Why Home Building Plans Are Important

Why Home Building Plans Are Important

Show Notes:

Discussing why Home Building Plans are important, a complete set of plans is important, and how it helps the customer to actually understand what it is they’re building.


Steve Tuma: A lot of people say, Hey, we supply panelized homes and it’s true, but the way you use a
piece of wood, how it’s used and is it used right for codes and the structural concerns
and the aesthetic designs of a home is very important.

Interviewer: Hello everyone, and thank you for joining us for episode 47 of the panelized prefab
kit home building show. With me as always is the president and founder of Landmark Home and Land Company, A company which has been helping people build their new homes where they want, exactly as
they want, nationwide and around the globe since 1993. Mr. Steve Tuma, Steve, how are you, my friend?

Steve Tuma: Things are well. People are building and we’re actually getting in a time in our history.
We’ve been helping customers for 30 years. We’re just a whole variety of different houses, different types of houses, homes for different purposes. Sometimes they’re vacation homes, third homes, fourth homes,
retirement homes, first homes, spec homes, builders building things. So it’s kind of an interesting time, but we’re able to help people because they’re fundamental businesses help people design the home they want at the price and for the location that they want to build.

Interviewer: Right. Well, for today’s episode, I wanted to get something. I wanted to go over something
believe it or not, we have yet to touch upon as yet on this show something so simple that I think we just let it slip under the radar but it’s actually a very important topic and that’s the question of why a complete set of plans is important and how it helps the customer to actually understand what it is they’re building. I know it sounds silly but I’d imagine that some customers have a dream and vision in their heads but the actual knowledge base surrounding what it is to be an owner builder might be a little vague in their minds. So, you know, without a great set of plans and also let’s talk about how Landmark Home and Land Company is so adept at helping the customer understand the ins and outs of planning and building their new panelized home and how exactly you guys at Landmark are able to get them up to speed before
beginning the process.

Steve Tuma: You know, I think that’s a very important thing, because a lot of people say, Hey, we supply panelized homes, and it’s true. But the way you use a piece of wood, how it’s used, and is it used right for codes and the structural concerns and the aesthetic designs of a home is very important. So the reality of what we supply, it’s the actual product that shows up on site is a panelized home package. But most homes, like almost anywhere in the country, you need to have a set of permits, you’re going work with contractors, you’re going to work on your budget to understand what’s being built. So having an accurate set of plans is very important. That, although it doesn’t give the appearance that of being the most important part of the project, the plans are the most important part.

So you can understand what you’re building. You know, if you have to get financing, you’ve got to work with building permits, you’ve got to work with the contractors. Everyone can understand what’s going on. Sometimes we’ll have people that say, hey, we sketched something up, we found an architectural design thing online, I don’t need plans. It’s like, well, that’s a conceptualization process. But the actual details, the structural design, how’s it standing up? Are hallways wide enough? Is there enough space around toilets? Different code issues have to be considered. Can duct work be run? Can plumbing be run? How does the electric work out? It’s there. So I kind of joke with it. you know not having a good set of plans is like letting someone randomly go through the grocery store and hope they bring stuff home for the dinner that you want to have someone could be like hey I saw a piece of bread I saw a piece of chicken I saw a pineapple and then then I saw a pig’s feet or something let’s go make dinner out of it you’re gonna be like well so what does that do for us so it’s probably better to have an idea to say hey we want to have a you know we want to grill chicken and make a certain type of a salad, so you have a better idea of what you’re going to do. So building a home is a lot more complex, but it’s the same understanding. You want to know what it is. It’s not just get a pile of wood, nail it together and hope the house you want is magically there. It’s an idea that you want to go through and properly design it. So all the different contractors understand what’s going on. You know what’s going on. The building department knows what’s going on.

