March 28, 2012

Buyer (And DBI) Beware

Having sold for $675,000 a year ago, and with a permit to simply remodel the kitchen and bathrooms in-kind pulled since, the single-family home at 33 Fountain was gutted instead.

And while there might be plans to expand and double to size of the home, and it’s listed on the MLS with the four bedrooms and baths that don’t yet exist, keep in mind said plans and pictured new framing haven’t been submitted to Planning, much less approved.

Buyer (and DBI) beware.

∙ Listing: 33 Fountain Street - $999,900 [Redfin]

First Published: March 28, 2012 12:30 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Really - $1M for a shell with no permits? Will be interesting to see what this one goes for. I guess if you were going to gut it anyway maybe some of your work has already been done? Please keep us posted...

Posted by: DCR at March 28, 2012 12:31 PM

Unfortunately, this type of illegal construction goes on more than we realize. You can blame it on a number of factors: (some) unscrupulous contractors and owners, and a lax Dept. of building inspection.

You simply cannot do this amount of work (legally) without the proper permits and paying the appropriate fees.

Cheating is cheating. It hurts everyone.

Posted by: futurist at March 28, 2012 12:51 PM

Does anyone know where they got that toilet? And that enchanting chandelier is simply divine! Such a welcome divergence from all the Dwell remodels we see today.

Posted by: Legacy Dude at March 28, 2012 1:00 PM

At least they left the toilet in?

Posted by: Victor at March 28, 2012 1:01 PM

curious why all the pics of the cement steps. is it supposed to reveal something that will make me buy? bizarre.

Posted by: momonthego at March 28, 2012 1:12 PM

I wholeheartedly agree with futurist on this one. When I read comments like this one (granted, on a completely different topic):

In no way should any new bureaucracy be created in San Francisco, ever, until the end of humankind's dominion over planet earth. This city will not function the way it should until …planning reconfigured and the board of appeals removed/ the public stripped of using obstructionist vernacular…We need less bureaucracy. Not more.
Posted by: [anon.ed] at March 16, 2012 8:17 AM

…I think about situations like this one. The reason we have a planning & DBI is to prevent people who think that they have some absolute God-given right to do anything they want in the built environment pulling fast ones like the project above. And if it weren't for busybody neighbors and the public having the right to file reviews of ill-thought out remodels we'd have people getting away with it and thus more of them on the market.

I'll look forward to the follow-up socketsite post when this property gets red tagged.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at March 28, 2012 1:38 PM

Here's another red flag to look for when reviewing the permit progress notes on the DBI website: "Inspection Cancelled."

Usually this means the inspector showed up and nobody was there to let them in to the job site ... possibly because the contractor was busy on another project, but more likely, because there was something bad the owner/contractor didn't want the City to see.

This is especially true for flips where the owner/contractor make cheap fixes - instead of the time consuming, expensive repairs the DBI would insist upon - then cover up with some bubble gum, duct tape, drywall and paint, then stage and place on MLS as quickly as possible

Posted by: DataDude at March 28, 2012 1:47 PM

^^
Brahma, I don't think those comments relate to this project at all.

Datadude,
Nope. That is not how it works. Permits were pulled, so this was going to get inspected. The ispection got cancelled, probably because since the work is not done so what would he inspect.

Posted by: sparky-b at March 28, 2012 1:55 PM

Have to agree with Sparky on this one.

Moreover, its not clear to me that you need a permit to take down drywall and remove fixtures. In its present state, there is nothing really hidden -- even the space under the subfloor is visible from the framing below.

In fact, the nice thing about this house being gutted is that you don't have to worry about hidden rot, infestations, etc.... you can see exactly what you are buying....

Posted by: around1905 at March 28, 2012 2:04 PM

Feel free to not do
that again brahma. quote was
nothing relevant

Posted by: [anon.ed] at March 28, 2012 2:04 PM

hey brahma, your words
connote the bulwer-lytton
fiction contest, hack.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at March 28, 2012 2:12 PM

If you're moving walls, you need a permit - it's not clear whether that was going on here

If everything was above-board, with inspections planned, why are they selling?

My "inspection cancelled" comment was meant generally and for any house, especially flips

Posted by: DataDude at March 28, 2012 2:23 PM

"its not clear to me that you need a permit to take down drywall and remove fixtures" Yes, to do anywhere near this level you need a permit, regardless of whether or not you are moving walls.

And 'inspection cancelled' should be in no way a red flag. Sometimes jobs fall behind schedule and the inspection can't happen when originally planned. That's the nature of the beast.

Posted by: R at March 28, 2012 2:46 PM

Look at the floor in the second photo above, you can see where a wall and closets used to be, dead giveaway. Stairs and attic framing all look new.

Posted by: CH at March 28, 2012 3:09 PM

"inspection cancellled" in a flip would show up on the 3R report and the buyer would know that it wasn't signed off. So again it would not be hidden.

"If everything was above-board, with inspections planned, why are they selling?"

