Pat Kearns, Tim Brassfield, Craig Christman: Stanley Martin Custom Homes Project Managers
About This Episode
In this special episode, John talks to three of Stanley Martin Custom Home’s Project Managers, Pat Kearns, Tim Brassfield, Craig Christman. They discuss what it means to be a project manager and even share a few stories.
Stanley Martin Custom Homes Website
[00:00:02] In case you missed it, here’s a clip from Episode five with Michael Schnitzer, president of Stanley Martin Custom Homes.
[00:00:11] Just like with any business, you have to put the time and you have to invest the energy right to get the outcome you want. It’s there’s no easy path, right? There’s just no easy path. So as we started growing, we started growing. The company started growing the business. I think in the beginning, you know, we always took the approach that we would modify our plans. Right. So we were modifying plans, making one of the mantras even from the beginning was we have to put a pretty face on the house. Absolutely.
[00:00:46] Because if you don’t A, I’m not going to be proud of it. Builder B, the customer probably isn’t going to be proud of it when they’re standing on the street looking at their home.
[00:01:02] Hey, we’re going to have a great conversation today with the project managers here at Stanley Martin Custom Homes.
[00:01:08] We’re going to talk a little bit about some of the nuances of building a home. And maybe we’ll get these guys to tell us a couple of stories from the road.
[00:01:16] So here we go, John Jorgenson here.
[00:01:22] And today I’m sitting down with three of the great folks over at Stanley Martin Custom Homes. I’m going to go around the room and let everybody introduce themselves. So to my right, we have my name is Patrick Kearns.
[00:01:35] I’m the VP of Construction with Stanley Martin.
[00:01:36] Great. And directly across from me.
[00:01:38] Hi, everybody. I’m Tim Brassfield, project manager with Stanley Martin Custom Homes. Fantastic. And to my left, hello.
[00:01:44] It’s Craig Christman and Stanley Martin, Custom Homes Project Manager.
[00:01:48] Great. So we’re doing a little something different today. So we’re we’re we’re in our covid world still. So we’re in a very large room. We’re all sitting kind of very far apart from each other.
[00:01:59] And if you’re watching on YouTube, you can see a photo of the of the setup. But we’re going to chat today about some of the things that go on while you’re building a house. And we’re going to kind of pull back the curtain a little bit to better understand what happens when you’re going through the building phase at at Stanley Martin Custom Homes. And we want to give you an opportunity to learn a little bit about some of our folks here that are actually managing the project. So, Pat, maybe you can kick us off and just give us an overview of the you really get involved with the customer at what stage?
[00:02:43] So let me just lay the foundation here. So we have the sales phase or the buying phase. Right, which is kind of step one. Then we have the start up phase, which is all the permitting. Then we have the building phase and we have the warranty phase. So that’s how we break it all down from a marketing perspective. So you guys first meet the customer at what stage?
[00:03:05] So I’m typically getting involved right around the transition from the back office stage or the permitting stage and when we are getting ready to actually start construction of the home.
[00:03:15] OK, so so at the end of this startup phase, right.
[00:03:19] So the startup phase is when the architectural plans are being developed, the site plan is being developed. You’re picking all your finishes and all those things are happening. And then as you approach the end of the startup phase is when you, the project managers, are generally first meeting the client.
[00:03:35] Correct. We’ll get involved maybe not so much with the client as much as we’re just working with the back office to fine tune some of the details or view some of the selections, the plans, the overall grading plan.
[00:03:49] Talk about, you know, we’ll we’ll develop hotspots or push points, things that are or whether it be the the area that we’re building in the site that we’re building on certain customer items that are very important to them because each person has their own individual and has different things that are hot buttons for them. Right. So we’ll develop that list.
[00:04:12] And we’re looking at the plans to try to review them to make sure that what’s come off the paper and sat down with the client kind of transfers to what we can actually do in the field and trying to vet some of those things and just go through them at the beginning stages to hopefully get rid of any problems or possible delays that might occur because we’re still waiting to get information or things that we may not have the full picture of that may be crystal clear to the buyer or the person that’s sitting down and doing the selections. But when we’re looking at it from a perspective of what’s on the plan and what’s in the selections, sometimes those things don’t transfer quite the way you’d expect them to.
[00:04:55] Right. So we’re trying to vet some of those things and get them polished up prior to going into the. Start of the home, right, and then we do have a what we consider a preconstruction meeting with the client, probably anywhere from two weeks to a month before the home starts. Right. Just to introduce ourselves, get them familiar with the construction process, what to expect, and to go over those hot button items just to make sure that, you know, the message that is on the paper that we’re reading is clear with what, the actual buyers expectations. Right.
[00:05:30] Right. So so Tim does that. So when you’re when you’re first looking at a set of plans or you first start to get your sink your teeth into a job, what do you is there. Is there anything more you want to add to that? What are you looking for?
[00:05:45] Are you looking for. Obviously you’re looking for potential things that aren’t going to work.
[00:05:51] Right? Obviously. What else are you looking for?
[00:05:54] Well, after doing this for many years, I’ve come to find out what are the things, as you say, are going to become issues as we’re working on the project. Actually, in the field, you kind of get aware of what to look out for, what what you don’t really need to work out, look out for right away. You can figure it out in the field. But anything that might affect. The the plan or the building of the house and make any delays is is like Pat was saying during that preconstruction meeting, I’ve already done a turnover meeting, so I’ve already seen the plans. But we’re just trying to identify any problem areas right at that point.
[00:06:30] Right. OK. And then, Craig, let me ask you, so how big of a difference is it?
[00:06:35] So so so at our company, we can either build a Stanley Martin home. Right. Which has been built hundreds and hundreds. And, you know, you build a home like the Travers or the Carey.
[00:06:45] There probably are not a lot of challenges there if the buyer is just buying the home right off the shelf.
