15 Surrey Street Before
As we wrote about 15 Surrey in early 2010, having been purchased for $731,000 in 2007:

Listed for $995,800 [in October of 2009] touting “READY to brake (sic) ground,” the 625 square foot one bedroom home at 15 Surrey with approved plans to become an “over 2800” square foot four-bedroom/three and one-half bath Glen Park view home has returned to the market asking $895,800.

The clock is now ticking, however, as the new listing notes: “permits issued.” Keep in mind that the permits are technically for a “remodel” of the current property including a vertical and horizontal addition of 1,800 square feet (no word on what would appear to be an unaccounted for 375 square feet).

The old 15 Surrey ended up selling for $540,000 in April of 2011 with demolition and reconstruction following soon thereafter, followed by a neighbor’s complaint:

Work on going way beyond the scope of [the permit]: building a fourth or 3rd and 1/2 floor @back, completely blocking neighbors’ view. It’s not visible from the front [of the house].

From the building inspector’s notes who was assigned to the case:

The designs were not seen or approved by affected neighbors. We were unable to approve/deny the permit drawings. I would not have approved the architectural plans.

That being said, the building was found to be within the scope of what was approved by City Planning, the neighbor’s complaint was dismissed, and construction continued.
Now touting three bedrooms across 3,406 square feet, the rebuilt single-family home at 15 Surrey Street is back on the market and seeking $2,149,000.
∙ Listing: 15 Surrey Street (3/4.5) 3,406 sqft – $2,149,000 [15surrey.com]
Suspended Disbelief (And Renderings) For 15 Surrey [SocketSite]
15 Surrey Relisted And Reduced (And The Permit Clock Is Ticking) [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Muddy

    And I thought the biggest reason to buy a house instead of a condo was that you didn’t have to have your kitchen in the living room. Sigh. Time to close up some of these “open plans”.

  2. Posted by joh

    ^ Nobody’s stopping you from buying an older house. Even older condos have enclosed kitchens.

  3. Posted by momonthego

    who the heck would want to live in Glen Park for $2.1? pass.

  4. Posted by Mark F.

    Nice job, but 2.1 million for Glen Park? Really?

  5. Posted by Mark F.

    Walk to Bart. That’s a big plus. It still seems awfully expensive for that hood.

  6. Posted by Muddy

    joh sez: “Nobody’s stopping you from buying an older house.”
    No kidding? Who are you, the seller? Or do you really think that 3000+ sqft homes should have their kitchens parked in their living rooms?
    When people comment, say, that they don’t like the looks of a new high-rise office building, do you retort that they don’t have to relocate their offices there?

  7. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    The neighbor probably didn’t have a leg to stand on, complaining about their blocked view, but the resulting home here is just another instance of butt ugly disposable modernism and clashes with the neighbors on either side aesthetically.
    I don’t doubt that some wealthy unhappy hipsters will buy it, however, seeing as how it’s not quite as ugly as 170 Saint Germain or an abomination like the makeover of 611 Laguna Honda.

  8. Posted by ccc

    I think the main issue is that the neighbor’s were never given the chance to review the plans before they went thru planning. And it sounds like what got built was beyond the extent of the plans.
    Not sure how the builders got away with that because per 311 you are meant to submit meeting minutes and proof that you mailed the plans to your neighbors.
    So as a neighbor is there any recourse from the builder or city?

  9. Posted by used2b-sprk-b

    It could be because the permit is from 2008 (I think that pre-dates the pre-app meeting). The 311 notice went out in may of 2008. So, they were given a chance to look at the plans, but maybe the complainer moved in after that.

  10. Posted by Invented

    Huge garish garage door with a box on top of it.

  11. Posted by lolcat_94123

    Seems to be priced about $1m too high.