Because the east bay developer thought he could come in and do what he normally does over there with partial permits and his cheap crew. He found out that won't work in SF, and that it would benefit him to do a bigger project. He stopped the work, got plans drawn up (similar to what is framed) and brought in real contractors to look at the house. The money didn't come through to do the work because he had trouble selling some other houses, so this one went on the back burner. In the mean time, he got plans made to make an even bigger project becuase Noe kept getting hotter. He realized that the new plans would have to go to planning and take a really long time to permit and since Noe is now hot,hot,hot and he can make some nice money for doing very little work he decided to cash in now.

or something like that

Posted by: sparky-b at March 28, 2012 3:35 PM

So these clowns thing there gut and a bit of rough framing is worth 325k

Posted by: Mikey woodz at March 28, 2012 3:36 PM

Yes, you do need permits to do any of the work shown in the photos: any major interior demolition (which this is), any new electrical, plumbing or mechanical, any new framing of walls, ceilings, partitions.

Yes, I think that Brahma's comments, in general, are appropriate and relate to this particular topic.

Yes, I have said before that both Planning and DBI can be a nightmare full of endless bureaucracy, at times. But they do serve the public good. And no one is exempt from getting permits and paying fees.

Except, of course, those who choose to circumvent the codes and laws of our Planning and Building Departments. Someone is cheating. Someone is trying to get away with making up their own rules.

Posted by: futurist at March 28, 2012 3:37 PM

How exactly are permit fees calculated for demolition projects like this one? Wouldn't you need to pay the permit fees for the estimated total cost before starting the project? Is there a concise explanation of how the permit process works and how fees are calculated?

Posted by: eddy at March 28, 2012 3:54 PM

"Yes, I think that Brahma's comments, in general, are appropriate and relate to this particular topic"

No, they aren't. I doubt he knew what he was actually talking about to begin with, let alone wading in by repurposing somebody else's language. Nobody is disputing that work was done beyond the scale of whatever permit wasn't signed off, here.

There's DBI/Planning being overly bureaucratic, and DR being overly democratic.

And then there's DBI/Planning/DR serving the public good.

Apples and oranges.

You're innapropriately talking about Brahma inserting oranges into a discussion about apples, and doing in your typical arch fashion. So buzz off, one note.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at March 28, 2012 3:54 PM

Also nobody is disputing that touting "plans" like this is lame. (And excuse the typos above, before this turns in the direction of "I sometimes play a smarmy copy editor on the internet," your OTHER favorite thing to do on here, futurist.)

Posted by: [anon.ed] at March 28, 2012 3:59 PM

I'll stand by what I said. I think Brahma was right, and completely agree.

Relax anon.ed. you sure do get testy pretty easily. this is just a blog.

Posted by: futurist at March 28, 2012 4:00 PM

Sure are a lot of little policemen on socketsite today, baying for obedience to soul-less bureaucrats.

Posted by: unwarrantedinlaw at March 28, 2012 4:02 PM

Plenty relaxed. It's all easy peasy. But overhauling and abolishing aren't synonymous.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at March 28, 2012 4:08 PM

"Calmer than you are, dude."

Frankly, this layman is wondering if there's anything that could keep this place from getting sold, but I suppose that's up to the MLS overlords.

Posted by: EH at March 28, 2012 4:50 PM

Well, I never thought of myself as a "policemen" here on SS. But it is an interesting way of calling people who "call out" what appears to be illegal and high questionable work.

Yea, I would agree: Some bureaucrats are indeed soul-less. Maybe lots of them. But it's not really about being "obedient" to them.

Shouldn't a civilized, modern society have certain rules, laws, codes and regulations in place that ALL of us should adhere to? What if a lot of people suddenly decided not to pay for car insurance, or vehicle registration, or property taxes, or HOA dues, or trash pickup, or on and on?

Then what?

Posted by: futurist at March 28, 2012 4:58 PM

You're all wrong. This place IS finished. It's geared for the bike-riding, sanctimonious, "green" luddite Noe resident who wants to boast about how small his carbon footprint is (reduced further by his constant deep inhalations of his own farts).

Posted by: anon at March 28, 2012 5:03 PM


The listing states 'no disclosures other than the attached plan'... I was under a layman's impression that California loaded all sorts of disclosure requirements onto sellers, and am not sure how this deal can go through w/o them. In particular, one item in the disclosure docs I've seen (as a buyer) is a box check where the seller states whether or not he/she is aware of any unpermitted work on the property....

Posted by: around1905 at March 28, 2012 5:13 PM

futurist, some people insist upon obeying authority for its own sake, it's probably something they're born with. I'm sympathetic with people who try to avoid the city permits because it's not about safety, it's about fees used to feed bureaucrats.

Posted by: unwarrantedinlaw at March 28, 2012 6:05 PM

Hardly something they are "born". Seriously, you're joking?

These "choose" to cheat. Pretty simple.

But you're really showing your lack of reality and understanding of the reason we have Building departments and permits in the first place.

Their primary purpose is safety of the public. Do you ever think about sprinkler systems, exiting, fire retardant materials, clearances, etc. when you are in a building? Without building codes, and inspectors and yes fees, those things would not exist, and you would not be in a SAFE building.

