Monday, July 9, 2012

KnifeCatching 1325 Dayton Ave

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 1325 Dayton Ave.
Up for review today is 1325 Dayton Ave. which has the official specs of being a 7-4.5(the listing claims the house has 6 baths....) of 5048 sq ft on a huge 14,250 sq ft lot built in 1909 last sold in '98 for $789,000, on sale now for $1.25M. The redfin page is pretty decent for this listing with a ton of pics. Also check out the 'video walkthrough.'

The first thing you notice when you walk up to the place is that, 'wow there is a lot of front lawn,...and it's all dead!'

The bank has owned the house since December and this is how they take care of a million dollar home?

Sales Record






Jul 05, 2012

Listed (Active)



MLSListings #81225045

Jul 03, 2012



EBRD #40580287

Dec 05, 2011

Sold (Public Records)
This home was sold at a foreclosure


Foreclosure is a process that transfers the right of home ownership from the homeowner to the bank or lender. A home goes into foreclosure when the owner stops paying his mortgage loan payments.
more info




Public Records

Nov 25, 1998

Sold (Public Records)



Public Records

I know that as a neighbor I don't like seeing this type of thing, and I'm sure the neighbors adjacent to the property don't either...(cause I talked to 'em.) Isn't this against the law? Don't banks have to take good care of the foreclosed homes in their inventories?

Does it seem odd to anybody that they only increased the price $84500? If I did the math right that's only a $9500 net after the 6% commission? Why go through all this trouble for $10k? Or, are they expecting a bidding war?? God I hope not...

The Story
Well, of course the Realtor didn't have anything useful to say other than, "We're only accepting offers at noon sharp on Wednesday!!" Guess they are hoping for a bidding war.
To get the actual story on the house I had to turn to one of the neighbors who has lived in the 'hood for many years and was good friends with the POs. This neighbor said that they just pulled every cent out of the house they could during the boom years and spent it on a lavish lifestyle and not on the house, and that they bailed when their latest ARM reset. According to this neighbor the POs left way before the bank officially was going to evict them. They bailed and took everything with them, or sold everything they could. So, that's why the house is missing most of its appliances and several light fixtures.

What The Permit Record Tells Me
Wow, this place has an odd permit record. I urge anybody seriously considering this house to buy an official copy of the permit record and have the Building Dept explain to you the can-o-worms you're buying. The record is full of expired permits that were never finaled, several for some serious work done to the house.

According to my reading of the permit record this job has been attempted several times in the past and has never been finaled:

CB03-0599 Combination Building Permit Expired DIGIROLAMO DONNA 07/25/2003

Work Description:


BAY WINDOW IN KITCHENA potential buyer will have to fix all the expired permits on the house as a condition of doing any new legal work....

A small tour
Sorry the house was just so dang big that I couldn't document it all.

Starting in the basement.
The house has its original concrete foundation.
This is better than brick but not as good as a modern concrete foundation. There will be no rebar in this foundation. I saw no evidence of sensible earth quake retro-fitting.

A sump pit with evidence of flooding in the basement.

Freaky Stairway To Nowhere
This must have been part of the enclose the house permit mentioned above?

A scary electrical panel
This is not a code compliant install.

There were windows in the basement but they were pretty rotted looking.

From the outside the light well for the windows.
I did not see any means provided to drain this all concrete light well? Maybe that's why the windows are so rotted?

There is a nice arbor over this light well with some sort of vine growing on it.
Hey, what's that sitting amongst the leaves?
Yep that is officially the weirdest thing I've seen at an open house. A Ziploc bag with a hair clipping. Hope I didn't screw up some sort of Voodoo spell or something?

While we're outside lets look at the back yard.

That's pretty much it...a patio and a koi, er mosquito pond.

From here you can see the roof
Which actually doesn't look too bad. There appears to be evidence of leaking on the ceiling of the top floor, and the roof is over 20yrs old so it should need to be replaced.

Mosey over to the garage, which is good sized and should fit two cars.
Check the Realtors site for pics of the outside.
Here's the inside.

Another Scary Electrical Panel

Garage with Ladder to storage loft.

