April 14, 2011
An Amazing Down To The Studs "$75,000" Renovation At 55 Rico Way
The down-to-the-studs remodel in 2004 included a horizontal addition, so we’re assuming the single-family Marina home at 55 Rico Way is living larger than the 1,846 finished square feet per public records (the listing doesn’t specify beyond "greatly expanded").
Per the permit, the estimated cost for the down to the studs renovation and expansion of the home was $75,000, the figure off of which permit fees would have been figured.
We’d be willing to bet the cost of renovating the kitchen alone ran close to $75,000, and yet some wonder why minimum permit fees have had to be raised for all.
∙ Listing: 55 Rico Way (3/3) - $2,200,000 [55rico.com] [MLS]
First Published: April 14, 2011 12:00 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
How many times will the editors need to have the process around paying for permits explained to them before they get it? Do they read any of the posts?
[Editor’s Note: We get it. And we understand your perspective that playing dumb and letting the Department use the chart versus reporting the actual cost which you know will be higher isn’t "gaming" the system but rather "good business," but we wonder if you understand how that leads to higher baseline fees for all? And we can only hope that you're not quite so savvy when it comes to reporting income to the IRS.]
Posted by: bubblesurfer at April 14, 2011 12:15 PM
What are you implying bubblesurfer? I think that we realize that declared cost estimates come from a schedule. They're typically 2-3X lower than the actual costs. But this remod seems way way over the $75K estimate.
Or did you have a different point?
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 14, 2011 12:26 PM
I simply don't have the energy to go through this again - gonna have to seek help from someone else - noearch? sparky?
Posted by: bubblesurfer at April 14, 2011 12:29 PM
I think the point is that the editor does understand how permit fees are determined and thinks it's poorly done.
Posted by: sfrenegade at April 14, 2011 12:29 PM
Yes, the Editor of SS does know how the "low ball permit game" runs. We all do...Well, most of us, anyway.
But I agree, it is good business for the Building Dept. to charge a fee based on "real" construction costs. I'm not sure they enforce that approach rigorously enough. I think they should.
Yes, the kitchen alone could easily have been $75k in construction costs. I would venture a guess that the "down to the studs" remodel was several hundred thousand.
Posted by: noearch at April 14, 2011 1:06 PM
bubblesurfer I'm over this discussion as well.
I will say this. Most the time when the architect or homeowner submits for the permit and writes in this cost, they do not have detailed drawings, they do not engineering plans, they don't have specs, they haven't sent anything out to bid, so they haven't picked the contractor.
That's how it works. That's why it's a formula. You don't know the actual cost when you apply, for that matter you don't know if you're going to have to adjust the plans for the planning department or your neighbors. How could you go get an accurate bid?
Posted by: sparky-b at April 14, 2011 1:21 PM
Well...not to upset sparky-b, but here's out it works:
The Building Dept. has a publication, dated March 2009: pdf easy to download called Cost Schedule: Building Evaluation Data.
For every building type such as RH-3 (1 and 2 family dwellings) they assign a minimum cost per square foot to that project, based on drawings submitted. If the gross area is not noted on the drawings, they will measure. Currently the cost for Single family (const. cost) is $159.05. Multiply that by the (noted) sf of the project and you get the basic Permit Fee. There are other fees on top of that, including Planning. The list is huge.
There are also definitions of what minimum type of drawings and information are REQUIRED for permit submittal at that time. These vary for each project type. For a single family homeowner, generally, you submit for a Site Permit only; that defines the drawings required and minimizes your cost for architect and/or engineer at this early phase of work.
Once your Site Permit is approved, then you are required to submit full architectural and structural drawings to the Building Dept. for final approval.
Yes, it's a complex process. I wish it were simpler.
Posted by: noearch at April 14, 2011 1:59 PM
I dn't know too much about the permit fees except that they do seem high. When we did our remodel we gave an honest estimate and it went way over because of issues, but the city sends a follow-up thing after the remodel that you outline the costs and I think they use that to determine the improvement value on the place.
Anyway, I love this kitchen! I'm not in the market for a house this expensive, but I like it a lot. On landfill though still, right? That would stop me from purchasing here.
Posted by: SJM at April 14, 2011 2:20 PM
That doesn't upset me at all, that is exactly what I've posted on here a bunch of times and is why I'm over discussing it.