Get real.

Posted by: futurist at March 28, 2012 6:15 PM

Moving a couple doors down does anybody know what's happening with 15 Fountain? Similar property sold a year or two back for a similar amount.

Architect/developer team was trying to get neighborhood buy-in for a 3,000 sq.ft. remodel but it appears to have languished.

If this one gets approves the other will have an easier time, for better or worse.

Posted by: brid at March 28, 2012 7:38 PM

It doesn't really matter. Anyone with experience or access to a decent architect and GC can figure out what planning will approve/not approve. The place is already gutted? Great, less work. People with experience will not be at all concerned that this joker did not get planning approval the first time. They will go back and get planning approval for a new plan, within code... oh and they will max out the square footage of the property & lot.

Posted by: oh wells. at March 28, 2012 8:53 PM

Everything that has occurred seems to be inside the existing building envelope. They clearly went beyond the scope of the original permit. Still,all the work to date could be brought into compliance by pulling an over counter permit. No 311 notification,no planning commission, and not subject to DR They will receive multiple offers;it will sell for about 1.1 mil.

Posted by: jimmythekid at March 28, 2012 9:04 PM

inserting oranges into a discussion about apples, and doing in your typical arch fashion. So buzz off, one note.

That's some fine projection there, Lou.

Posted by: justme at March 28, 2012 10:38 PM

Then what?

Somalia, the Libertarian Paradise.

Where unwarrantedinlaw should go to live, that he might be free from all that pesky, intrusive government stuff.

Posted by: justme at March 28, 2012 10:44 PM

As an owner currently going through my first major remodel -- a legally permitted one -- I have been experiencing firsthand the travesty that is SFDBI. From the jerk plan checkers (I'm thinking of one in particular) to the inconsistent inspectors, I can't say I'm surprised to hear that so much work goes unpermitted, fee-savings aside. I'm not saying it's right; I'm just not surprised.

On the bright side, and to be fair, I did have the pleasure of interacting with some very nice folks on the plan checking side, as well.

Posted by: NJ at March 29, 2012 1:58 AM

Can't resist mentioning that between the Luddite noe fart inhaler and somali libertarian we have TWO good south park references in this thread.

Posted by: BillyBalls at March 29, 2012 2:01 AM

BillyBalls - and a "Simpsons" reference by Justme at 10:38.

We're rolling.

Posted by: Fishchum at March 29, 2012 8:29 AM

"The place is already gutted? Great, less work."

True, this is less work but not much less. The demo work to gut a house creates a huge mess but doesn't require much time and can be done with unskilled labor. Personally I would have preferred to receive this home in its pre-gut state because often there are opportunities to leave some walls and/or ceilings intact. That will save real work. And if not then just gut the whole thing, the cost is negligible.

----------------------

And for what its worth I, for one, welcome the presence of our DBI overlords. But I'd evade their involvement for certain small projects. This complete gut remodel doesn't qualify as "small".

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at March 29, 2012 9:29 AM

And a beautiful big lebowski quote by EH at 4:50.

Posted by: lolcat_94123 at March 29, 2012 12:33 PM

There is now a formal complaint filed on file: "Beyond Scope of work. Entire building gutted. See attached pictures. Existing permit PA#201106289111."

Not sure if Socketsite prompted a DBI inspection or if there was a complaint, as indicated in the complaint...

Posted by: Zefabes at March 29, 2012 12:54 PM

I checked yesterday: no complaint. Someone phoned it in, either due to the listing or (more likely) SS.

Posted by: tipster at March 29, 2012 1:01 PM

New buyer will now be paying for that as well.

Posted by: sparky-b at March 29, 2012 1:12 PM

New Buyer will have to deal with all penalties, complete seismic upgrade,... No bank will loan, will need to be an all cash offer.
Can't wait to see how this translates into sale value. I would not go a penny over the initial $675K.

Posted by: Zefabes at March 29, 2012 1:24 PM

"complete seismic upgrade" What?

And it's unlikely the new buyer will have any penalties, assuming they permit all the work they do moving forward.

As for financing, you are correct in that no bank would give you a homeowner mortgage on this, but you could get a short term construction loan.

Posted by: R at March 29, 2012 1:43 PM

The new buyer will have to pay the penalties. The permit and all penalties go with the house, not with the owner. You buy it you buy the penalty. But, it won't be that much, they got a permit for a kitchen and 3 1/2 baths. So, they need to get one (and pay the penalty) on the living room, dining room, bedrooms and moving the stairs.

If the new buyer stays in the envelope they do not need to do a full seismic. Should do it, but don't have to. I would do that on a different permit.

This will not go for anything near $675K. Remember that primeD5 is hot, hot, hot. Could be all cash, construction loan, hard money. It for a builder now so they will have a source for the money.

Posted by: sparky-b at March 29, 2012 1:52 PM

All good points by sparky-b. I echo the same.

As for the seismic upgrade, I strongly encourage and recommend to my clients doing a major "interior" renovation to also move forward with the seismic upgrade.

