Loudermilk Homes is leveraging technology to provide its clients with homes that are not just smart, but brilliant.
By Bianca Herron
Sherwin Loudermilk founded Loudermilk Homes in 2009 with one goal in mind: to improve the experience and process of luxury homebuilding. The Atlanta-based company has since found success by tapping into Loudermilk’s background in computer science.
As an executive at IBM earlier in his career, Loudermilk worked with telecommunications and web development companies on cutting-edge products and support services. That experience not only continues to differentiate Loudermilk Homes from its competitors, but also has allowed it to take homebuilding to the next level by integrating some of the most advanced smart home technology into the multi-million-dollar homes it builds today.
Process to Perfection
Loudermilk Homes gives its clients complete transparency with a software program called Loudermilk Connect, which can also be accessed 24/7 via mobile app. The program allows the company to walk through the building process with clients and stores all of their selection information for items such as appliances, paint colors, tile and lighting. Clients can also make changes in the system and have access to an array of details and price points that allows them to make more informed decisions.
“Our controllers, procurement managers, designers and superintendents all input information into Loudermilk Connect so the client can see everything in real time,” says Loudermilk, president and CEO. “This includes schedules, work in progress, inspection status, daily logs and our plans for correcting any problems and catching up if there are delays.”
He adds that the company has video cameras on the site so clients can see a live stream of their home at any time. “We strive to be fully transparent and focus on saving our clients money through processes,” Loudermilk says. “Ultimately, we don’t want our clients to be blindsided by anything. We want to make this a fun process.”
Additionally, Loudermilk Homes takes a thorough and nimble approach to creating its clients’ dream homes with a proprietary nine-step process designed to eliminate stress and uncertainty. “We have embedded these nine steps into our process so that our clients can make changes along the way,” Loudermilk explains. “We set ourselves apart further with this process because most builders are rigid on changes and don’t want to do them. Our goal is to provide clients with the house of their dreams, and not a home they are forced to live in.”
The first step is inspiration. Loudermilk Homes gives clients a design questionnaire to better understand their style and preferences for furniture, color palettes and other factors that help define the design and functionality of their homes, such as whether they cook or entertain often.
“Our second step is architecture,” Loudermilk says. “Our architects sit down with the client to create the home of their dreams, starting with the kitchen and moving outward. Our 10-page proprietary Loudermilk Homes Architectural Checklist covers all the design elements of your home, down to such details as which way the doors should swing open.”
The remaining steps include design, construction kick-off, framing, mechanicals, interior and exterior, and finishes. “After the finishes stage, clients are able to move into their new home,” Loudermilk says. “We guide them through the closing process and make sure all documentation and warranty items are in order.”
Loudermilk Homes sends its vice president of construction and the project superintendent on a final walk-through with a 500-point checklist to ensure the client’s home is perfect. “They teach the client how to care for their HVAC system, how the electrical breaker and water shutoffs work and how to maintain other major systems,” he says. “We also do another walk-through a month after closing to make sure everything continues to be perfect.”
Innovation on Purpose
Loudermilk Homes recently completed a $4 million, 15,000-square-foot home in the Atlanta area. The project was unique for the company because the client lived in California at the time, and only visited the site the twice during major build-out. “Our client felt like he was there with us every day via our photos, live feed and app,” Loudermilk says. “His wife had never seen the house until they arrived the last three weeks of the project, which was our cleanup stage, and she was blown away.”
The property boasts seven bedrooms and many custom features such as a wine cellar and a racquetball court that converts to a basketball court with a push of a button that lowers a backboard and hoop. “It has an amazing pool that will probably end up winning an award, a bar system, and his sauna is absolutely amazing,” Loudermilk says. “It has a double-level master closet. The client’s wife’s main closet is next to their bedroom, and there are stairs going up above the garage where she has all of her overflow of clothes.”
Loudermilk says there was only one thing that didn’t meet the client’s expectation, and that was a difference of design for the basement ceiling. “We resolved it through our nine-step process and hit everything else perfectly,” he says proudly. “I don’t know any other builder in the Atlanta area that could have pulled off what we did and still met the client’s expectations. And it was all due to our processes.”
Although each step of Loudermilk Homes’ nine-step process adds an additional two days to its project completion date, Loudermilk says “it’s not a big deal” thanks to the company’s subcontractors. “They know not to move forward until the current step is approved,” he says. “We are loyal to our subcontractors. They know our expectations and what we want.”
Loudermilk Homes has longstanding relationships with many of its subcontractors, including Michael Buckner, managing partner at Atlanta-based Audio Intersection. “They are our home theater and smart home subcontractor,” Loudermilk says. “Michael has a unique process that ensures everything is covered and managed correctly so that his client’s expectations are met, which means my client’s expectations are met.”
He adds that audio/video is a “very unique and growing field,” but that Loudermilk Homes is perfecting the art of how technology can be integrated into homes. “It’s still new age, but we’re starting to implement artificial intelligence in our homes,” Loudermilk says. “We’re starting to wire the home to be able to have pretty much anything you can think of at your disposal.”
Loudermilk notes that each home has a “computer brain” and everything connects to it. For example, imagine a home with electronic shade systems that automatically activate based on the angle of the sun, and a Sub-Zero refrigerator that analyzes its contents and knows how often it is opened to help improve energy efficiency. These are elements that can be part of Loudermilk Homes’ projects.
The smart home technology Loudermilk Homes is using today is the realization of many of the concepts he developed 20 years ago when he was at IBM, when some critics scoffed at the idea of a home controlling itself based on the lifestyle and patterns of the people living there.
“We were creating a vision for what a home would look like in the future, and tested things people never thought would be a reality, like a fridge analyzing its contents,” Loudermilk says. “It’s taking things to the next level and truly integrating your house.”