Lindal Cedar HomesConsumerAffairs Unaccredited Brand
We had dreamed of building a Lindal Home for decades, and our time finally arrived. We were fortunate to have the help of the experienced and professional Dealers in Montrose, CO. Both are Civil Engineers and the design process was very organized and fun. Best of all the materials provided were very high quality. The warmth of the western red cedar trim and the exposed beams is noticed every time we enter the house. We love it, we love coming home. Our builder was excellent and advised Lindal 'made it easy,' with the detailed plans and itemized materials. Our experience was great. We'd highly recommend building a home with both Lindal and the Dealers in Montrose, CO.
We were rookie builders but both are attorneys. We were wary of the Lindal Rep and used our own common sense. The rep gave us Lindal builders BUT told us to keep an EYE on our materials.
Reading all these reviews filled with problems, I have to assume the Lindal has drastically changed since we built our chalet style home in 1994-95. I don't recall any of the problems discussed so thoroughly in these reviews. However, one important aspect of cedar homes isn't mentioned by Lindal. We tend to think that our beautiful cedar siding will last forever, always looking beautiful.
But cedar has to be repeatedly stained, it tends to wear unevenly, and eventually it turns very dark. Areas where rain water has dripped will be dark and stained. Then those of us with older cedar homes are faced with the question: Is it time to paint over our cedar clapboard? The answer will probably be "Yes," especially since after 20 years we are in the older age group and maintaining stained cedar is either too much trouble for us or too expensive to have the work done by someone else.
So now I'm the proud (?) owner of a painted Lindal Cedar Chalet. But the house and windows have worn well. Only one window clouded up within the 10-year warranty period, and was replaced by Lindal. A large window in a store door failed after 17 years with water leaking between the glass panes.. I'm living with it. I've read that all double or triple paned windows will ultimately fail, so I can be grateful that my large prow windows are still all "good." At least they were good before the recent power washing prior to the paint job. The rainy season is yet to come here in California.
Oh, one more problem for California residents. The oil stain we originally put on our cedar is now illegal, and often no longer manufactured. This is the main reason to transition from oil based stain to latex paint. Here is a video of the process: **. But I still think it's best to keep the original unpainted cedar if the homeowner can maintain it with cleanings and repeated stain jobs. We weren't able to do that.
My husband & I purchased a Lindal Cedar Home package. We thought we were getting a fantastic deal at the time. We ran into two major difficulties: Early delivery of home package & less-than-qualified builder. I will address the builder: Our contractor was recommended by the local Lindal dealer. We found out after we had signed the papers and made our payment for the Lindal package that the contractor, due to financial problems, did not own his own equipment, he did not have a crew, and he had no credit. Space does not allow me to relate how many problems we ran into. I will generally say that expensive mistakes were made & a lot of the quality of construction was below average. The bottom line is do not depend on the Lindal dealer to recommend your builder.
Early delivery: Although we asked the Lindal dealer to delay delivery of the home package because our contractor was not getting the site prepared in a timely manner, he insisted on getting it shipped. The result was that material sat on the construction site for months before they were needed. We ended up with damaged material. So, if you decide to go with a Lindal home, no matter what you are told, you need covered space for your product away from the main construction site. Otherwise, even though it is covered, it will get abused. Cedar is a soft wood that does not hold up well to repeated moving, especially when done without much regard for the product.
We are living in our home now. Whether it is due to poor workmanship or the product itself, I have noted that the house emits loud pops when the temperature changes. If I had it to do over again, I would be careful about who I contract with to build a house & I would definitely not go with Lindal. In the end what looks like a good deal isn't so good after all. Check references, ask around about the product.
23 years ago I designed, ordered and built my Lindal dream home. I was 47 years old at the time, and was going to live in my beautiful home with my wife the rest of our lives. With my Lindal order I specified their Low -E, Argon gas filled premium windows 45 of them. About 8 years ago, my windows started failing. Fogging up so bad I couldn't see out. I had an initial 10 year warranty on the house and I thought the house & windows would last longer than 15 years. Maybe 25 to 40 years. But I guess I was Wrong. When I called Lindal 7 years ago, they told me to expect the rest of the windows to fail, and sent me new quarter rounds at no charge to place around the new window glass that I would be replacing (Very generous of them).
So far I have replaced 6 windows that I couldn't see out of for about $2,000. that averages about $333. per window. 39 to go about $13,000. more. I'm 70 years old now and Live on a fixed income. I replace the windows not as they fail. (They have all failed.) But when I can't see out of them any more. I have cleaned and stained the house 5 times, repairing rotted Deck boards, and replacing the windows myself. Bottom line is if you don't want to work on your house the rest of your life, Don't Buy A Lindal Cedar Home. If you do buy a Lindal home, don't let them talk you into their junk windows. It's winter now and I can see the frost between the glass growing.
