January 3, 2012

Inside An Uninhabitable "Cozy Cabin"

469 Valley

First listed for sale in 2008 asking $738,000, the list price for 469 Valley was reduced four times over the following two years. The dilapidated home finally sold for $500,000 in 2010.

469 Valley Kitchen

Today, the Noe Valley view property which is currently uninhabitable returned to the market as a "cozy cabin that needs everything" asking $579,500.

First Published: January 3, 2012 1:00 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Apparently dilapidated structures appreciate in value. Now's the time to get rich for the laws of the universe have reversed!

Posted by: sf at January 3, 2012 1:11 PM

A cozy cabin? Wow.

Posted by: sfromeo at January 3, 2012 1:15 PM

Even at $579k this is a great value. The lot value alone is worth that:
South facing, sloped rear yard. Views of Billy Goat Hill and surrounds. Great quiet street. 2 blocks to J church street car.

Do a full tear down, and just build a great new house.

Posted by: futurist at January 3, 2012 1:33 PM

Zoning shows as RH-2. There's this to consider and this could make this lot a bit more flexible to work with. Also account for tear down cost in the lot value.

I agree that the backyard slope is a very desirable situation, especially if a contractor shoots for a 2-unit format.

Posted by: lol at January 3, 2012 2:15 PM

^^^You would think that is the case, but in person there isn't a project there (in my opinion).

Posted by: sparky-b at January 3, 2012 2:15 PM

Would you share some of that opinion with us?

Posted by: lol at January 3, 2012 2:27 PM

Sure.

The main thing is that it would be difficult to have a garage. Behind that gate in the photo is a bridge, with grade well below that. There are doors out to the lower front patio. The street is elevated well above the sidewalk, which is then well above the grade at the front of the house. It would be very steep to get down to that. And none of the neighbors (If I remember correctly) have a garage.
The neighboring houses are not deep at all. So if you match them you don't have a very big house. Especially if you cut into what you have for a garage. And they already match you at the front so you can't go forward either.
The main floor needs a lot of stairs to get to the yard. There is almost another full story at the back. If you add a floor and go up those bedrooms are even farther from the yard.
If you went up a floor or did a tear down you would want a 2 car garage for all the work/money. The 2 car would be even harder.
When you do get down to the yard it is sloped as well.
I'm sure there were other things, but it has been a long time since I saw it.

Posted by: sparky-b at January 3, 2012 2:43 PM

Poor, poor neighbors.

Posted by: wc1 at January 3, 2012 2:50 PM

Do a full tear down, and just build a great new house??

you obviously have no experience getting a project entitled or built in this city... a historic structure built in the early 1900's located in noe valley? good luck with that tear down

Posted by: bg at January 3, 2012 2:59 PM

Ouch,

Thanks a lot for the insight. I guess the future buyer will need to hire a very creative architect to make this work.

Posted by: lol at January 3, 2012 3:05 PM

Oh, there's a project there all right. this has great potential.

I do have a great deal of experience, as an architect, in designing projects like this, securing site permits, and full building permits. There are some challenges, but all of them are overcome with the right design and knowledge, and a healthy, realistic budget.

There's a similar project on Noe near 28th St. that was completely renovated, existing house lifted up one floor, garage added, and full new 3rd floor. Good example of what can be done.

I would recommend that sparky-b be more visionary, open minded and not just the party of no.

This house will sell quickly and I predict a great new project on the site in about 2 years.

Posted by: futurist at January 3, 2012 3:23 PM

No link to the listing?

Posted by: lolcat_94123 at January 3, 2012 3:29 PM

futurist.... correct me if im wrong... raising an existing building is a way around a demolition permit. i agree, that is totally do able.

you mentioned a complete tear down which is next to impossible with a house built in 1910, given the neighboring structures, and located in noe.

Posted by: bg at January 3, 2012 3:36 PM

To support my comments:

House I mentioned on Noe is 1507 Noe St.
Small lot: 25' x 80'.
Land value: $503k.
Adjacent houses short as well.Small rear yard.
House was built in 1912; deemed not a historic resource by CEQA or the Planning Dept.
Existing small house was raised up one full level, garage added off Noe; full renovations and foundations, new 3rd floor added.

Nice project, very similar to the one in this story.
An example of what can be done with this location on Valley. Assume $1m-1.3 construction costs.

This will get developed. Trust me. There are not many south facing, view lots left in Noe with this kind of potential.

Posted by: futurist at January 3, 2012 3:39 PM

My mistake in saying "complete teardown". I was really thinking "major demolition, and lift up one floor" of the primary structure.