After that you went on to clarify what I said about the permit process and when you submit plans, how detailed they are,etc. Which sets up when you would know the real cost of construction: after you have the permit.
Posted by: sparky-b at April 14, 2011 2:35 PM
Lovely home, isn't it?
Posted by: Mark F. at April 14, 2011 2:37 PM
Let's just agree that we have differing writing styles and (perhaps) different ways of saying the same thing. No harm in that. We agree on some things, other issues we are far apart on.
My style is much more detail focused (word-wise), yours is more general in nature. Both approaches can be helpful to homeowners.
But....you still seem a little upset 'cause you said "...after that you went on.."
I'm fine with both ways. Let's just help people find the best answer for them.
Posted by: noearch at April 14, 2011 2:50 PM
Let me clarify: I am not upset in the least. I was trying piggyback on what you said and not refute it. Perhaps I should have said, 'Note in noarch's description of the process that the minimal drawings and Site permit drawings are not the time when the homeowner/architect get's construction bids. Not even at the follow up submittal of the full set do homeowners get bids (there may be changes still and the full set still doesn't include lots of specs, materials, and details). For these reasons the cost chart was created'
something like that, anyway I'm done with this topic.
Posted by: sparky-b at April 14, 2011 3:08 PM
But guess what? I don't agree with what you just said. It's about words, semantics and sometimes it's very hard to convey meaning here on the web.
Posted by: noearch at April 14, 2011 3:12 PM
so was it worth it? The house looks nice but would anyone buy in the Marina? 2m for liquefaction central? and there is not much you can do given what these things sit on. I guess, if in order to live there you are willing to take chances, that's ok.
Posted by: halpern at April 14, 2011 3:18 PM
what does one do with that space between the ceiling and the top of the cabinets?
Posted by: lolcat_94123 at April 14, 2011 3:20 PM
What don't you agree with?
Posted by: sparky-b at April 14, 2011 3:25 PM
"This is not your grandmother's Marina home!"
Well, some of the furniture/furnishings look like my grandmother's house...
But overall, better done than a lot of places. However, is the baby's room being counted as the third bedroom? That works for kids of a certain age, but not when they're older. Does that make this a 2BR with an en-suite seating area suitable for a baby's room?
Posted by: sfrenegade at April 14, 2011 3:29 PM
Noearch and sparky: I'm sure you're all correct about the schedule, but in my experience when I get permits (about 15 years now), I write in my estimated cost on the pink form. When it goes through plan check, sometimes the plan checker asks about the cost, sometimes he/she doesn't. I've NEVER seen a plan checker refer to a chart or table. Only a couple times have they wanted to increase my estimated cost. (And, believe me, I estimate on the low side -- always believable, but very, very low.)
Once the permit is approved, I've only ever had one building inspector question the job cost after the job started. In that one case I paid the city a little more money for an increased job cost. There was no fine or penalty, just a revised or amended permit (can't remember what term the city uses.)
However, in the last 15 years, total job costs as reported on permits is much, much less than actual dollars spent.
This obviously impacts permit fees, but also prop tax assessments.
Posted by: sf builder at April 14, 2011 3:33 PM
builder I agree that's functionally how it works, and it's a 2009 document. So when we were getting permits in the Willie Brown era things were done differently. Ah the good old days....
Posted by: sparky-b at April 14, 2011 3:47 PM
"what does one do with that space between the ceiling and the top of the cabinets?"
I call it the "dust shelf" since that's the only thing that ever ends up there. Unless the space is used for upward facing sconce-like lighting that space is a waste. Better to just extend the cabinets up to the ceiling, even if you need a stepstool to reach the top shelf. Those high out of the way stepstool enabled cabinet shelves are great for storing infrequently used stuff.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 14, 2011 3:53 PM
I think the reason the cabinets do not go all the way up to the ceiling have to do with the cost of pre fab cabinets vs custom cabinetry.
Posted by: kathleen at April 14, 2011 4:01 PM
I got custom maple cabinets made for less than what Hope Depot quoted for their modular system of similar capacity. My kitchen ceilings are taller than the standard height so the HD cabinets would have resulted in a similar dust shelf gap. The HD cabinets also were more chopped up than my custom job. So in addition to saving some cash I got better custom cabinets that don't create a dust shelf.
It pays to shop around to different custom cabinet shops.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 14, 2011 4:13 PM
Exactly kathleen: Custom cabinets would have been built to fit to the ceiling.For this price point, one should get custom cabinets.