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I purchased a home out of foreclosure. My husband and I have our primary residence in Michigan. My local home inspector in TN suggested that I have someone take a look at two of the doors to make sure the weather-stripping was sealing. Because Lindal Homes had built the house originally, I called Lindal Homes in Seattle for assistance. Lindal Homes gave me the name of Mike ** as the local dealer. When we spoke, Mr. ** volunteered that his deceased father, Ray **, built the home and indicated that he would like to see it. Mr. ** visited the home with my realtor and later called me saying I needed two (2) new doors and I needed to wire $4,000 immediately because he had located 2 on sale. I wired the money to an account that Mr. ** provided to me (USAA Federal Savings Bank in San Antonio, TX).
My husband and I later met Mr. ** at the house when we were there for closing with my realtor. While there with Mr. **, it was obvious that the sliding door did NOT need to be replaced; it was only in need of washing. Moreover, the bedroom door which Mr. ** said needed to be replaced only needed a lock fixed. There was never a need for 2 new doors or the $4,000 payment! Mr. ** did say he would fix weather-stripping inserted in the windows slots and he would need to buy a tool to fix this. However, Mr. ** did NOT fix any weather stripping nor did we see any tool. When asked to return the $4,000, Mr. ** only returned $2,500 of the wired funds and kept $1,500. Despite numerous requests and letters from my attorney, he has refused to provide any documentation or explanation as to his alleged right to retain the $1,500. Mr. ** did not do any work or provide any documentation supporting his keeping my money. He needs to return my $1,500.
The problem with Lindal begins and ends with its business model. Each dealer, with the exception of the Seattle office, is an independent dealer (Not Lindal), which eventually leads to the "Blame Circle", i.e.: problem arises, the Lindal Dealer blames Lindal; call Lindal for answers... they blame the dealer. Customer either gets frustrated and walks away without their initial deposit, or gets a lawyer and sues the dealer. This has been going on for decades with Lindal. They do not seem to have any interest in making all their customers satisfied. SOLUTION: Do not spend your hard-earned money with this company!
I bought a Lindal house which I later learned was built in 1970. It is roughly chalet style. The house is okay, but has turned out to be very hard to modify to make it better insulated or stronger. Unlike conventional houses, you can not simply gut them and rebuild. Every part, especially the roof, is related to other parts to support the whole, so nothing can be changed. Maybe new ones are different. I have tried to get suggestions from Lindal and they give a little advice, but nothing solid. Meanwhile, in winter, the house costs a lot to heat. We cannot find any local contractors who are qualified to work on this house. Lindal could help by offering advice on how to modify these houses, even if they charge for it.
We purchased a Lindal home already built. We loved it so much and we were going to build a smaller home on our property for my folks. We used a preexisting plan Lindal had, had the down payment, and then, my father unexpectedly passed away. They said we could use our $15k deposit toward an addition on the existing home, which my father asked me to do when he got sick.
Lindal (via their website of authorized dealers) referred us to Frank, who was supposedly the Hawaii dealer. I talked with Frank and sent him pictures of our existing house. I even accurately drew out our existing home for him, converted it to AutoCAD which was more convenient for him, and the proposed addition, shot elevations for him, basically handed everything for him to help us produce a plan for Lindal and a materials list.
A year and a half later, I was so frustrated when Frank stopped responding to me. I called Lindal headquarters and was routed to Rob at Lindal headquarters. He told me that we could use our $15k for materials and to find a contractor to help us with the plans. Frank supposedly was getting our original house plans from Lindal to help us with the addition. But after asking for references over and over, I finally got the message by the non-response that we were on our own.
I contacted Lindal myself several times to find out that our 18-year-old plans were tossed; yet someone else within Lindal told me that they have them in a warehouse. Someone was just lazy and didn't want to find them. Which is it? We went back to the (now retired) architect that had reviewed our Lindal home which we were going to build for my parents. He felt so sorry on our journey with Lindal. He put together the plans and he clearly called out Lindal specs on the plans (I could even figure it out and I have had a stroke!).
I had been given Hugh's name by Rob to contact for material pricing. When I sent the plans to him, I was told that I needed to either hire a Lindal dealer to produce plans which would use up most of what was left of our deposit, or a contractor to give him a list of Lindal materials needed so he could make a price list of my monies left of $7,877.50.
Where did the rest of our monies go? How are we supposed to know what Lindal material has to offer? This was what I have asked Lindal for three years and never got an answer, and yet, here we are at the crossroads. We did everything they asked, and they are leaving us out in the cold again. For three years, they have given us the runaround, have not given us any direction, in fact, avoided it, and hidden the lack of a dealer on Maui or any of the islands (by the way, there is no one here). And now, we have to guess what type of materials we need from Lindal, and we have less than half of our deposit to work with and no explanation.
I have never ever worked with a company that has truly made me feel the concept of big corporation, and I don't matter because they can do what they want. I clearly explained to Lindal that we needed help, my husband is permanently disabled from a brain injury and me with my disabilities, but instead, I feel that empowered them to not help us. If anyone asked me, I would strongly caution any business dealings with Lindal.
I was told by Ken ** that if I sent payment for Lindal Cedar Home parts and supplies that I would get them delivered via Fed Ex the following week. I needed to re-do my Lindal Cedar sunroom (as the cedar had lots of wet-rot after 18 years and bug infestation) and my builder has a specific time frame to be able to finish the job. Over a full week later, no sign of delivery.
