March 29, 2011

Pacific Heights For 50 Percent Below 2006 Expectations And Debt

2523 Steiner

As we wrote about 2523 Steiner back in 2007:

After 138 days on the market, and three price reductions (now $505,000 or 15% below its original list price [of $3,300,000]), 2523 Steiner is still on the market. But now it’s also testing the waters as a rental ($10,000 per month). We’ll let you run the numbers.

And as a plugged-in reader added at the time:

I went to an open house here and it really is just awful. It was like walking around in an M.C. Escher painting it was so ill conceived: bizarre stairs everywhere, bathrooms you can't turn around in, a "media room" that's pretty much a dungeon, and poor, poor finishes. Definitely a WTF were they thinking property. I seriously doubt it'll ever sell...

Two years later 2523 Steiner was foreclosed upon with no bidders at $2,408,718 cash and nearly $3 million owed. While today, 2523 Steiner returned to the market listed for $1,450,000 with possession at close of escrow (i.e., no tenants over which to fret).

2523 Steiner Kitchen

If you'd like a peek inside, follow our link above for what was the original asking rent.

∙ Listing: 2523 Steiner (3/4) - $1,450,000 [MLS]
It’s Not Just Condos That Are Going Rental [SocketSite]
Contemporary Luxury On Sale [SocketSite]

First Published: March 29, 2011 12:30 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

I'm feeling a disconnect between "top Pacific Heights location" and "peek a boo views"

Posted by: EH at March 29, 2011 1:12 PM

The house is at the crest of Pac Hts but faces East. The larger house on the right blocks the North view. That's pretty prime location.

Posted by: fred at March 29, 2011 1:52 PM

Yes, prime block, but HORRIBLE house!!! Noearch, where are you when we need you to criticize this piece of junk?

It is too bad, because before this horrendous thing was built it was a cute little Victorian cottage at the back of the lot.

I've been through it in the past, and there is just one thing after another wrong with the plan -- starting with the ill-conceived driveway, stairs, brick planters, and it just gets worse and worse the more you look.

Add to that the high-maintenance natural wood out front (that doesn't even look good), as well as the many roof leaks that needed to be addressed, and it isn't even worth $1,450,000.

And those are just the things I noticed by casual observation!!

Posted by: re guru at March 29, 2011 2:27 PM

I have to think that at $1.45 this will sell extremely fast and maybe even a bit over.

Posted by: eddy at March 29, 2011 2:29 PM

@ re guru: thanks for the heads up. I have not seen the place yet, but I'll try to get by this weekend.

From the photos so far and other descriptions, it sounds like a disaster. Just the front elevation alone looks pretty hideous: the square bay looks unfinished and the fixed glass windows look cheap and out of character. Maybe the bay is not complete with trim? I can't tell.

The one photo of the kitchen shows how extremely small it is. Just opening the oven door precludes anyone from standing at the sink. Terrible kitchen layout. The bath shown looks pretty damn skinny, again trying to be "high end" with marble finishes but the plan does NOT work. A sure sign of amateur design, once again.

I'll try to see it this week and post some more comments.:)

Posted by: noearch at March 29, 2011 2:40 PM

I wrote the comment in the editor's post. I noticed the tenants had left recently, so I had a feeling we'd be seeing this place come on the market soon.

And, yes, this is the single worst construction job I've seen in San Francisco. When we were talking about D7 homes that could sell under 1 million, this POS immediately came to mind. It really is that bad.

There is really no way this could pass the inspection process. As RE Guru pointed out, the wood trim on the exterior windows looks rotten. For it to be offered at 1000 per foot is an absolute joke. Its only value is as a vacant lot. Demo the house and start over.

Posted by: Denis at March 29, 2011 2:53 PM

The pictures of this place on that rental link are quite awkward and at odd angles. Several of them look like a reverse crop -- i.e. they cropped the photo, but instead of giving us the actual photo, they gave us the portion they cropped out.

Posted by: sfrenegade at March 29, 2011 2:53 PM

It would be really NICE if we could start hearing from some of the realtors who represent this kind of crap.

The listing agent simply calls this a "beautiful house". Do they really have any idea of what makes good construction, well thought out design?

I'm not saying they need to have the same knowledge I do, as an architect, or a contractor, but shouldn't realtors possess some basic skills regarding quality of construction, good layout vs. terrible, etc.?

This kind of selling crap to the public goes on all the time.