[00:06:51] So what are you looking for differently? If somebody is doing a custom plan or somebody doing a few customizations, what kind of things get your attention in that initial look at the job versus a home that somebody is just building right off the shelf?
[00:07:06] Well, I guess, first of all, the lot is completely different, right, and most of the time they don’t just take the stand or play in. The plan has always changed a little bit, not maybe not always, but probably 95 percent of the time. OK, the plane always has a slight change to it. So I don’t really look at it as here’s a production that we built over and over again. You look at this, here’s my customers home, and every time we build it, it’s you. It’s a little bit different, a little bit unique, so that when the trades come in, they’re not just expecting to build the same house that they built over at the production site. Right. In other words, so those are the types of things that you look after, the problems that could, you know, cause delays, things of that nature. Right.
[00:07:51] So it sounds like from kind of the initial look around the room when you first are looking in that plan, the first time you see it, you guys are looking for, OK, what might be the biggest challenge while I’m building this house, whether it’s a site condition or some kind of a design feature, you want to get ahead of whatever the bigger challenge may be.
[00:08:15] Yeah, you know, some sites there, the the lots are a little bit tighter. You’re putting a bigger house on.
[00:08:21] So you realize there’s going to be constraints when you’re you know, when you first start building the house with dirt removal or bringing in dirt, whether it be where you can put the packages and how you space them out when they get delivered to you, you know, sometimes you’ve got the space to get a hold, all your panels delivered at once, and sometimes you have to space them out a little bit more. Those are some of the things you’re looking at. Great as an issue is sometimes you’re looking at challenges that you’re dealing with, with particular great issues. Customers may have a desire to to, you know, push the limits with regards to the backyard being a little bit flatter. So you’re dealing with areas where you have slopes that are increased because you’re trying to create more, more space for usable space in the yard. Obviously, you’re working with the grade that’s around you. So there are times that there’s challenges with regards to that and trying to meet the customer’s expectations for what they’re looking for. And what you can physically actually do sometimes is, you know, not everybody sees things the way somebody who’s been in the industry for a long time does when they look at a piece of paper that’s two dimensional. Right. You know, they’re looking at lines on a on a paper that looks squiggly and really don’t understand what that represents to them. And sometimes you have to get out in the field with them and actually walk it for them and show them and give them ideas of what to expect so that they can have the right the right concepts going into it. The biggest thing that, you know, for me in my years in doing this is try to be as forthright as you can, try to make sure that you sit down and do as much upfront communication as possible so that when the expectations when you start out the expectations of what you’re going to provide them in the end, product meets, or at least you’ve had that conversation to kind of make sure that everybody’s on the same page. Right. As to what to expect. Because, you know, what people sometimes hear versus what you say sometimes changes.
[00:10:21] Yeah. You know, in those those are sometimes really good conversations to have to break out with the customer at the outset. Yeah.
[00:10:29] And kind of break the break bread and and really get down to the nuts and bolts of what to expect. And it leads to a good experience for both the buyer, which is what we aim for, but also for us too, because there’s not as many hard conversations to have once you get further along in the process and their expectations haven’t been met right now, that makes perfect sense.
[00:10:52] So, Tim, what is your favorite part about being a project manager? I mean, what brings you to work every day? Because it’s not you know, I’ll just say, having managed a lot of projects myself on the renovation side more, I’ve built one home new, you know, from start to finish. But it’s it’s not a cakewalk.
[00:11:12] Yeah, you’re right, John. It’s it’s it can be very stressful at times. But the my favorite part about the job is getting the house done 100 hundred percent complete homeowners happy, even despite any issues that we may may have had throughout the process. Right. Hopefully they’re minimal. But the my favorite part is having the house finished. You get that occupancy permit. Yeah. Everybody smile and you’re happy that people can move out of their in-laws or whatever.
[00:11:36] Yeah. They stay in the meantime.
[00:11:38] But yeah, that’s my favorite part, is having the house hundred percent complete. It looks nice. It’s brand new.
[00:11:43] It’s got to feel good. It’s got to feel you know, I guess if you know to draw an analogy you take a big huge Lego project or or a big puzzle that you’ve worked on for six months, nine months, whatever it is. And then it’s done and everything’s there. Yeah. That’s got to be satisfying. How about you, Craig? What’s your favorite part about?
[00:12:01] Yeah, I had to agree with Tim. I think, you know, once you do all the work, you get through all. Problems. Mm hmm. You get the house framed up, you start to see actually see you get to see what you build. Yeah. So there’s really good satisfaction to be able to see the house come into shape. Right. And then at the final, when you for me, it’s when you get all your flooring is in and all the appliances, everything are in the house and you do that first clean and everything, you pull the floor coverings off, everything starts to shine and you kind of get the satisfaction of, wow, look at this. You know, I’m creating a home for somebody for my client. Yeah. They’re getting excited about moving in the same thing, the end of the project. Typically, that’s the happiest time during the project, right. When the homeowner goes.
[00:12:50] So that’s really interesting because you start at the very, very, very beginning sitting down and looking at the documents before you ever even meet the client.
[00:13:00] Then you meet the client based on just this little conversation we’ve just had. And the first thing you want to do is try to get ahead of anything that may disappoint them or you want to look for any place where there may be a misalignment of expectations.
[00:13:16] And then, you know, at the very, very, very beginning that your favorite part of the whole transaction is when you’re delivering the home. And, you know, but the buyer and the client doesn’t know what the path is to get there.
[00:13:31] So it’s really an interesting experience done those kind of fun, too.
[00:13:36] Yeah. Demo is always fun and a lot of the homeowners want to know when it’s going to happen. Yeah. You know, we try to make sure you stay away, stay across the street is dangerous, but. Right, right.