Storage Loft.
This sorta looks to me like they might have been in the process of turning the garage into an illegal apartment...maybe.

And now let's work our way down from the third floor.
There were a couple of bedrooms and a full bath on the top floor.
I like the bathroom on this floor.
It looks old and original-ish.

Some evidence of the roof leaking.

Some evidence of the house settling.
Sorry the picture is so dark but you can tell that the window frame is super outta square.
Actually the floors up here all seemed to slant noticeably...

In one of the bedrooms is this sorta kitchen.
I don't know what's going on here but I'm guessing that maybe the top floor of the place was used as a separate unit at one time?

Around the corner from the sink there is a door to a landing and a scary, scary dry rotted exterior stair.

Oddly enough the stair just goes down to a flat roof with like a pathway into a set of double doors into the master bedroom?!?!?!
Hey, look, at least the place has AC?

From the inside of the master bedroom the double doors were caution taped off.
I'm guessing that before they enclosed this side of the house that these stairs went all the way down to the ground.

Here's one of the weirdest things about this house.
From the scary 3rd floor landing you can see this.
At some point a big uh, sun room was tacked onto the back of the house. (this is not in the permit record either that I could find.) Looks classy doesn't it? With the plywood covering it and the gooped on patches...classy.

But it gets weirder.
This entire sunroof is covered over from the inside and drywalled in?!?!?

This is what it looks like from the inside.
This is the master bath over a tub.
notice the mold? It was everywhere.

In one spot they left it open to let light in.
I just don't understand the good reason for doing this? This is all going to have to be redone I think.
One super cool thing about the house is that it has a dumbwaiter
One thing that I should mention before leaving the third floor is that it smelled really, really, really strongly of rat urine. I could not get up into the attic to look but I bet there's a bunch up there.

Now headed down the scary steep servants stairs (the only way to get up to the top floor)

You notice this in several spots.
They left the windows in when they added on and just drywalled the back sides!?!?!!?

Okay now the Master Suite.
This seems kinda odd to me. They just took existing rooms and kinda repurposed them. So you have one room which is the bedroom (with no closet). Then you go out of that room and down a short hallway to.
The most glorious closet room ever.
Then down the hallway to the bathroom...with the moldy ceiling and...
Yep that's right carpeted bathroom. It smelled exactly like what you would expect it to smell like...
Now, I think that those fancy-original looking stained glass windows were the original rear of the house. That this part was added on some time later? What's awesome is, that those windows are now in the hallway and when the lights on in the bath and the hallway is dark you can pretty much see straight through it...niiiiice.

There were a couple decent sized bedrooms on this floor but they were dirty and smelly and unappealing.

Liked this bathroom on this floor.
Looks like its pretty newly redone (not in the permit record that I could see).
What I especially like is the no-f'ing-way is that light fixture rated for being IN the shower, light.

Okay I think I'm on the main floor now.
Which had a scary stab-loc panel.
A fire waiting to happen.

The Kitchen
The kitchen itself was good sized it had some nice tile work on the back splashes.
But unfortunately tiled counter tops....

I don't have any good overall shots just some details....
Like the missing stove.

The giant mess where the fridge was.
Yummmm, moldy...don't insurance companies freak out about black mold now a days?

On the East side of the house is a more original looking covered sun room.
With lots of windows that need attention.

The official site has lots of shots of the fabulous wood work and grand scale rooms of the main floor.
This house does look like its set up to entertain large groups of fancy folks.
I really, really, really, love all the unpainted original woodwork in this house.

The Fabulous Hand Carved Mantel.

What you don't see in the official pics.
This glorious-fabulous mantle is literally like 3' from a wall. There isn't even any room to stand back and enjoy the fire!?!?!?!?
I believe that this whole part of the house is a more recent addition.
I don't think that this fireplace-mantle is original to the house, or even old.
In fact, this little room it's in doesn't make any sense. It's too small to do anything with?
At the other end of the above shot is a little wet bar (with the fridge missing).

Whew, I know I didn't get everything but I think that's enough...

