Monday, June 15, 2009

1627 San Jose Ave Catching Knives in the Gold Coast Pt 2

Read This:The following review is just my opinion and only my opinion I am not a professional house appraiser or inspector and I am not a structural engineer. The opinions expressed in this review are based on my own inspection of the property, the publicly available facts from aggregator sites such as Redfin and Zillow and the online permit database for the city of Alameda. I am not responsible for incorrect or missing data that appears in these sources. In fact, its probably best that you just ignore everything you read here as the lunatic ravings of an unbalanced mind.

Okay so in the spirit of the now defunct Knifecatchers blog I am going to review houses that we tour in the Gold Coast section of Alameda. Doing these posts takes a looooooooong time so I'm only going to do houses we actually tour in the gold coast.

Today's victim, house is 1627 San Jose Ave. A lovely 3 bd 2.5 bath (with no official house size or lot size listed?) house less than a block away from Franklin Park listed for $875,000 on the market for over 60 days...

First impressions are that the house has an interesting roof line and looks very craftsmany which is right for when the place was built. Its all painted one color which really takes away from the craftsmany goodness of the place. Looks pretty good from the street no?

Get closer and see the super steep driveway! Yow, pulling a car outta that is going to be tuff. But this subterranean garage gives us hope that possibly the house will have a full basement and thus workshop space for us!!!

But alas it is not so... Just a teeny-tiny garage with barely enough room for my tiny, little car and maybe the bicycles and the two motorcycles?

Over the garage is what looks like a pretty cool walkout patio...pretty cool until I looked up and saw the condition of the framing...2by6's that are way over spanned that are dry-rotted on the edges and that shows signs of obvious leaking-From the inspectors report this entire thing is going to need to be rebuilt and water-proofed correctly...

Walking to the front door and it has this super cool stained glass window...neato...touches like this let you know this was always a high-end neighborhood.

I forgot to take pictures of the front porch area but it was nice and wide with room for some chairs. Nice front door made from quarter-sawn white oak. Unfortunately its the only woodwork in the place that's not painted...

Step in from the front door and see this pretty cool looking stairway. Really cool old lights here. The carpet on the stairway was this hideous stained, green shag thing...the room with the little couch is a sitting room off the main stair area.

Turn right into the front room of the house. Good sized room with a built-in bench seat. To the right of the seat is the doorway to the front patio over the garage that I forgot to take pictures of from inside...

Something that worries me and appears to be echoed in the inspectors report...see that wiiiiide opening on the left behind the couch? Someone at sometime opened up these front rooms to make a great room and who knows if it was done correctly...

Walk forward from the front door thru a suspiciously wide opening and you enter the formal dining room. Good sized room with another cool light.

Turn left and you find the kitchen. It all appears very serviceable but definitely very 1950's....laminate counter-top in this neighborhood is wow...not going to cut it. The ceiling in this room has been dropped also with those hideous looking industrial ceiling tiles...the kitchen room is good sized with maybe some eat-in potential but it is going to have to be gutted and redone to bring it up to the standards of this neighborhood.

Off the kitchen is a little laundry room. Pretty convenient place for it...might be better used by removing the wall and making it part of the kitchen like an eating nook or something.

Walk thru the kitchen and you enter this addition to the house...slab on grade some kind of...I don't know what kind of room this is...

Walk thru the sliding glass doors (very not orig) and into the Huuuuuuuuuge backyard... oh, you got maybe 30' to the back fence....this house actually has the smallest lot on the block...not exactly a good thing.

The side yard on one side is pretty decent sized....for a dog run.

thru a door way and down a tiny narrow winding stair there is a little bit of a basement!! Not very tall and not very big but there is some room down there.

Coolest thing in the basement was this old boiler. Still working apparently. Not hooked up to the gas line correctly or vented correctly. Sure hope they have a CO detector down there. From down here you can see that all the plumbing in the house appears original...that means its all galv water pipes and threaded galv DWV'll all have to go to bring the house up to modern plumbing standards.

There were two smaller rooms off the main room this one looks like it was used for storage and the other looks like it was set up as maybe a summer kitchen at one time. The foundation walls down here appear to be concrete but I have a hard time believing that they are...

Going back up through the house and starting up the main stair to the second level we have this cool little closet on the landing. One good thing I have to say about this house is that it has a decent amount of closet space even by modern standards.

Here's a shot of the hallway on the middle floor..why? I don't know for completeness I guess?

Here's the master bedroom at one end of the hallway which means it faces the street. Cool fireplace and bay window with seating. Good sized room also.

Here is the master bathroom. Toilet -sink and a good sized shower stall. Not a big bathroom unfortunately and very unfortunately this appears to be added recently with no permits....

the closet though in the master bedroom is fricken huge for the era. Don't know what it was originally but it goes like 5' past the edge of the picture to the left. Shoulda made this the bathroom I'd think.

One of the small bedrooms on the middle floor. With a decent sized closet outta frame on the left.