[00:13:47] Well, you know, it’s funny you bring them up because back in in in the early years when Mike and I first teamed up, we would go out. I would go out.
[00:13:55] I still have tons of video, but we would we would shoot video of the homes being demoed because in 2006 seven, it was still kind of a new thing. There wasn’t a lot of there. There certainly wasn’t a lot of information on the Internet about tearing down and and building new homes.
[00:14:10] And people would sometimes come out with their barbecue grills and and make hot dogs. Or we had the fire department come out and would be used originally. They would light houses on fire. Yeah. And they go in and put them out and then that got to be a problem. So they would set off smoke bombs and they would go in and do drills. And then it was it was a whole big advance.
[00:14:31] That is a lot of fun for sure. So so.
[00:14:36] So what else I guess, is there anything else you can think of, Pat, that comes off the top of your head that what do you love about your job and you’re the vice president of construction.
[00:14:47] So, you know, I guess any really big challenges that need to be addressed, they come to your desk?
[00:14:54] Yeah. I mean, I will tell you, the day to day, there’s always something different that’s popping up. So that’s yeah. You’re building a house. There’s a lot of the same elements that are in the go into building it. You know, if you look at it from that standpoint, it’s you know, you dig a hole, you put a foundation and frame a house.
[00:15:12] You hang drywall, you put the finishes in and then you turn over the keys. Right. It’s pretty much a there’s a step process that pretty much follows.
[00:15:19] Yeah. You’re a manufacturer, you’re a manufacturer and you’re manufacturing in the field. So you’re not manufacturing in a controlled environment.
[00:15:26] So that’s another element of interest. That’s another element of interest. When you go and buy a car, you walk in and it’s been spit, polished and shined and has the new car smell and it. Right. And you don’t get to see the process. You’re not in the warehouse watching the factory, watching kid being bright. And when we do one of these homes, your lot is our factory.
[00:15:45] Exactly. And and the owner of the product is invited to be part of the process. We’re I think we’re very unique from that perspective. I know a lot of builders out there don’t want the client around while they’re building the home. There was one builder. They’re not in business anymore, but they had it in their contract that they that the homeowner wasn’t allowed to go into the home until it was completed, which I never understood, because they own the home. But we invite our buyers in and you have regular meetings with our buyers and they are watching the whole entire process come together.
[00:16:20] Yeah, it’s in real time in that aspect. And that’s what kind of makes it fun. And it’s sometimes challenging as well. You can’t control everything. We can’t be there 24/7. So there are things that happen. Yeah, it’s a process. And what we always try to tell our clients going into it is, look, things are going to happen. We’re that’s why we’re here. Right. If we could build a project on paper. Yeah. And just call somebody up on the phone and tell them to be there at a certain date and know they were going to do everything exactly the way we wanted to. Right. There wouldn’t be any need for the guys in this room. Yeah, exactly.
[00:16:55] No, we that’s why they’re there. They’re there to supervise and see that things are done. And if they’re if there are mistakes that are made, they’re there to make sure that they get corrected in the right way. Yeah, but the building process is a unique. In that and, you know, one thing I always say is it’s probably the biggest investment someone’s going to make.
[00:17:12] So there’s a lot of stress, there’s a lot of anxiety going into it. And our goal is to try to walk them through that process and make it as memorable and as stress free as we can and allowing them to be involved in it and come out and see things and see the progress that’s happening and get excited about it as it’s getting to the finish. That’s what kind of makes it enjoyable. Mm hmm.
[00:17:36] Absolutely makes good sense. Yeah, it’s it’s the it breaks up the monotony, the the the the various elements, the unique lot, the unique homeowner, every aspect of the of the finishes that are different.
[00:17:50] So so let’s shift gears a little bit.
[00:17:52] So let’s talk a little bit about maybe some unique features that that we’ve put into homes that that you guys like. Is anybody you know, Tim, does anything come to mind or Craig, of a feature that you’ve put into the home that you thought was particularly interesting or fun or challenging? Did we do anything?
[00:18:14] I remember one that customer, one of the secret room. Yeah. Wasn’t that challenging, but it was kind of interesting where we just turned into a hole or a closet would be. Yeah. And right after we went to settlement, he installed a false door. Wow. Was like a mirror. Yeah. Yeah. That was that was different.
[00:18:34] So so Tim, any features right out.
[00:18:37] What comes to mind first is wine cellar wall that I did that incorporated a stone veneer on a day would you say.
[00:18:46] I guess a recess wine cellar cabinet and a family room with the horizontal bottles with a horizontal bottle while the racks were were vertical.
[00:18:54] But yeah it held about three hundred.
[00:18:57] I think we we actually feature that photo on our home page as part of our regular scroll. So I’m glad you brought that up. That that was a really nice feature. And that was that climate controlled at all or was not climate controlled.
[00:19:13] I believe the back office gave them that option to have a climate controlled, but they opted not to do it. OK, but the neat part about it was figuring out how it was going to be built in the field and how racks were going to get installed onto the stone veneer, because obviously the stone is not a flush surface that. Yeah. About something to. Yeah.
[00:19:30] So it seems so simple on paper doesn’t it’s like well let’s just do a well.
[00:19:36] The good thing is I worked for a wine cellar builder in the past so yeah. Sort of had to step up on how to, how to make it work.
[00:19:43] Yeah but but but let’s walk us through that a little bit because you already hit about the wine racks on the stone. What other. Because and then you’ve got the huge glass wall.
[00:19:52] Right. Right.
[00:19:53] So you had a you had a I think was it to fix panels and then one door it was to fix panels on the outside there was four sections of glass, OK, the the outer sections being fixed panels and it was basically a French door. OK, two panels at that open to swinger’s.
[00:20:08] Yeah. Yeah.
