Starting with one fixer-upper at Lake Holiday five years ago, Cedarland Northwest has embarked on an ambitious new housing development in Palmer Lake. Under the tutelage of John Carlson of Lakebay Woodworkers, Ben Cedarland and his brother, Joe, sold their first remodeled home in 1999. The next year, they built and sold two new houses. The following year they finished five.

Their fledgling company grew to complete 16 homes the third year, 50 the fourth. Now, they employ three fulltime superintendents, a customer service representative, three office staff members, and four laborers. In 2004, they hope to complete 120 new homes in Gig Harbor, Port Orchard, and on the Key Peninsula. With financing from West Sound Bank, they purchased 13 lots in Palmer Lake, and are negotiating for others.

Ben Cedarland said, “Housing in Gig Harbor is expensive for the average family, with prices starting at $200,000 to $225,000. We wanted to provide nice, affordable homes and improve the community. Our starting price is $140,000, so families can own a nice home and begin to build equity.”

Two basic floor plans are offered, with a clean exterior design. The contractors can be somewhat flexible, adding vaulted ceilings, changed roof-lines, relocated interior walls, and other custom features, to individualize the look of each home and accommodate the buyers’ needs. The homes range from 1,200 to 1,600 square feet, all three-bedroom with two bathrooms, and attached garages. Each home has a hardwood entryway, carpeted living area, vinyl kitchen flooring, and laminate counter tops with tile backsplashes. General Electric appliances are being installed. “We want to offer a quality product,” said Cedarland.

They have put together an efficient team of subcontractors, including Alexander Electric from Sumner. The speed of their work was impressive during a recent site visit. Cedarland said, “It took some time to find this team, to get in and out quickly. That’s key to keep the price down. It’s always a challenge, but the right people help everything to go smoother.”

Cedarland NW has encountered only minor problems during this major project. At an early stage, some of their materials were stolen.

“We only lost of couple of hundred bucks of material. It could have been worse,” Cedarland said. Since then, they have been more careful not to leave materials on the job site, trying to keep costs down.

“The county is always sensitive about erosion control. We try to be as proactive as we can, installing silt fences and putting down gravel driveways,” he said. Peter Kim is the regular site inspector for the Palmer Lake area. He told the KP News, “The builder has primary responsibility for erosion control. I have been coming to the site several times a week and working with the site supervisor to educate and enforce compliance with county codes.”

Cedarland said the completion of the homes is staggered, with the first of them due for completion by June 1, and others during the summer. The last of the homes must be finished by September. Prudential Real Estate’s Julia Carns has listed these properties for sale. Two of the homes in the Palmer Lake development have been sold even before they were completed. A neighbor said, “I expect this development to increase my property value. I’m glad to see it.”

“We have been encouraged by the positive response from the neighborhood and the Palmer Lake Homeowners’ Association for their cooperation in moving our equipment in and out. To dress up the entry into the community, we want to erect a rock monument with a new ‘Welcome to Palmer Lake’ sign,’ (to say) thank you,” Cedarland said.

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