Lindal Cedar Home — Neglect, Mis-Representation, and Mis-Management of Project
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 so 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 & 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 & the Purchase and Sale agreement for theGreenbriar 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 whatwe 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 a open house party so we politely pulled Ken aside and explained the "Final" plans were STILL wrong not only the Pantry/Loft/Kitchen but 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 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 uswe 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, athough 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/Loft to sign off on but instead 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, 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 the "package" was already being assembled (but could not provide detail to prove it) and could now accumulate costs for being on "Hold", 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!