[00:20:10] They went floor to ceiling again. The tricky part of that was building, trying to figure out how we were going to attach those doors to the wall. So we the plan I believe, showed stone right. Encasing the whole the whole recessed area of the cellar. Yeah. But we had to incorporate some wood and different elements to make the strength that these heavy glass panels and doors would not, you know, move right.
[00:20:35] Moving forwards. Now, did you when did you start to. So when you sat down, at the, when you first started digging into this job and you initially started looking at it, did that wine cellar catch your attention right away?
[00:20:47] Did absolutely did. Although I was thinking about it, I was thinking about it in the back of my mind for a long time. But with my experience, I knew I’d be able to figure it out in the field. Yeah, there was a little direction I got from the back office how it was going to be built. But yeah, ultimately I ended up making that call in the field. Yeah, I saw all been coming together.
[00:21:05] Yeah. So that’s pretty cool. So you’ve got to figure out. So sometimes you guys are getting a project dropped on your lap and you’ve literally got to figure out how to build it. Right. It’s in the plan and it’s designed. Yeah, but you got to make sure it’s really going to fly.
[00:21:20] Yeah. I mean the office does a great job, the back office meeting, the folks that are doing the selections and putting the plans together to do a really good job of trying to vet as much of that stuff as they possibly can. Yeah. Before they send the plans out to us, obviously.
[00:21:34] But there are times where you have to adapt in the field and and make slight changes or meet with the client to go over, you know, hey, look, this isn’t working out just the way it’s supposed to.
[00:21:46] We want to make sure that we’re providing you with the right, what you’re actually looking for and what you want in and provide them with options, suggestions, adaptations that we can make to some of these options that are a little more, you know, out of outside the box. Yeah.
[00:22:05] Ultimately, like we said, the goal is, is that they’re happy with the end product and it’s functional for them and works the way they intend to use it. So I know, Tim, that was one of the ones where, Tim, we had to do a little bit of modification in the field to just make sure everything fit right and that the the reveals are right with the stone glass and how they tied in together and just make it just, you know, give it that. Right. Look, and I think what we ended up with was a great product. Amazing. But it was there was you know, there were some moments of meeting with the client and going over things and trying to make sure that the little subtle changes that we were making were going to be in in line with what they were expecting.
[00:22:45] Exactly. And, you know, that’s a that’s another good point that you brought up, is that all these things that are happening, the client has to approve it. So you can’t just say, oh, well, I’m going to put wood in here instead of stone because I think it’s going to be better. You’ve got to sit down. And, you know, that’s one of the great things I think about. The whole Stanley Martin custom home operation is we keep the customer engaged all the way through the entire process. We’re not out there making Brog decisions to get the home built and delivered.
[00:23:13] We want to make sure that that it fits within their in their dreams. So that’s a good point.
[00:23:22] Michael Schnitzer here, president of Stanley Martin Custom Homes, Customers appreciate our weekly construction meetings where our project managers deliver written agendas, go over action items and answer all your questions. To learn more about our processes, pricing and floor plans, please visit us at we build on your lot dotcom that we build on your lot dotcom.
[00:23:54] So so, you know, my little piece of that wine cellar, which was really nothing, but I remember that we had to get the pictures taken and we were trying to squeeze the photographs in between getting the glass doors in on on that cellar and for them for the wine cellar and delivery of the home.
[00:24:16] And we had like a 48 hour window where we had to get the photographer in.
[00:24:19] And so that stress on our organization, on our side and I think about you guys are all laughing because you go through that every day, multiple jobs at a time where you’re just trying to squeeze all these different subcontractors in and it’s just got to keep going, you know, and it’s just getting the pictures taken as one little thing. I just couldn’t even imagine what you guys go through every day.
[00:24:44] So you definitely have unique personalities to be able to to handle all that.
[00:24:51] So so any other interesting features come to mind for from anyone that that what about some green features?
[00:25:00] Has you guys do anything with geothermal or have you guys managed any, you know, photovoltaic installs or solar panels?
[00:25:09] Have you guys done any of that? I did a couple geothermal projects, but notwithstanding Martin, they were the previous builder I worked for. OK, but that’s very interesting. I mean, to this day, it’s it boggles my mind how that works. Yeah, but it’s very interesting process.
[00:25:25] So so let’s chat about that for a second, because back in the day and I say back in the day, you know, whenever there’s some sort of a government subsidy for something, people take advantage of it. So I think there was I think there was a 30 don’t quote me on this, but I’m, you know, going back in time, I think there’s a 30 percent tax credit. There was a huge tax credit that made sense for people to go to the geothermal rapide.
[00:25:47] Do you remember about how much the geothermal systems were running? You probably did, what, seven, six, seven years ago?
[00:25:53] Eight years ago, at least, maybe 10.
[00:25:56] Yeah, there are probably around 2010, the last one.
[00:26:02] Yeah, that makes about sense.
[00:26:05] As far as price, I don’t recall.
[00:26:07] OK, but so talk about what boggles your mind with the just the whole the whole way of drilling the pipes down into the ground and how they even get them down and then everything looped back together is just amazing to me and the equipment that they use to make it all they use.
[00:26:23] Well, drilling equipment, right?
[00:26:25] Yes. Yes. I don’t know the exact same thing as a well driller, but it’s very similar.
[00:26:29] Yeah, you have to have wells to be able to provide the groundwater that’s actually hid from the earth that then gets in the pipes that go over the the the grout. Yeah, it’s the the air handler, essentially your exchanger in the exchange. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s it’s a really interesting concept. I think, you know, in a lot of cases it’s interesting in my respect, because, you know, a lot of people, when they buy a house, they’re they’re looking at the bells and whistles and they’re looking at all the different features and the things you can put inside at the upgraded green at the yeah. That’s the the flooring in those types of things. And I’m always interested in the people that invest in the upgraded insulation and doing the foam insulation and the possible solar panels and the geothermal that can save them a lot of money down the line if they just, you know, look at what’s happening with energy price costs and things along those lines. Those are things that, you know, are really interesting. And some of the technology that’s out there and even some of the factories now that are putting in the loops in their floor and their concrete flooring to heat their warehouses and their office space versus running your traditional air handlers is there’s some really interesting technology out there that I think you’re going to see a lot more people use in the upcoming years.