Effectively, this is "mostly" a teardown, but much easier to define it for Planning as a "major remodel" and new 3rd floor.

Posted by: futurist at January 3, 2012 3:49 PM

Somehow, futurist, the levelness between Noe street and 1507 Noe and the steep downslope between Valley and 469 Valley are the same thing? Because that's what you seem to be saying. Certainly, my paraphrase of your words is more accurate than yours of Sparky's. He said, "The main thing is that it would be difficult to have a garage." Which is true. Somehow, from that, you got, "I would recommend that sparky-b be more visionary, open minded and not just the party of no."

Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 3, 2012 4:00 PM

I was at 1507 when it was a fixer, when they did the foundation permits in '05 and tried to sell it, and when they tried to sell with plans; these houses aren't the same. The garage was easier to deal with and it laid out better on the one you refernced, but it didn't seem to sure of itself either.

Besides I said "in my opinion" I hope somebody buys it and hires you futurist. They could love the location the views and not care as much about the bottom line. I just didn't think it worked for meso I passed, when it was $500K.

I am the party of NO? I don't think that is true in general. Am I on this site saying don't buy, don't build, real estate is bad investment.

Posted by: sparky-b at January 3, 2012 4:06 PM

Ok, some good points. But.

I just don't use the words "difficult" or "can't" when approaching a project as to what is possible.

Yes, this is a challenging site, but we have all seen (I'm sure) some amazing new homes built onto and into some steep sites, with all manner of planning and building code issues to address.

With the right architecture and engineering, pretty much "anything" is possible. Add to the mix, of course, the appropriate budget, a patient engaged client willing to listen,and one can have an amazing new home in Noe V.

@sparky-b: Ok, it's not so much that you are a party of "no". maybe you're not, but often you fill your comments up front with negatives, and broad statements that really aren't true. And in one statement you flat out said "there isn't a project there". Sure, it's an opinion but a pretty definitive one, at that.

This is a potentially great site for a home. At that price, I think it will sell soon. I'd love to be the architect for it, since I have designed 4 remodels within 2 blocks of this; 2 on Valley alone.

Posted by: futurist at January 3, 2012 5:00 PM

Sight unseen, I wouldn't want to say what is do-able or not.

But when I see a property like this in a location like this, I just try to imagine how many times someone has run the numbers to see if this could fly as a project.

For the last 25 years or so I have been an Architect for large commercial and institutional projects. But before then, during the '80's I was learning the ropes in a small firm that rennovated 10 or more victorians a year. The guy I worked for would study the old Sanborn Maps looking for bits of land with potential. But he cashed out in the early '90's because the price to get in was going way up and he wasn't seeing the profit margins he used to. Or as he said, "it wasn't fun anymore".

Posted by: redseca2 at January 3, 2012 5:08 PM

Well, yea. Ya gotta have fun or not do it.

Good life lesson.

I still "have fun" being an architect. Not ready to give it up.

Plus it pays the bills quite nicely.

Posted by: futurist at January 3, 2012 5:16 PM

I think that sparky-b and neo-noe-futurist are framing the problem differently. Different constraints and goals yield different decisions. Their opinions don't need to be consistent.

sparky-b is looking to see whether a project pencils out for a probable profit upon immediate resale. He's funding the project and is motivated to turn a solid profit.

Futurist on the other hand doesn't place his own cash on the line and instead works for clients who fund the project. Many such clients aren't considering whether or not they will get a return on their development investment. Some don't even care about RoI.

If profit or RoI are not considerations then a lot of possibilities open up. Plunk a Chemosphere down here maybe?

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 3, 2012 5:22 PM

Well, perhaps.

But I don't recall seeing a single statement by sparky-b on the ROI or whether it "pencils out".
Am I missing that?

But, no I really am not involved or that concerned with the ROI. The developer may be. The home owner may be, or a combination thereof. Not to say that it's not important, but my focus is designing a great house for the client who wants a great house.

Most clients come to an architect with a "false" budget. As part of my process I eventually convince them they need to raise the budget to get what they ASK me to design. Clients can either change the budget or change the scope of work.

I can design in either scenario.

Posted by: futurist at January 3, 2012 5:33 PM

Right you are about how many homeowners underestimate construction budgets. I wonder what is the cause. Being overly optimistic? Bad advice? Neighbors exaggerating on how little it cost to do similar projects?