After all, what's the point in doing an awesome $100k kitchen and 2-3 completely new baths for another $100k or so, and yet the house remains sitting on brick foundations?

Most of them eventually agree with me.

Posted by: futurist at March 29, 2012 1:58 PM

^^^
agree. Especially when it is already (or is going to be) gutted.

Posted by: sparky-b at March 29, 2012 2:05 PM

I should clarify that I was questioning Zefabes point that the new buyer "will have to deal with ...complete seismic upgrade".

My point was meant to be that the new buyer doesn't have to do anything seismic. Should they, could they, might they? Sure.

Posted by: R at March 29, 2012 2:12 PM

If there are only small penalties for doing unpermitted work why doesn't this happen all the time?

Posted by: Question at March 29, 2012 2:13 PM

This is work over the scope of the permit, 2x fees.

Work done without permit is 9x fees.

I said it was small because they permitted the expensive rooms.

Posted by: sparky-b at March 29, 2012 2:16 PM

DBI has an interpretation on the requirements for seismic upgrade: if you remove drywall (or plaster), they consider it as an alteration. You have to alter less than 2/3 of the building. Most of the framing is new, the entire building is gutted, so complete seismic will be required.

Posted by: Zefabes at March 29, 2012 2:23 PM

"Most of the framing is new"

That is not true. The entire perimeter and roof still have existing framing. Plus all of those main level walls.

Posted by: sparky-b at March 29, 2012 2:50 PM

There's a fairly "wide" interpretation at DBI about when residential seismic is required. Yes, the "2/3" or more rule generally triggers the requirement. But not always.

like sparky-b said: much of the existing perimeter and roof framing remains. From my observation, seismic upgrade will not be required, even though I would recommend they do.

Houses in Noe will all new foundations and seismic upgrade always bring a premium selling price.

Posted by: futurist at March 29, 2012 3:00 PM

To clarify things on the Seismic upgrade: based on Section 3404.7 Substantial Changes of the SFBC, SFDBI will look at each components of the house separately. The Outside walls, the interior walls, the floor/ceiling assembly. If any of one of those elements, on each individual floor, is being altered more than 50% on 2/3 of the floors, then a complete seismic upgrade will be required.

That is the latest interpretation I was given by one of the code experts in DBI about 2 months ago.

The Complaint on file indicates that photos were taken and put on file...

Posted by: Zefabes at March 29, 2012 3:24 PM

the complaint was a smart move by a sophisticated buyer to drive out potential competition and drive down the price. well-played

Posted by: steve at March 29, 2012 3:48 PM

^^It was until you just told everyone on SS about it.

Posted by: sparky-b at March 29, 2012 4:13 PM

^^^ Dashes! Foiled again !

-----------------------

Whoever completes this project would be foolish to close up those walls before applying the simpson hardware and other stuff needed for seismic reinforcement. We're only talking about a few hundred dollars in materials and the labor to install the stuff. However I can see skimping on the foundation replacement task if that isn't legally required. A new foundation is almost a separate project whereas the frame reinforcement work is tightly intertwined with the current work that is open.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at March 29, 2012 4:21 PM

@MOD; I strongly disagree with your last comment about installing the Simpson hardware for seismic reinforcement. Let's be clear.

This so called "hardware" is not simple to install, nor just a "few hundred dollars" in material and labor. Completely wrong. It must be installed based on a structural engineers calcs and drawings and installed by a skilled contractor. This steel hardware and hold-downs are also installed ONLY along with specific plywood shear walls, with very detailed nailing requirements and locations, again specified by the engineer.

And for this entire hold-down system to work the loads and connections must be transferred completely down to the lowest level into the foundations. This means shear walls at the upper floor, main floor and basement level as well. This cost is significantly more than a few hundred dollars. I would budget $10-15k for the labor and material to do this per code.

From actual costs of some of my current projects, replacing an all brick foundation with new reinforced concrete foundations and new slab come out to about $480 per linear feet of exterior wall, and about $32/sf for new reinforced slab. For the average footprint of a house similar to the subject property, the cost would be approximately $110-120k.

Maybe you have a different take on this issue, but my information is based on experience with several recent project in Noe Valley.

Posted by: futurist at March 30, 2012 10:39 AM

^^^
$32/sf for reinforced slab? What does that include, seems super high.

Posted by: sparky-b at March 30, 2012 11:01 AM

Super high compared to what? Remember this is San Francisco real estate and construction. We all know we are expensive.

When I give these numbers, I don't usually bother to give all the details, simply for brevity in the conversation. However, since you asked:

This would be for a 5" thick concrete slab reinforced with #5 rebar at 12" o.c. each way and tied into the exterior concrete walls, on top of a vapor barrier, 4" sand and 4" gravel base. Labor and material included.

What are your thoughts?

Posted by: futurist at March 30, 2012 11:13 AM

Sparky, you aren't including the kickback to the architect. :)

Posted by: tipster at March 30, 2012 11:36 AM

My thought on that is $16.