[00:27:47] I agree with that. Yeah, wholeheartedly. So, so so it is interesting. You’ve got to pick where you want to put your money, right? Yeah. Everybody has a budget. Every buyer has a budget. Every buyer has a dream. And do you want to put your money into green features or do you want to put it into bells and whistles or some people build a very large house, you know, they want square footage, you know, so interesting. All right. So let’s talk xraying. Let’s talk about site work.
[00:28:12] OK, so you work.
[00:28:14] Let’s talk about something. So say work.
[00:28:18] Yeah, we have a lot of BMPs. Yeah. So what does that they. Well I think it’s just I don’t know if it’s the official name, but it’s what most people in the industry call it. Best method and practices, OK. Which are required by a lot of the jurisdiction. I think Arlington County was the first one to really start to push it where they’re just trying to keep the runoff water on the lot are using planter boxes. And so what if a box so player box is something that they run typically run the roof water down into the gutter. Yeah. Through the downspout and it goes into a player box, which is filled with gravel, a pipe dream pipe that comes out of the bottom gravel and different types of soil condition soils that are specifically spelled out in the site plan that all have to be documented and certified by an engineer and then turned into county is basically just filters the water. So it’s a giant filter. It’s a filter.
[00:29:16] Yeah. And then a lot of planter box because it’s attached it now. It’s part of the foundation, right? In most cases, yeah.
[00:29:22] The way we do them, they can be detached. That can be built out of different types of material from concrete to wood. OK, we typically use concrete and then in most cases it drains out and goes into an either infiltration trench or it could just drain out somewhere onto the lot and run off. But it all has I think it all starts with the permeable space on the lot.
[00:29:46] Right side coverage we. Exactly. So now so is it.
[00:29:50] So the downspouts from the gutters on the roof are then piped into the planter boxes and then sometimes piped into infiltration churches in addition to in addition to that, which tries to keep the water on the lot so it doesn’t run off into the streams, rivers and eventually ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. Yeah, so.
[00:30:13] Yeah, it’s a it’s a large water filter, yes, essentially, yeah, it is, and it’s trying to take the water that’s running off your roof shingles and may have pebbles from your roof. She is involved in it or nitrates, which is the big word that they use. Yeah, they’re trying to keep those out of the water that get into your soils and then eventually leach into the water table and then get into our rivers and streams.
[00:30:36] These are becoming more and more required by all the different jobs.
[00:30:40] So that’s one of the things that’s driving the secours higher. Right.
[00:30:43] So there’s I guess the the costs are going up in the industry. But in addition, there are more requirements by the government to add more things to the site, which also drive the cost so it gets more and more expensive to to develop the site.
[00:31:02] Yeah, I mean, from the the the BMPs that were have put in, which are, you know, in some cases these planer gardens, dry wells, things along those lines which are all in some way or managing basically filtering the water that comes off of your concrete surfaces, your roof surfaces.
[00:31:23] Anything that’s not a natural grass surface is what they’re trying to filter.
[00:31:26] And they calculate how much of that water that you have to capture on each individual lot. Yeah, between that and the silt fence and the super silt fence that we’re putting up to try to maintain and keep the, you know, the mud and the silt and the dirt that’s being generated from rains that come while we’re building the houses. When we don’t have grasses up, all those things add up and include costs.
[00:31:51] Right. Right. So so now the site work because I think for the for the for for the consumer, the site work is the big mystery early in the process.
[00:32:01] So when they come into the buying process with it, with any builder rights of the folks listening who are thinking about building a home on your lot and they’re trying to figure out what it’s going to cost, we can always sit down and figure out how much the house is going to cost because that’s all fixed price.
[00:32:15] But the site work is just kind of this this fuzzy number out there in the beginning. Right. And it’s and it’s really hard to talk about from a sales perspective because every jurisdiction is different. You can’t just throw out a number. I mean, we have a standard number. We kind of throw out and say, you know, if you can’t get comfortable with X, then I wouldn’t even, you know, kind of start looking at this kind of a bill. But when you’re building out Loudoun County or Montgomery County or you get, you know, further out, you’re dealing more with well and septic. And when you’re in Arlington, you’re dealing more with the BMPs. And there’s there’s other things. So so is there. Craig, do you have a site? Do you prefer to develop a site in Arlington or do you prefer what do you personally enjoy better the country, larger sites where you have more elbow room, obviously.
[00:33:05] Yes, I really I don’t know. I mean, all sorts of project managers.
[00:33:11] And I don’t you know, I don’t know if you like a little lots in Arlington where you have to stage in everything you don’t have any room to. Well, no.
[00:33:18] I mean, we’d like to have a little more room. Yeah.
[00:33:21] To work. Fewer neighbors. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:33:25] There’s always the unknown when you’re in a tight spot that’s very urban and you’ve got a lot of people along the street. Yeah. It becomes complicated. Like the last thing we want to do is aggravate people by being in their neighborhood. Right.
[00:33:38] Or you have to stage your deliveries because there’s only enough room in the front yard for one delivery of lumber.
[00:33:44] Right. So you deliver it, then you have to install in the guys need to take it and then the next one comes in.
[00:33:49] So you’ve got to find a place to put a dumpster that’s not in the way of concrete or drop in panels. You got to make sure that you actually have parking for the contractor so that they’re not, you know, taking up all the parking for the customers that are the neighbors that are used to not being disturbed and not having five different vehicles on their street that are loaded with whatever that we’re using that day.
