MOSTAD Makes It Easy 15

For 40 years, this family-owned construction company has been designing, refining, and redesigning the modern home

When I first step into the Sentinel floorplan at Valley View Terrace, I’m struck by how much more spacious it feels inside than it looked outside. The hallways are wide, the ceilings are tall, and I can see straight to the back of the house where floor-to-ceiling windows frame the view of the mountains bounding the valley to the east, including, of course, Mount Sentinel. I move through the home quickly, noting the wood floors, the granite countertops, and the covered patio outside, but what sticks with me most is the ease of moving around the home, the unbounded feel about it. As I sit down at the dining room table and talk with Gene Mostad, founder and president of Mostad Construction, I realize that the open feel I get from walking around the house is all part of a carefully thought-out design.

“Once people get in these homes, they start to realize why they’re designed the way they are,” Mostad explained. “It’s step-free, barrier-free living. It feels better.”

I look around: There aren’t any steps, the shower is curb-less, the electrical box and water heater are in the garage instead of the crawl space. The floor plan is small enough that you wouldn’t forget to clean the cobwebs out of one corner, yet it is spacious and very easy to move around in. It’s all the result of a lifetime of designing, refining, and re-designing what the home can look and feel like.

Growing up in Polson and then Missoula, Gene starting laying carpet for his father before high school. He always noticed the builders and contractors coming on site to do work and he decided he might prefer building to laying carpet. In high school, he worked in home construction over the summers. After starting out at the University of Montana, he decided to pursue a degree in Construction Management degree from Provo Technical School in Utah. When he returned to Missoula in 1977, his mom helped him buy his first lot and he built a speculative home. It sold.

Soon, he started getting orders to build custom homes. At the time, he was working on all components of construction: “I was framing, doing finish work, painting, tarring, putting in insulation. We were doing as much as we could back then.”

Gene and the name Mostad Construction developed a reputation for building high-quality custom homes. In 1988, he got the contract to finish the Brookside development. He successfully managed this development to completion, starting with phase two. More custom homes and development contracts came his way. It was fulfilling work.

“I’ve always liked it because I’m a process person,” he said. “I like the part of scheduling and putting all the pieces together and coming out with the end result. You’re always refining, making it better. You keep working on efficiencies.”

Thirty years since that contract, and five development projects later, Gene continues to fine tune his product. The Valley View Terrace homes cater to what he calls “Aging in Place.” Gene has learned over the years that different floor plans accommodate different stages of life. For a family with young children, the bedrooms are close to the master bedroom; with older kids, they are farther away. For an older couple, one of the bedrooms can easily become an office with a fold-down Murphy bed in case all the kids come to visit at once.

Gene is also aware of why Missoulians live where they live: the lifestyle. He knows that many homeowners, especially aging homeowners, want to spend their weekends hiking or fishing or skiing, not mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. For this reason, he has designed a professionally managed, comprehensive homeowners association that takes care of all the maintenance-related responsibilities. It’s a home that you can easily lock and leave.

Of course, over 40 years, Gene has endured struggles. Land prices have gone up, codes have became more stringent, building permits have became harder to get, and the economy has crashed. But it all can be put in perspective: “We may think things are hard to do here until we hear from others [around the country]. Sometimes we get stuck in a bubble and upset about small things. But we live in a pretty terrific place that allows us to get out and enjoy nature. We are lucky to be a part of this community.”

To constantly make improvements, Gene has become part of the Builder 20 Club of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). With the Builder 20 Club, he meets twice a year with homebuilders from around the country to exchange ideas on how to improve product and performance. His involvement in the Club has been “instrumental” in Mostad Construction’s growth, allowing them to become the leader in the Missoula residential housing and custom home markets.

And even though he is celebrating 40 years in construction, Gene doesn’t seem like he’s stopping anytime soon. His next focus is on improving the living comfort of the house by constantly cycling indoor and outdoor air to create better indoor air quality. At each step, he’s working to refine the experience of the home for the homeowner to make it feel like a home you can grow old with.