Posted by: sparky-b at March 30, 2012 11:43 AM

Appreciate your thoughts spark. My numbers were based on a project bid in 2010 for a 1904 Noe Valley Victorian, bid by 3 licensed, general contractors. All were within 2% of each other, so I feel the numbers were reasonably accurate.

High? I guess...in comparison to Des Moine, yes, but this is SF and we deal with it.

Sorry, tippy: no kickback to the arch. never is.:)

Posted by: futurist at March 30, 2012 11:58 AM

My numbers were based on a project bid in 2010 for a 1904 Noe Valley Victorian, bid by 3 licensed, general contractors. All were within 2% of each other, so I feel the numbers were reasonably accurate.
Stupid question here. So they break out the costs of sub-contracted items? As the foundation is done early in the job, would there be an incentive to front-load the job (to get more cash early on)? My very limited experience on this topic is the extreme mark-up a contractor had for lifting the house next door (he was joking about it to his crew).

Posted by: EBGuy at March 30, 2012 1:27 PM

Not a stupid question, but not really sure what you are asking. Here's my abbreviated response:

1. As part of my Instruction to Bidders, the owner wanted the foundations costs broken out as a separate item, which they did.
2. There was no "front loading" of the job. The contractor was paid by the owner on a monthly invoice basis; in this job, it came to about $40k per month.

Hope that helps.

Posted by: futurist at March 30, 2012 1:47 PM


The cost for the foundation replacement will depend a lot on whether or not they can do it in sections, or if for some reason the whole house needs to be held up at the same time with cribbing...

My sense is that futurst's number is for sections.... Is that right?

Posted by: around1905 at March 30, 2012 2:28 PM

No, in this particular project, the entire house was supported by 4 large cribbing boxes, with steel beams spanning from front to back. All brick foundations and the brick chimney were removed, old slab removed. A small caterpillar tractor was brought in to remove about 2 feet of soil, since the entire slab was lowered to create 8'-8" head room in the lower level.

In some cases, doing sections of the footing can actually cost more, since it's more labor intensive and requires multiple concrete pours.

Posted by: futurist at March 30, 2012 2:38 PM

futurist - My language was sloppy in the estimate above. I meant a few hundred dollars for the Simpson hardware alone, exclusive of other materials like lumber and nails used in the reinforcement process or the labor to install it. I'm well aware of the conundrums encountered when retrofitting an old house that can increase labor costs.

You don't need to be an engineer to design a seismic retrofit. There's plenty of info available including extensive application notes from Simpson as well as from various government agencies. No BSME required (though it certainly helps). "detailed nailing requirements and locations" ? C'mon! It isn't anything that can't be grasped by a reasonably intelligent person within an hour. In fact just about anything that is "code" got that way because an engineer boiled down the physics equations into easy to understand guidelines.

Unless the foundation is a crumbling pile of lime and pebbles you can still anchor the old mudsill to the existing old foundation. And if the foundation is a spalling disintegrated mess you need to do a lot more than just construct a new foundation, you need to figure out what is causing the degradation and fix that. It could require expensive geotechnical work. Otherwise the new expensive foundation will meet the same fate as the old one.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at March 30, 2012 3:57 PM

@MOD: ok, here's the deal. Let's just be upfront. You and I both speak a different language here when it comes to talking about construction, pricing, details, etc.

Your language is, well, "sloppy" as you say. I just say you tend to way oversimplify. And/or leave stuff out. That's your style.

Mine is specific, usually pretty detailed and comprehensive. That's how I think and talk. But that's also the only way, IMO, to get the most direct, up front answer to a question, say for a homeowner or contractor.

Just like your most recent comment above: "grasped by a reasonably intelligent person within an hour". Seriously?

And no, there is now way in hell that you'll get a permit in SF for seismic upgrade and foundations without detailed engineering drawings and calcs, signed and stamped by a licensed civil or structural engineer. Just won't happen.

But my larger question is this: Why do you always "seem" to prefer the short cut, the quick way, the cheapest way to do any work? Your disdain for the building code is well documented. Your choice I guess.

Quite frankly, I don't know of any homeowner who would want to approach their project with your guidelines, especially when they will be paying well over $1m for a house in Noe. The risk outweighs the reward.

Posted by: futurist at March 30, 2012 4:18 PM

This whole issue of 'seismic upgrades' is so important. Both futurist's and MOD's comments are very helpful to unprofessional folks like me, although in different ways.

Although MOD can defend himself, my own take on the short-cut, quick-way approach is that if the bar is set too high, many homeowners will not do a seismic upgrade at all. Others might make a weekend of it and do more harm than good. The great thing about the Simpson docs is that they present clear principles for those who might not have the means to have everything done by pros, but want to do the best they can with the resources at their disposal

Posted by: around1905 at March 30, 2012 4:57 PM

Thanks around1905 for your comments. Much appreciated.

However, I'm not sure if your comment about "if the bar is set too high..." applies to this discussion. I'm not really attempting to set the bar "too high" or even "high". From my experience, it's simply the way a homeowner should approach it, and aside from that, the SF Building Code will not allow much more than very simple bolting to a foundation without some permits. Any serious work beyond that, IMO, needs the skills of a qualified contractor.