Posted by: noearch at March 29, 2011 2:58 PM

SS readers: I sent the listing to my wife, because we have some interest in moving to that neighborhood. I couldn't resist passing on her e-mail response to all of you. (She has been in the house in the past.)

"That place eats souls! Yucky!! It will have to just melt into the earth if we're all lucky....icky!"

So...there you go -- a woman's point of view on the property!!

Posted by: re guru at March 29, 2011 3:01 PM

It is always troubling when, no matter how long you stare at it, you cannot imagine where the front door is.

Is this a disaster remodel with a sad edwardian buried somewhere inside, or new construction?

Posted by: redseca2 at March 29, 2011 3:06 PM

A stand-alone house in that location for $1.45M? Would $150,000 fix a lot of the problems noted? At $1.6M, seems nice enough.

Posted by: jlasf at March 29, 2011 3:11 PM

I hope there is an open house, because the commentary on here is going to be brutal. Can't wait!

No way this is a cosmetic fixer. There's barely a room in the place that's in one PLANE. Step up here, step down there.. Step back up to nowhere. Seriously, there were tiny bathrooms that had multiple sets of steps in them. I can't even describe it.

I can't imagine how or why the tenants stayed as long as they did without either going completely insane or falling down all the time.

I can, however, pretty much guarantee that it's a house of cards... Try to move one wall, and the entire thing will collapse.

Posted by: Denis at March 29, 2011 3:30 PM

All this negativity. I went to the open house and I think I like it. Although, given the peculiar staircase layout, I had trouble walking from the spacious crack den to the luxurious meth lab without tripping over the day laborers resting in the crawlspace at the top of the stairs.

Posted by: halpern at March 29, 2011 3:42 PM

oh, halpern: you're so critical. for god's sake you need to be a little more open minded.:)

I do think you're a very descriptive writer.

Posted by: noearch at March 29, 2011 3:47 PM

What front door? To save space you go in through the garage door.

And, there WAS a very cute Victorian cottage that is buried under there somewhere -- but not much left of it except maybe a wall or two if I remember correctly.

Posted by: re guru at March 29, 2011 3:55 PM

Yuck - that natural wood facade didn't age very well. Here's what it looked like a mere four years ago : http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2007/01/its_not_just_condos_that_are_going_rental.html

At this point the best approach would be to let it fade to gray though you're looking at a few years of ugly before it gets there. Either that or paint it but wow what a waste of good wood.

Every fresh oiled tropical hardwood facade that has popped up over the last decade or so will meet a similar fate. Unless continuously meticulously maintained, natural weathering will take hold. Skip just one year of reapplying the oil and you've got a lot of labor intensive remediation work.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at March 29, 2011 4:18 PM

Yeah, that natural wood look is already old. Who can keep up with that level of maintenance.

Posted by: curmudgeon at March 29, 2011 4:20 PM

Hmmm, OK, now I've got to go take a closed look for myself. This was originally a malin listing:
http://www.sfproperties.com/properties/2523steiner/index.html

with floorplans:
http://www.sfproperties.com/properties/2523steiner/floorplan.html

And a full feature rundown:

New construction 2005-2006; full seismic construction
Designed and built by Rose Architecture
3 Bedrooms, 3 baths & 2 half baths
Full floor master suite with cathedral ceiling
Top floor family/media room with east & west facing terraces
Exercise room & wine storage on lower level
Halogen recessed lighting with dimmers in every room
All windows trimmed in mahogany
Hardwood floors throughoutState-of-the-art security & fire protection
Full cable/cat 5 wiring throughout
1 car garage + driveway

And here is the architect/builder site of the home:
http://rosearchitecture.com/?pageID=663737

Posted by: eddy at March 29, 2011 4:20 PM

Funny, I was just noticing yesterday that the wood on the even-newer 3-unit ~1280 Church/Jersey looked less than finely-aged.

Posted by: EH at March 29, 2011 4:27 PM

"Every fresh oiled tropical hardwood facade that has popped up over the last decade or so will meet a similar fate. Unless continuously meticulously maintained, natural weathering will take hold. Skip just one year of reapplying the oil and you've got a lot of labor intensive remediation work"

Yes, from my aerie I can watch my cross the street neighbors apply oil to the natural wood walls and decks (teak I believe) of their roof deck remodel TWICE A YEAR, after which they seem to have to let it dry for what seems like a week.