  12. Posted by SurreyLife

    I live on Surrey.
    The plans were reviewed by the neighborhood in 09 or so, and the top floor was actually pushed back, that is why their is a deck there.
    The neighbor that started the complaint, moved in about 6-8 months before construction started, they were not living in the neighborhood at the time the plans were approved. Funny thing is they live in a ugly as hell faux Mediterranean monstrosity that only sold for 1.1 or so….
    This was technically a remodel, underneath the concrete garage floor is the original wood floor from the original house, and the exterior wall on the left is original as well.
    I wish someone could explain why its cheaper in permits to “remodel” this, and not tear down / rebuild.
    The back garden is nice, the front roof deck facing the street is “interesting”.
    I like it better than than the last 3 houses that have sold on Surrey.
    Walk to BART is awesome, but Glen Park needs a burger joint that is open past 14:00

  13. Posted by Jeremy

    It’s not really cheaper to ‘remodel’, it just avoids a lot of the hassle in the Planning Department. Demolitions require a mandatory Planning Commission hearing, and a Historical/Environmental review (minimum 6 months alone).
    Re-using the existing construction also allows you to get around some of the building code requirements, because you can just call it ‘existing/non-compliant’.

  14. Posted by Dubocian

    You can’t get a permit to demolish housing in SF unless the building is literally about to fall over (or has done so.) So nearly all projects like this are done as “remodels” even though that may mean tearing everything down to the studs (and then some) and saving very little of the original building.
    Does it make sense? Probably not. And it would undoubtedly be cheaper in many cases to demolish and build anew. But the politics of SF don’t allow that.

  15. Posted by Marten

    Even with the third floor setback, how did they get a third floor approved when nothing on that side of the street is above two? There are all these rules in place, but they seem to be constantly skirted if you have money or connections. If the end result was not was on paper submitted to the city and they did not want to make them alter it to said paper, there should have been a huge fine to discourage these owners/contractors in the future.

  16. Posted by futurist

    @Surreylife: so glad to hear from you about the real story.
    So the project was reviewed by the neighbors, as I suspected. And so they got the front elevation setback, which is fine, and normally a part of the Residential Guidelines. All sounds good.
    Then of course, thank you for telling us the one neighbor who is the complainer, and of course, they live in an ugly POS. What else is new?
    I like the project. It is a small scale remodel that fits well within the current and applicable Planning Code. The adjacent little shacks, charming as they may be, are all from another era, and probably most would not fit well with current new and younger homeowners and their style of living. That’s why a city evolves and changes, in an orderly fashion.
    Like Jeremy said, “remodeling” is cheaper than a tear down, at least with regard to permits, zoning and 311 notifications. Remodeling, however can be much more costly in terms of dollars per square foot for the finished project.
    Thanks for your comments.

  17. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “…how did they get a third floor approved when nothing on that side of the street is above two?”
    Not sure about this specific neighborhood but it does seem sensible to allow construction of at least one floor above the surrounding buildings so long as the project height doesn’t exceed zoned limits.
    Otherwise you’d be stuck with buildings all conforming to one another and never able to reach the zoned height. Allowing projects to exceed their neighbor’s height by one floor enables incremental progress towards the zoned height.
    As for the total demo/rebuild vs. “vestigial trace remodel” strategy, this is not just a SF phenomenon. It happens all over the bay area.
    I’m not a fan of the new facade but it is no worse than the old facade. At least they concealed the electrical meter/breaker box, something which should never be a facade feature.

  18. Posted by Glen Porp

    The photo above is not true to the weird green color it is actually painted. That out-of-scale third floor absolutely looms over Glen Park Village. Everyone in the neighborhood is trying to figure out how it got through planning.

  19. Posted by joh

    No kidding? Who are you, the seller? Or do you really think that 3000+ sqft homes should have their kitchens parked in their living rooms?
    Sure, why shouldn’t the kitchen be open? Many people prefer open kitchens these days, which some would argue is better for entertaining, and provides more light/feeling of spaciousness. And the builder obviously thought they could get more money by going the open kitchen route.
    Of course there are people who don’t like open kitchens, but judging by how most new construction/major remodels look these days, builders obviously don’t feel like they are a big enough market to build such houses on spec.
    Personally, I think bigger reasons to get a SFH would be freedom from HOAs, owning land, having a real garage, and being detached from neighbors. But that’s just me.

