Monday, December 6, 2010

KnifeCatching 1339 St. Charles St.

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.

KnifeCatching 1339 St. Charles St.
Up for review today is 1339 St. Charles St. which has the official specs of being a 3-3 of 2571 sq ft on a 5600sq ft lot built in 1907 on sale for $907k. What they don't tell you is that one of those bedrooms and one of the baths is in the second house behind the main house. The house was built by Marcuse and Remmel (just like mine) so we were interested in seeing what it looked like on the inside. The house does have a good location on St. Charles st and is in the Franklin School district. Lots of pics and prose about the place on the Realtor.Com site.

We actually viewed the place a while ago but I am now just getting around to posting the review. We where initially excited about the place because we thought the main house was a 3-3 of 2571 sq ft, its in a great neighborhood and the lot was a decent size.

Sorry for the quality and lack of pictures I guess I'm just rusty....

A google street view of the front of the house. Its always fun to compare the street view and satellite views to what you see after its all fixed up for sale....
The house presents well from the street and has a nice front yard for Halloween. If anyone isn't 100% sure that I'm not a total crackpot don't you think that having one of my official 'good house criteria' being how good the front yard is for Halloween decorations puts me into the crackpot category?



From talking to the listing Realtor, it appears that they have spent quite a bit of money making the house ready for showing. I believe that the entire outside, inside was painted and it looks to me like they put new sod everywhere.

Side yard is nice.



Here is the 'back house' which is a 1-1. It was actually kinda nice inside with more of a 50's rustic feel. As far as I can tell this is a legal 2nd unit.
We were thinking , 'Hey rental income to help pay the mortgage.' If the main house is awesome this might be doable. Besides the house being there the backyard still seemed pretty usable for outdoor entertaining.



The bottom floor of the house is uh, well, fugly. Actually it reminds me a lot of the bottom floor of our place when we first bought it....that's not necessarily a good thing..
One side of the bottom was this big long wood shop looking room. The ceilings in this area might be legal height I can't remember.



The other side of the downstairs is a little more rough. Its cut up into ~3 smaller rooms. It looks like that at one time it was probably a separate unit.



This is the middle room...with those big lights and the window covered with paper I immediately thought of one thing....Grow Room.....

The walls here appear to be original lathe-plaster but in rough shape...and dirty.

Shot of where someone had torn into the ceiling to access the plumbing...
If this is the state of all the plumbing in the house then its going to need a new water and gas re-pipe.
Sorry guys I don't remember if I checked the panel to see if the place is still on fuses or what...see I am rusty...



The back part of the bottom floor. We were told that at one time there was a full kitchen and bathroom down here but I couldn't really tell where they would of been.



More exciting bottom floor pics.



This right here was the coolest thing about this floor of the house. An original clinker brick fireplace which to me really points to the fact that this bottom level was originally intended to be legal living space. I believe that now though the city does not view it as such.....too bad, woulda added 1000 sq ft to the place.

Okay I apologize for the lameness of this next part.
I was running after the baby and forgot to take pictures of the main floor.
I do remember that it had nice wood floors, 2 nice looking fireplaces formal parlour and dinning room and a kitchen that looks like it was redone in the 80's with fake wood Formica counter tops....there was a weird half bath outside the house where you had to go outside from the kitchen to use it. It would be great for garden parties but not so great in the winter time. The kitchen was big enough to be an eat-in though.

Going up the stairs to the top level of the house. you have a nice stairway and nice landings on both ends.



On the landing is the only full bathroom in the house. Its a split bath so one side has the vanity and claw foot tub and shower. This bathroom was surprisingly big.

I can't seem to rember there being another full bath anywhere else in the main house...so I don't know where the 3-3 spec comes from...I only counted a 3-2.5.

the other side is just a toilet without a sink...This looks kinda claustrophobic to me. The toilets sorta close to the door so it seems to me that you'd feel like you were pooping in the landing....



One of the bedrooms on the top floor...not super big but with a decent closet.



Other bedroom on the top floor. Also not real big....






Conclusion:
The main house is only a 2 1.5.....that's just too small. There doesn't seem to be any easy way to get a second full bath for a master bedroom kinda thing on the top floor.

To Make The House Work For Us.
The house is on a brick foundation which has to be changed....figure a easy $100k to do it right.
The plumbing is going to need to be redone.
The realtor had a great idea for how to make the house livable for a modern family.
Rejigger the back half of the house and bring the weird bathroom into the houses envelope, then put a stairway down to the bottom floor and turn the room with the cool clinker brick fireplace in it into a family room.

Realistically you're going to have to gut, the bottom floor, blow out the existing brick foundation and concrete slab dig down to give yourself reasonable ceiling height, then somehow convince the city to let you turn it back into living space...put the master suite on the bottom level along with the family room and be okay that there is an entire floor between you and your kids...

That's the only way I can think of getting the space and usability out of the house that a modern, family will demand.

So, that's a new foundation, slab, complete remodel of a master suite and family room and a kitchen remodel plus probably re-plumbing and rewiring the house...my guesstimate for that much workwould would be in the $250-$300k range...maybe more.

How does the price stack up...
Ya know, I don't know...having that rentable unit in the back is throwing off my internal value meter....If you bought it for $900k, sunk $300k into it and in the process added ~1000sq ft of legal living space....still though being into the place for $1.2M I don't know if it would be worth that much at the end of construction...

2 comments:

evan said...

I would lift that one up a foot or two instead of digging down. Replacing the brick foundation wouldn't be terrible since there is space to work. I would estimate 60K to lift the house and replace the foundation. The floor would be expensive because it would have to be broken up and taken out which would be lots of dump weight and man hours

The MadScientist said...

Hello Again Evan,
Wow two comments in one day from an actual construction pro.

Unfortunately in Alameda, no one but no one gets to raise a house a couple of feet. You've got to go down to get the head room.

Wow $60k where where you when we did our foundation? All the bids we got were over 100k.

For this place figure uh, the bottom floor is 1000sq ft with a central load bearing wall at the midline. Figure dig down 2' to give yourself a real amount of headroom. Put the house on blocks and blow out the existing brick and rat slab. Do a real waterproofing scheme like under slab drainage and footing drains and the down spouts all tied into a sump pit. A real water proofing membrane solution for under the slab and the foundation walls. Plus the earthquake retro fitting.

If you could do all that for $60k then wow more power to you. As I said our house with a similar footprint cost over $100k to do...