Between that and the bamboo they have planted in roof top planters I know we are not far from white trim and geraniums so they can regain their lives.

Posted by: redseca2 at March 29, 2011 5:36 PM

After a quick look at the architect's web site, I can only hope he's a better architect/builder than proofreader (starting with "principle").

Posted by: Dan Clark at March 29, 2011 5:44 PM

I wish he were a much better architect. This particular house is poorly designed and executed.

Posted by: noearch at March 29, 2011 5:47 PM

"a woman's point of view on the property!"

Oh, please!

Posted by: Guess there are no other women here? at March 29, 2011 6:48 PM

For the comment directly above (Guess there are no other women here) it was just meant for a little bit of levity -- relax everyone who can't handle even the suggestion of a politically incorrect comment. Come on people!!!

But, more seriously, it was meant to point out a genuine emotional response to the property from someone who doesn't know anything about the profession, or design or building -- in other words, a typical client for many of us.

So, take that for what you will -- if it is useful that is great. If you don't care for it, than you are not understanding at least some of your potential clients.

Posted by: re guru at March 29, 2011 7:05 PM

I'm trying to figure out the comment about the "woman's point of view". Is it supposed to be funny? Is it supposed to be serious? I can't tell, honestly.

And really....even posing a comment as a "woman's point of view" is pretty old school, pretty sexist, and yea, pretty lame. Emotional response? Ah, excuse me, but a man can also have an emotional response. I don't think it was politically incorrect, I just plain didn't get it.

So can someone like me, a gay man, an architect, also have an emotional response. Anyway......kinda getting off topic, sorry.

As for the wood discussion, exterior (tropical) wood siding or decking is usually Ipe, a sustainable tropical hardwood. You can leave it unfinished and let it weather to a nice silver grey, or you can seal it with certain oils to maintain a rich dark color. Either way, it's a great material.

Posted by: noearch at March 29, 2011 10:12 PM

Glad I read through the comments - I thought the top photo was taken during construction and the facade wasn't done yet....

Posted by: PN at March 30, 2011 1:01 AM

We rented there for almost two years. The comments here are overblown. The house has its issues, but at this price, it seems like a good value. More suited to a bachelor than a family, however.

Posted by: Anon at March 30, 2011 8:51 AM

Someone please tell the agent that Frederickson's is having a special on varnish...

Posted by: gh at March 30, 2011 9:11 AM

I walked by this place this morning and I'm struggling with the comments here a bit. It certainly could have been better, but I'd much prefer this place / location over lots of condos. If there is a build / quality issue than maybe that is another problem. I'll have to go see it in person. I still think this will sell quickly unless there are structural issues.

Posted by: eddy at March 30, 2011 9:21 AM

The wood issue is typical of the trend among a few to disregard common knowledge and do something that they see as radical (and that others see as plain idiotic).

If there's one think you cannot trust 100% about modern homeowners, it's their ability to follow-up. Sure re-oiling the wood is a breeze and nothing compared to the coolness of the materials. But once the new home smell fades away, the benefits are overwhelmed by the burden.

This is why you should design a home to be as low maintenance as possibly can. Durable materials. Few loose ends. Say no one actually lives in it for 1 year, will you have issues? 2 years? 5 years? This is why people love their old vics. Redwood almost everywhere that will not fare too badly even if you skip the paint job a year or two past the due date.

Posted by: lol at March 30, 2011 9:47 AM

"You can leave it [tropical hardwoods] unfinished and let it weather to a nice silver grey, or you can seal it with certain oils to maintain a rich dark color. Either way, it's a great material."

I assert that there's really only one possibility here : letting the wood weather to a silvery gray. Theoretically you can oil the wood annually but in practice people are never that diligent. I could be wrong though. Does anyone know of a ten year plus ipe or other tropical wood facade that has not weathered yet ? Maybe a mapjack link to a photo.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at March 30, 2011 10:25 AM

There is never just one possibility with anything in life. It's about what you "choose" as the homeowner.

Honestly, this whole rant about not liking Ipe woods due to their maintenance is a bit tired. It can be beautiful, it certainly is sustainable, and it's also a deterrent to rot and termite infestation. And yes, you should maintain it. If not, let it weather.

and lol: here's some thoughts: A low maintenance home is certainly important, but not the end all and be all for living there. Simply being a homeowner implies that one should take care of it, now and then. It's not rocket science.

