Custom Living: Putting the Pieces Together

Custom Living: Putting the Pieces Together

Whether you’ve decided to remodel your existing home or build a new one, the result should be as unique as your family. That’s the philosophy of Custom Living Founder and Owner Tom Lazzara. Lazzara started Custom Living in 2009 with a drive fueled by a loaded business plan and his strong family values. He was raised in a family of incurable entrepreneurs. His father and uncle were self-starters. Eventually, his dad, Tom, went on to start RE/MAX Ability Plus, uncle Chuck started Ritz Charles, while uncle Joey started Joe’s Butcher Shop.

So, it was no surprise when Lazzara caught the entrepreneur bug. While in college at IU, he came to the conclusion that he wanted to run his own business. After school, Lazzara joined the sales force of Pulte Homes. During his time there, he was a superstar for Pulte, helping increase neighborhood home sales in each community he entered, and the company relied greatly on his skills and expertise.

But his dream to run his own business was always on his mind, and, during his time with Pulte, a catalyst brought his dream closer to reality. Lazzara bought his first home and it needed to be remodeled.

Jumping right in to tackle the project, he worked on the house using every moment of his free time. In time, he decided to purchase another home and another, refurbishing them all. Lazzara fell in love with the creative and challenging world of renovating homes. After his third successful personal remodel, he left Pulte to start his own business. He spent the next five years consulting for construction firms to help them with quality control measures, sales systems, market analysis and internal operations. Most importantly, he conducted homeowner need assessment surveys to help build their businesses and pave the way to create Custom Living.

It was time to get Lazzara’s company off the ground.

Since opening eight years ago, Custom Living has done around 800 projects, including residential and commercial, remodels and new builds.

“We’re a small boutique building and design firm,” Lazzara says. “Our passion is to help create and build unique projects customized to fit each customer’s lifestyle. The magic for me is that it’s different for every person, and every house is a different puzzle.”

Building customer relationships Lazzara says is the key to a successful project and owner satisfaction.

“It’s important to involve a customer every step of the way,” he adds. “We educate the customer and take great care to manage expectations. We establish from the beginning that we’re all on the same team.”

That includes everyone on the Custom Living team. Custom Living treats their customers and each other like family, as modeled by their leader.

“We have the best team,” Lazzara says. “Custom Living would not be the same without this team. We’re all committed to the same goal. I wake up every day loving it.”

Lazzara says the Custom Living team couldn’t do what they do without vendor partners like Marvin Windows and Doors, sold locally by Franklin Window and Door in Carmel. Both companies have been a part of numerous Custom Living projects and say they’re proud to be a collaborating partner.

“In a remodel or new build, we have a 1,000-plus piece puzzle to put together for our clients,” Lazzara says. “This is typically taking place while a family lives in their home trying to carry on their normal routines. Our goal is to build this puzzle in a timely and attentive fashion, and to ensure the least amount of inconvenience for each family. One key to our success is to ensure that we are working with highly skilled professionals and craftsmen in our local market. These professionals must pledge superior customer service, provide a competitive value and, most importantly, have their hearts in the right place to always do what is right for each homeowner. If we can align those characteristics, we have found a winner.”

“Scott and Cori at Franklin Window and Door are that perfect fit. They have our client’s best interest in mind. They provide not just a quality product at a fair price but remarkable service to each and every client that walks through their door.”

“It’s truly a privilege to serve customers like Custom Living and Franklin Window and Door,” adds Jeff Rosell of Marvin Windows and Doors. “Many companies tout quality, but these folks are dedicated to what I call authentic quality. They’re not just interested in the sale, but in each person’s experience – from selecting windows that accentuate the home’s curb appeal to focusing on gathering areas for family and friends. Those are the values Marvin considers important. We like to say we don’t build windows, we build views of the world for families living inside their dream home.”

Franklin Window and Door, the Marvin distributor for the Indianapolis market, also shares what the partnership means to them.

“Working with Tom and Custom Living is an overall amazing experience,” says Scott Brown of Franklin Window and Door. “There are a few guys like Tom in any given market that take their projects to that next level to ensure that they are providing their customers with the products that will not only meet the design specifications for the project but also stand the test of time. This level of commitment will ensure the finished product is as amazing 20 years down the road as it was the day he hands over the keys. We at Franklin Window and Door feel blessed to work with many of those companies in our market and take great pride in being a part of those projects.”

“Tom’s upcoming project, The Brownstones at Monon and Main, is a perfect example of this,” Brown adds. “So many times, you see entry level products installed into multi-family settings. Those products typically look great when they are first installed, but when you come back five years down the road they are failing. It speaks volumes about the type of company Custom Living is when an owner like Tom cares enough to take the time during the selection process to choose products that will not only look great day one but still look and function as great many years down the road.”

Work is well underway on The Monon and Main Brownstones in downtown Carmel, a development that had been a vision of Lazzara’s family for the last 15 years.

“When I looked at our window and door options for the Monon and Main Brownstone’s, I wanted a product that you could open and feel the quality in,” Lazzara says. “It is important that as you enter one of our homes they are not just pretty finishes but true quality of construction behind the shades of paint, window treatments, etc. That is where the true quality is, and that is what is found in Marvin Windows and Doors. It is a family-owned business that prides itself on a superior quality product that you can feel and see on all their windows and doors.”

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard outlined his vision, which served as inspiration for the Lazzaras.

“During the past 20 years, Carmel has worked very hard to redevelop the heart of the city into a more walk-able environment creating a variety of residential options and attracting locally-owned shops, restaurants and galleries mixed with office space,” Brainard says. “What was once a nearly vacant rundown area has transformed into one of the most desirable, vibrant areas of our community. The success we’ve seen in our two main redevelopment areas, the Arts and Design District and City Center, have encouraged developers to create the Midtown District connecting these two. We now have more than a half-billion dollars in private investment for projects within a two-mile radius of City Center.”

That vision inspired in 2002 for the 200 West corner near Bub’s burgers will soon become a reality. Chuck Lazzara leads the way with his son Tony Lazzara in the development of a large park and plaza with retail shops, office space and restaurants.

One restaurant will bear the family stamp. Lazzara’s cousin, Tony, will be opening his new steakhouse and rooftop bar, Anthony’s Chophouse and 3UP. The Chophouse will incorporate all the elements of fine dining in an atmosphere of casual elegance.

Custom Living will no doubt have many exciting projects on the horizon. Let them be part of your next remodel or new build. Visit customlivingusa.com for residential and commercial needs or liveatmononandmain.com for details on the Monon and Main Brownstones.