So it’s clear to everyone what’s there. So a detailed set of plans takes some time. There’s a cost to getting them put together, which is all part of our package. We wrap it into an all-in-one. But in the long run, the time that you spend accurately planning your home will save you money and headaches down the road. Right. And change orders and scheduling issues. So it’s, we look at it as doing your homework up and also it’s easier to change something on a piece of paper you know PDF in today’s world then then it is to build a house and say gee I don’t want something there mm-hmm I didn’t know that and we’re also trying to eliminate situations where people design a home and then they walk into it and they’re like I don’t want that there you know they can look at it the plants take the time to understand things and work it out yeah and that that is the key element to it is the work that you do up front to design it yeah now something someone might say well how do you think of this I mean how do you possibly know what size window you want in the living room how big of a garage door how how tall your basement should be so we’re we’re knowledgeable we’re understanding we can help people guide through the process and have an understanding the reality is most people know what they want they might say something like hey I want a two-car garage well okay that depends on where you’re at. If you’re out in the country, your two car garage is probably bigger than in a beach community on the oceanfront in California where garages might be smaller, just because of limited lot sizes. It’s also something we get into some people where their car is a big dual cab extended bed truck.

So that idea of a car compared to people that live in a tighter community tighter you know geographic space might might have a smaller car so we’re able to work with people to help them sort the issues out draw it on paper so that then they can review and verify that everything’s there and I can’t stress the value of the time that you take up front to design a home how many headaches will save you scheduling issues budget issues that that it’ll help. It also really helps in the what I believe is the communication between all the people that are involved. When it’s on a set of plans clear it’s hard for someone to say I didn’t know you wanted that right because it’s right there on the plans. So it actually helps in the the planning process, the permitting process, the building process, and the approval process. And that’s compounded by also helping with the schedule and the complete overall operation. So it takes a little bit of time up front. You know, people are always excited. Hey, when can I start digging? Well, that’s important, but it’s also very important to know why you’re digging the hole, where it’s gonna be in the house that you’re gonna build. So I gotta tell people at a certain point, it’s like peeling an onion. You’re not necessarily gonna know everything up front and every detail of your house. Initially, people start with the general form. What does it look like on the outside? What are the rooms like on the inside? Then when they work with that they might fine-tune. Hey, how’s the kitchen laid out? How’s the bathroom laid out? How’s the family room laid out? The man cave? The garage?
So we can go through a variety of revisions of plans just to get things really fine-tuned so it works. Now
What’s what’s kind of cool is behind the scenes I’m working with the structural people the production people to make sure that we’re doing something that makes sense Because, amazingly, you can draw things that are very expensive or hard to build. Our process minimizes the chance of that occurring by going through and having these reviews during the process, making sure the trusses are built right, the roof system, what type of floor system for your particular project, and that’s very key. And ultimately, how is the home setting on the land? Yeah, you know if you build a simple box home say on flat farmland in the Midwest It’s a lot different than if you took that exact floor plan and put it say in California on the side of a hill on an earthquake zone, right or took that exact plan and put it on stilts in Florida Where it’s hurricane so there’s a lot of details of how it attaches to land is the land flat Is there a slope are there geotechnical issues? You know different things like that, but I don’t want to make it too complicated I just want to point out say that’s how we help people You know so people say hey, I want to build this house here. We can help them through the process It’s kind of cool, and I think once people get into it. They they kind of enjoy it.

Interviewer: It is funny how you talk about just the basics But if it’s not laid out for you in black and white like to walk in and say well Yeah, I didn’t think the fireplace is gonna be against that wall Okay, right Now, another important thing is, and tell me if I’m wrong, but you guys at Landmark Home and Land Company, you’re also there to help in the development of an actual building budget, which let’s face it, without a true understanding of a customer’s budget, the project budget, and how best to adjust the bill to that budget. Things could go a little south before they’ve ever begun, so how do you guys at Landmark and land company help develop the budget for any project?