[00:34:11] Yeah. You know, it becomes a juggling act. So that’s a logistics.
[00:34:16] Oh, yeah.
[00:34:16] That that’s all that’s all logistics and much more challenging in North Arlington and Falls Church and Bethesda than it is in, you know, Loudoun County where you can just deliver the whole lumber package in one shot on a production site.
[00:34:34] You have, you know, a lot after a lot of out and the street that runs through the projects. So you can just bring everything out, stuck it up on the street. There’s plenty of parking. There’s typically not an issue. Right. But when you have a tiny little lot in Arlington and neighbors all around you. Yeah. So, yeah, not only that, but the other thing about Arlington is our town just has a lot of red tape that you have to cut to get through the process of getting your inspections and your permits, your permits, your occupancy permit at the end. Yeah, all certifications with BMPs, as we talked about earlier. There are just a lot tougher to get through. Yeah, which from a project managers perspective, makes a little bit harder as well. Sure. As opposed to you go right across the border in Fairfax County. Yeah. And it’s a lot easier to get through that.
[00:35:26] Right. But if Fairfax County is out there going that direction, though, aren’t they? Aren’t they getting a little more?
[00:35:32] They they’ve been there is just I don’t know if it’s the Lotts or a little bit bigger maybe in general or they’re just not as strict about it. Right. But we have been doing drywall infiltration trenches and. Yeah, those types of things there as well. I’m starting to see planter boxes now to your garden garden boxes on the side of the house.
[00:35:54] Well, the other thing, too, is we’re talking about the customers, part of it in the neighbors part of it. But you also have contractors that you’re trying to keep happy to. Absolutely. And when you are only able to deliver so much of a lumber package in the framework actually shows up and has a crew of guys that whip out and get rid of all that lumber and half a day. Yeah. And then are sitting there looking at you like, what do I do next? I’m wasting my time here. Yeah. You know, I mean, so you’re trying to juggle both the expectations of the neighbors and the and the customer themselves as to what you’re doing in their neighborhood. And the the day to day stresses you may be causing them, but then you also have to keep your your contractors happy, too, and be able to continue to provide them work and let them be efficient and effective. Right. And, you know, it’s a business.
[00:36:37] Right. And you’ve got to answer to question is for two. Yeah.
[00:36:41] Yeah. Right. Why say one on a site to that exact, you know, so, you know, like it’s it is a constant juggling act and they’re.
[00:36:49] Yeah. They’re not to get anything wrong. I mean there there are some beautiful homes we build and I love driving by some of these neighborhoods where we’ve popped in a couple of homes. And really the streetscape looks awesome. Right, because the different ways that we can change up the outside and give it a more contemporary look or a modern look at some of those things that we do with the homes are really exciting because you take a house that you think you’ve seen built production wise 50 times that has the same appearance and look. And then you put a modern or contemporary look on it and you drive by and it looks like a completely different house. Amazing. And it’s yeah, it’s you know, and you see more of that when we’re working in the Arlington area and things like that where people are doing more of that stuff. So that part of it’s enjoyable. But there are some stressors that are added when you’re doing a you know, in a tight little area like.
[00:37:40] Right, right. Well, you know, one of the things I think that we do as a company is we always reach out to the neighbors before we start a project and they all get letters and they’re all invited to learn about what it is we’re doing. So we do want to start out the relationship with the neighbors on the right foot so I can understand it is challenging. And I know no question that’s there’s a lot of things you guys are dealing with besides just building a house.
[00:38:06] Yeah. And these days and covid, it’s even more interesting because they’re all at home all day long. So I didn’t even say, you know what I mean, like where they typically the kids are going to school and and the parents were going to work and yeah, there weren’t a whole lot of cars on the street.
[00:38:20] You kind of had a shower in the morning. Yeah.
[00:38:23] You know, and then it was pretty clear for the work, but now they’re home. And I get it. It’s you know, we’re impacting their day to day life and kids are trying to take classes online and they’ve got, you know, someone working on a house right next to I’d rather look out the window and watch the bulldozer.
[00:38:39] Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
[00:38:41] So so let’s talk a little bit about, you know, developing a site. So those are some of the challenges and the infill. Right. So we’ve got is there anything else you can think of that that Tim that, you know, maybe we didn’t touch on on infill developments? I didn’t even think about the logistics.
[00:38:58] Really. That’s something that that you guys are dealing with. I’m trying to see this from your perspective today. You know, not only are you building a house, you’ve got to manage logistics with contractors and neighbors and all that.
[00:39:12] Yeah. The other thing I don’t think that was mentioned was the the times that we’re allowed to work in each jurisdiction is different. Yeah. For example, I mean, I’m not going to say I’m right on this, but Arlington, for example, you may be able to start at nine o’clock on a Saturday.
[00:39:27] Right. And you have to be finished by three o’clock. Yeah. And then Sunday you can’t work at all. It’s different for each jurisdiction. So when you have an infill a lot. I just finished one in Alexandria, which was a lot right in the center of a townhome complex. Yeah. And I was getting e-mails for the first three weeks. Yeah. Guys were working there on Saturday. Yeah. They were starting at seven versus at nine o’clock. Right. So you know then I got to track down who the subcontractor is. We always post signs on the site. Do not start between, you know, before this hour. Right. We put the work hours posted on the permit board at the job site. But yeah, again, like Pat was saying, we’re not there 24/7. Yeah, they start at seven o’clock. I’m not going to know until I get that email from.
[00:40:05] Exactly. So a lot of the subcontractors, it’s not worth their while to come out if they can only work from nine to three. Right. Right. Yeah. So they don’t want to come if they can, they can.
