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Bringing cabin style to the Central Coast

Jim Harper

The Tribune - San Luis Obispo
Photo by Rebecca Juretic

Jim Harper, the San Luis Obispo-based distributor of Lindal Cedar Homes, hope to introduce local residents to another side of this 61-year-old company.Based in Seattle and well-known throughout the Northwest, Lindal Cedar Homes is recognized for its signature design: the classic A-frame fronted by a towering window-clad prow.

Jim Harper, the San Luis Obispo-based distributor of Lindal Cedar Homes, is hoping to introduce Central Coast residents to another side of this 61-year-old company.

According to Harper, there’s a reason the classic Lindal Cedar home appeals to those in the Pacific Northwest.

"The big prow is great when the house sits among trees, but here we have big open spaces," he said. He noted that the company has branched out into nearly every other style of home, including Spanish, craftsman, traditional and even contemporary.

The Lindal system of building custom homes provides both the design of the home and the materials for construction. Additionally, Harper is a real estate broker, allowing him to help individuals sell their current homes and purchase property.

Designing the home begins with selecting from more than 4,000 floor plans, but that’s certainly not the end of the process.

"About 95 percent of those plans get modified," Harper said. Most of the homes are post-and-beam structures, which means interior walls can be altered or even removed completely for an airy, open feel.

Harper is not an architect, but he is able, with the help of company engineers, to handle these modifications or even create a completely custom design. His skills as a designer were recently recognized when Lindal named his office the Design Center of the Year. If requested, he will also work with an architect of the customer’s choosing.

Once the home is designed, the company assembles the necessary materials and ships them from a facility in Canada. The entire process, from design to start of construction, takes about six months, or a bit more for fully custom homes.

What the company doesn’t do is construction. And while they provide materials such as lumber, windows, siding and doors–all within a set number of choices–they don’t handle finish materials such as floor coverings and cabinetry.

"We provide the shell," said Harper. "For everything else, working with local craftsmen is better because you can see and feel the products firsthand."

Harper cites many advantages of working with a company such as Lindal that offers "kit homes," including the significant savings on architect’s fees: With the exception of fully custom plans, design services incur no additional cost. Certainly, building a home in San Luis Obispo County is never an inexpensive endeavor. But using a company such as Lindal Cedar Homes is one way to put the satisfaction of designing your own custom home a little more within reach.

Design tips from Lindal Cedar Homes

Consider composites.
Cedar siding looks beautiful for a few years, but will eventually gray out and deteriorate unless it is re-sealed every four to five years. Composite siding, which is made to look like wood, is a low-maintenance alternative.

Energy-wise window design.
A large expanse of windows is wonderful for bringing in views, but can be less than energy efficient. Keep windows smaller on southern-facing walls and save your biggest windows for a northern exposure, or where you have the benefit of tall trees for shade.

Easy renovations.
If you plan on building a modest structure with the intent of adding on at a later time, a kit home may be the way to go. Because a standard selection of materials is used, it’s easy to obtain more should you undertake a future renovation or addition.

Jim Harper, the San Luis Obispo distributor of Lindal Cedar Homes, can be reached at 75 Higuera St., No. 155, San Luis Obispo, 787-0393.

Lindal Cedar Homes Remodeling and Home Design