Yes, there are owners who will try the MOD approach. It may work for minor work. It won't solve the more serious seismic upgrade.

I'm reminded of that project in Bernal Hts. a few years ago: the homeowner attempted to jack up his house and install new footings, on his own. Didn't work out so well.

The house collapsed in on itself and into the neighbor.

Posted by: futurist at March 30, 2012 5:26 PM

I thought the bernal house was sorta designed to fail ;)

Posted by: Eddy at March 31, 2012 5:59 AM

Posted by: Dan at March 31, 2012 8:22 AM

Ok, Sunnyside.sorry, but you get my drift.

Posted by: futurist at March 31, 2012 11:52 AM

Who said anything about taking a shortcut neo-noe-futurist? Limiting the scope of the work to the most sensible and urgent (i.e. reinforcing the frame while it is open) is a rational choice that will appeal to anyone footing the bill.

Expanding the scope to include expensive work that isn't urgent and might not even be needed on the other hand benefits those who's revenue is related to the size of the job.

Extra work might not be in the best interest of the client. Often those who advise a client on the work to be done have a personal interest in increasing the bottom line. And that personal interest can conflict with the client's.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 1, 2012 9:17 PM

You did mad-mod. that's just your style. We've discussed this all before...many times.

Clients can take my advice or not: Architects recommend.

Clients decide.

Posted by: futurist at April 2, 2012 11:00 AM

"Clients decide."

I wonder how many have the background and motivation to determine whether an expensive full foundation replacement is justified? And of those who don't, how many will defer to the "expert's" opinion?

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 2, 2012 11:18 AM

Justified?......well, that word may have a very broad definition.

Justified in what sense? Economic? peace of mind? investment return? I can't answer that.

But it seems pretty clear to me when they decide to spend several hundred thousand at the upper floors for high end baths, kitchen, finishes, it behooves them to put in a new foundation.

Doesn't logic and long term thinking ever prevail?

Posted by: futurist at April 2, 2012 11:46 AM

"Justified in what sense? Economic? peace of mind? investment return? I can't answer that."

Yes all of that but I was mainly thinking in terms of structural lifespan. Certainly a new foundation will likely last longer than leaving the old one in place. But the old foundation could easily have fifty or a hundred years life left in it. It isn't clear at all that it is logical to replace such a foundation just because you're blowing several hundred thousand on the rest of the project.

However I can see how it could easier from a sales perspective to convince a client to expand the scope to include a new foundation than it is to sell that project on its own.

Plus a new foundation means that the architect has more freedom to do more with the structure it supports. That's appealing for an architect looking to expand their portfolio with impressive projects.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 2, 2012 12:08 PM

Amazing circuitous way of thinking. To imply and infer that an architect, or maybe even an engineer, or maybe even a good contractor would suggest to an owner about replacing a brick foundation, most likely nearing 100 years old, with a new, engineered reinforced concrete foundation, because said foundation would appeal to the architect because he/she could expand their portfolio with impressive projects.

Let's just say that type of thinking (or non thinking) is rather (rhymes with lucked up).

It did make me chuckle too.

Posted by: futurist at April 2, 2012 12:28 PM

MOD: I'm shocked! Are you implying that there might be less than honest architects and/or contractors out there? That might be influenced by increased billings to sell a client on additional work? Say it ain't so!

Posted by: R at April 2, 2012 1:42 PM

It isn't just architects. I learned early on that there's a subset of professionals who will oversell projects on the hopes that the client won't notice that there are less expensive solutions that achieve the same results.

It is more gratifying and profitable to tear out the old and replace with the new. So it isn't surprising that some tend to steer their clients towards those solutions.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 2, 2012 1:44 PM

Well, thankfully what you say is not true: "more gratifying and profitable..?" Gratifying to whom?

Seriously, you are so way off the charts it's not funny. And in your other posts, you were clearly giving unsubstantiated "advice" as to the cost and simplicity of doing a seismic upgrade to a single family house in SF.

My recommendations to clients may be expensive and time consuming. No argument there, but I never sugar coat or gloss over the real costs and the real benefits of doing this type of work professionally and the right way. My defined list of "good" contractors would support me on that, and they think the same way.

The DIY mentality may work for some people, for simple work such as painting, hanging shelves, but not for structural and/or seismic work. Never.

Posted by: futurist at April 2, 2012 2:04 PM

So, nofuture, you're saying architects and/or contractors never pad the suggested work a little to make a few extra bucks? You're either lying or extraordinarily naive.

And DIY 'never' works for structural or seismic? Really, it's impossible for a homeowner to do this work?

Posted by: R at April 2, 2012 2:44 PM

Read very carefully AGAIN what I previously said.