Another one of the small bedrooms on the middle floor with a good sized closet off to the right. But the really cool thing about this room is whats through the doorway.

A cool big covered porch. This is also not original to the house I believe but it appears to be in good shape and since it faces north would probably be a good place to hang out on a hot summers day...when you're not at the pool in Franklin Park.

Making our way down the hallway on the other side of the stairs is this weird little half bath that I don't quite understand? Also not original and also not done with permits.

Just pass the little half bath is this good sized bath that looks original to me. This room is actually pretty huge by the standards of the time. Love the pink-black-green motif very 1910ish I think.

Just for fun here's a shot of one of the radiators... There is one of these in just about every room even the master closet! Open the pic and check out how fancy the metal work is! Definitely a higher end house for the time.

Check out these crazy stairs to the top floor. Way narrow and steep and too windy for modern codes and really is kinda dangerous to walk up and down. Wouldn't want to do that every day to get to a bedroom or something...

Hallway on the top floor bigger than I was thinking it was going to be.

There are actually 4 bedrooms on the top floor where apparently the owners children lived when they were I guess the stairs can be navigated reasonably safely... Here is one of the bedrooms, the closet is down on the left side of the window. The ceiling here is not drywall..its that cardboard stuff...there is also lots of evidence of the roof leaking in this ceiling. Carpet is super gross and dirty.

This is the middle bedroom. Check out the super cool wood paneling!!! Not a bad size with a good sized closet.

Another top floor bedroom.

Another top floor bedroom. Nothing spectacular here but there was more evidence of roof leakage and the ropes on the double hungs were broken...actually a lot of the double hungs on this floor had broken ropes.

I'm going to do some paraphrasing of the inspectors report and mesh it with my own inspection to give an idea of how much work this house will require to bring it up to the standard of the neighborhood.

First off its a huge house (on a tiny lot). The two main levels are good sized with the top floor as 'bonus' space. There has not been any updating of the house for a verrrrrry long basically the house needs everything and nothing...what that means is someone could move in and just clean the place and start living there but the house, in my opinion would be very unsafe especially if you put a bunch of people/weight on the top floor.

For us though, the house part is too big, the lot is too small, and there is not enough garage-shop-storage space.

From the inspectors report and my own observations here are the things the house is going to need redone...
  1. The entire foundation...Dig out the entire bottom floor and get a full height useful basement. Having done this twice before I'd say that this is going to run $150,000 at least.
  2. The roof is shot and is going to require a total tear-off and a rebuild of the roof framing (per the inspection report).
  3. The top floor is not legal living space and needs to be somehow made legit...good luck with that.
  4. Wiring on top floor is done with with zip cord!!! Inspection calls it dangerous-basically gut and redo the entire top floor and probably add a bath as there is not one up there now.
  5. Repipe the house.
  6. Rewire the house, inspection calls the current mish-mash of overloaded fuses, and knob and tube wiring unsafe.
  7. Replumb the house with cast iron DWV.
  8. Normalize all the work done without permits.
  9. Redo kitchen to bring it up to standards of the 'hood.
  10. Fix the 'major structural mods' called out in the inspection.
  11. Rebuild or replace a majority of the wood double hungs.

My laymans opinion is that its going to require at least $500,000 to bring this house up to the standards of the neighborhood. Even if this place was redone I doubht it could sell for more than $1Mill...several big places in this price range have not sold and have been sitting on the market for quite a while.

So to me...the house is worth $500,000 tops...think the seller would go for that? Doubht it....

Unfortunately some young yuppie power-couple will buy the place for their 1.5 kids Madison and Doyle and their purebred golden retreiver skipper. They'll put money into the cosmetic stuff like a new kitchen and redone floors and paint and not touch the really important stuff like the foundation and earthquake retro-fitting...actually the place has 7 bedrooms might be a better house for the waltons...'cept they could never afford it.

Okay that's my second 'knifecatchers' post next up is a nice little Marcuse and Remmel Vic at 1291 Caroline St.


Tish said...

I'm enjoying your series of open houses. We are sort of looking at houses too. Very, very casually though. We haven't found one we actually care to look at yet except for one on San Antonio that has been on the market a good 4 months. Way overpriced, but it's so damned charming.

Jesamyn said...

Nice tour. Actually, the fab pink-green-black bathroom is late 1920s/early '30s. In 1910, bathrooms were still "sanitary" all-white.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Tish,
Thanks, I've got a couple other open houses in the chamber too. Are you talking about the 'spite house' on San Antonio? It is a nice house but no garage, or backyard to speak of.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Jesamyn,
Ya you're right the bath is more late 1920's than 1910ish...No one seems to know when the dang place was built? So maybe it was built in the 20'S? Or someone addded a bath...I just didn't think people did that back in the day.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the house was built in 1902. Wow! How to rip the house my family has owned and loved for 40 years! Tons of inaccuracies throughout your rant. Good luck finding a house that meets your exacting standards!

