on a slab in in Florida. Why do I have to put my house on stilts? Well that home was built in 1940. You know before they understood these flood elevation things or different situations like that where they’d be like well my neighbor was at base flood elevation of 10 feet.
Why do I have to go 12? well FEMA changed the maps FEMA changed the flood zones as they learn things so that that’s one of those things that that we can go through and also on man this is this is getting interesting you like hit a spot because this is one I can go for hours on it this is this is the reality of stuff mm-hmm we had a customer doing an exceptionally beautiful home in a very expensive piece of land in Southern California overlooking the ocean and there’s a thing called shear walls which is basically putting strength in a wall to keep the wall from racking you know being blown over but you also have to look at wind you have to look at seismic codes well there was a window that they had that was a let’s just say it was 15 feet wide and a wall that was about 25 feet wide so there’s five feet of wood on each side and then the wall in the middle well they wanted for a view for that window just to like six inches wider six inches or a foot wider well that limited the structural components to the side of the windows which then did not have enough strength to support it they had to then bring in steel framing systems so someone will say but come on Steve it’s only six inches wider well that put it beyond the limits oh right yeah so we can explain to people hey this is why it’s going on and when people understand what’s going on they appreciate it It’s the cool part of the building. People are building their own home to control the quality, know what’s going on. And it’s kind of just a cool thing they want to do. So we’re able to work with them to explain why certain situations have to be put. I could go on for hours. I don’t know.
Interviewer: Well, that’s one of the passion that you have for your business comes through when I hear you talk about like, you know, just anecdotal stuff. It’s like, wow, the guy’s really into building houses. It’s really pretty cool.
Steve Tuma: Uh this this is this we we’ve been doing this 30 years by choice because it’s fun it’s yeah it’s a job but it’s not a job as some people do it you know they say 90 some percent of America doesn’t enjoy the job we’re on the good side of that you know we enjoy it it’s kind of one of these passions and as you go through and do these different projects and understand it and truly experience it that that’s what allows us to do it where i work with every single customer on every single project and component of the project so there’s a lot of knowledge and a lot of understanding and I think that’s uh that’s a big reason why people buy it’s not just calling someone and saying hey can you deliver a pile of wood it’s how is it designed right how is it going to work right how you know how’s the process going to go how are we going to work to stay budget how are we going to keep this accurate that that’s the element of it you know like I mentioned before people come to us because the panelization but they stay because the service the knowledge the support the getting it taken care of yeah that that’s the key element we’re a partner we got your back we’re here having fun with it you know and we’re doing what we can’t avoid the pitfalls and make it an enjoyable process it’s a great experience looking back at it it’s just it’s just amazing. We’ve been doing it 30 years. It’s still cool to contact a customer when a house is being framed or done or if we have communication with them a year or two later to see how their lives have been impacted by building a home they want that they enjoy in a place where they want to be in and see how it affects people’s lives. It’s just really cool. It’s an amazing process.
Interviewer: Well great information as always and Steve before we cut you loose, as we always do, please tell the audience how best to contact Landmark Home and Land Compay if one is looking to get more info into building a new panelized prefab home.
Steve Tuma: The best way to do it is take a look at our website. We’ve got plans on there, videos, these podcasts, different details, and you can send an inquiry through there and Mike will respond to you very quickly. If you like, you’re always welcome to call in. We are real people with real knowledge that are willing to take the time to talk to you to find out exactly what your project is like and how we can work to enhance your efforts and that phone number is 800-830-9788 again it’s 800-830-9788 and Michael work with you and it once you get to a certain point I’ll become involved I’ll give you my direct cell phone number where you can communicate with me I make myself available we work and do it. The key to it is the hands-on kind of approach you know working together as partnerships to make sure it’s put together right. Yep. And enjoy it.
Interviewer: That’s the bottom line. There it is. All right so that’s gonna wrap it up for us today on the panelized prefab kit home building show. So for Steve Tuma and myself, thanks for listening and we will see you next time. Thanks Steve.
Steve Tuma: Have a great day, this was a lot of fun!