My biggest worry though is I went through months of waiting last year for my initial order of parts, after many e-mails and phone calls and no action, I waited and wondered if parts would ever come. Now I am waiting and wondering all over again. Another nightmare, but I hope not! I sent full payment via wired funds to Manitou almost 2 weeks ago. I even told Ken my builder could get the same kind of tape product through a local construction company (Grainger), but he said that my order was already put in and being packaged and that was over a week ago. My builder is ready to walk as there are no supplies to get my job done in a timely manner.
Lindal Cedar Homes, Manitou Custom Homes and Ken ** have taken responsibility for problems related to our attempt to purchase Lindal Cedar Home building materials, and they have resolved the matter to our satisfaction.
We bought a Lindal Cedar Homes plan book from Manitou Group LTD. In that book we found a house we wanted to build: the Greenbriar model. We used Microsoft Excel to frame out the dimensions with each cell representing a .5 foot scale that we used to rearrange the inner walls, understanding that changing the "footprint" would cause additional cost.
After we modified the plans to what we wanted, we sent them off to The Manitou Group and asked our second Home Selection Expert, Anthony, if the turn-key cost would be around $300,000 as that is what we were looking for (our assigned Home Selection Expert kept changing). Anthony sent us several emails asking other finishing questions which we answered. We also made some modifications of the Excel drafted plans and conveyed them to Anthony. Through the conversation, we were told that Cedar siding was more expensive than Hardi-Plank, so to keep our cost down we needed to make that change. Of course we opted for the Hardi-Plank. We also agreed to downgrade to shingles vs. a metal roof, again to keep the cost down.
Since our constant concern was the turn-key price we asked again, in writing this time, what the turn-key price was for building the home and that we would rather put off the project than continue if the price was too high. We were assured that the turn-key cost would be around $300,000. A few days before our first formal meeting with Anthony to discuss and review the recent changes, we were notified that Anthony was no longer employed there but we were assured that the CEO, Mr. Kenneth W., was "brought up to speed".
When we arrived at the Manitou Group LTD model home in Kalamazoo, Michigan, we were surprised that the plans were an exact replica of the Excel worksheet and none of the subsequent conversations (except for the use Hardi-plank) made it into the design. Ken assured us that they had the changes and they would be reflected in the next set of plans but that we should go ahead and sign the preliminary plans and the Purchase and Sale agreement for the Greenbriar model. Up to that point we did all the design work! But wanting to believe we were now in good hands with the "president" of the company, we signed.
Not being construction savvy, we thought the specification listing was all the parts we were buying and all we'd have to do is find someone to assemble it. Wrong! The list has several parts marked as NIC (not in contract). We found out after we got toward the end of the plans stage that what we were actually buying was only a part of the shell of the house, interior doors, trim and posts. No plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling or walls! The builder would have to supply the rest! Oh, and Ken would be nice enough to recommend a builder with "experience with Lindal packages".
With each step we were shown faulty plans, but were assured in the next step they would be fixed. When the "final" construction plans were shown we noticed instead of removing the pantry to make the kitchen bigger, they just extended the loft and kitchen into the dining room! We were at an open house party, so we politely pulled Ken aside and explained the "final" plans were still wrong. Not only the pantry, loft and kitchen, but also the walkout lower level changes were still not made! He assured us that he would get Seattle to fix it but that we should go ahead and sign them.
He then pulled out an "authorization to ship" form which he wanted us to sign so that when the plans were corrected and we could proceed to permit plans, etc. We were concerned they would now charge us for the plan changes and felt uncomfortable signing the form, so Ken wrote the word "corrected" to assure us we were only agreeing to proceed if the plans were corrected. These plans, having structural beams in the dining room, would not be the plans the construction drawings would be based on!
This is now the first time he introduced us to a Lindal experienced builder (Kevin). At this point he gave us two builder bids, one was astronomical in price and Kevin's, although high, was much lower. So we agreed to use Kevin as the builder being assured that his pricing included allowances for "over-runs". In a phone conversation later, he told us an extra $10,000 would be needed now to move things along and that it would show up as part of our financing down payment later.
Well, by the time the project got to the financing stage (now at the end of the contractual Lindal part), we finally found out the total cost of the project was not "around $300,000" but $475,000 ($75,000 was our land cost)! The final issue was that the "Post and Beam" Lindal Cedar Home was really a "Stick Home" with decorative support beams vs. normal enclosed beams and the value of the home came in at $375,000 (including the value of the land). Ken told us that his other clients get financing as a "convenience" but agreed to apply a discount which came out to $10,000.
The builder reduced his contractor fee but couldn't reduce the other costs since the majority of the house was missing from Lindal's "package". We never were given corrected plans that had the pantry, kitchen, and loft to sign off on; instead we received a PDF that had the structural changes made but still did not have the continuously repeated lower level changes! We met with him a total of 4 times. We were pushed through the Lindal stages but neglected to follow up with the bank or us in a timely manner, which caused us to have to resubmit our asset documentation repeatedly.