The MadScientist said...

Hi Anon,

Firstly: Look, there is something you really, really, need to understand. You may have many, many happy memories of that house but unfortunately those memories do not translate into additional value to a potential buyer.

When I asked the realtor why the house was on the market he said it is because the elderly woman (your mother? grandmother?)who lives there is having more trouble getting around and wanted to move to someplace eaiser on her. If that is the case I urge you to lower the price of the house to sell it before its too late. I believe that the house has been on the market now over 60days? If you have not had any serious action in that time then any rational realtor should tell you that the place is overpriced. My own research is pointing to a huge wave of high-end houses going into foreclosure in the coming months. Did you know that there is a house on the last block of Bay St. that is going up for auction July 16th? If this happens prices for high end properties such as yours are going to plummet even further.

Now I'm sure y'all are filled up with shoulda-woulda-coulda thoughts about what you coulda sold the house for 3 years ago....but times have really changed and you just are not going to get that kind of money for a house with a TON of deffered maint.

Secondly: I do not intentionally report inaccuracies. My opinion of the state of your house comes from my own inspection and reading the reports provided by the realtor. If I have mis-read something please be specific as to what the inaccuracies are and supply supporting proof and I will gladly print a correction. Otherwise as I state these ramblings are simply the opinion of a knowledgable buyer.

Thirdly: I am not out to trash anyones house. We only go and look at and report on houses that appear on paper to be something that we would want to own.

irene said...

I would add a fourthly, which is that the same level of critique (if not even greater) is applied to our own work, on our own houses, which you can see throughout this blog.

Anonymous said...

There is only one thing that we "really, really need to understand". That thing is that you are a stupid, fat, pathetic loser who has nothing better to do with his time than rant on houses that he cannot afford. To tell you the's really quite sad. So go outside and do something productive with your life, asshole.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, learn to spell.

The MadScientist said...

Hi again Anon,

Wow, I must of really hit a nerve....I replied to your snotty comments in a nice and thoughtful way and what do I get in return? Name calling and immature b.s. You obviously have not bothered to read this blog at all so I'm not going to try to reason with you any more...but I will have some fun at your expense.

I bet I know whats bugging you. If you type your address into Google MY post comes up first? Why is that? You're selling an almost million dollar house and you can't even have a dedicated website for it? In fact every time you comment on this post it pushes it up to the top.

Actually, I've got Google analytics and there have been several hundred unique views...a lot of those are people just typing the address into their search engines.

My wife and I just did shots of raspberry cordial in honor of you, our very first hate-mailer!

And I stand by everything I've said as my honest opinion of the houses in question.

And leave my weight out of this, I'M WORKING ON IT!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Fist of all, I'm not the same person as the first commenter. Trust me, if I knew that you were hating on the house that I have loved all of my life, I would have reacted right away. Second of all, don't call that first comment snotty, the only reason you're getting hate mail is because your being a jerk in the first place. All I'm saying is that YOU NEED TO STOP THIS STUPID BLOG OF YOURS and find a new hobby. Then we can be friends.

L. Opine said...

Hi Irene and Dan,

Thanks for picking up the slack. I'm glad you're writing up those houses; I wanted to see all of the ones you've covered, and now I don't need to.

I "ran into" Irene at the pharmacy the other day; name, interesting "Zombies happen" jumper, hair and general appearance matched the photos on your blog. I didn't introduce myself because I felt it would just be weird to be accosted by a complete stranger who just overheard your name during a prescription pickup.

Thanks for the blog, and best of luck with the baby and house redo.


L. Opine said...

(just read the posts)

Looks like the "asshole contingent" I was warned against by supporters of the knifecatchers blog have found another blog to pollute with their bile. For some reason they seem to have ratcheted up the inane rhetoric and pepper it with profanities. How fun! Except not.

I hope the idiots don't stop you and that my failure to turn comments off sooner than I did can serve as a community learning experience.

L. Opine

The MadScientist said...

Hello Again Anon,

Well, I'm sorry I confused you with the other 'anon'. If you won't sack up and at least sign your posts with a nom de plume how am I going to keep all the haters straight? Since you like to call me names that have the word 'ass' in them I think your pen name should have 'ass' in it too. How about cassarole?

So you say that you are not connected to the San Jose Ave house? You must be connected to one of the houses I've reviewed, which one is that? Or else, you just happened across my blog and felt the need to post those nasty comments?...THAT would be really sad...really, really sad...

I am NOT 'being a jerk' I am giving my honest opinion as a lay expert and I'm not sorry that it hurts peoples feelings. Sometimes people need to smacked upside the head with reality.

The MadScientist said...

L. Opine, my inspiration!!
I am not going to turn off comments because I think they are important to the give and take of the blog world. Maybe I'll institute a rule where you have to sign your posts at least? Or no anon. posts that would stop most of the b.s. I bet.

Miss your blog wish you wouldn't of given it up..though it is a LOT of work...especially with all the pictures I take!