A home should also inspire you, make you feel good, uplift your spirits, be very functional, be playful, be full of surprises..the goals can go on and on.

Posted by: noearch at March 30, 2011 10:40 AM

"A home should also inspire you, make you feel good, uplift your spirits, be very functional, be playful, be full of surprises..the goals can go on and on."

High maintenance features run counter to these virtues. Instead of uplifting spirits problems that require constant attention can enslave and grind souls down.

I'd like to believe that ipe can keep its warm glow. If anyone knows of examples please post them.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at March 30, 2011 11:01 AM

All this talk of ipe wood...does anyone know (noearch probably has a good sense) if that is what we are predominantly seeing around town, or are there other woods that are being used for this "natural" look. Because honestly, and this is only armchair (or rather drive-by and walk by) very little of it is looking good after a couple of years.

I think one of the disconcerting things is that it looks great new, but if it is going to age to gray that's an entirely different aesthetic that doesn't work very well on a lot of the buildings that use "natural" wood. To my mind, that's more appropriate to a Sea Ranch style of architecture, and not to the crisp "dwell" style projects we've been seeing. But that's just me...I'ld love to be pointed to some projects where it is aging attractively.

Yes, of course you can oil wood every year. But if it is on a facade where it requires you to put up staging or tall ladders each time, it's just not going to happen unless you are incredibly anal,wealthy, or both. I would never want that kind of responsibility, personally.

When I owned an Edwardian, I was very happy that my street facade faced north. Not only did I get a sunny southern garden in the rear, but my multi-color paint job lasted for years longer than it would have otherwise. I happen to think that stuff is important, but I probably think about it more than most people.

Posted by: curmudgeon at March 30, 2011 11:29 AM

Of course, I can't speak from direct experience because I'm not yet a homeowner, but every time I hear someone talk about how "high maintenance features" of a home require so much time, I think to myself, and what are they spending all of their free time on such that they don't have time to re-apply a finish a whopping once or twice a year?

And of course, if you ever get someone to candidly discuss where they are spending their time and on what, they'll usually say they are in front of the boob tube, possibly watching an incredibly dumb reality show. Which kinda tells you where their true priorities lie.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at March 30, 2011 11:32 AM

Open house this Sunday for those who are interested. I think the listing realtor is trying to convince people that it shows well based on the fact that she mentioned it twice in the MLS listing.

As an aside note, I overheard the listing realtor giving incorrect info to a young (but obviously clueless) guy who attended another open house of hers that was also REO. She basically said that if he made an offer it had to be the listed price. Forgive me but I thought that was at the bank's discretion. So I'm not too confident of her expertise.

Posted by: Lori at March 30, 2011 11:32 AM

@MOD: dude, I'm not hating on you, but sometimes ya got a one track mind. Who said anything about high maintenance features?

Every house takes some work to maintain, inside and out.

You're seeing the glass half empty. I'm seeing it full. No offense, but you're not an architect and you don't get it. One may WANT Ipe siding for the pure beauty and other attributes, and are also willing to take care of it.

Life is not just about doing the minimum to get by.

Posted by: noearch at March 30, 2011 12:02 PM

I think the good case here is someone looks at this like a quirky multi-level condo - a la cafe des artistes in NYC - at a 100% location -- AND wants put say 100,000 into it for substantial but basic maintenance and fixes. and just go from there on value. it might get close to 1.4 MIL.

the bad case is what everyone say above.

the point is -- its not really a house other then technically.

Posted by: Louis at March 30, 2011 12:24 PM

Noearch, I generally respect your opinions, but the "you're not an architect and you don't get it" comment to MoD is insulting. A homeowner, or potential homeowner "gets" when a design feature takes alot of maintenance. Maintenance is a cost, in both money and time. Not everyone wants to sign up for that responsibility, and they don't need judgement from you on that fact.

I would say that Ipe wood, if it is used extensively on an exterior, and requires yearly oiling requiring ladders or staging, is indeed a "high maintenance" item.


Posted by: curmudgeon at March 30, 2011 12:27 PM

ok, curmudgeon: you got that off your chest.

There's a funny thing here on SS that happens from time to time. Some people, for whatever reason, seem to feel "insulted" when I comment about something that I know of due to my profession as an architect. It's weird, but it's their problem if they feel insulted. I am simply stating an opinion based on my skill and knowledge.