This whole project was a nightmare and because we were too afraid to take legal action sooner, we ended up in a worse mess. Now that we are terminating the contract, Lindal and Manitou are playing games by ignoring our desire to terminate, threatening that the "package" was already being assembled (but could not provide detail to prove it) and could now accumulate costs for being on "hold". They accused us of making a phone call we didn't make, nor would they consider giving a portion of our deposit back. And the extra $10,000 to be applied to our down payment? It apparently went to toward all the hard work Ken did for us.
Run away from Manitou Group LTD, Ken W. and Lindal Cedar Homes! Although the contract states we would lose the initial payment of 15% of the package price ($134,000), which would be $20,100. We paid them $30,400.00 with $10,000 of that amount to be applied to our financing down payment, not the package. We have tried to terminate since November 2009 and have incurred ongoing legal fees and stress. This matter is still not resolved.
During construction of our package deal we discovered one of the beams had started to separate. We called the rep (salesman) and he said that is common and he would send out a repair kit and if done properly you could hardly tell it was patched. WHAT? Also the windows were so bad we could not use them. They said they would take them back at a fraction of what they cost and we pay freight. We still have them but put in Anderson windows. None of the beams in the house are of the same size. The beams on the left do not match the ones on the right and even in the master bed one beam is ONE 2x6 shorter than the other one and it is only 5' away same in the other bedroom. But it is even more noticable in the great room as the beam that is suppose to match the kitchen beam is 8 shorter and because it protrudes out side for support of the roof it looks atusive. It's as though the engine could save an extra 2x6 because of the load calculation and did not care of the customer's dream home.
I have not heard from them and after reading some of the horror stories of other customers I don't expect to. If you are thinking of a Lindal Cedar DON'T. Hire an architect, design what you want and hire a builder. My contractor said if we would have done just that, we could have saved about 100,000 dollars. At this point we will make the house as beautiful as we can despite all of their shortcuts.
I have 25 years experience in the construction industry as a designer, contractor and executive-level sales manager for other name-brand building products. I've spent the last 6 years with Lindal - two as a sales rep and four as a sunroom dealer/builder. I also, regrettably, built a Lindal sunroom on my home to be used as a model. My negative experience in all 3 areas - as a rep, a dealer, and a customer - has turned me into a committed consumer advocate.
10 Things You Should Know
1. Lindal advertising can be harmful to your health. Lindal is a marketer and supplier ONLY and has no control or oversight with dealers, project design or construction.
2. Don't be pressured by special sales. Ask for an extension. Shop around.
3. Lindal DOES NOT teach design or construction and will recruit anyone in spite of background or suitability. Nothing overcomes bad design.
4. Beware of exorbitant design fees disguised as material deposits that may not be refundable.
5. Most dealers do not know BEANS about construction. Do your homework.
6. Dealers are NOT agents for the manufacturer so there is no accountability when things go wrong.
7. Protect your money at all times through bonds, escrows and small draws. Don't pay without proof of solvency.
8. Due to high dealer turnover future warranty service or repairs will be difficult to impossible. Existing dealers are not obligated to fix your problem. You're on your own.
9. DO NOT sign anything with Arbitration Clauses without consulting an attorney. You'll be sorry.
10. The probability that you will have trouble with your order, your dealer, your contractor and/or your warranty service is very high.
On June 16, 2002, I wrote a $5000 check to Prescott Designer Homes for the design of our dream home in Prescott, AZ. I had taken the Casa Islena plans and modified them to match our dreams. For the next several months, we worked back and forth to set the plans. On November 26th, 2002, I received a letter from Prescott Designer Homes pressuring for a signed purchase and sales agreement and $62,666.55, even though we did not have a good set of drawings or materials list.
I received another letter dated December 5th, 2002 stating all corrections had been made to the plans (of which I did not and do not have a good copy). The permitting process and the competitive bids, if we start, right now, with the signed purchase and sales agreement and $62666.55, would take to the middle of March, with the home package arriving on my lot in mid-April. Any changes necessary could be made after the purchase and sales agreement is signed and funds were received. To receive any discounts, I had to sign the purchase and sales agreement now.
With the above pressure and a desire to get started, I was coerced into signing the sales agreement, writing out a check for $62,666.55 and PDH started the bidding process. PDH (Prescott Designer Homes) recommended two general contractors. Not including the land, one bid came in at $1,043,187.00 and the second bid at $1,313,899.00, a rather shocking spread of $270,712.00. PDH recommended I consider the lower bid. I then independently, discovered that the low bidder (Artistic Remolding) was licensed only to remodel, not build a new home as a contractor in Arizona; thus, he would be uninsured in addition. This recommendation could have had disastrous results.
IndyMac Bank, my proposed lender, then conferred with PDH on a suitable appraiser. The man PDH recommended appraised the land and building at $901,000.00 - this against a house that was to cost me $1,300,000 to build, not including the land at $300,000.00. The deal looked dead.