[00:40:14] And by the time they set up, it started out and they got to pack up. Well, yeah, no kidding. It takes an hour to get set up sometimes, you know, and it’s out of generator, out of the truck and gassed up and started and all the tools out of the truck or the van. And then it’s it’s ten thirty. Yeah, exactly. If you’re six times.
[00:40:30] Yeah. So so getting down to the to the hinterlands we say sometimes which aren’t the hinterlands anymore because now they’re not at all but but putting in like wells and septic systems. What do you guys think could be challenging.
[00:40:48] Because it adds another aspect to health department has to come in and do the inspections which can cause delays in which county you’re in. Also the weather. Yeah, but the amount of rain that we’ve had the last three years, I think has been more than average starting in twenty eighteen or get that record. Yeah. So sometimes they won’t let you actually put in the, the septic feel. The subject feels right if the dirt isn’t dry. Mm hmm. So I think that’s probably the biggest issue with.
[00:41:23] I mean I think the biggest like Craig’s saying, there are some challenges with doing it. But I think the biggest issue that I see is you get to the very end and you’re trying to, you know, like you said, the anticipations build up for the client.
[00:41:36] Yeah. You know, they want to get it. They they’ve been through this process. They spent the time to, you know, with the back office and doing the selections and going through the permitting. And now they’ve gone through the bill and they’re seeing it come to fruition and the anticipation gets built up and they want to get in the house. And then, you know, you have to go through having the well chlorinated and then have the water tested. And if it doesn’t test properly after you’ve trained it, you have to wear chlorinated. Yeah. Then you have to you know, you have to go through these tests and they’re sitting there looking at you like you’re done. Let me move in. Yeah. You know, and I want to get in this house.
[00:42:08] I want to live in it. I want to get out of my hotel or the apartment that we’re writing that we’ve got five people living here, you know what I mean?
[00:42:14] Like and we understand that and we get it. But, you know, I mean, those are the hurdles that we have to go go through to get them into the house. And, you know, no matter how much we explain it up front and try to set that expectation for them. Yeah, they have.
[00:42:30] And I would, too, like I don’t blame them if I’m living in a house with four kids or, you know, in a two bedroom apartment for kids while waiting for this to be built, I went out and into my normal routine of life. Yeah.
[00:42:43] And they want to go to Selma. And, you know, we haven’t had this for a long time, but there have been periods of time where interest rates were going up, you know, and folks want to get into their home and they want to get the settlement because they’re going to lose their lock or whatever it is, you know, so there’s all kinds of crazy pressures at the end.
[00:42:58] Yes. And some folks spend six months a year, 18 months. We’ve had folks spend two years in the buying process, you know, where they’ve been dreaming about the home and saving their money and playing with the price mattresses and picking different things they want in the home. So some of these folks have been at this for years and now they’re ready to get it. Yeah. So they want to move in their dream home. Exactly. Exactly.
[00:43:29] John Jorgenson here. And if you’re considering building a new home in Northern Virginia or Montgomery County, Maryland, reach out to us through our website. We build on your lot dotcom. That’s what we build on your lot. Dotcom, we have pricing and floor plans online, lots of great process information and contact us through the website so we can get you started on the path to your very own Stanley Martin custom home.
[00:44:01] All right, let me let me shift gears again, so any are there any funny things that have happened or any crazy stories that you folks are telling around the water cooler, the proverbial water cooler?
[00:44:15] Because there is no water cooler anymore.
[00:44:17] But it’s always fun when you’re in the office and you’re early in the morning and you’re like, wow, you know, you know what happened over at this job?
[00:44:27] And there’s some crazy story about something I can tell you something that just happened on my site. OK, I have four projects and I have four porta potties. Yeah. So the porta potty company that we had just decided to go out of business. Nice. Because of covid.
[00:44:44] I don’t know why one. So he’s not worried about the specifics. So they didn’t even tell us. Right.
[00:44:54] I just noticed the cleaning’s weren’t happening. Yeah. So I call them up and it goes to a different company. Yeah. So apparently they just forwarded their number to another porta potty company. Right. And they’re telling us that, oh, they’ll help you out, they’ll take care. No, they don’t want to.
[00:45:13] So I have four abandoned porta potties on my site that I don’t know what to do with. Oh my gosh. So that’s an ongoing challenge. It’s actually happening right now. So now who would have thought that that could ever happen?
[00:45:27] Oh, my gosh.
[00:45:28] What about you, Tim? You got anything?
[00:45:29] It’s like I can’t take anything off the top of my head right now that I have to say to you.
[00:45:36] Well, you know, the funny thing about it is, is that the day to day normal stuff that you experience are the ones that you just kind of push off as a normal experience. Right, because you’re used to it.
[00:45:46] You just use the ones where things go wrong or you’re dealing with extreme situations are the ones that you tend to remember. And yeah, and sometimes those stories are difficult to tell. You know, the one that when I first started out.
[00:46:01] So two things that I have that I like to talk about is is one, I come from a family that has always been in construction. Right. My grandfather was an HVAC contractor. My uncles are all tradesmen, finished tradesmen that did drywall and finished work. Yeah. In the in the union and on their own. And, you know, I was one of the first kids to go to college in my family and went and got my four year degree. And when I came out of school, the job market wasn’t the greatest in the world. And I ended up taking a job in construction management. Right. And I’m all excited. I take my parents out to you know, I’ve graduated from college. I’ve got my first real job. You know, I worked various jobs and actually worked in construction to help pay my way through school.
[00:46:52] But this was my first real job where I wasn’t, you know, also taking classes. And I went through the interview process and signed a contract and all that kind of stuff and did all that. And it was in construction. I sit. So I take my parents out for a nice meal to celebrate and announce that I’ve gotten this job. And so I sit down, I’m tell my parents about, hey, you know, I I’ve accepted a job.
