Cedar Homes Made to Order

Lindal dealership in Cold Spring largest in the world

By Alison Rooney

Near the intersection in Philipstown of Routes 9 and 301, there’s a small, head-turning sign for Lindal Cedar Homes. A visit to learn more about the business, appropriately located in a wooded grove, provides for more head-turning at its models and images of its post-and-beam designs.

Founded in Seattle, Lindal has been producing homes for more than 70 years. It operates through independent dealerships such as Atlantic Custom Homes in Cold Spring, the largest Lindal dealership in the world, which is owned by Greg and Jan Buhler.

The Buhlers began as customers. After purchasing land in Garrison — a parcel Greg describes as “very challenging” in terms of slope and septic — they met with the then-owners of the company, Jim and Susan Johnston, who brought to life a concept that focused on the views from the property. Jan oversaw construction and 28 subcontractors, and the house was completed in 2002. “It was a wonderful experience, and we still love our house,” Greg says.

Jan and Greg Buhler inside a Lindal home (photo by Deborah DeGraffenreid).

Jan and Greg Buhler inside a Lindal home (photo by Deborah DeGraffenreid).

In 2005, the Johnstons put the Lindal dealership up for sale. Greg was working for a law firm in the city, but the commute and the 9-11 attack had caused him to take stock. “We decided to buy the business and it greatly improved my life,” he recalls. “We had no prior small business experience, and luckily the [Johnstons] stayed on for six months to show us the ropes.”

The dealer’s role is to advise the homeowner on siting, engineering, estimates, building codes, design, materials, green building and hiring contractors. Buyers often bring in an architect, and the couple “Lindalize” the designs.

A Lindal home (photo provided)

A Lindal home

All of the cedar is transported from the Pacific Northwest by rail, truck and ship, and more than 50,000 homes have been built, including about 50 in this area. Atlantic Custom has built homes throughout New York as well as in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and North Carolina. The Johnstons, who ran the business for more than 20 years, built homes in the Caribbean and, surprisingly, Lebanon.

“Each house is engineered for the local climate conditions,” Greg explains. “For instance, you don’t see a lot of wood in the Caribbean because there are so many insects, but they’re not attracted to cedar.”

When Sir Walter Lindal, a Canadian, founded the company in 1945, its most popular design resembled a chalet, with prow-like windows and extensive glass. That design is still available, but contemporaries are now more common. All feature post-and-beam construction with the outside wall left unstructured so that it is effectively replaced by glass. “Even as we build the home, designs can change because of the post-and-beam structure, so it’s incredible to see people put their personalities in their homes,” Greg says. Adds Jan: “You can breathe in these homes,” noting that many are built in the woods and/or overlooking a lake.

A Lindal home situated, as many are, on a lake (photo provided)

A Lindal home situated, as many are, on a lake

There are three varieties of modern, each with any number of floor plans; there is also a high-end, architect-designed line. The smallest Lindal design is for a 400-square-foot space; the largest is “infinite,” Jan says. Each home comes with a lifetime structural warranty.

“Our process is more predictable [than others]; we’re always in control of it and so there are no surprises with the materials” for siding, stairs, hardware and the frame-out, Greg says. (Contractors take care of the HVAC and other components.) “Once the design is set, we start really looking at the numbers, so people have a reasonable expectation” of cost.

The company’s “glu-laminated” beams are made from smaller trees, engineered for the weight of the house, with no wood wasted. Lindal also participates in the Global ReLeaf program run by the non-profit American Forests, which plants trees to restore damaged ecosystems.

The Buhlers' home in Garrison (photo provided)

The Buhlers’ home in Garrison

About 50 percent of clients come to Atlantic Custom to design a home before they own the land. At that point, assessments are made about slopes, easements, wetlands and legal restrictions such as setbacks to make sure customers obtain a parcel they can build on. Because of that planning, “it’s not instant gratification,” Jan says, although most homes take only six months to a year to build.

Atlantic Custom Homes is located at 2785 Route 9 in a Lindal model home. For more information, visit lindalny.com or call 845-265-2636. The Buhlers will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Photos courtesy of Atlantic Custom Homes 

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