Steve Tuma: Well the budget situation is kind of interesting because that gets back to the plans situation having an accurate set of plans like what siding you’re gonna have are you having stone is a vinyl is it a cement board is it a real wood whatever it is we develop the set of plans so that when our customers are working with their suppliers or contractors or doing some of the work themselves they have an Understanding of what’s there so we don’t get deep into getting the actual budget and saying hey, you know Here’s three bids we give people the information and if they need guidance on how to obtain bids They can go through and get it get it put together There there’s a lot of situations in different parts of the country where different communities can cost a lot more than one ten miles away So sometimes people will say well I found this app or I found this website or someone had a book and I they say what do you think of that I’m like well you might want to use that as a target just to see if you’re in the right thing but the reality is you should go get estimates for the actual processes so that that it is because take that example I just spoke about if you had a boxy home in your building in a flat farmland in Iowa it’s a lot different than if you took that exact same design and put it on the ocean in California or on stilts in or on expansive soils in Texas. Right. So that’s that’s one of these things. Your your land situations, your location, the market that you’re in can greatly do it. So we’re believers in like I say doing the homework up front. Know what you’re getting into. You don’t want to look at it and say hey my friend knows everything you know he’s a champion on the bowling team and he told me this house is gonna cost so much and he wouldn’t misrepresent it. I’m like sure he wouldn’t but you want accurate information to go through to make sure that what you’re building is right whether you’re going with financing or your own cash because you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re guessing or you know looking through your budget with your rose rose-colored glasses you want to make sure you’ve got an accurate budget and that’s what’s key the support we provide by having accurate plans for your house on the can then look at something and say hey this is a house with a walkout basement the foundations 20 by 40 this is how high the wall is these are step down walls here’s frost walls we can then go through and and get those details put together so I think that’s that that’s the point where we give them in a sense all the support so they can go get accurate bids now sometimes our customers are more experienced some are less experienced but Amazingly, they’re able to go through get good contractors, but if they ever have questions, you know contractors like hey, what’s going on here? What’s going on there? We are always available For them to email text or call us to to get details so that the contractor is a full understanding.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm, you know this all boils down to Communication really I’m thinking that without without some very solid communication beforehand In other words, without a company like Landmark Home and Land Company and your hands-on approach to customer service and follow-up, the chances of miscommunication can become a real problem when building a new home.

Steve Tuma: Right. The chances are there, but we do everything to minimize. With accurate ground information, you know, hey, are you building on the side of a hill? Are you on flat land? Different things, just experiences that we’ve had where we go through and we can kind of talk to the customer to see what really needs to be taken care of. So that over time evolves into a set of plans that’s accurate for the site as well as accurate for what our customer intends to build.

Interviewer: Right. Do you find over the years, because a lot of, I’ve heard it so many times people say, you know what, we’ve gotten jobs just because we answer the phone. And I’ve heard you say that too. And how, that’s part of the communication thing. How much do I think Landmark Home and Land Company has been able to grow and to help more and more people simply because you guys are there.

Steve Tuma: Customer service is extremely important. This is a partnership. It’s our customer choosing to build their home, but in a sense, it’s our home too. We don’t want a customer to set themselves up for failure, nor for us to say, yeah, go do something. And no, it doesn’t make sense. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to be available and communicate clearly and have a very solid relationship so that the customer feels comfortable calling. We’ve had some people call 10, 15 times a day saying, hey Steve, I was thinking about this, or hey, I just met my foundation guy, or hey, what about this? That’s what we do. It’s that support so that the customer understands the project, not just in their mind, but on the piece of paper so that they can go through and do it. We’ve worked with extremely experienced builders, developers. We’ve also worked with people that probably know what a hammer is, but have never used one. But they have an ability to manage and coordinate the project. So the support we supply, you know, I have a rule, you know, once a customer starts working with us, if a customer calls, you answer the phone. That includes nights, weekends, if I’m awake, you know, I’ll answer the phone and help something through because not everything happens during the business week. You might be meeting a contractor on weekends or nights, or the husband and wife are only together at certain times to really review things. So we want to be available. So if we can take a call and answer a question for a minute or two and help the process move forward, it’s there. And I think that’s where the big difference is, where we really excel. Because I’m a consumer myself. All of us have experience calling, quote, customer service lines. You know, you hear the same music, you sit there and then you talk to someone that may not actually be a pro.

They have an ability to answer the phone, but they don’t have an ability to answer the question. Right. So what we want to do is make sure that people have an accurate set of plans so that on site and permitting, reviewing the contractors, etc, they know what’s going on. But if for some reason there needs to be a change, something’s unclear, something up being a little bit different, we want to be available to help them. We have a very strong team. Designers, engineers, mechanical designers. It’s all a really cool process.