Please pay attention.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Posted by: futurist at April 2, 2012 3:13 PM

Seven offers came in with only one under asking, and a multiple counter went out.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at April 6, 2012 2:59 PM

I have never put anything on socketsite before, but this one called for it:

Well all, here are the results directly from the listing agent himself (below), of course he fails to mention that his client is a sham of a person, who rips off the elderly, and runs under an LLC which does not have a city business license, nor is registered with the CA Secretary of State as a valid LLC. I personally wrote an offer for my family and grew up in the backyard of the former elderly owner Ruth, but instead of going with a Native Noe family, they chose to go with a speculator instead for a measly amount of money extra to feed their greedy little fingers. I called the listing agent a total of 27 times without a call back. Great service huh? Accepted offer is higher than mine which I am willing and able to disclose was $1,318,000 all cash with an 8 day close. The current owner is supposedly "Ferrod Jommack Capital LLC"...well Ferrod, this game ain't over yet...karma comes around...and Ferrod, it is coming to you next.

FROM LISTING AGENT
"As you know, we had 7 cash/non-contingent offers on the property, all of them good offers. The seller has gone through great length to give your offer full consideration with your family's special situation in mind, but at the end has accepted a different one. It is substantially over asking. Thank you for your interest. I am so sorry it did not work out for you. I wish you and your family the best. I truly hope you can find your dream home soon. Take care and have a good Easter."

Posted by: woddy at April 7, 2012 12:35 AM

Soooooooo ....... Let me get this straight.

Someone bid more than you and the seller sold the house to them. You've managed to convince yourself that this represents some cosmic injustice that justifies getting your panties in a twist.

Uh huh.

Posted by: diemos at April 7, 2012 7:06 AM

wow, quite the apple selling for 2x last year's price. maybe every seller should gut w/o permit before listing?

Posted by: steve at April 7, 2012 8:11 AM

Actually diemos (BTW I sure notice you post on everything, maybe you need to get a job), I called the listing agent 27 times (in addition to his office manager) to increase my offer to 1.4 million prior to acceptance of the other offer It is an unethical injustice for them not to call back and achieve the best price for their client, but don't think it is a "cosmic injustice". Stick to your rent controlled unit, you will be better off there, or better yet, head on back to Boston we don't want you here.

Posted by: Woody at April 7, 2012 9:13 AM

95% yoy increase? That has got to be some kind of record.

Not exactly an apple, but I would have thought the demo job would lower the value, not increase it since no one can get financing anymore.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at April 7, 2012 10:00 AM

@Woody -- Just curious why you didn't go for it at $675,000 last year if you are willing to go up to $1.4 million cash this year?

Posted by: just curious at April 7, 2012 10:59 AM

If you look at the Redfin link, you'll see that the home was sold last year without being listed.

We've seen buyers bamboozling old folks out of their homes for a below market price from time to time on this site. If you read between the lines on the postings here, it sounds like that was a possibility here. Either that or the market has gone up terrifically since they bought it.

The fact that they gutted it, and then listed it for significantly more than they paid for it, makes it seem like they knew they had paid a price well below market.

I obviously don't know the situation here, but I do try to read between the lines when something doesn't make much sense to me.

If you read from woddy's post down to this one, the same light bulb may come on when you try to answer just curious' question: first thing I did was to suspect the house wasn't listed. Check. Now go back and reread his post. The miraculous doubling in price starts to make sense.

Some realtors will of course tell you that the reason for all of this is that the market is ON FIRE! A little sleuthing will lead to the truth.

Posted by: tipster at April 7, 2012 12:23 PM

This is an apple to apple as far as fixers are concerned. When this house was purchased last year it was purchased for about what noe fixers were going for. Everyone that bought fixers at that price are loaded with cash and realize noe can support $2-2.5 mill and higher without much risk.

In addition when one builder sees another builder make some cake he wants in too. You have a lot of money chasing a very scarce product ... a classic supply demand imbalance. There is plenty of cash chasing these properties in Noe on the retail side as well... so it is up up and away for now in noe.

Posted by: jimmythekid at April 7, 2012 12:45 PM

>Some realtors will of course tell you that the reason for all of this is that the market is ON FIRE! A little sleuthing will lead to the truth.

Yes, tipster, because this POS selling for more than $1.3M is a sure sign of the in-progress Noe collapse.

btw, since this was so obviously under-priced at $1M, I take it yours was one of the all-cash bids?

Posted by: steve at April 7, 2012 1:33 PM

"Some realtors will of course tell you that the reason for all of this is that the market is ON FIRE! A little sleuthing will lead to the truth"

No realtor has made, or would make that point. Forget about the 675K off-market deal. The guy got a steal. Not sure how he did it, but he got a steal. The market was not 675K for Noe fixers such as thise one -- big lot, views, 2M+ house possible by staying in the envelope -- last year. It was more like 1M for something like this. But the seller got a steal in a non-market transaction, and he got lucky with a tempest in a teapot with this transaction.

Tipster, you've become a garden variety miscreant. You get things wrong to start with, take broad unsubstantiated swipes, and mischaracterize as you go. Getting nearly everything wrong. It's lame what you do on here. Because at the end of the day the heart of your schtick is that you are trying to expose and to show/educate other people more novice than yourself what's what. But you're not doing that. You're clouding up everything with ill-considered agenda driven words. Let that hate go, dude. Live a little.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at April 7, 2012 2:06 PM

I think I anticipated jimmythekid's post pretty well. He says it was going for about what things were going for when it sold for $675K but the market is on fire. I made it clear that it was a below market buy, because it was never actually on the market, which you confirmed.

