In November of 2007 we started our disappointing adventure with Lindal Cedar Homes by visiting the model home in Seattle and received a quote of $185 per sf on a standard plan. With modifications we planned to be on target to meet our budget. Unfortunately, we trusted this local business, but that trust was misplaced. If we had done our homework we would have discovered how Lindal really operates and could have avoided this very costly experience.
We purchased our lot in early 2008 and our Seattle Cedar Homes sales rep did a site visit. After determining that the plan worked on our property, we rearranged bedrooms, removed most of the decking, detached and raised the garage and added a studio above it. Overall we stayed within the footprint of the original plan except for the addition of a 2 ft extension bay window.
What's so important to emphasize here is that from day one Seattle Cedar Homes refused to give us individual written costs on the materials and intentionally kept the modifications vague and confusing, so we never knew where we stood. This situation left us totally vulnerable to pricing games and set us up to have our deposit unfairly confiscated later, even though we received no materials.
In April 2008 we received the first rough draft of our changes and were given a materials cost of $197,559. We decided to go with non-Lindal windows/doors and were given a credit of $12,051. We also changed the garage to standard construction and removed cedar liner. Later in the month we asked for new totals. The new calculation for materials was now more than $40,000 higher than the original cost! With all of the reductions how can the materials cost more? We were told, don't worry, we'd have time to recalculate later.
On May 4 we handed over our $33,600 deposit. The materials list still included the original windows and doors that we thought had been deleted in April. We were promised that this wasn't final and we would get the grand total after the pricing department had calculated everything for us. Later we tried to reduce costs further but because Lindal hadn't given us an updated materials total, we had no idea if we were within our budget. We still lacked any written documentation on the changes and the rep distracted us by saying, your house will probably make one of the new Lindal books! Although we had stated all along that there would be no financing, he suggested getting a loan for the 3rd time to cover their cost overruns.
By June the preliminary drawings were ready but we were now four months into this project and still didn't know what the total cost of our new home would be! In September we appied for the permit and finally got the change order of -$15.850 for the deleted windows. After all this time we still did not have the final total for our modifications and it became apparent that Lindal does not want us to know!
On November 3 our building permit was approved. We contacted our salesman who still didn't have our materials' cost down on paper. After some wrangling we got a verbal approximate number from him. With the latest contractor's bid the total cost is now $270,000 over what we had budgeted. Our $185.00 per sq ft price had risen to $266.00 per sq.ft.!!
The following weekend Steve went to SCH to see if it was possible to take that $270,000 out of the project. We discovered that we were not the only ones with budget problems, since during his visit a couple stopped by to get help modifying their plans due to their high cost overruns! Later via email we suggested several more reductions but the salesman admitted that he couldn't tell us what a stick of wood costs because Lindal's prices are bundled!" So, we were finally getting to the crux of this whole pricing problem. It became apparent that he couldn't help us because he didn't know!
In mid November we called our salesman for a new total. He seemed paralyzed and confused about how to handle the situation and suggested that we get financing to cover the difference, for the 4th time! Things got heated and we decided that we were going to have to build only the garage or walk away from the entire project. He tells us that we can't use our plans and that Lindal will be keeping our $33,600 deposit!
Talk about unfair and deceptive business practices! Lindal hides all the figures until the point of no return, then they spring the final amount on you when it's contractually too late to back out, and you have to either continue with their huge unjustified price increases or forfeit your money!
As a last resort, Lindal had us meet with another dealer/builder to try to save our deal. This exercise was more of the same games, as the builder purposely lowballed the cost, and omitted several items plus the sales tax. We were surprised to find out when checking his references that previous homeowners complained of the same pricing problems and other critical job issues.
By late November we made our decision to end this nightmare and hired an architect and engineer. On the bright side, the cost to build our newly designed dream home came in at $188.00 per sq. ft. for an enormous savings of more than $300,000 over Lindal's inflated price! It's been a huge relief to know the true cost to design and build our project, something that Lindal makes sure you don't know until after you've signed on the dotted line. Our message to those who are just starting: Keep your peace of mind and your money and do it yourself!
Steve and Mariam, Seattle WA
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Lindal Cedar Homes