Interviewer: And what you’re talking about is building relationships with your customers and that’s something you don’t hear enough about you know.

Steve Tuma: It’s it’s very common for us to get someone that built with us 20-22 years go to say hey Steve remember me I’m rich up in Ann Arbor hey I’m over here I’m doing this or hey you you did my house you did my daughter’s house my son’s getting married let’s do that or other stuff like hey we sold it we made some money we’re scaling down doing our retirement home you know we’ve had this land on a lake for a while we’re finally settling down can you help us so so that’s the key it’s it’s a it’s a team effort it’s not It’s not a situation where we want to work with people where it’s a it’s a negative relationship. We want it to be positive the The amount of housewarming barbecues and everything that I get invited to is amazing But it’s also just really really cool to see when someone calls you up, you know as a friend to say hey Steve, can you help us with this house? You helped us five years ago ten years ago You’re my house guy. You you helped me in my house in the northern suburbs of Chicago. You helped me outside of Nashville Now I’m in Michigan Can you can you can you help me? We’ve had people One one particular customer lived in Napa was building rental units outside of Oklahoma City And he’s gonna retire in the Canary Islands You know to have someone trusted to work with where we understand the customer. It kind of becomes really cool. It’s like to have that variety of capabilities of helping people, it’s kind of fun when you sit back and look at the whole thing and go, wow.
We’ve also had situations, one man, it was a little while back, he worked for an airline and he was, he worked in the St. Louis area, but then he got a transfer to Dallas. So we were about to finish the plans and he gets his transfer, suddenly we had to everything from what was required in the St. Louis area to Dallas. 10-15 years later he goes Steve I’m putting a pool house on the back of my house can you help me? So we helped him with the design and the details of that. So there’s something kind of cool when someone remembers you two years later five years later 15-20 years later. Yeah of course. And then we remember them it’s like hey how you know how you doing?

So it’s kind of it’s kind of and say hey I’m gonna nail it together and make a house but making sure that the house is designed right the pieces of wood is used properly it’s it’s good for permitting it’s good for building it’s good for your budget and the end results you’re proud of that that’s pretty cool there’s a there’s a lot going on there this isn’t just like going to a lumberyard and saying hey I need a stack of two by sixes can you tell me how to put them together you know we go through and give people the complete thing from A to Z concept of hey how do I even think about designing a home to getting them the panelized home all the plans and everything so that you know little time later they’re moving into the home and as far as we’re concerned it it’s really cool when you get a picture of a family outside of their house the dog their baby their kids their grand kids everyone having a good time saying thanks to you yeah thanks landmark thanks Mike it’s it’s it’s an amazing it’s an feeling.

Interviewer: We should get back a little bit to plans, but you know it’s funny as you said that that guy who actually got transferred and had to take his plans to a whole other state, but I know that’s an extreme case, but let’s talk about some last-minute changes to plans, or even worse on-site changes. That seems like that could really propagate some major delays in the building’s schedule, and even worse for the customer. It can affect the cost in a negative way. How does Landmark Land and Home Company help to mediate the chances of that even happening? I’m sure that you can’t have your eyes on everything, but how do you guys make sure that you keep your eye on the ball enough that the customer doesn’t end up having to make on-site changes?

Steve Tuma: Well, a lot of that is just the communication with them and the understanding and respect of each other that you’re better off taking an extra day think it through you know this isn’t a race you know sometimes people have a schedule for for financing reasons or weather reasons or whatever it may be but the the reality is is if people have the time to do it and think it through now customers generally have a good idea they might they might go through and do it look at something but occasionally there will be a customer that just watches a show looks at a magazine you know go it goes and does something and they’re like oh I got to have this I got to this we’ll do everything we can to make sure the customer ends up with a house now if it’s in the preliminary plan stages that’s just part of the design stage but if we’re in the finalization stage you know where plans are being finalized it all depends on what they want mm-hmm say someone says hey I had a I had a window that’s three feet wide five feet tall I need to change it to three feet two by five feet too tall or something you know kind of simple generally something like that doesn’t a big deal but if someone says hey you know I’m in a hurricane zone and I had three little windows looking at the ocean and we just decided we want to have a 20-foot nano wall there you know one of those big like accordion foot doors that’s that’s that’s a pretty big change we can always go through and do things but we have to work with the customer to understand the that just does it.