As for whether sparky-b is thinking in terms of RoI with respect to this property I'm just guessing since he seems to be in the biz of development and if you can't consistently turn a profit you're out of business.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 3, 2012 6:00 PM

Oh, I think homeowners constantly underestimate a realistic construction budget for their project. Not necessarily their fault; they just are not trained to connect a budget with needs.

Their biggest mistake when they first approach me is this: Here's what we have to spend (mostly untrue), vs. here's what we want.

I just help them bring those two items together.

Some don't like what I have to say, but hey, I'm just the piano player. Don't shoot me.

Posted by: futurist at January 3, 2012 6:13 PM

Homeowners tend to think they can get contractor / sub-contractor prices. They cannot. Futurists $1 to $1.3M price is the cost to the homeowner. There is probably a $2M home on that lot. Sparky-b could probably deliver such a home for the $1M mark or less. But does the risk of a 500k + $1M investment on a potential $2M home sale. The planning headaches alone plus neighboring opposition would surely make this a nightmare; but I agree that a nice home is to be had in this lot and we will likely see it built.

Posted by: eddy at January 3, 2012 7:00 PM

Yes, I was talking about developing to sell. That's why I said "project" and not home. I know 4 developers who don't want it.

To be clear I said a homeowner might fall in love and not care about the bottom line, but it did not work for me.

There are some things you can't design around at this site and what you get is available at other houses near by. But of course something amazing could be built there, I was answering to WILL something amazing be built there. I don't think so.

and to this one,..."but often you fill your comments up front with negatives, and broad statements that really aren't true" What broad statements that aren't true do I make? What up front negatives?

Posted by: sparky-b at January 3, 2012 7:05 PM

My first thought on seeing this listing was that a developer would snap it up and build a $2M house. So I really appreciate sparky-b's explanation of why he isn't doing that. And, I thought it was pretty clear from his use of "project" that he was explaining why it doesn't pencil out for a developer.

So thanks, sparky-b!

Posted by: RenterAgain at January 3, 2012 8:03 PM

Its only cozy if you share the moment with an uptick in SF real estate prices. Otherwise the only thing cozy about it is your cell at the debtors prison.

Posted by: Stucco_Sux at January 3, 2012 8:04 PM

Yea, I really love how sparky-b finally decides to give us his "definition" of "project".

I don't buy it, but then I don't have to. His earlier and even later comments were still negative and continued to point out what "things you can't have". That's narrow thinking. That's not visionary.

Thanks sparky-b!

This neighborhood can support a well designed custom residence on this awesome lot, possibly in the $2.5-3m range. Farther up on Valley are similar "challenging" lots, all with very pricey homes completed either by developers or for a particular owner.

I'll stand by my earlier statements.

Posted by: futurist at January 3, 2012 8:28 PM

It's very clear you're speaking site unseen about this property. Funny. You take others to task for the same thing, fairly often. There's a word for that behavior, you know.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 3, 2012 8:36 PM

doesn't really get around the fact that futurist is essentially violating the terms of posting on this website by plugging his services far beyond of what is respectable

Posted by: k at January 3, 2012 8:57 PM

editor please help
intolerable poster
save a great blog please

Posted by: NOmorEARCH aka FUTURIST aka MODERNQUEEN at January 3, 2012 10:26 PM

"Oh, there's a project there all right. this has great potential.

I do have a great deal of experience, as an architect, in designing projects like this, securing site permits, and full building permits. There are some challenges, but all of them are overcome with the right design and knowledge, and a healthy, realistic budget.

There's a similar project on Noe near 28th St. that was completely renovated, existing house lifted up one floor, garage added, and full new 3rd floor. Good example of what can be done.

I would recommend that sparky-b be more visionary, open minded and not just the party of no.

This house will sell quickly and I predict a great new project on the site in about 2 years."

UMMM ... YEAH. PLEASE SAVE THIS POST FROM YOUR DESPERATE HUSTLING.

Posted by: k at January 4, 2012 12:17 AM

Take a walk along Laidley (just a half mile from this house) and you'll see plenty of places built on the exact same type of lot. See 147 Laidley (which has been covered on this blog plenty) and sold last year for $2.8m.

Posted by: "Dave" at January 4, 2012 6:36 AM

Gosh, I can see why people get turned off by the way they get responded to on here and posters end up getting bitter at each other. But not me, I know there are people reading who want information and if nobody wants to speak up for fear of ridicule they won't get it. Those readers can sort out agendas, biases, and knowledge base and glean what they want from a post. So I'm gonna stay positive!