The Good
 Location, location, location. This house is on a huge lot in the Gold Coast just a few blocks from Franklin Park and school.
It's pretty, very very pretty, if you don't look too closely.
Lots and lots of gorgeous unpainted woodwork.
The house is freaking huge.
The lot is freaking huge.

The Bad
Geez, where to about from the outside in?
The house may be on a huge lot but it's all front yard.
Check out this Sat Shot.
Great front yard for Halloween for sure, but the private space is just well, minuscule.

The exterior of the house needs a major restoration.

Potential buyers better have a good termite inspection.

While the house has a 200amp service and several newer looking main panels, I can find no record of these being done with permits.
New kitchen with no permits.
Find your own appliances.
Probably needs a new roof.
What's up with the crazy boarded up glass roof?
Screwy permit record that you are going to have to fix.
Lots of work done without permits (that the new owner is going to have to fix).
From the basement, the plumbing appears to be a mish-mash of copper and galv.

First off, what the F is up with the bank that owns the place?
It's like they didn't want to spend a single penny fixing the place up for sale....
I'm telling ya, a capable maintenance crew could have made the interior look so, so much better in like two days.
The bank didn't even replace all the lights the POs stole?
The water wasn't even turned on?

My conclusion is,... That the house isn't a $1.2M house its really a $2M house in disguise.
This house could be glorious with a huge, huge, infusion of cash...I don't even know how much.
All the weird additions, and stuff kinda kludged on to the place....all the permit

Even if this place was totally redone, top to bottom would it even be worth $2M? Based on what 1221 Sherman recently sold for I give the house $1.7M max.

Now the problem is, is to back calculate a reasonable purchase price....for that you need a good estimate of what it's going to cost to fix the place, I just don't have it...there's just so much and the house reeks of 'hidden conditions'. I'm going to throw out a complete WAG of $700k to fix up the place 'right'.

So, I'd say that the house is worth absolutely no more than $1M

And that's the way I see it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Deck Rebuilding Part 3..what comes next?"

After a week of working (well, not really a week more like 3 half days) I've got all the joist hangers replaced that I can until I figure some more things out.

This post should of been titled...
How Am I Going To Double These Freaking Things?

Take a look at the diagram below. Notice where it says that I need to double the existing 2by12's.
There are two spots that my SE says were under built and that I need to add more framing. The long diagonal edge of the deck and half of one of the single 2by 'beams'. This deck already exists and I need to double the 2by12's.... I admit, I'm at a loss as how to sensibly go about doing this? There are tons of joists hanging off of them (with the still incorrect hangers).
Do I remove all the hangers cut the joists back by 1.5" and then push up the new 2by12 and then attach the new hangers? I'd have to build a temporary wall to support all of those joists I'd think?

Long Diagonal
Here's a shot of the long diagonal rim board that needs to be doubled.
Initially this seems to be the easier task.
I've bought through bolts long enough to accommodate the added wood.
Could it be as easy as lifting the new wood into place nailing it off and then using the existing holes as guides in the posts drill the new wood for the longer bolts and then bolt the whole thing together?

More Shots Of The Long Rim Board
From the other side this time.

If I replaced it from the inside I'd have to cut back all of these joists and rehang them with my new hangers...that seems kinda nuts to me if there's an easier way.

Short Beam

Closer up shot of left arrow.

Closer up shot of right arrow.
Its hard to see but the post supporting this 'beam' is notched to hold the beam.
Short beam from the other side.
Doubling this short beam seems mighty darn impossible to me.
Same amount of joist hangers on either side so that doesn't help me decide.
I'm thinking that maybe it would be a good idea to put the new wood on the long side of the
supporting post. I could cut it back and then the new 'beam' could sit on top of the post.

So I think that to do this safely I'd have to build a temp wall to support all the joists.
Then remove all the hangers.
Then cut back the ends of the joists by 1.5" (How do I do this with the joists in place?)
Then slide up the new 2by12 and nail-glue-screw it off.
Then attach old joists to new beam with new hangers.

Does that sound like the way to go?
Can anybody think of a better way to do this?

Ugh, did I mention how much my back hurts?