Are you insulted when a doctor tells you a specific medical fact that you wouldn't understand? Are you upset because a lawyer may quote a very complex piece of case law that you would not understand? Guess what? they don't expect you to "get" it. You're not in that profession, simple as that.

I'm not about to "dumb down" my comments here for fear of insulting anyone. Don't like em, don't read em.

Posted by: noearch at March 30, 2011 12:52 PM

Ugh. Although I'm tempted to drop it, because there is no winning with you, your analogy makes no sense.

We are discussing maintenance, not surgery or even case law. We are not discussing anything unique to your profession. If given the correct information, maintenance requirements are easily understood by a homeowner. As an architect you presumably have more practical knowledge of this (I hope), and can advise the homeowner. But it is up to them to decide if they want to take on this maintenance burden. I haven't really heard much beyond "you can apply a coat of oil every year"

MoD was specifically asking for examples of IPE wood that has aged gracefully. I wonder the same thing actually.

Yes, of course non-professionals should respect an architect's unique qualifications. But architects should respect the opinions of us poor laypeople as well.

Posted by: curmudgeon at March 30, 2011 1:46 PM

"Who said anything about high maintenance features?"

We were discussing ipe and its requirement for frequent oiling, weren't we? That's a lot more work than painting once a decade for example.

Some people, for whatever reason, seem to feel "insulted"...

I'm very hard to insult and no harm done here (thanks for the support though curmudgeon). And I'm not looking at this pessimistically either, just realistically. Homeowners opting for a facade treatment like this ought to know what they're getting into, don't you agree? I hope when you review facade options with your clients you're not glossing over the maintenance costs and penalty for neglect.

I don't know why you're asserting that your architect credentials validate your opinion. This is a maintenance and materials issue. There are plenty of non-architects who have relevant expertise. I'm not a pro though I have been maintaining houses since my teenage years, learning a lot from professionals along the way. And I know a lot more about tropical hardwoods than the average handyman in part from installing and maintaining over a thousand lineal feet on my own project. (I'm letting it weather to gray)

I'm afraid that in the near future ipe facades are going to go from trendy to dated. Clients bought into the warm wood glow but couldn't keep up with the payments. Ipe will remain a great material for decking though.

(And Brahma - watching TV instead of maintaining a home? Now that's insulting! :-)

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at March 30, 2011 2:01 PM

I'm with curmudgeon and Milkshake here. I don't see why an architect has unique knowledge about housing maintenance. Trying to rely on a credential is usually a way to make a bad argument.

This is not in the least like asking a doctor about medical advice. Context always matters.

Posted by: sfrenegade at March 30, 2011 2:42 PM

For curmudgeon and MofD.

Just remember, for all of us in the building trades, the word we substitute for Architect is Artichoke. ;-)

Most architects, in my experience, know VERY little about actual building and construction and costs. Most of them don't know which end of a hammer to pick up, not to mention more complex issues such as how to waterproof a deck over living space. (Which, as a side note, I've been told is the number one construction defects issue.)

That is not to say that artichokes don't have some good design ideas at times -- but very few of them know how to translate those into reality that works for the homeowner.

My job as a builder is to take the plans -- which are generally very lean on real construction details -- and turn them in to a 3 dimensional product that works. I almost always have to detail out the electrical, mechanical, plumbing, HVAC and structural systems and make sure that all this behind-the-scenes stuff functions and operates. All that has to happen before you can start laying on the fancy finishes.

Posted by: builder in sf at March 30, 2011 3:04 PM

thank you, once again, for offering up such an "interesting" listing along with all the comments. This site just keeps me informed and entertained.

Posted by: dkzody at March 30, 2011 3:40 PM

If Ircallform 2007, this house was terribly narrow, so all the rooms were tight.

I think it wuld make a lovely garden space or air well between the appropriately scaled homes that engulf it.

Posted by: kathleen at March 30, 2011 3:52 PM

Well, I suppose it works both ways Mr. builderinsf:

I certainly can't argue with you that there are incompetent architects. On the other hand, I have had to deal with some insanely incompetent contractors. I could tell stories for sure. But then again, my current roster of licensed contractors is of high skill and value. Here's some observations:

1. Most contractors don't know how to read construction documents, and they mostly (attempt) to throw away my Spec book.

2. They try to get away with using inferior materials (until I catch it on the job site, as part of my Construction Observation services). The Specs which I write are designed to protect the homeowner in getting the appropriate (and not always the cheapest) product.