Gary ** of PDH then assured me and IndyMac Bank that he would recommend another appraiser at my expense who was certified for deals over one million and thus Phil ** was retained to do the job. Mr. ** and PDH assured us that the appraisal would be in hand no later than March 29, 2003. Over a month past that date and after several phone calls from the bank to PDH, all confidence was lost by both the bank and the undersigned.
As a result of all of the foregoing, I have lost my financing and now have no choice but to put off my building plans until my Colorado home is sold. I have received bad advice from PDH / Lindal Cedar Homes (LCH) at a great cost to me, both emotionally and financially. I have never received an acceptable set of plans. I have received an appraisal from PDH's recommended appraisers that has jeopardized my financing arrangements and I have spent considerable time with unlicensed contractors recommended by PDH, direct agent for Lindal Cedar Homes.
At this point in time, due to disruption of financing, I am in jeopardy of forfeiting a $40,000.00 land deposit. I very strongly feel that I have been put in this tenuous position as a direct result of Prescott Designer Homes / Lindal Cedar Homes. As of today, I have not signed off on a set of plans as they are not correct. No material has been ordered; no material has been shipped or delivered.
PDH's suggested solution was to return just $31,000.00 and to keep $36,666.55 (of my material deposit) for a plan that is still not correct, is incomplete and unusable. This offer is an insult. Now I'm told they finally got the appraisal on May 6th, 2003 at $1,035,000.00. This is still way off the mark, too low and too late to save this deal. I am willing to settle this dispute upon return to me of all funds except the $5,000.00 design fee provided funds are returned immediately so that I can minimize damages, complete the land deal and not lose the land deposit.
On May 20, 2003, I received a letter from Lindal Cedar Homes, (Lou **, VP Sales) stating Lindal was charging $12,925.09, no invoice presented, for the plans and engineering of the proposed home (This charge was to modify an existing set of plans, the Casa Islena, which is still not completed; I paid separately for the engineered foundation plans, Northern Structural Consulting $1,420.00). Lindal then offered a refund of $29,064.91 of my $42,000.00 deposit?
My deposit (I can produce the canceled checks) was $5,000.00 check ** dated 6-13-2002 for design and material, and check ** for $62,666.55 dated 12-10-2002 15% deposit for material, this is a total of $67,666.55.
Mr. ** states the cancellation was entirely at my instigation and sees no reason Lindal should share in any expense. I believe it was Lindal's direct representative / agent, Prescott Designer Homes, who signed the contract, selected the appraisers, had the direct contact with Lindal Cedar Homes and selected and supported an unlicensed contractor to bid the building of the new home.On July 7th, 2003, I met with Mr. Gary ** and Mr. Jimmy ** of PDH to see if we could solve our differences. We made a conference call to LCH, Paul Lindal, CEO and Rob ** VP. Neither LCH nor PDH were interested in solving our differences. In fact, PDH increased the ante and requested even more funds.
Lindal Cedar homes demanded $12,935.09 of the $42,000.00 deposit they received for incomplete incorrect unusable house plans that they claim were final. Prescott Designer Home demanded $17,271.89 of their $25,666.55 deposit for design and other trumped up unauthorized charges, (as in negotiating my construction loan rate with IndyMac Bank?).
In other words, I am being held hostage for $30,206.75, for incomplete unusable house plans, out of the 15% material deposit of $67,666.55, which I was coerced to deposit to build our dream home. To date, neither Prescott Designer Homes nor Lindal Cedar Homes have made an attempt to return even a portion of my funds ($67,666.55). PDH and LCH made no attempt to negotiate or attempt to solve this issue during our meeting, I was given a take it or else decision. PDH and/or LCH have refused to return even my uncontested funds of $37,459.80. This appears to follow other complaints that I have read with interest on the internet. PDH and LCH are attempting to fraudulently retain all my $67,666.55 with little to no services provided.
Lindal Cedar Homes sells “system built homes”, the most popular type being of post and beam construction. The materials they supply are supposedly of the highest quality. They lure you in with gorgeous sales materials: glossy brochures, an impassioned videotape, a CD-ROM, and a current discount deal that is “the best ever”.
We never got past the design stage. Attempting to build a Lindal home immediately pits you against a triangle (Lindal, their dealer, and a builder that is likely recommended by the dealer). Each one is independent of the other, and no one wants to take the blame as things begin to go wrong. The all-important site evaluation was never done, despite the fact that it's advertised as part of the process. It would have been critical in our case, because of the slope of the land and solar orientation.
Lindal only sells through independent dealers, and our regional dealership and consultant turned out to be a lost cause. They have held onto our $30,000 deposit since October 7, 2000. They have not been able to produce a useable set of plans, suitable to our local construction official, or the design requirements we established in the beginning. We were coerced into paying our deposit early in the process, to lock in a summer promotion that was said to be the best they ever had (turns out this is their standard tactic). After that, the process became totally unprofessional, and slowed down to a crawl. We were originally told we could break ground in the winter of 2000-2001, but then it turned to spring, and summer. We completely lost our trust in both the dealership and Lindal. We felt it necessary to hire a prominent real estate attorney to attempt to recover our deposit, and keep from getting raked over the coals further.
