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Help--I'm getting a baby Eichler in Concord...NEED ADVICE

14 replies [Last post]
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Joined: Jun 5 2005

Hey gang:

I need to fix my:

Bathroom....tile, flooring, water pan/shower pan replacement, possibly a new sink and medicine cabinet, shower door.
--Does anyone have advice on replacement tile...I was thinking this cute mosaic I saw at EXPO, but the price scares me..
--Should I get a Jacuzzi tub, or just a basic one
--The sink attached to the wall is loose, what did the originals look like?
--Should I get a triple shower door?
--Who would be good for all this?

Flooring..Original VAT is coming loose, any floor advice? Everyone seems to vote for VCT/Marmoleum, but it's hard to find something that looks good with the Mahogany walls. Also, since the original tile is asbestos, do I need an abatement company to remove the tile?

Siding/beam replacement--Yeah, that too...dry rot from the original siding..any good people for this?

Fence fixing--know of any reasonable guys?

Gardener...my large tree needs trimming.....anyone who isn't gonna be expensive?

Air conditioning--I'm thinking about the Samsung Ductless...any experience with that?

On the plus side, I have good furniture that will look great with the house.

Any advice/hints would be appreciated...

Please e-mail me at itisso63@hotmail.com with your blessed advice...

Thanks everyone!!!!

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

Welcome to the community! It sounds like you have a/several big jobs ahead of you. My parent's first home was a tiny Eichler in Sunnyvale, built in 1949. I was three when we built our custom CA ranch and moved to Los Altos Hills.

Hubby and I bought our Eichler in San Jose 10 years ago and could not imagine living in any other kind of home. The biggest word (actually wordS) of caution I can give you is to TAKE YOUR TIME in making changes, if at all possible. We made several bad choices in our rush to upgrade and make our Eichler-which was all original except the hall bath (which included carpet on the floor - yuk) -livable-- and ended up having to throw or give away a lot of new stuff. Fortunately, most of our mistakes were furniture related. Costly but at least it did not mean calling the contractors back in to rip out their work and do it over.

Sounds like you may be OK in the furniture dept. - though I am still not 100% happy w our furniture in the LR - I think the scale is just a little bit too large (Crate and Barrel). Design Within Reach has great stuff for Eichlers, but much of it (except their small round tables and all the great chairs) are way too big in scale for these smallish homes. They look good in the big showrooms, but not so good when you get them home--unless you have a good eye for design and scale and carefully measure first. Fortunately, all that we have purchased from them has worked out really well, because we relied on their design advice - even for color selection.

So many of the traditional things - especially those shown in big box places like Home Expo - just don't work in midcentury modern homes - IMHO. This would especially apply to mosaic style tile, dark terra cotta or Grecian style stuff - since it goes contrary to everything the architects worked to achieve. Smooth, clean, uncluttered perpendicular lines and simple materials. No archways. No tiny tiles. Not even tile on the countertops. The VCT on the floors worked great because they had a seamless appearance. That said, I am getting ready to violate the "tiny tile rule" in the master bath remodel, due to fear of slippage. We will probably use 2" or 4" tiles on the floor of the dressing area and the shower floor. The hall bath has 12" tile in the main area and 6" on the shower floor and they are really slippery and dangerous. This is one example of where the more grout lines the better. Also keep in mind that according to all the Eichler-specialized contractors I have interviewed over the years, the real small tiles (like the 1" fad that everyone is going nuts for these days) are very expensive to install - so expect to pay top dollar for the labor unless you do it yourself.

We lived for 2 years without a working cooktop - just using the oven and an elect. skillet, bc I was paralyzed with fear over ruining the charm of the home - having seen so many terrible Eichler kitchen remodels. Finally ended up having the orig. cabs refaced with new formica, took out the island and replaced it with a new one that nearly matched the original in dimension (slightly larger-but same height). Used formica for countertops too-though Corian also looks great.

Overall, I would also try to keep in mind the open floorplan of these homes - which means that one of the worst things you can do is break up the flow. One is far better off to have all or most of the walls and floors the same material and color. We tiled 100% of our floors with 12x12 light colored ceramic tile ($1.33 per tile for PEI 4 rating of "light industrial"). That was 6 years ago and they still look new. Sally is right - go to a warehouse and stay away from the high priced retail shops. We were able to tile the entire house (1536 ft^2) for what it would have cost to just do the entry, and kitchen with the original tiles we had in mind from Tile Fantastic. Total price with rip out of old VCT and installation was $13.50 per ft^2. Hard to get that price today though. No, we did not use an abatement firm, as the tiles came up easily, were only located in the kitchen as the others had been replaced with carpet, and did not generate any dust.

A great way to get ideas of what does and does not work is to study lots of pics of MCM homes - like Dwell magazine, or http://www.eichlersocal.com home gallery.

Good luck!

cathye

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Joined: Jun 5 2005

My contractor starts Monday to fix siding & fences!!!

Probably going with VCT...unless anyone can turn me on to a good tile deal for around $1/sf...I want to go with Chalk/Cool White VCT to complement the Philippine Mahogany walls.

Still need a gardener...I didn't realize I have 3 large trees...anyone have a good inexpensive gardener in Concord?

Air conditioning--I got a quote for $17k for the Samsung Ductless setup. The air conditioning guy recommended a roof unit for $15k...and putting vents in the ceiling. Way too much $$$. I got a portable/rolling AC from Lowes for now.