We have to go through and work to do architectural changes, do the structural things. We’re known to do everything we can to help a customer, but we just have to work to make sure it’s done properly. So even if there’s a last-minute change, it’s not something where we can always just push it through on one hour notice. Sometimes we have to take a step back to take three steps forward.

You bring up the situation of, hey what if happens on site. Right. You know, that’s exceptionally rare. But occasionally what happens is people’s budget change. They win the lottery, they have money, they what it is more. It’s kind of, they fall in love with it. Right. They’re like, you know, we’re out here. We’re, and it’s like, we never realized that over to this side, there’s this view of a lake, a tree, a meadow, a mountain range, whatever it may be. So if it’s something like during the phases where something happens, someone has a kid, there’s situations, the in laws, you know, aging parents need need a place to move. And suddenly the den has to become a little master suite, we’ll do everything we can to help people, it might be a little bit of a hassle at the point. But the reality is, is to do everything you can to help a customer. You now say it takes an extra day two three two weeks three weeks whatever it is to really do a significant change like that if someone’s gonna live in a house for 20 years it’s not a big deal sure you know it’s it’s a little bit of a hassle depending on what it is but the way I look at it is I want to make sure do everything we can that after a customer builds their home they pull up to it after hard days work or coming back from vacation and say I’m But here’s something interesting, you know, you’re you’re making my mind wonder. That’s a great question Sometimes we have people that say hey I’m I’m a bachelor now. I am gonna get married.

I want to have a wing put on so we’ll design a house of Hey, here’s phase one in five years. Here’s phase two or We’ll set it up for a future thing that person might say hey might get married or hey my in-laws might move in or hey it might turn into the family vacation home so sometimes you it’s kind of exciting to figure out hey how do you put this together there’s also situations a lot of situations now just just the nature of the world right now is sometimes someone’s kid may move in sometimes aunt and uncle move in sometimes they have relatives that pop through for a month you know so they want to have kind of a convertible area but kind of private from them so that’s a situation and then you know where that really comes into play is basements you know what what are people gonna do with storage now is it a wood shop later is it a walkout basement on a lake or the side of a hill but what I think what what you’re kind of getting to here is you’re indirectly asking do we have good planning and stuff to take care of what people want do we have the designers the engineer and the desire to get the right house the answer is Yes. And the adaptability. You know, changes are going to come no matter what you do.
To be able to be adaptable to a situation is pretty important, I guess, for any company, especially what Landmark Home and Land Company are doing now. Well that’s exactly what it is because people’s conditions do change. People might get married in the middle of building. People might need a place for a family member that needs medical help or support or temporary life change type of situation. People have done stuff like, hey, my kids are going to be around, but once they go off to college, I need to know that that room can become an artist studio or a music room or whatever it may be. So we’re able to do that. And sometimes these thoughts come through the designing process. It’s not initially there in the front, but like I say, the unpeeling the onion when they go through.

So I think what you’re kind of getting at is flexibility is here and there’s our attitude there to help people get the house they want and some people we do the first set of plans they’re like Steve that’s it bingo other people there could be a lot of changes with fine tuning and and different things that happen on on site conditions a lot of those are really driven by the people as they get into the project they just start enjoying it and as their thoughts get deeper into what’s this house about we helped a family do a retirement home in Colorado and as they cleared some of the land and worked on it and got a few things going they realized they had a beyond exceptional view. So suddenly that meant we had to reposition the house to be a little higher we had to make sure windows were a certain height we had to make sure the deck was there so it takes a little bit of work to do that while you’re also balancing the reality of budgets. Right.

Interviewer: Well This has been interesting. This has been informative. I’m glad we touched upon this because we hadn’t really gotten into this before. But you know it’s every time I start thinking about what subject matter and the things I can ask you just you know off the cuff even sometimes the more the things I the episodes I learned the most from are things that aren’t what you would think. It’s not the most precise you know it’s more like hey so let’s get does you know let’s get into something as simple as how exactly you guys are able to to get people up to speed just the process just learning how to you know it can be a daunting task I would think building a house and so I think..