3. The number one reason construction defects happen is due to the contractor NOT FOLLOWING THE DRAWINGS AND SPECS. Ask my lawyer about that one.

4. Decks over living spaces are very complex to detail and construct, as you mention. I have probably designed 15-20 so far and none have leaked. My details are specific and highly coordinated with the Specs.

5. A typical set of drawings that my office produces for a full house renovation, foundation to roof is usually 20-25 pages of drawings and details, plus structural drawings. They include such things as full electrical plans and layout of all lights, switches, etc., duct-work layout (very important to a multistoried home), and architectural coordination with the structural components.

6. Detailed construction docs and specs that I produce also enable contractors to develop extremely accurate final bids. Homeowners appreciate that, so that fewer changes and cost increases don't happen. Because I develop this level of documentation, I am probably more expensive than some other architects, but not always. Not everyone can afford me. That's reality.

The bottom line is that there are good and bad people in my field and yours. The best projects bring the best people together.

Posted by: noearch at March 30, 2011 4:04 PM

noearch,

I think you've been reading too much Ayn Rand, and/or the autobiography of FLW.

The artichoke's place is pretty low in the pecking order for most projects unless you are Robert Stern or Frank Gehry. Builders, developers and homeowners generally view the hiring of the artichoke as a necessary evil because you need someone to do drawings and get the permit.

After the permit is in hand, very few of us want to keep the artichoke in the loop if we can help it. I always recommend to my clients to save the fees that the artichoke charges during construction and put the money into something they can really benefit from.

As for following details, if I had followed most of the construction specs and details I'd been given by architects for the last 20 years I would have been out of business about 18 years ago. So, I ahve been not only a builder but a construction defects expert, so you're assertion in #3 above is just flat out incorrect.

Anyway, enough time spent on this -- I have a job to review, and I believe the construction details need revision.


Posted by: builder in sf at March 30, 2011 7:29 PM

Well, aside from the name calling, you really had nothing much to say.

Like many "builders" as yourself as opposed to real contractors, you are threatened by an architect on the job-site, because, in fact, we are much higher up on the decision chain that you are. It's just the nature of the business.

My clients are generally high end and value my services. You work for people who are at the other end of the scale. I'm glad it works for you.

Posted by: noearch at March 30, 2011 7:40 PM

Having gone thru this house when it was originally on the market (love the facade), I can say it has one of the most ridiculous and dysfunctional) floor plans I have ever seen. (The floor plans on the original website did not show the stairs IN the main floor bathroom.) I don't know the work of the original architect, but if it was built as designed, the architect is incompetent. If as may be possible, the "builder" or the client redesigned it on the spot, they are incompetent. As an experienced client, I can only say that anyone who does not (1) hire a highly qualified architect and (2) have the architect on the job from lot purchase through final close out is a fool. This house is a house of fools.

Posted by: Jim at March 30, 2011 8:48 PM

Well, noearch, I'll let you in on a little secret. I started out on the Architecture side of this business -- it was a joke. I was 22 years old and knew more about construction than the most senior people at the architecture firm -- and it was a big firm in the Bay Area. (I gathered my construction knowledge from hands-on building starting at the age of 12. My uncle was a contractor.)

At age 22-23 I was literally sent to job sites all over the Bay Area to look at and solve construction problems that the partners in the firm didn't know how to handle, and for which their details were woefully inadequate. After doing some research, I learned this was not at all unique to this firm. Every builder told the same story.

For the record, many of my projects are high-end, high dollar, and mostly in Pacific Heights. I imagine you've even seen some of them. A few have been on this site, and my guess is you might even have commented favorably, but I'm not going to take the time to go through old listings and find out.

I have never had a construction defects case.

Enough said on this subject, as it no longer applies to this posting, or the rest of the folks reading.

Have your projects been on this site, noearch?

