North Star Construction
North Star Construction (corporate name Seccombe Homes, Inc.) serves the Monterey Peninsula, including Big Sur, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area. North Star specializes in custom home building, green and LEED certified sustainable building, residential and commercial construction (hotel and tenant improvements), solar installation and historic preservation, restoration and remodeling.
North Star Construction owner and president, Alfred Seccombe, began his building career as a carpenter in Carmel in 1977 and as a general contractor in 1986. Prior to working in construction, Alfred was a school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area and Alaska. Over the course of his 30-year career as a sustainable general contractor, Alfred has specialized in building unique and complex custom homes, all noteworthy for their attention to detail.
Alfred is repeatedly recommended to clients by the best residential architects on the Monterey Peninsula. Clients and architects prefer to work with Alfred because of his amiable personality, unassuming manner, and ability to hold a steady course through the complex scheduling required in large, yet detailed projects. His consistent and pragmatic approach along with a perfectionist eye on the final outcome distinguishes Alfred in his profession. He maintains a close working relationship with both the owner and the designer. Getting to know the client’s wishes, needs and intentions is a crucial component in realizing the full vision of the design.
Alfred’s clients and architect partners attest to the effectiveness of North Star’s team approach to building. The architects as well as the owners are consulted regularly. The building’s craftsmen are included in determining the most efficient ways to fulfill the vision of the design.
North Star’s portfolio includes homes designed by some of the most influential and respected architects in Monterey County, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s protégé, Mark Mills, the nationally admired local icon, George Brook-Kothlow, Tim Brattin (the working partner of Mickey Muennig for three decades), Ron Brown of Archworks, Robert Poeschl, Paul Byrne who developed a net zero energy portable classroom for California schools and award winners, Dan Curran and William Foster.
North Star’s clients and architects frequently compliment the artisans and tradespeople that work together to complete the project, calling them “courteous”, “efficient”, and “thoughtful”. Through his decades of experience, Alfred has developed the philosophy that men and women in the building industry of good character and intelligence are the best collaborators and provide the highest quality products and the most efficient service.
Landscape and the Built Environment
The Monterey County coastline, valleys and mountains provide awe-inspiring settings, backdrops and view sheds for North Star’s three decade portfolio. One of George Brook-Kothlow’s early clients once mentioned that the late architect would spend long hours at a potential site, mapping out exactly how each window would frame the view. If you visit San Francisco’s De Young Museum, you can find a massive wall mural of a Carmel Valley hillside landscape. Divided into several frames, you can see a stunning resemblance to the view from the living area of the Trainer Residence.
On the Big Sur coast, the disappearing pool edge at the Ubben vacation home, designed by Robert Poeschl, empties into the Pacific, several miles away and 1800 feet below (pictured in Homestyle by the Sea, Fall 2008). Above Wildcat Canyon in the Carmel Highlands, Point Lobos can be seen from the house entryway, thanks to Dan Curran’s remarkable design of the Lehberg Residence (pictured in Homestyle by the Sea, Spring 2007). Dan’s home design for the Magruder’s Residence in Yankee Point hovers above the pounding surf. The Pacific’s Edge Outdoor Dining at the Highlands Inn, designed by Paul Byrne, takes full advantage of the best views in the hotel with its all-glass railing. These are all great examples of architecture drawing nature into its visual frame and drawing the occupant into the psychology of the landscape.
North Star is commonly called upon when a project is to be a significant piece in Peninsula architecture history. For example, the Rothman Residence is reported to be the only addition to a Mark Mills project that the architect himself approved. This home is featured in the book, Mark Mills, by Janey Bennett, and was toured by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Convention in the Fall of 2016.
Similarly, the rebuilding of the George Brook-Kothlow design from the 1970s required a builder who was trained and active in that era. Alfred began building career with the board-and-batten redwood houses of the ‘70s and ‘80s, including a George Brook-Kothlow remodel addition for John and Diane Grundy in the Carmel Highlands. The board and batten aesthetic, inspired by California barns and agricultural buildings, heavily influenced the design work of Carlyle and Alfred Seccombe who have designed and built three houses in that style.
Alfred also has extensive experience in interior and exterior plasters and stucco, building numerous residences with Mediterranean and California Spanish themes. Deciding upon the methodology that will ensure that a historical or traditional style is expertly rendered requires studying original examples (see Alfred’s office in the historic Las Tiendas Building on Ocean Avenue in Carmel), being able to recognize the nuances and details, and determining how to produce in the real world the desired result.