Other comments I have (based only on the photos).
1. Downlights look like old school style: big bulbs, incandescent. better to have low voltage halogen or LED. The downlights are place all over without regard for function. Some are very close to crown moulding. None appear to be directional for artwork. Conclusion: cheap downlights.
2. Poor bath lighting (once again). Downlights of any kind over the sinks create dark shadows on the face. Best lighting: at each side of mirror, incandescent and dimmable, and mounted about 5'-6" above the floor. Best practice.
3. No medicine cabinets at sinks. The mirrors shown are pure decorator. This price point should get you Robern quality med. cabinets; owned by Kohler. Quality cabinets, expensive and worth it.
4. Old style 2 handled sink faucets at baths. Who wants to mix hot and cold water separately? Single level faucets are superior and expected here, such as Grohe or Kallista.
5. The bump out at the lower level foundation walls. Cheaper solution, yes, but looks like a "basement". Best practice: furr out the walls to cover all new foundation stem walls.
6. Minor point I know but the wall switches and plugs are the "old style" toggle switches. Better solution: All lever switches and slide dimmers by Lutron or Leviton.
Some of my commentary. Overall it looks well finished, but they went cheap on the items I noted above.
Posted by: noearch at April 14, 2011 4:17 PM
Very nice interior. The interior design does (in a good way) seem to say "Grandmother".
How much extra in insurance cost would someone incurr for living in the liquifaction zone?
Posted by: VancouverJones at April 14, 2011 4:22 PM
Noearch, I have those Lutron lever switches with sliding dimmers in my place and I HATE them. Something about the way I hit them has me accidentally dimming lights almost every time I turn them on, which drives me freaking nuts.
As for the landfill, certainly most people care about it, but there are a fair number who don't. The Marina's not my top choice of neighborhoods because I prefer to have a view, but the idea of being in the liquefaction zone doesn't faze me. If I loved the neighborhood, I would absolutely buy there. I can't live my whole life being afraid of a 30-second event that may or may not happen before I die. This attitude is, of course, a luxury, and is only enabled by the fact that if I lost my house I would not be destitute, though certainly I'd be a lot poorer.
That being said, earthquake damage can happen anywhere. In 1989 I had to move out of my rented place at the top of the hill in Pacific Heights for nearly a year while they made repairs. Bedrock all the way.
Posted by: Scooter at April 14, 2011 7:12 PM
I think there is a generation of people who arrived in SF after the quake. They don't know how badly the Marina was damaged; it's just history to them. After seeing what happened there, I am staying on bedrock. Despite Scooter's experience, it's still a safer bet.
And how many people thought about an SF quake after the ones in New Zealand and Japan? I checked my emergency supplies.
Posted by: jlasf at April 14, 2011 7:29 PM
Then don't hit them. Be gentle.
Posted by: noearch at April 14, 2011 7:59 PM
"I think there is a generation of people who arrived in SF after the quake. They don't know how badly the Marina was damaged; it's just history to them."
That might not even been the biggest problem. The real problem I've seen is that not enough people take earthquakes all that seriously because they think of Loma Prieta as "the Big One." Nothing bad happened to them then, so why should they worry?
The reality is that Loma Prieta wasn't the big one, and it was centered around 70 miles from SF and was far away from many populated areas. It was probably at least 40 miles from Fremont or Redwood City, for example. A serious quake on San Andreas or Hayward closer to SF is a different story.
Posted by: sfrenegade at April 15, 2011 10:52 AM
I wouldn't dispute the notion that many people seem not to take earthquakes all that seriously. However, I'm not so sure it's because they consider Loma Prieta "the Big One".
Those who've come to the region in the last generation (from non quake zones) have no concept of what even a mildly strong earthquake feels like nor the damage it could do. Even college-aged kids who've grown up around here haven't ever felt a mildly scary tremor (though they will have been drilled in what to do when one strikes, unlike most transplants).
If the above groups don't take quakes seriously enough, it's probably more down to blissful ignorance than to considering Loma Prieta "the Big One".
As for other people, I don't know of many if any individuals who grew up around here (or anywhere in California for that matter) and experienced Loma Prieta who thought of it then or think of it now as "the Big One". Perhaps as "a big one", but not "the Big One".