[00:47:18] I’m going to be moving to Baltimore. And they’re like, OK, well, what are you going to be doing? I’m going to be working in construction. And I think it was the biggest disappointment I’ve ever seen my mother’s face.
[00:47:33] She looked at me and you went to college. Why don’t you go to college? You could have gone and worked for your uncles or your grandfather. Yeah. And been in construction.
[00:47:41] Why do we spend all this money and why do you spend all money on school? And I’m like, no, no, I’m going to be in management. Yeah, right. And I’m trying to explain to her and and she just like she’s like whatever. And then, you know, come, you know, a couple of years down the line when I’m actually fully engaged in it.
[00:47:59] And really I’ve got my feet underneath me and I take her and I she comes to visit and I take her through, you know, one of my jobs that I built and did and showed her all the things.
[00:48:10] And it was it was encouraging because it was it was like, this is what I do. I’m right. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a tradesman or an HVAC contractor, but that wasn’t the expectation.
[00:48:22] Well, that’s it. Your whole family was already exactly what. Yeah. So I took it to the next level and went into the management side of it.
[00:48:28] And yeah, I go in and get my hands dirty and I still work on projects because I have that experience and I’ve done it. But yeah, it was, you know, just the the, the funny part is, is, is the the overall just really here in construction, you know what I mean. But now she sees what it’s become and where I am with things and it’s a completely different story. Yeah. The other one that I tell people is probably one of my most, you know, it just being young and some of the things you do. When you’re when you think you’re you know, you don’t have any risk in the world, as I was working as a construction manager for a different builder and there was a hurricane that hit.
[00:49:07] And speaking of bumps, we had a bunch of houses that had been built that had already been stabilized, but we had stuff that was uphill that we were still building. So we still had silt fence around the yard drains that were in the backyards.
[00:49:19] And the hurricane came in and was going so strong and the rains were coming down so fast that the silt fence around those drains was causing the level of water to build up. And actually it was getting ready to wash into people’s world exits. Wow. So we actually it was raining so bad that they had basically told us the winds were so strong that we didn’t have anybody working that day. And my boss calls me up and said, hey, we’ve got a problem at one of your jobs. People are starting to get worried because they see the water rising. They think it’s going to come into their homes. Can you go out and take a look at it? He agreed to meet me out there. And immediately when we got out there, I could see what was going on. Yeah. And assess the problem. And he’s like, well, what are we going to do? I’m like, well, I can probably go out there and cut the silt fence to let the water go into the yard drain. Right. It’s like, OK, well, let’s go do it. So when I get out to the top of the hour drain, I’m actually standing on top of it and the water’s up to about my neck. Wow. And the yard drain is actually it’s four sides where the water can get into it. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s probably two feet below where I was, where I was standing. Yeah. So I took a box cutter knife or a razor knife and I went down and as soon as I cut the silt fence that was in the opening, it started sucking the water in and you and me, all of us down the drain.
[00:50:42] I was able to brace myself to keep from going, going into it.
[00:50:45] But by the time I came back up, just from that one single cut and was standing on top of the hour drain, it was now down at my ankles. And that was probably in about 30 seconds. Wow, that’s that’s crazy. Yeah. One of those things where you just you think of doing something and you’re like, yeah, I’m going to go solve this problem for these people.
[00:51:04] Yeah. Next thing you know, you’re almost getting sucked down a storm drain. Yeah, we call that a youngster error. Yes, it was.
[00:51:12] That is amazing. Yeah, you do. You know, it’s funny when you’re young, you think you’re invincible. Yeah. And you can just fix it. Yeah. And until something bad happens, you’re good, you know. Cool. So any other, any other stories that you want to share you. Good.
[00:51:27] We have a lot of stories that we probably shouldn’t share.
[00:51:30] I didn’t hear what Pat was telling all you guys about that. His story. I’ve been trying to think about funny things, but I think there are things I’ll keep to myself and understand. I think I will mention, though, is back in 2014, I was working for a builder out of well, when I started with him in 2005, he was in Arlington.
[00:51:49] The office moved. McLain, the the owner ended up passing away. But I was actually working on a project in Arlington that was basically two weeks from being completed when he passed away. And when he passed away, the entire company shut down.
[00:52:04] Oh, so myself and my brother got hired by the homeowner to finish the house. And it was in the middle of the summer.
[00:52:11] We were out there working on the roof, doing some that had a knife edge roof detail on the front porch that we were finishing up out there with my shirt off because it’s hot in the sun. And then a couple of years later, I meet my wife and we’re just talking stories about stuff. And we had all these funny coincidences how we knew this person. That person turns out one of her best friends lived right across the street from that house that I was working on. Yeah. And it turned out that they had been watching me from across the street that day when I had my shirt off putting it together.
[00:52:42] You know, it was just a funny world. And you hadn’t even met her yet. I had even met her. Oh, my gosh.
[00:52:48] We got married in twenty fifteen. Well, congratulations.
[00:52:53] So that was how did you end up, I guess in your words, everybody wants to know. I’ll keep that to myself.
[00:53:00] That’s another story that can’t be told. Another story for another. Another. Yeah. I hear you. I hear you.
[00:53:07] All right fellas. Anything else come to mind, Pat Craig.
[00:53:11] No. Well listen, thanks for coming in. Enjoyed the chat and hope this is the first of many. So we’re starting off on a new project here. We’re having a lot of fun. We have a lot of episodes in the can already. So this is our first time sitting down with a group. We appreciate you guys coming in and.
[00:53:30] Well, thanks for having us. Yeah, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Enjoyed it. All right. See you guys. Bye bye.
[00:53:41] Hey, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the Go with John show, please subscribe on the podcast platform of your choice and keep up with our latest episodes and what’s going on with the show at Go with John Dotcom. That’s GoWithJohn.com