Steve Tuma: it it’s it’s an exciting task but you’re right once sometimes when you get into it it’s like hey wait it’s not just dig a hole and put some cement in there and magically this foundation shows up it’s it’s got to be right height, consider drainage, you know, make sure it works with the flow of the land, make sure it works with some engineering concerns. Now, we don’t ask customers how to do that. We just want to know what they want. We’ll fill in the places to make sure it’s put together, drawn up on a set of plans. They can review it. We can review it with them so they understand. And then it goes through. A lot of people build houses with us because they enjoy the process. They want to do it. They’re learning. They may already know, they just want to do it. We have customers, some people have done a dozen, 15 homes with us. So it’s a variety of situations to just be supportive and provide the information that they need to go through and do it. This isn’t quite like doing a moonshot, but does the astronaut know how to project a moonshot? Does he know how to build a rocket? Probably not. But I’m sure he or she’s pretty good at getting in it, being healthy, driving it, doing whatever experiments they want, coming back and going through their debriefing things. So we’re kind of like that same situation. We’re the crew supporting you to get to the end results. So you don’t have to be an electrical engineer. You don’t have to be a structural engineer. But you do have to kind of just say, hey, this is what I want. We have a city infill lot. We’ve got a lakefront lot. We’ve got a mountain lot. We’ve got an agricultural property.
A lot more people doing equestrian properties. You know so each of those have a different thing so they may not know every single detail but they all know what they want. Of course. You know hey it’s an equestrian property we have to have a tack room off the back or hey we have a lot of dogs we don’t want
them running through the house so we have this back door dog room with a little dog bath dog shower they clean up and they go through. We’ve had other people in ranching farming communities where the wife says he’s coming in the house with all that dirt you know so there’s a little you know little shower room to enter where there’s it’s kind of like a little private uh you know shower workout area where they people can clean up and come in so we were able to adjust things a family did one it was a recreational home off an island in Washington State where their big concern was how do you get kayaks canoes all these water sports things out from underneath the house to the water without needing you know a crew or a or some other mechanized system so a lot of the design was really on how do you get stuff in and out of water and then how do you have ten friends sleep there right you know eat you know so it was more like a like a little you know operation of how do you have 10-15 people show up your house all have fun and no one go crazy yeah that was funny though have the dog room on one side of the house in the husband room on the other side jokingly some people might say it’s the same room but you know we can work on that too if someone wants to.

Interviewer: Right well that’s gonna wrap it up for today’s episode but before we go Steve let’s let the listeners know how to find out more about Landmark Home and Land Company and what you guys do over there.

Steve Tuma: We’ve got a pretty cool website at LHLC.com that’s like the initial of Landmark Home Land Company LHLC.com where there’s a lot of there’s videos there’s these podcasts, there’s a couple thousand plans. You can peruse it, send an inquiry. You can also call. Michael will take the calls at 800-830-9788. And that’s a way just to go through and take a look at it and understand the process and go from there. We’re also at an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. But most people just go right to the website. And what’s really cool is you can send an email in, we’ll respond to it, we do respond to it, we do answer the questions directly, and then we’re also available by phone if someone really wants to get into
details of saying how does this work for me? What about me? I’ve got a limited budget, I’ve got an unlimited budget, I’ve got this challenge, I’ve got an infill lot, I have a farm lot, you know, how do we go through and really get this put together?
So this is a situation of working out the details and being supportive so that people understand the project that they’re about to get into and we’ll take time to review it and it’s exciting to us.
We’ve been doing this 30 years.
It’s a lot of fun.
It’s just cool.
We enjoy it.

Steve Tuma: Well, that’s what the way it should be. And there you have it. Thanks again Steve and thanks to all of you for listening to the panelized prefab kit home building show. So for Steve Tuma over at Landmark Home and Land Company and myself, have a great day and we will see you next time.

Steve Tuma: Thank you. This was fun.

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