  20. Posted by Willow

    “Seems to be priced about $1m too high.”
    lolcat_94123: Yeah right…you obviously don’t know Glen Park or are joking.
    This house may not sell for listing but it will easily sell well north of $1.5MM

  21. Posted by Fishchum

    All those photos of local businesses and not one of the Glen Park Station?

  22. Posted by Chisel

    Wow, hello garage door. Yuck.

  23. Posted by futurist

    Why yuck? It’s a garage door, not a crappy burrito.

  24. Posted by NoeLocal

    Interior so white I had to wear shades.
    Who the heck wants to live in Glen Park? $2M will buy a nice home in a great neighborhood — that’s NOT GP!
    Big Dog on the block. Think again.

  25. Posted by Mark F.

    Not sure if Glen Park is a GREAT neighborhood, but it has a lot of things going for it.

  26. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    futurist – I think that the revulsion to garage doors arises because they are generally bland blank covers over a shed to store equipment. And in SF’s narrow 25′ lots garage doors can dominate the facade.
    Compare that to streets where garages are recessed into the back of the lot. There the curbside view is one of windows, stairs, and front doors. Much more inviting compared to the alleyway appearance of a wall of garage doors.
    Of course it is really inefficient to put a garage in the rear of a 25′ wide lot so facade garage doors are part of SF’s “lot” in life. Fortunately not all of SF’s streets are lined with garage doors. But continued garage additions tend to degrade curb appeal.

  27. Posted by futurist

    So if I understand you correctly, you don’t like garage doors because they are what? covers over a shed? Huh? Or perhaps you’re commenting that you personally would prefer that all garage owners do not use their garages for other than a vehicle? You want them to live your way?
    And then, of course, you pretty much answered your own personal preference for garages to be at the rear of a lot.
    Which of course doesn’t work within the actual and real confines of our city. Garages at the FRONT elevation of a residence is normal and typical for much of San Francisco, and I fully support those property owners who wish to add a garage, within the confines of the current Planning Code.
    I’m continually amazed at what people here complain about.

  28. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Not really complaining, just pointing out the reality of the situation in SF with the narrow lots.
    And you’re inferring too much about what I’m thinking. All I’m saying is that garage doors are blank faces of utility structures and as such are less attractive than facades of structures meant for human occupation. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that street facing garages are ugly.

  29. Posted by jenofla

    I remember an architecture teacher saying that neighborhoods filled with facades dominated by garages would look to aliens more that cars lived in them, rather than people. That said, the typical SF garage facade still looks far better than a SoCal pink-Mediterranean subdivision with their 3-car facades.
    Glen Park is one of the few neighborhoods with BART access that feels clean, quiet, family-friendly, walkable, and safe. That is why it is desirable.

  30. Posted by Jen

    I wish these sites required the use of real names linked to Facebook or Twitter accounts. If you couldn’t hide behind anonymity the quality of posts and discussions would greatly improve.

  31. Posted by lol

    I get your point, Jen.
    There are 2 sides to this coin:
    1 – As you say non-anonymous posts would push people to ponder what they post. Everything sticks in this new world and people would quickly learn to restrain their instincts.
    2 – Anonymity brings candor, and candor fuels debate. Negativity in this society is seen as a flaw, but you need other people’s feedback to keep you grounded. I was a bear for 3 years and am a bull for 2. My posts show that and they’ve been influenced by other people’s opinions. I’ve been out there in my bear years and posts people like anon1/fluj have been annoying but in a very healthy way. Today it’s Brahma, anon, etc. Just imagine Real Estate blogs with no negative comments! It would look like a Real Estate supplement from the SF Chronicle!
    A world where everything is open is also a world where people will not always speak out.
    One slip in a debate and there’s no coming back. Your name is out there with something you said in a certain context, a certain time in your life.
    Your future employers, landlords, business partners, client, Realtor, colleagues, potential mates WILL Google your name, and most of everything you post will be out there. I do that for my tenants for instance to check they do exist and haven’t been raised by wolves.
    As a consequence your private life just became narrower, more restrained. I love our current freedom.

  32. Posted by jack

    This one closed for $1.825m on Dec 7th. Wonder what the profit margin was for this project.

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