Our dealership had not caught up to the computer age. Our consultant worked with whiteout and her hand-written notes, which got mailed to Lindal, where they would get misinterpreted. It was explained to us that 90% of customers change an existing set of Lindal plans to suit their requirements, and that the additional design work is included in the package price, and does not result in an additional charge. There were supposed to be several chances to make changes, but they went from an initial set of preliminary plans, which were severely botched, to several sets of “final” plans, which were likewise riddled with serious errors.
Each iteration would set our schedule back, taking weeks for the round trip. Our consultant worked only a limited schedule every week, and began taking time off for various reasons. No one was there to fill in the gaps, and apparently the owner was pretty much out of the loop. (I learned later that others have said the same thing; he seems to spend most of his time running his other business). At one frustrating point, I asked if I could contact Lindal directly, to iron out the problems, and was told “no”. I tried anyway, first with an overnight-FedEx letter, and then phone calls, which got ignored. We would get calls from the consultant asking off-the-wall questions about issues that had supposedly been solved weeks or months previously, revealing that no progress was being made.
What ultimately killed the project was a voice message from their builder, saying that our target of $400K had grown to $630K, a 60% increase, before even breaking ground! “How much did you want to spend?” That message was left on my work phone, early in the morning, knowing I wouldn't be there. He then pulled a disappearing act. It took two more weeks to get him to fax a very unprofessional, incomplete bid, in which the figures did not add up to his total! We own the land outright, and had arrived at the $400K figure for a “turnkey” home early in the game, with our consultant’s guidance, and had followed up by giving her and the builder itemized lists showing how that figure was derived. I then repeatedly asked each of them to inform us, should that figure ever come under doubt. Normally, one would go for 3 bids, but our consultant insisted that their builder was the best. He was familiar with the details of Lindal post and beam construction, and also the process of accepting delivery of the Lindal package off a large truck, and storing it.
I have since spoken to the people who built a Lindal home just before our attempt, and had used the same dealership, consultant and builder. They also were roped-in with the same pricing formula that we were, and hit with a large cost increase. When confronting the consultant, got the retort "Oh, you really thought you could build for that amount?" After getting that “drop dead” bid from the builder, there was no response from the dealership. I called them to inquire about using a different builder, but no one was in! After calling around, it quickly became apparent that our builder was well known and was blacklisted by at least one other dealer. People went out of their way to warn me not to use him! The fact that he had been working so far from his home in Pennsylvania should have raised a red flag early on.
I believe the ultimate responsibility for our failed attempt to build a home rests with Lindal. You cannot deal directly with Lindal, but have to go through one of their dealers. I had alerted Lindal management to the problems we were having via a FedEx over-nighted letter. It took weeks to get a response, and that was only to say they'd get back to us. They haven't. They haven’t bothered to answer any of our questions, including two major ones: (1) Why can’t our sunroom have an overhang, which was a major requirement from the beginning, and is shown on their website, and (2) What is the cost of their package of materials, a figure which has not been updated to reflect major changes and deletions since we put down our deposit.
We had deleted skylights and two double French doors from the plans, after finding out that Lindal charges nearly double the going price for Velux skylights. We were quoted "nearly $11,000" for two doors, which we priced locally for under $5,000 for the pair. Lindal's literature tells you that anything is possible when it comes to window geometry, etc. They don't tell you that any deviation becomes prohibitively expensive. The dealer's attitude seemed to be that nothing was possible.
Update: Our dealer has gone out of business, and made off with $9,000 of our deposit. The remaining $21,000 has been sent to Lindal. Our attorney got hold of a "Confidential Internal Request for Refund" form, from Lindal, dated 11/15/01, which has never been processed or made known to me. On it, their accounting shows that they want to charge us an additional $6,500. So we'd be getting less than half of our deposit back, and have nothing to show for it. I've been corresponding with other families who have received chillingly similar treatment from Lindal, and I am aware of about $80,000 in unsettled deposits, which is surely just the tip of the iceberg. I wish there was an easy way to have all the families involved represented in some form of class action lawsuit.
Sorry this got so lengthy. But the words here don’t come close to describing the whole scenario. It was such a letdown, to put a year’s time and effort into the preparation of building a home. Then there were the wasted expenses: The dealer had talked us into applying for all the permits and the mortgage, before we should have. It cost thousands of dollars for the survey, topo, perc test, site plans, and septic design. This project had been our dream for many years. Our two sons had also gotten completely wrapped up in the anticipation of a new home. Not being able to build it has been a totally devastating experience for my family, and a tremendous setback.
