Designer & Builder Duo: Loudermilk Designs and Loudermilk Homes
Atlanta’s custom luxury housing market is booming, and Loudermilk Homes is at the forefront of meeting the wants and needs of discerning homebuyers who expect the best in design and construction.
Sherwin Loudermilk, the Founder and President of Loudermilk Homes, has grown the family-owned company from a modest house flipping experiment more than a decade ago into one of the most respected and fastest-growing luxury design-and-build firms in Southeast.
Sherwin credits the company’s culture and disciplined way of doing business, like their proprietary 9-Step “Process to Perfection” that they follow for every home that they build, for their success and growth.
Most importantly, Loudermilk Homes has a dedicated, loyal and innovative team that is constantly looking for top-of-the-line products, technology and building techniques that help them strengthen their craft and build better homes.
“We’re never satisfied with the status quo, and we are always looking for ways to do it better,” Sherwin says.
Spotlight on Success: Luxury Living in Atlanta
Sherwin and his wife Roane founded Loudermilk Homes 13 years ago after finding early success doing home remodels on the side while he was an executive at IBM.
He was inspired by the idea of applying better technology and sophisticated business management processes to the residential construction industry so that there would be greater transparency and accountability with clients.
As he and his wife found early profitability in flipping houses, they started taking on larger projects and eventually shifted toward designing and building luxury homes for high-net-worth individuals.
Today, Loudermilk Homes builds custom luxury homes that are typically priced over $1.5 million, with some projects as high as $6 million. Atlanta is home to a wealthy population, and clients of Loudermilk Homes include Fortune 500 executives, doctors, lawyers, athletes and professionals in the movie and entertainment industries.
Contrary to what you might expect during the COVID pandemic, sales are booming as homebuyers look for more space to create dedicated home offices, rooms for remote school, larger spaces like recreation rooms and game rooms for family entertainment, and more luxurious outdoor spaces to host small gatherings of friends.
“With COVID, there’s been a shift. It seemed like everyone was downsizing, but this year we saw a massive increase in space,” explains Sherwin.
Trends in Luxury Design
In 2018, Roane founded a sister company called Loudermilk Designs that specializes in professional custom interior design services to help discerning homebuyers capture their unique design preferences. They’ve noticed a few trends in aesthetics and features that homebuyers are looking for.
“There are a lot of requests for dual offices since more people are working from home,” says Sherwin. “We build a lot of functionality and comfort into the design, along with the look of the home.”
Each home should support each family’s unique lifestyle and reflect their design choices. For families that don’t wear their shoes in the house, there should be a larger closet or mudroom with extra space to store their shoes, for example.
“We’re designing homes like a custom suit; it’s supposed to fit you,” says Sherwin.
But that kind of detail takes legwork and lots of questions on the front end to reveal each family’s wants, needs, lifestyle and preferences.
“The only way we can understand how a house should fit a client is by asking a lot of questions, because we’re trying to understand how the client lives and works,” Sherwin said.
There’s an extensive set of questions that professionals at Loudermilk Homes and Loudermilk Designs ask clients before they even start on the design, and for clients that don’t know how to describe their preferences, the company created a Design Questionnaire to guide people through that process.
Design is one step in the company’s 9-Step “Process to Perfection” that guides each homebuyer through the entire design and construction process. There are important intervals along the way when the homeowner must approve framing, the placement of mechanical systems and even details like where light fixtures and electrical outlets are located.
It all comes back to design and thinking through future use of the home and what will make the family most comfortable, according to Sherwin. “There’s creativity in trying to get into a client’s head to understand what they want and to really customize it,” he says. “That’s my favorite part.”
Sherwin finds out, for example, if clients want to entertain frequently or whether they have pets or children who play sports.
“For instance, we suggest a pet shower if they have large dogs. It’s just easier to come inside and take the pet through the mudroom, instead of tracking mud into the home,” says Sherwin.
Loudermilk Homes and Loudermilk Designs start each home design with the kitchen and work out from there. The company’s design aesthetic is sophisticated yet bold, drawing on influences from European Modern styles, Traditional, Modern Farmhouse, Contemporary and everything in between.
“We’ve never built the same house twice, and each one is truly unique to what that particular homeowner wants,” Sherwin says. “There are some commonalities. We do a lot of open floor plans. We have kitchens that open to the main area of the home — the kitchen is the new grand room, after all.”