The whole concept of a catastrophic "Big One" was way more in the public consciousness and mass media in California in the 70s and particularly the 80s. And no doubt, the recent quake in Japan has reminded people who were around in that era of what "the Big One" really means.
If people experienced with quakes seem not to take earthquakes all that seriously, it's almost certainly not because "nothing bad happened to them then (Loma Prieta)", but rather it's because they have an understanding of the utterly unpredictable nature of earthquakes. Unpredictable both in the sense of when they occur and the randomness of the damage they incur.
Beyond very basic things like storing some emergency supplies, knowing how to cut off the gas line, and knowing where to go during the actual quake; there really is nothing one can do and there is zero advance warning. Even if one were inclined to do so, there just isn't much else to do to take quakes "more seriously" on an individual level.
Posted by: nnona at April 15, 2011 1:51 PM
I generally refer to Loma Prieta as "the medium one". Big enough to cause a lot of trouble but still orders of magnitude less than what is anticipated.
As for what else can be done to prepare, you can make your home and business quake-safe too. Also having a basic understanding of first aid and fire suppression really helps too. The professionals will have more than their hands full and a call to 911 might not get the response you expect.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 15, 2011 2:14 PM
"quake-safe" is a bit of a misnomer. No building around, even the newest and built to the highest codes is quake-safe.
Quake-resistant is a more accurate description.
And it's expensive to retrofit a single family home to be quake-safe. Start with all new reinforced concrete foundations at the entire perimeter, grade beams, shear walls and/or moment frames up to the highest level.
Ave. cost for this on a SFD in SF: about $100k.
Posted by: noearch at April 15, 2011 4:16 PM
I agree on that particular split of the hair. And even if you live in a solid steel bunker you are at risk of immolation if your neighbors start a firestorm.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 15, 2011 5:23 PM
$75k on this kitchen? I doubt it.. no backsplash, no under cabinet lighting, off the shelf cabinets, and it's small. Maybe $25k.
Posted by: R at April 18, 2011 10:08 AM
Haven't seen the house, but Rico really is one of, if not the, best streets in the marina. A great hidden gem.
Posted by: Pacheightsguy at April 18, 2011 5:10 PM
Care to explain why Rico is so great Pacheightsguy? The wording ("hidden gem") makes you sound like a realtor shill, but giving us a reason would help abate that problem.
Posted by: sfrenegade at April 18, 2011 5:34 PM
No, not in real estate, but read this site often and have gone to many open houses so must have picked up some bad habits.
Rico is a little street about 1.5 blocks long right around the corner from Marina Green (Rico itself doesn't intersect Marina Blvd, but merges into Avila (I think) about 20 feet from Marina Blvd.
I had friends that lived there. No through traffic as it doesn't really lead anywhere (their kids played out front in the street all of the time with no problems), most of the fronts/driveways have been landscaped and many of the houses have views of GG and/or Alcatraz (theirs did from top 2 floors and roof deck).
Just a cute little quiet street with a neighborhood feel, very easy access to Marina green, C. Field, etc., that seems "hidden" as most people don't know it is there.
Just my opinion so others feel free to disagree. ( I did double check mapjack to make sure is the street that I was remembering, and it is).
Posted by: Pacheightsguy at April 18, 2011 6:47 PM
I don't have any reason to disagree, I was just curious. There are lots of times where people say a block is the best/worst of a neighborhood without explaining, so I appreciate the insight. Thanks!
Posted by: sfrenegade at April 19, 2011 12:15 PM
My post was pulled down again! Man, it was on topic and a response to another poster. Plus it was fantastic.
Posted by: sparky-b at April 19, 2011 12:38 PM
Your post made me laugh sparky-b and I responded (which was also removed).
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 19, 2011 12:53 PM
Good at least somebody saw it.
Posted by: sparky-b at April 19, 2011 1:10 PM
The list price for 55 Rico Way has just been reduced $110,000 (5%), now asking $2,090,000.
Posted by: SocketSite at May 6, 2011 12:41 PM
Posted by: eddy at May 24, 2011 5:35 PM
Out of Escrow and once again active and available.
Posted by: SocketSite at June 3, 2011 12:05 PM
Durn those LinkedIn Millionaires! One minute they have $2.090M, two weeks later, only $1.32M. I guess there will be more reductions coming...
Posted by: tipster at June 3, 2011 1:32 PM
Posted by: eddy at June 27, 2011 2:49 PM