In responce to what some people said:

"Dave", yes I know Laidley. That house was what 3200 feet, with a nice straight drive into the garage. Laidley has some cache as a street and can command a lot of money. More than Valley, but Valley has seen some high numbers as well. I am not disputing neighborhood at all, I am talking about 1 site, all 25'x114' lots aren't the same.

futurist,

Sorry you didn't get it. I will try to be more clear when I am talking about a home and what someone is will create for themselves and a development deal. As you know they are very different.
I reminds me of the old thread on 1332 Wright loop. For rent, lots of money, needed work yet historic, but in a top notch spot. Well, by the looks of it the place was not only remodeled but it now has a big addition and a car port and is fully landscaped. They wanted what they wanted.
You also mentioned that farther up the street there are "challenging" lots that sold for a lot of money, so I looked it up. Your right, this place:

http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/519-Valley-St-94131/home/843827

looks like it was sold last year as a development. Maybe that builder would be a better person to get a more informed opinion from.

lol,
although not speaking to me, brings up a good point about 2 units. Maybe a teardown or near teardown with 2 new condos would be a good way to go...so I looked it up. Seems like there is a very good example from '07 at 330 and 332 Valley.
They got $1.575M and $1.465M. So that seems like it could really work, maybe we should get that persons opinion if they read the site.

http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/330-Valley-St-94131/home/17305445

http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/332-Valley-St-94131/home/17304567


At least I have come up with my New Years Resolution: "sparky-b be more visionary, open minded and not just the party of no."

Posted by: sparky-b at January 4, 2012 8:53 AM

Easy fix: put the garage on the second level (i.e. at street level) and put the in-law unit below that. Problem solved! You just need to make a little bridge between the sidewalk and the garage.

Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at January 4, 2012 9:02 AM

Posted by: sparky-b at January 4, 2012 9:13 AM

I think you were joking, Jimmy, but that was helpful. Yes, and Planning/the neighbors/the street will all relish the idea. (sarcasm). You're talking about automobiles driving into the garage at roughly the eye level vantage one would get while standing in the next door living rooms, right? 147 Laidley is not the same as this lot. 1507 Noe is not the same as this lot. This part of the street, and these five or six lots, present specific challenges. Forget that there's no 2.5 to 3M sale happening here without a garage. There's actually no 2.5 to 3M sale happening here without a 2 car garage. Been there, done that.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 4, 2012 9:15 AM

As far as the visual aspects are concerned, just plant a stand of approximately 20' high bamboo to form an attractive "green" fence between you and your annoying neighbors. I'm doing it at my place and I don't even find my neighbors annoying -- I just don't want to see them when I'm eating dinner.

I mean, is that seriously a viable complaint? "I can see cars from my window"?

There are a ton of examples in other neighborhoods where the garage is on top of the house at street level. It could be done!!

Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at January 4, 2012 9:24 AM

I didn't look at the google pics until sparky posted it above. The real answer seems to be that the 5 homes or so along this stretch all need to be lifted. It would be interested if a developer with enough pockets could buy up a few of those properties over time and make a project with some economy of scale. But it's really a shabby block with a ton of potential.

Posted by: eddy at January 4, 2012 9:47 AM

sparky,

Thanks for sharing. That was a very insightful thread.

Posted by: lol at January 4, 2012 11:10 AM

Maybe sparky-b and me could team up.

Just a thought.:)

Posted by: futurist at January 4, 2012 11:48 AM

This lot could yield a very nice a house.

To be successful here, both architecturally and economically, I think one has to give up the idea of the mega house / maximum build-out that has tended to be the model in Noe Valley in recent years. A better model for this lot, would be the Albert Lanier designed house at 4378 Cesar Chavez that was recently posted here on Socketsite. A one car garage and an 1,810 square square foot residence. It sold for $1,540,000.

Using that house as a model for 469 Valley, if you assign a lot value of $540,000, that would leave you $1,000,000 for construction. At $400 per square foot one could build a 2,000 square foot house for $800,000 and still have $200,000 for soft costs.

Posted by: inmycountry at January 4, 2012 12:54 PM

^^^ Um, good luck influencing sparky-b to spend beyond his "false" budget :-)

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 4, 2012 1:00 PM

@inmycountry:

Good comments. I agree. Basically I have been assuming similar numbers. This site will yield a very nice house, indeed. I might suggest trying to develop a house in the range of 2000-2400 sf. Pretty doable on that site.

Most of the projects I'm seeing are coming in at around $400-450/sf as well. A one car garage is quite adequate for most people. Street parking is pretty available on this block and further up.