It's driven a wedge in our family life. My wife and younger son blame me for not being aggressive enough with the dealership. I'm a nervous wreck, often wake up at night and can't fall back to sleep, and can't concentrate at work. I worry about our deposit, the interest on it, the lost related fees, and how many thousands our lawyer's likely to charge us before this is all over.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided to build our new dream home. We decided to buy a "kit type" house bundle from Lindal Cedar Homes. We designed our house to be built in 2 phases. My husband is the owner/builder. This is his third house so he is very experienced. We started building in January 2000. On Phase One shipment, Lindal shorted us on some materials and shipped too much of other material which we paid for that lay out in the yard. It was like pulling teeth to get them to respond to shortages and several shortage shipments were incorrect items. This held up progress significantly. That was a major annoyance and had not yet caused us to want to discontinue our contract for Phase Two.
Our main complaint is that Lindal shipped known defective windows and allowed us to install a two-story window wall and finish interior and exterior. When it rained a little, the rain poured in. We still cannot put our flooring in and this was a drought year in Southern Cal. We have a great room with a two-story window wall. I can't even look at that wall without cringing. The flooring has been piled in the garage for ages and we live on cement because we don't want further damage. When we reported the leaks, it was then that Lindal immediately said they knew the windows should be replaced. I am glad I have that in writing.
It has been over 17 months and still no satisfaction, just torture, rudeness and different stories each time a call is made. It has been an unbelievable timeline in response. I understand just before our delivery, Lindal had decided to try to manufacture their own windows (they used to use Milgard) but they had poor to no inspections or quality control and the techniques were inexperienced and flawed. They have given a written description of their defect and detailed drawings as to what they did wrong in the assembly of the windows. It was after many calls and time at my experience talking to different Lindal folks (each with a variation of what went wrong) that I was able to help the rep in Newport Beach learn what had gone wrong with the materials she represented.
After a year, they offered to "patch" the windows with no guarantees that this would solve the problem. After having the "patch technique" reviewed by a couple of window experts, I turned down the offer. Five days later, Lindal sent a patch guy to San Diego without telling him I turned down the offer. I think there is a major communication problem not only with the customer but internally as well. Or, Lindal is planning to use that in court to say they tried to resolve and I refused.
I consulted with an attorney. He says Lindal had breached the contract since they state they ship the highest quality materials Aand they have proven their warranty to be useless. In actuality, the 2 x 6 boards used in framing were high quality. However, I consider the windows (that don't leak) along the lines of high grade K-Mart quality. When opening the windows, the hardware usually falls apart and I must put the crank mechanism back together after almost each usage. We installed one Pella brand window that is a quality window in a whole different class than the Lindal windows. The hardware on the Lindal sliding glass doors quit working before we even completed construction. Much of the cedar liner shipped was warped or split and many bundles were delivered damaged and we never received replacement. The hardware for the doors was mid-grade K-Mart quality. We bought different hardware when we saw what was provided.
I need to find out the truth about the Arbitration Clause in the fine print on the back of the contract that was not pointed out or explained before signing. This is more legal expense. Arbitration Clauses are receiving a lot of attention in the news regarding consumer's protection. My rep explained arbitration to me for the first time last Friday, 5/31/2002. She says first I can go to "Non-Binding" Arbitration. This means you pay a lot of money and the arbitrator makes suggestions that are not binding, meaning Lindal still will not have to act. After that, she said I will be able to take the next step and spend more money for Binding Arbitration and all will abide by the arbitrator's suggestions but I cannot ask for damages caused by Lindal defective materials and delays. Then if I want to go to court, I must do that at the convenience of Lindal and file in Seattle. I live in San Diego County, and that is where the defective house is. Believe me, if that was explained to me before signing, I would have run fast and far. The rep was very friendly at that point, and I trusted her.
Needless to say, upon learning of the bad quality of materials shipped in phase one and bad responses to our every communication along with the abuse, we asked for our deposit back for phase two. There was no response to that request other than a nasty letter demanding I take shipment of Lindal materials for phase two. I had already pulled building permits for phase two at the end of last year. Now Lindal says I have to take shipment or they will sue and that I can't use their plans to build. With phase one, the Lindal rep suggested I get some of the materials locally. I suggested I take materials for phase two in the amount of my deposit providing they are around the pricing of local retail and I would forgo the warranty since it was worth nothing. Again, there was no response. Now with phase two, Lindal says I must buy everything from them. They cannot tell me why I was allowed to buy some materials locally for phase one nor send me anything in the writing that says what I must buy from Lindal. The rep states verbally now "all structural materials" but that was not the case in phase one. What a mess and very unprofessional experience.
People need to be aware that the Lindal Promotions are a ploy to hold as much of your money as possible in case you change your mind. Be prepared for abusive letters. I wish I knew if I could safely and legally put up a web page with all correspondence. I work for a large company writing Oracle database programs for Customer Services. I shared one of the letters from Lindal as an example of customer relations. It was quite the joke.
Both phase one and phase two plans took an additional $2000 for each set to have a structural engineer bring the Lindal plans up to California code. I could see Lindal had version control problems. Things that were fixed on early revision plans would show up again in later plans. Our second story ended up being a foot shorter than it should be because of this. We didn't catch the mistake on the plans until it was too late as we were putting in the second floor. Forget ever putting a balcony like we were later planning! The San Diego County building inspector says our Lindal plans are the second to the worst he has seen in his career.