Nevertheless, you make it out like such a post would never happen. But it did. Right above yours. So eager to post against whatever I say, you probably didn't even bother to read the next one after mine, you just spouted off.

The situation appears to be exactly as I stated. Even with someone showing up to say the market was on fire.


Posted by: tipster at April 7, 2012 4:33 PM

So are you saying that 1.4M is not in fire? Seems like it is on fire to me. This purchase is going to come with tons of buyers remorse

Posted by: sparky-b at April 7, 2012 4:49 PM

no, no you didn't tipster. If jimmythekid was a realtor he wouldn't have said fixers like that were going for 675K last year, because they weren't. And anyway, if I didn't read jimmythekid's post, why did I directly address his "what fixers were going for" notion? Talk about not reading and just spouting off. You get it wrong on here, pretty much always, and you're a complete a$$ in doing so. Every time.

And anyway, "on fire" "hot hot hot" ... it's like you internet guys are personally offended because the San Francisco market has picked up somewhat. That's ridiculous too.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at April 7, 2012 5:21 PM

Annon I am not a realtor But even if you believe fixers were going for 1 mill (you are wrong as I will show)this sale will represent a 30% increase. Fixers in Noe valley are on fire.

Noe fixers sold Note not all these were sold to speculators but they were all fixers.

469 valley 590K
550 Jersey 700K
1529 Diamond 700K
1402 Sanchez 752K
1532 Church 730k
288 Mersey 749K
3822 24thst 759K
412 Valley 781K
111 day 790K

Posted by: jimmythekid at April 7, 2012 5:52 PM

Another thing I need to get off my chest. There were a lot folks who consider themselves "in the know" who were intimating with their posts that this property was over priced. I early on predicted multiple offers and a sale price of 1.1 mill. It appears it is going to be to be 1.3.

Posted by: jimmythekid at April 7, 2012 5:58 PM

Fixers in Noe are competitive, I agree. They were last year too, to a lesser degree. I was writing sensible offers for developers and losing out last year, so I know. Anyway I recognize each of those you rattled off. But I don't feel as if those properties are particularly apt. Not if the context is this Fountain street one, and the type of home it projects to be sans 311 and all the extra time + money that that entails.

Posted by: anon.ed at April 7, 2012 6:08 PM

Anon I agree with your analysis that the the market for fixers was competitive last year, and is even more competitive now. I also realize that fountain is a superior comp to the ones I listed because of lot size, existing building envelope, views, no 311 etc. (although my recollection is one of those comps came with plans which also precludes DR and 311)

So I guess its fair to say that you characterize the market for Noe fixers as increasingly competitive. I say they are on fire. So be it.

Posted by: jimmythekid at April 7, 2012 6:47 PM

@justcurious: because I have morals and knew the old lady who lived there for 50 years. The current owner (unregistered llc) bamboozeled her heirs and foreclosed on them. The property was never on the market or I surely would have purchased it then. This predatory loan shark did what I would never do and that is the bottom line. He made the neighbors lives a living hell and is now walking with a 100 percent return. I am sure the secretary of state, dbi, ca attorney general, and franchise tax board will all be interested in looking into the matter. And yes, the market is hot without question. Values are back to 2006 levels comps just don't show it yet. Thanks all for the input, except demon, I have a 1 way ticket back to Boston prepaid for him.

Posted by: Woody at April 7, 2012 9:39 PM

Woody,

Can you elaborate on the maneuver the seller pulled in the previous transaction? If you don't want to go there online, that's cool.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at April 8, 2012 11:05 AM

Woody,

Elder abuse is a very serious crime If what you say is true her heirs would have a strong claim against this person. I have seen profits clawed back and damages awarded in civil actions. Even in cases where the borrower had representation. If his actions contributed to her death I would add that to the claim as well.

Posted by: jimmythekid at April 8, 2012 11:58 AM

Posted by: SocketSite at May 1, 2012 7:12 AM

I suspect the buyer was a retail buyer who paid a higher price for the buy, in return for the builder/seller agreeing to finish at least part of, if not all of, the job they started.

That then would actually make sense of this deal,and it wouldn't be such a stupid buyer/outlier sale.

Posted by: tipster at May 1, 2012 10:43 AM

^^^
That is not true. That is not what happened.

Posted by: sparky-b at May 1, 2012 10:45 AM

^^^ And paying a contractor up-front the entire sum to complete the project would be an incredibly foolish move.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at May 1, 2012 10:59 AM

True.

Posted by: sparky-b at May 1, 2012 11:02 AM

That isn't what happened and Tipster is always wrong. What happened is somebody bid very high to get it, and the seller got it offmarket, cheaply, before. The gutjob has no bearing on what happened. An even wilder bidding process just took place at 3928 20th, a reported 51 offers and supposedly 600K over asking.

Posted by: anoned at May 1, 2012 11:05 AM

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