Many people have been spending more time indoors since the COVID pandemic began, so their homes need to accommodate that with the right amount of space — for work, for play and for entertaining.
Smart home technology is also on-trend. Loudermilk Homes uses state-of-the-art smart home systems that include a dedicated server that controls all the major systems like HVAC, lighting, sound, Wi-Fi, security, sprinklers, electronic window shades and much more. Those systems can be integrated with voice command systems like Amazon Alexa for ease of use by any member in the family, even young children or elderly relatives.
There are also thoughtful touches like USB ports in the bathrooms and underneath the islands in the kitchen so busy families can charge their devices while eating meals or getting ready in the morning.
“Smart home technology is easy to use, but it does things without you knowing or having to think about it,” Sherwin said. “The irrigation system can turn itself off for 5 minutes when a delivery person comes to the door. The thermostats can adjust themselves if a door is left open. The shades can automatically come down to block off sunlight on hot summer days. Functionality is key, and those types of products allow for that.”
Another area where Loudermilk Homes invests in technology is through their Loudermilk Connect app, which creates a custom portal for each homebuyer where they can see a 24/7 video feed, daily work logs and photos, real-time schedule and budget updates, and an archive of all of their design selections. They can request and approve change orders right in the app, and they can immediately see any changes to the schedule, such as a rain delay that impacts framing.
Sherwin’s wife Roane runs the design phase of the company’s projects, including offering bespoke professional interior design services for homebuyers who want help choosing artwork, furniture, linens and other accessories that make their home stand out.
“She handles selection design and interior design, and she has six designers on staff now. It’s a great service to offer our clients a one-stop shop for design and construction because it saves them time and lets them know they are getting a perfectly designed home that was made just for them,” he said.
Their partnership is part of what has made Loudermilk Homes and Loudermilk Designs a preferred builder in the Atlanta market.
“Roane truly understands how to make a home’s design comfortable yet grand,” he says.
Planning Ahead: Building Success
The real estate industry has evolved in some unexpected ways since Sherwin and Roane Loudermilk started flipping homes 13 years ago. Loudermilk Homes recently expanded into the Cashiers and Highlands area of North Carolina, and they started a luxury pool division to meet the needs of homebuyers.
Along the way, they’ve gained valuable experience and insights, and they know how to manage through unexpected events such as the COVID pandemic and the global supply chain disruption that’s making it challenging to get essential items like refrigerators, stoves, vanities and light fixtures.
“You have scars after incidents like the 2008 crash, and you try not to go through it again,” says Sherwin. “Right now, we have a comfortable growth pattern. We actually want to slow down a little bit and absorb everything we’ve expanded into.”
Good relationships with key suppliers like Brand Vaughan Lumber are an important part of the company’s success, he says.
About a year ago, Loudermilk Homes started working with Brand Vaughan Lumber. “I’d been working with my sales rep, Paul, for multiple years,” Sherwin said. Then Paul moved jobs and started working for Brand Vaughan.
“I was skeptical of something new, but I had a great relationship with Paul and it was a good fit. What we saw is the same customer service that Paul always had, but with the backing of a great company,” says Sherwin.
That kind of building support has helped Loudermilk Homes achieve success on its construction projects.
“It means everything: how we get POs processed, getting materials when we need them and being competitively priced,” explains Sherwin. “When you have a salesperson working with you, who also has the backing of a solid back and front office, that makes a big difference.”
Cultivating Customer Satisfaction
What helps Loudermilk Homes and Loudermilk Designs stand out is their single-minded focus on the lifestyle, wants and needs of clients.
A homebuyer who loves wine might want a custom-built wine cellar in the basement. A family that is focused on physical fitness might want a home gym, a yoga studio, a sauna, a swimming pool, a hot tub — or all of those things.
“We truly listen to what they want, and then we design and build exactly that,” Sherwin says.
“We want to perfect our art,” says Sherwin. “We feel we’re one of the top builders for high-end customers here, and we want to get better — especially when it comes to our relationship with the client.”
And by working with the best quality products and materials, Loudermilk Homes helps to further guarantee the success of the company and the satisfaction of their customers.
You can learn more about Loudermilk Homes and Loudermilk Designs by visiting them on their websites.