Wednesday, January 11, 2012

KnifeCatching 1441 Grand 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 1441 Grand St.

Up for review today is 1441 Grand St. which has the official specs of being a 4-2 of 2737 sq ft on a 6000sq ft lot built in 1905 on sale for $819k. Originally listed for $849k its been on the market for holy-moly 202 days!!! Last sold in 02 for $750k. Been on the market 202 days and they've only dropped the price $30k, last price drop in Oct...hmmmmm...

Somehow Zillow doesn't even know the place is for sale? You can see additional pics/prose on the redfin site for it.

The Good
First off I want to say that this house/grounds are gorgeous.
The house has a nice multi-color paint job.
Its got a pretty amazing front porch.
Check out that two story turret with curved glass windows!! The windows look originalish and you hardly ever, ever, see turrets with their curved glass windows now a days.
I have major turret envy.
The grounds appear nice and very private, almost fortress like (foreshadowing).
The house itself is huge. You can tell that when it was new it was an upscale place. Lots of fancy trim and paneling...all painted white of course. Big grand windows.
Its got a little one car garage off the side St.  
Super awesome solarium with Jacuzzi off back of house. Done with permits!!!
Right on the edge of the Franklin School District.

With my remaining battery power I snapped this picture of a funky detail that I really liked.

It looks like the little slot goes all the way through does it not? This is on the lower level of the house.

The Bad
Location, location, location....check out this satellite view.
You got churches, across the street. Big apartment buildings as neighbors. The house is on the corner of two of the busiest streets in Alameda. In fact there is a bus stop right outside the house on Santa Clara. Its LOUD inside the house...I suspect this is why its been languishing on the market for soooooo long. The 2nd story turret is a bedroom and wow its noisy....There just doesn't seem to be a good way to reduce the noise...it comes right through the old single pane windows. Most sound is transmitted into a house through the windows...so what can you do to reduce sound? Replace the ir-replaceable curved glass windows with modern double pane flat windows??? Horrible...You can buy sound deadening curtains but then you'd have to keep them closed all the time? I'm also guessing that the fortress like yards is an attempt to cut down on noise and give the HO's a modicum of privacy.

4 Bedrooms?
The specs say its a 4 bedroom but really, its a 3 with a good sized walk-in closet. On the top floor of the house are two good sized bedrooms, one medium sized bedroom (which doesn't have a closet) and a very small bedroom that would make a good sized walk-in closet. In fact, the door had a little brass plaque that read 'Office'. It would be a cozy home office also.
Brick Foundation
From what I could tell from my inspections the house is still on its full brick foundation. It looks like the front 1/3 was capped and has new pressure treated bottom plates (this does not appear in the permit record...). There is a serious B.S. quote for a foundation replacement for $31k.....make sure you look at what exactly you're getting for that money.... In my opinion the house needs a complete new modern foundation and earthquake retro-fitting and that is going to cost way, way more than $31k. Try more like $125k.
Master Bath?
Doesn't have one...can't see a good space to put one in.... I can't be the only person who really, really, really doesn't want to share a bathroom with teenagers?
Kitchen
While good sized it is seriously stuck in the 80's.

Roof
Permit record says it was reroofed in 83. To me, it looked like the roof is completely failing, at least on the little rooflet over the porch. Looking out the windows onto the roof you can see shingles that are so deteriorated that the Fiberglas backing is showing!!!

Elec/Plumbing
Nothing about this is mentioned in the record. From what I could tell the house is most likely still on galv water piping. There was a newer looking meter panel but it was locked and I couldn't see the rating. From the size of the panel and the wires coming to it I'd guess its probably a 100amp panel at most. It also looked like the original abspestos coated ducting for the heater is still being used.

Windows?
I didn't check every window in the houe but I looked at most of them. None of them opened. In fact most of them had been painted in place for so long that there wasn't even a gap between the window sash and the window frame...totally sealed! Great for keeping out drafts and noise not so great in a fire....Actually, I don't understand how it could be legal to sell a house with non-functioning windows...especially in the bedrooms...What happens if theres a fire and heaven forbid the new owners can't get out of the house? They would have to bust out the windows.....if they are lucky....who's going to be liable in a situation like that? C'mon Realtors y'all know that my favorite melodically named 'construction company' would unstick those windows for pennies.

Conclusion
I actually feel sorry for this house....it could be such a great place...if you could pick it up and plunk it down on a quiet street.

The price seems just, uh, crazy to me considering the kind of work the house needs.
It needs a new foundation, roof, master bath, kitchen remodel, service upgrade, and a repiping...that's going to be over $200k in work...

And you're still going to be living in a noisy fishbowl.

To me its probably worth $600k. But when I'd redo the foundation I'd dig out the entire basement and add probably 1000 sq ft of legal living space.

And that's the way I see it.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

We saw it when it shortly opened and totally agree with you on all the renovations. I like that it's big and within Franklin school district but the bus stop kills the deal and I ride the bus!

-Mary

Anonymous said...

My wife and I walked thru this house and thought the layout downstairs was totally wonky. The hot tub looked like the most recent upgrade in the whole house and that wasn't saying much. I noticed the brick foundation and couldn't even imagine how much that'd cost to fix. Then when you consider the location and what you're going to put in it (and then still be stuck with the location!) it just isn't nearly worth the asking price. Living room and upstairs bedroom with turret were the two best spaces in the house.

The MadScientist said...

Anon,
I freaking loved the turret bedroom...so jealous of the actual curved glass turret.....

cept, I stood up there for like 5 min just listening...I'm pretty sure it was the loudest room in the house....

Ya, according to the permits the spa-solarium are the newest things...I thought it had a sorta 80's porn vibe personally....

Anonymous said...

it used to be a B & B.

The MadScientist said...

Wow a B&B huh....
Weird, I guess the guests would of had to of shared a bath on the top floor...

This is going to sound horrible coming from someone who loves old houses but after I toured this place I couldn't help thinking that maybe a better use for the place would be professional offices...like tax guys, or attorneys or something...just doesn't seem like a great place to raise kids...