We were using a contractor that had built several Lindal homes for our framing stage. He was working for us as an hourly worker during framing (not as our contractor). I wish I had listened to all the negative things he had to say about what would happen once Lindal has a good portion of our money as far as Customer Service goes. I thought he was just a "bad-mouther" at the time. It turns out everything he said came true as much as I hate to admit it.
Lindal puts out a good book/brochure, but buyers, beware! Check references, check the Internet, get a price list from your local supplier. Make sure you know what Lindal's "Non-Binding and Binding Arbitration" clause means to you. This clause attempts to take away your rights as a consumer if you encounter problems. You pay Lindal 3-4 times the price in materials. Lindal says you are paying for better quality supplies and fantastic warranty. So far the warranty is as good as none, perhaps worse as I have taken a lot of abuse from Lindal.
In a statement posted by 'Edwin of Frederick MD (10/19/01)' it is stated, 'As an additional incentive Dereggi also provides contractors through her other business, Dereggi Construction Company, and since they have many years expierience in solid cedar, we should consider no one else.'
This statement posting indicates that DeReggi Construction Company is a company belonging to Mrs. DeReggi of Legacy Homes International (formally DeReggi Custom Homes) is not true. DeReggi Construction Company, LLC has never been owned, operated or managed in any way by Mrs. DeReggi.
DeReggi Construction Company, LLC has been successfully owned and operated solely by John DeReggi for more than 15 years. DeReggi Construction Company, LLC successful reputation should not be confused with this unfortunate transaction with Lindal Cedar Homes or its resellers.
We own a Justus Solid Cedar Home in Frederick MD. We contracted with our local Lindal Cedar Homes dealer, DeReggi Custom Homes (now Legacy Homes International), for plans and materials for an addition. We were encouraged to believe that our Winter Promo special order contract would get us the unbelievable low design price of $854.00 based on square footage ($1.00 /sq. ft.) Other incentives were included, specifically, a significant amount of T&G cedar liner for free. As an additional incentive, DeReggi also provides contractors through her other business, DeReggi Construction Company. And since they have many years experience in solid cedar, we should consider no one else.
came to providing an estimate, proposal or contract for construction of the addition. In short, we were misled into believing we had contractors to erect our addition in order to gain our confidence to secure the contract with Lindal.
Making the best of it knowing we'll soon need to find reputable contractors, our permit plans delivered from Lindal revealed a massive post and beam right in the middle of our existing loft, something they kept hidden from the beginning. I specifically wanted all loads for the new addition side handled from the new addition side. There was no foundation plan either. The T&G liner was not available and cedar shakes for our roof of unknown style. We were also told not to contact Lindal directly, to route all design issues through our useless dealer.
DeReggi refused to reveal current costing. We had adjusted the overall square footage and a rather expensive sunwall was a very low estimate from the beginning. Under these circumstances, we elected to cancel our Lindal contract on Mar. 18, 2001. We were informed that our $10,000.00 deposit was non-refundable. So much for our $854.00 design fee!
Lindal Cedar Homes would not talk to us regarding this matter. We were forced to retain a lawyer at an additional expense. The only indirect communication from Lindal was to take $3000 and go away or they will come after us for the full contract amount!
The arbitration clause in our contract restricted our ability to apply legal pressure. We have filed a complaint with the state's Attorney in MD but their response is that it's not within their jurisdiction. The BBB and Maryland Home Improvement Commission seem to want to avoid the issue because of the arbitration clause in the contract. Our lawyer has been able to steer the mediation portion of arbitration to Maryland, but DeReggi is playing hide and seek. We have now missed our first set of mediation dates. I'm sure she will be able to dodge us again. The American Arbitration Association doesn't seem too interested in correcting this behavior. The arbitration clause in the contract was not initialed and dated by all parties as required under MD law but my lawyer does not think this can be exploited in our favor.
Lindal has been keeping a very low profile and only eventually responded to the demand letter from my attorney. All communications between Lindal and myself have been through him at this point.
The emotional damage is extreme. I have found that any normal avenue available for correcting this problem has been effectively blocked by the arbitration clause. I have been fighting this for 7 months. Our addition could have been completely finished at this point. Now we have lost the interest on our money. We have incurred lawyers' fees and soon to be more. Our problem is quite simple. Lindal and its dealer have failed to deliver a product under contract and have stolen/embezzled $10,000 from us.
Any assistance in breaking through this "log jam" and holding Lindal and its dealer accountable would be greatly appreciated. I will gladly forward you the very simple contract and what little our dealer put on paper. I believe she sticks her foot in her legal mouth through some of her emails, I just need someone to help build a good case. I know of another couple in the same basic boat with the same dealer but they're a bit gun shy about taking on Lindal. Another couple in NJ is having the same basic problem and they have hired an attorney. They are just getting around to sending Lindal their cancellation request and demand letter. I am keeping in touch with them as we go along. Is a class action suit something that may be in the foreseeable future? Thank you for your time!
Lindal Cedar Homes Company Information
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- Lindal Cedar Homes