Is there any higher mission for a homebuilder than complete homeowner satisfaction? That’s the ultimate goal of Cobblestone Homes, an elite Michigan builder and an industry leader in zero- energy and near zero-energy homes, according to Mark Wahl, CEO and co-owner of the company. To deliver exactly what matters most to homeowners’ long-term satisfaction, Cobblestone trusts LP® TopNotch® 350 Sub-Flooring and LP® SmartSide® Siding, Lap, Trim, Shake, and Soffit above all other brands.
Cobblestone Homes has a long list of demands for building products—including durability, curb appeal, personalization, smooth installation, cost competitiveness, and overall performance. But the true purpose behind each of these demands is to make the homeowner happy. It drives every decision the company makes, especially product decisions. “We always ask ourselves, ‘How does this make the buyer feel?’” said Wahl. “True satisfaction comes from a deep, emotional level. I want them to feel the solidness of our homes.”
Wahl explains it best: “We chose SmartSide because it delivers on what our buyers want most. They want the real look of wood, durability, personalization, colors. We use the lap product on 20 homes or more per year, and the trim board goes on just about every home we build.
“When they see the difference, most of our customers prefer SmartSide over vinyl or cement board. The look is more real, more natural. They like the texture and grain of the product. The way it takes and holds paint is phenomenal. And 20 years down the road, we think we’ll have better durability out of the SmartSide as well. In our cold northern climate, with really high humidity in the summer and low temperatures in the winter, this product can handle the elements very well.
“As far as installation goes, with a wood product you’re able to craft the fit and finish. And there’s not as much waste as vinyl or cement board.
“Looking inside the home, we exclusively use the TopNotch sub-flooring on every single home we build. We’re very, very happy with it. There’s rain year-round here in Michigan, and the water drainage is fabulous. Before TopNotch, we were drilling holes, sanding seams. We’ve totally eliminated that. And we used to get floor squeaks. TopNotch has helped make that go away, too.
“Homeowners want a floor that’s incredibly comfortable and doesn’t squeak. TopNotch delivers. It’s a tool we use to meet or exceed the buyer’s expectations. It’s the same with SmartSide. When the homeowner walks up to the home, the trim board looks real and solid. The texture feels right to the touch. Texture has become incredibly important to homeowners. You don’t get the same feeling from vinyl. The emotion just isn’t the same.
“People say our homes are very durable. We find the products we use from LP add to that. Plus, our LP representative is tremendous. We’re very much an education-based builder, continually learning and training. Our rep is regularly approaching us with training opportunity after training opportunity. To me, that is so valuable. I’m a big believer that you build more than a product—you build a relationship. LP does exactly that, and that’s a real rarity compared to other products.”
Cobblestone Homes’ commitment to quality has led the company to increase its number of homes constructed annually each year for the past 10 years, despite the fact that its home county in Michigan saw the number of permits fall by 80 percent from 2003 to 2010. In addition, LP SmartSide and LP TopNotch products were also featured in both of the homes built by Cobblestone Homes that were recently showcased on the HGTV program Showhouse Showdown (first aired March 24, 2012). And recently, both Mark Wahl and his co-owner (and wife) Melissa Wahl were named to the 2012 “40 Under 40” list by Professional Builder magazine as “young superstars who represent the next generation of leadership and innovation in home building.”