stories A Home in the Heart of Downtown
Written by Josefin Kannin
A Modern Lindal in Calgary, AB
Michelle Van Raay had a mission: To build a contemporary custom home with a distinct aesthetic that would also be a functional, comfortable retreat for her family. When she opened her copy of Dwell Magazine and saw the image of a Turkel Design for Lindal, she realized she had found her dream home.
“When Michelle came into the office, she already knew the Turkel 1890 was exactly what she wanted,” said Barbara Pocha, who with her husband Doug has operated Lindal’s independent Canadian dealership, Prairie Cedar Homes Inc., for the past 16 years. “First, she found the house she loved. Next, she looked for the perfect lot for that particular house.”
Building on an urban infill lot
Van Raay, a doctor in a family practice, spent several months looking for the ideal location before purchasing a corner lot in Marda Loop, a trendy neighborhood in Calgary, Alberta. The area is currently experiencing an influx of new businesses and a shift toward higher density housing as older houses are demolished, making way for condos and new homes. With a width of just 24 feet, this modern Lindal home was specifically designed for the narrow infill city lot.
“People want to live in a central area, closer to the downtown,” Pocha said. “Being able to buy an older house, have it demolished and build a new one gives them the opportunity to have a back alley, a larger lot, close proximity to downtown and all the amenities, and a shorter commute.”
The Pochas have worked on infill builds throughout the region. They understand the tastes and goals of the city-dwelling Lindal customer. “People want to live in a central area, closer to the downtown,” Pocha said. “Being able to buy an older house, have it demolished and build a new one gives opens up a lot of possibilities. The client gets to have a back alley, a larger lot, close proximity to downtown and all the amenities, and a shorter commute. Our Lindal clients are very eclectic. They want to build their own unique architectural style home. If they build on an existing parcel, they’re locked into working with a specific builder. This often means they have to pick certain colors, roof pitches, and follow certain architectural guidelines. People looking for infills often have no cash restraint. They tend to be more experienced home buyers who have owned before.”
The Custom Design Process
After some discussion and an online meeting with an associate from the Turkel Design architectural firm, the Turkel 1890 (the number refers to the home’s square-footage) was modified to fit on Van Raay’s narrow lot. The home’s modest size allows Van Raay, her partner Tom Everest, and their three pre-teen daughters to stay close. However, the open floor plan and post-and-beam design ensure the home still feels spacious.
“She initially had the design facing a different direction,” Pocha said. “But when [the architectural firm] saw it was on a corner, they showed her how to position it to have a street view and catch the afternoon sun. By using 3D modeling, they showed the path of the sun through all the different solstices of the year.”
The Pochas walked the lot with Van Raay and gave her suggestions about the view, sun path, privacy, and size. Flexibility was a key part of the process. “Some clients have specific trades they want to incorporate into their build,” Pocha said. Others, like Van Raay, hire an interior designer to put the finishing touches on their homes. (For more on the interior design of the Van Raay house, read the article in Avenue Calgary Magazine). All clients want to personalize their home’s design to meet their needs and desires. With Lindal, that is easy to do. Van Raay opted for a combination of cedar and stucco siding on her home for a warm modern look. She added a bump-out closet, and chose not to include the optional deck above the living room. She discarded her original plan to include aluminum siding on the exterior when Pocha pointed out the potential for the infamous Calgary hail storms to damage the metal. Finally, the addition of a privacy fence and a two-car garage completed the custom design.
Overseeing the Build
Over the years, the Pochas have developed relationships with project managers throughout the region. When pricing a new home project, they interview several different trades. By getting two or three quotes on each, they ensure that customers get the best quality for the price. Pocha emphasized the importance of going “above and beyond the call of duty” to ensure complete customer satisfaction.
“When a Lindal house is being built, we oversee the entire project and make sure the house is constructed according to the plans and to the expectations of the Lindal Lifetime Structural Warranty,” Pocha said. “We work to develop a long-term relationship with our clients, so that once the build is complete they provide excellent referrals and invite us back for a cup of coffee.”
Despite some problems with the original builder, the Pochas maintained an excellent relationship with Van Raay, from the initial meeting to the finished house. “Our client is a gem, such a wonderful lady to work with,” Pocha said. “She had an idea of what she wanted and was also open to suggestions.”
The floor plan of the original Turkel Design for Lindal home that was modified for the client.
Independent Lindal Dealers Help Clients at the Local Level
Prairie Cedar Homes helps customers build both modern and traditional Lindal Cedar Homes. Their territory includes British Columbia, Calgary, Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada. Pocha credits their success to several factors. These include a high level of customer service, a process of building trust with the clients, and an established network of dependable teams to build the home. First and foremost, however, she says, is the irresistible draw the Lindal brand and reputation has on discerning clients. “Before even meeting with us, our clients often do research on the web and look at some of the online home plans,” Pocha said. “The Lindal brand, 70 years strong, definitely makes a difference.”
Available to view online or purchase: Turkel Design for Lindal Plan Book