Posted by: builder in sf at March 30, 2011 9:13 PM

2523 Steiner:
I have been inside several times and agree the design is a mess. For those who haven't witnessed first-hand, let me describe the place in some detail:

Driveway--narrow and steep
Front door--down two steps and atypical for a home of this supposedly caliber
Entry--must go up a step in order to make room to close the door
Small closest on side of entry stairs
1st floor--low ceiling dining room, step down to hit living room, step up twice to hit kitchen
Kitchen--no room for two
Bedroom 1/Bathroom 1--off the kitchen, small, carpeted, step down to enter bathroom, step down more to get to sink, no window in bathroom
Rear staircase--leads to basement, staircase has a wasted space that has no room for anything
Wine cellar--tiled floor, Bathroom 2 with barely enough room to stand or squat on the toilet
Garage--one car, storage in front, side entrance
"Media room"/dungeon--echo chamber, also leads to utility closet, subterranean
Floor 2/Master Suite--crisscrossing beams, large closet with laundry hookups, one sink on each side of door, shower one end, toilet on the other
Floor 3/Bedroom 3--queen bed would most likely completely fill the space, Trek? deck on one end, tiled deck on other, both useless due to lack of any space, toilet plus closet up here

I saw someone posted links to a floor plan. I haven't viewed, but this place is one of the worst I have ever seen in person.

There's also no yard whatsoever. Home is built to the lot line.


noearch:
What firm do you represent? I'm interested in seeing your work and what you do.


builder in sf:
I thought it timely you thought architects are on the bottom of the ladder. Dealing with them myself I agree they often bring very little to the table. Some talented builders may bring design to the table, so that eliminates an architect entirely. I've also found that they really only do design, and leave engineering to the truly skilled like contractors who know better or building/structural engineers.

Do you have more information/website I can check your previous/present works? I may need a skilled contractor shortly.

Posted by: RichardH at March 30, 2011 10:06 PM

You said it all Jim, and very clearly. That's what it's all about. Thank you.

Posted by: noearch at March 31, 2011 10:03 AM

Just to clarify one small point RichardH:

Engineering, assuming YOU mean structural engineering can ONLY be designed by licensed structural or civil engineers. That means, in rather simple terms, that they can calculate and size and specify beams, columns, footings, shear walls, moment frames and other structural elements required for a building. They must also provide detailed computer generated or hand generated calculations to prove these structural elements meet the very latest building and seismic code.

Contractors can NOT perform these services, unless of course, they are also licensed engineers. Even if a contractor "knows better" as you say, they cannot do this work. And really? what does "knows better" really mean?

This is strictly controlled by the State licensing boards as well as the local building departments for that jurisdiction.

FYI.

Posted by: noearch at March 31, 2011 8:04 PM

@noearch: yes, engineering needs to be stamped and signed by a licensed engineer -- however, much like architecture, their drawings tend to be schematic at best. Often this is because in SF all of us mostly deal with remodels. This means that at the time the design is done you can't see a lot of the guts of the building -- so the engineers can't have all the answers ahead of time.

That means that the contractor/builder is the one that translates the schematics into a real product.

And, in my case, I generally do my own structural designs, and then take my structural drawings to an engineer and have them just check the calcs and stamp the drawings. It is much more efficient because, like many things, there is more than one way to design a solution. I find this way works for me because I get the solution I know will work. A draftsman sitting in an office somewhere across town can not accomplish the same thing.

So, noearch, once again you are incorrect. A contractor can "know better" -- and in fact, many do. They chose to be contractors because they enjoy it. Your implication is they aren't as good as someone with an exalted license such as yourself, or an engineer. Clearly you see this business as a class system.

Tell me something noearch, when you visit a job site do you acknowledge the laborers?

Posted by: builder in sf at March 31, 2011 8:45 PM

builder in sf,

Do you really do your own structural design and calcs? That seems like a huge waste of time and energy that could be used on moving the production (of an on-going job) or design (kitchens, baths, etc.) of the same job. I usually do my layouts and floor plans with some notes on how I think the engineering should be, but I don't take it any further. The engineering isn't that much money.

Posted by: sparky-b at April 1, 2011 8:28 AM

Someone asked, so I'll point out that noearch has linked to his professional website here in the past. Perhaps you can go back to some older discussions and find that link.

Posted by: John at April 1, 2011 1:20 PM

The main reason owners like to have architects is that they tend to be intelligent, honest, helpful, and sophisticated.

Generally, they are not padding the bill, colluding with subcontractors to raise the cost, failing to show up, cutting corners, and generally making owners miserable. Because many but not all contractors do these things, rich people are sometimes willing to pay a premium for a completely finished house.

Posted by: conifer at April 1, 2011 2:17 PM

Workers out refinishing the wood facade today...