Posted by: futurist at January 4, 2012 1:20 PM

Actually, futurist, you said, "This neighborhood can support a well designed custom residence on this awesome lot, possibly in the $2.5-3m range." That was in the same post that you curiously took another few sideswipes, well after you were granted some magnaniminity you didn't deserve.

I think inmycountry is probably right. There's a cool house to be had there around 2000 feet or so. But I think it necessarily would need to have a parking pad, not a garage. I doubt you'd get the permit to construct a detached street level garage a la the Cesar Chavez property.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 4, 2012 1:27 PM

Yes. "possibly". there are always a number of solutions.

What's your point anyway? not that I care.

Posted by: futurist at January 4, 2012 1:34 PM

My point is, why don't you visit the site in person, develop a fourth and a fifth opinion, and then lob some insults at someone with some applicable knowledge behind them?

My point? Ease up pal. That's my point. It was all pretty transparent that you didn't know the site, still blasted at people, and never missed a second to plug yourself. Bottom line, you jump the gun a little too often with your acerbic comments. Nobody was being mean spirited except you.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 4, 2012 1:44 PM

Wrong again flujie.

Site visit in 2008 when it first listed in 2008. check.

Never "plug" myself. But talk about my experience. check.

SS does allow url links if one chooses. just for the record. Realtors and others sometimes use it. check.
Never jump the gun. I jump in with an opinion, as an EXPERT.

(some) people hate experts. makes em feel inferior.check.

Not my problem. check.

BTW: who's your fave little buddy you're sticking up for this time? I believe he/she can speak for themselves.

Posted by: futurist at January 4, 2012 5:38 PM

You just can't be cool, ever. "flujie," from you? after you've changed your name three times recently and I'm one of the few who call you by futurist? You're just a pill, all around, guy. A cranky pill who can't control his words worth a darn. And great job on getting it dead wrong if you saw it in person, "expert." There's no chance of a 2.5M house there. None. And you never plug yourself? please. As for sticking up for anybody, if you didn't act incorrectly, then why does anybody need standing up for in the first place?

Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 4, 2012 7:21 PM

Indeed the property was never on the market in 2008.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 5, 2012 9:19 AM

I think the three of you should work on this project together- architect, builder, and agent, and blog about it. Who says real estate can't be entertaining ;)

Bottom line on this home: as a for profit developer project- meh. As an architect's project with dream clients- bring it on.

Posted by: 47yo hipster at January 5, 2012 5:21 PM

Sounds like a plan. You buy it.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 5, 2012 6:46 PM

trying to figure out what futurist's next username shall be ... harlot? courtesan?

Posted by: k at January 6, 2012 1:07 AM

pending already

Posted by: jack at January 8, 2012 5:01 PM

This is a peculiar sort of apple, isn't it? Unsurprising, as I unfortunately know firsthand via about a dozen outbid offers that the fixer market is hotter than it was a year or two ago.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 9, 2012 9:47 AM

Hey all, just browsing through, and with a novice level of SF houses, and such. But I LOVE looking at all the houses.

Anyway, a question, that I hope to find an answer to. THere is a house down the road from me as bad as the one in this picture. They apparently had to leave one floor and one wall in place, they are pouring concrete over the floor to make a garage, and I guess just incorporating the wall into the "new house".

Why in San Francisco can you not just rip out and replace a house like this? The GC at the project down the street from me says "its cheaper to do this than to rip it all the way out" Can someone please explain this to me?

Thank You much.

Jeremy

Posted by: Jeremy Anderson at January 9, 2012 3:05 PM

PS - 15 Surrey St is what I am talking about. Google says it sold for 540k back in May.

Thanks

Posted by: Jeremy Anderson at January 9, 2012 3:19 PM

Jeremy - I'm guessing that when you leave some vestigial piece of the old building standing that the project can be categorized as a remodel (albeit a radical remodel) rather than the construction of a new house. There are some advantages of a remodel over a new build in terms of the number of hoops that the builder needs to jump through. There also might be a tax advantage.

I'm surprised that they're pouring concrete over one of the old existing floors. The old structure probably cannot support a concrete slab.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 9, 2012 5:09 PM

Available. New Price: 585k

Posted by: eddy at January 18, 2012 10:43 AM

The sale of 469 Valley has fallen out of escrow and the list price for the property has just been increased to $585,000.

Posted by: SocketSite at January 18, 2012 10:44 AM

So I guess the seller is thinking, "This fell out of escrow, it must be worth more money now."

Posted by: sparky-b at January 19, 2012 12:40 PM

^Apparently. Sold 590k. Just another case of Realtor strategically underpricing prime assets.

Posted by: eddy at February 28, 2012 4:51 PM

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