Posted by: anon at April 1, 2011 3:48 PM

Posted by: SocketSite at April 1, 2011 4:05 PM

Painting the tropical hardwood part of facade is a bit of a waste since ordinary paint grade lumber could have been used at a much lower cost (not to mention the carpenter's time and the number of expensive saw blades that were burnt). But in the end this is probably the most reasonable solution. Consider it an over-engineered facade : the termites don't have a chance.

This particular piece of carpentry aged poorly due to the combination of horizontal and vertical members. The verticals seemed to cause streaking on the horizontal which looked bad.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 1, 2011 4:18 PM

@conifer: thanks for your comments. well said. I can certainly handle myself here, but do appreciate your view point.

It's obvious that "builderinsf" has had, or continues to have bad experiences with architects. That's too bad. But it does appear that "builderinsf" has a clear built-in bias toward architects and structural engineers. And, of course, my comments have never been about whether a contractor is "as good as" an architect or engineer. It's simply about a different skill set between contractors and architects. We are highly regulated and require professional degrees and years of internship before becoming licensed. That's just a fact.

On my job sites I know everyone, including the subs by first name, and they know me. It's insulting to think I would treat construction as a "class system".

We often have Friday happy hour at a job site, with beer and snacks..I am always invited and I often bring the goodies.

Those who know me know that I am just one member of the entire team. We are all equal. We all have different skills.

Posted by: noearch at April 1, 2011 4:37 PM

Meanwhile the NIMBYS fighting over the Tabooni project around the corner from this place are having a serious heart attack at the lemon & lime disaster in the making. Can't wait to see this one in person over the weekend.

Posted by: eddy at April 1, 2011 5:28 PM

I heard they are hoping one of the neighbors will pay full price just to put a color approval easement on it before reselling it.

Posted by: tipster at April 1, 2011 5:42 PM

I saw this today around 12:30, just as the yellow was being applied. I thought for certain it was some sort of treatment for the wood, NOT the color of the final finish. Words cannot begin to describe how bad it looked going-on...

Posted by: anon at April 1, 2011 5:50 PM

Funny story: I was walking my dog past this place about a year ago and noticed water spilling out of the bottom bay window structure, like maybe someone left the bathtub running.

I rang the bell but no one answered.

In that before pic, doesn't the wood look a little water damaged to you?

Posted by: stucco-sux at April 2, 2011 10:05 AM

Willing to withhold judgment until the job is done, but ... this yellow? really? did someone's 9-year old pick that color/

Posted by: sanfrantim at April 2, 2011 10:59 AM

The painting continues today. Someone needs to be charged with crimes against humanity!

Posted by: anon at April 2, 2011 3:44 PM

The yellow is not the final color, the workers say to a stream of passers an drivers by.

Posted by: conifer at April 2, 2011 4:29 PM

IPE is a dense oily wood. Very difficult to paint, much less stain. I suspect that the paint job will be peeling in the near future.

As for the achy neck I'm getting watching comments fly back and forth between architect and contractor on this site....it's a useless battle. I do a lot of construction defect cases; defending architects, developers, GCs and subs, and have seen the errors on all sides.

Posted by: eskimo girl at April 3, 2011 9:03 AM

I have actually been through this house, twice. I went through it twice because I had to show my better half how horrid a newly constructed Pac Heights house could actually be.

I am curious so, to all the posters who understand construction and design:

Can this home even be fixed? Seriously, this is a Prime Pacific Heights location so, if someone came in and dumped a million dollars into it, can it be made into a functional house?

Posted by: Pumpkin at April 3, 2011 11:16 AM

Pumpkin, yes, money will fix this house. I view the cheapest method is to tear the place down and redesign from the ground up. As is, it is an inferior design that costs too much to salvage.

Why haven't the two professionals builder in sf and noearch posted their contact information or portfolios? I think I'm not the only one interested in seeing their works.

Posted by: Apple at April 3, 2011 4:59 PM

I went back into the archives per someone's suggestion and found noearch's information.

Doug at Shoemaker Architects.
http://www.shoemakerarchitects.com/home

The designs seem clean enough. Are there more recent pictures? Don't take this as bashing, but you implied you go above and beyond with your documentation for clients' projects. While looking at your site, I expected a more professional portfolio with details on each project from start to finish.

Posted by: Apple at April 3, 2011 5:07 PM

Reminds me of Homer Simpson's face.

Posted by: exsfr at April 4, 2011 8:50 AM

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