Any advice/hints would be appreciated...

Please e-mail me at itisso63@hotmail.com with your blessed advice...

Thanks everyone!!!!

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

Your new flooring choice sounds great. Too bad about the AC situation. You must have a lot of square footage.

We had a Samsung ductless system put in for a little over 6K, but only got one compressor (that doubles as a heat pump as backup in winter) and it only supports two delivery units. So we have one in the LR/DR area - it also cools the kitchen a bit; and the other in the MBR. It makes sleeping during hot weather ever so much better! I used to come home to an 85 degree house, but now can come home to one where the MBR and common living areas are 74 or less. I can get it as low as 68 later in the eve if I want to. Ductless systems are terrifc and we did it w/o any roof penetrations.

Lynne

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Joined: Apr 2 2003

Hi,

I also chose Armstong VCT a couple of years back and have been pretty happy with it. I did want to just raise a caution regarding very light colored tiling, the same caution you would expect for choosing a very light colored carpeting in another home. Light colors show dirt and imperfections (from traffic or damage) much quicker than medium toned floor coverings. I have noticed this in other Eichler owners' homes where light (almost white) VCT has been used.

You might find you can use a slightly darker color choice to improve the performance characteristics while still creating the contrast with the panelling you desire. For instance, I chose a green-gray toned Armstrong VCT and am happy with the contract to the panelling and also the wear factors. (The color is bright enough because of all the windows and mimics the light gray ceiling stain pretty closely). If your home is in the tan tones, you might find a similarly toned tile color.

If you are certain of your color choice, don't let me or anyone else dissuade you. However, if you did not consider the dirt/wear issues, you might want to take a second look.

Cheers.
Jake

eichfan at rawbw dot com

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Joined: Jun 5 2005

cathye wrote:
Your new flooring choice sounds great. Too bad about the AC situation. You must have a lot of square footage. Lynne

Lynne--he quoted me $17k for the ductless system for a house that is only 1367 sf. I got the quote from some guy from Home Depot. I need to ask someone else..preferably in the network.

My Eichler is small. I began to doubt if mine was a real Eichler until I saw the floor plan (actually the reverse) in the 'EICHLER HOMES: DESIGN FOR LIVING' By Jerry Ditto, Lanning Stern & Marvin Wax book on page 6 or 8....

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Joined: Aug 27 2003

Hi, and welcome to the Concord Eichler community (I'm in a Concord Eichler too). Regarding your AC questions - how is your roof? Previous owners of our house had installed a rooftop heater and AC (complete with roof ducts and holes through the roof into each room). Last Spring we had a new foam roof installed (all those holes in the roof were leaking around the old tar and gravel) and we haven't needed the AC more than three times since it was done. Yesterday at 10 am it was 79 outside - still 70 inside. The AC kicked on at 5 pm (we have it set at 78) for 15 minutes. (Since the house was still comfortable when the AC came on I've bumped up the AC to 80 degrees.) My Eichler sits on the lot perfectly for passive solar - back wall of glass faces south, so the sun shines in all winter but not at all all summer. That may make a difference - some of the houses in my neighborhood are perpendicular to mine - I can't imagine what the the setting sun coming in those back windows all evening does to the temp. inside. Anyhow, if your roof needs replacing a foam one might mitigate the need for any airconditioner at all. -(another) Lynne

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

Hi Tyler:

Ours is 1526 ft^2, so just slighly larger than yours, but not much.

I would NEVER let anyone from HD touch my Eichler. One quickly learns the hard way, that trying to work with home improvement professionals with no experience or appreciation for Eichlers can by quite risky. They see our homes and hate them, bc they do not understand or appreciate them. Some have actually said "these homes are junk." Telling that to someone that lives in a house worth three quarters of a million dollars is incredible. They will try to install flooring, and hit your radiant heating pipes and wonder what happened. They will look above and wonder what happened to the crawl space and bitch about it. What sometimes happens is that once the find out it is an Eichler, they will intentionally give you a really high quote, in the hopes that you will go away--it sounds like that might have been what happened to you.

Anyway, there are several advertisers on this site that install mini-splits and have a lot of Eichler experience. I used one of them after seeing the job they did on a neighbor's house. Mind you, the price we got was for just two handling units, designed to cool the LR/DR area and the MBR. It is not the same as central air, but it is a HUGE improvement over any other solution we have looked at. It makes the house cool and comfortable, includes a remote control with a timer, and is very quiet. Also, using someone that knows Eichlers will ensure proper placement, which is very important as well. We were also able to have ours installed w/o any roof penetrations - something that was very important to us. Keep a look out for your mail, as the latest iss of the newsletter features an article on mini splits. (PS: to your earlier comment that you were going to just get one of those portable rolling AC things--we did that initially and it cost $950. It is not worth it - as it is just a glorified fan. Could not even cool one 10x10 room. The only way you get any cooling from it is to sit directly in front of it while it blows air on you.

The other poster brings out another really important point and that is the roofing issue. The most important home improvement we made to keep the house cooler in the summer was to put in a foam roof. It made a HUGE difference, plus it was nice not to have to get out the buckets every time it rained. The cooling difference was huge - 10+ degrees cooler in the summer, without doing anything else at the time.

Prior to that, we had tar and gravel, which was a nightmare. Leaked, plus added about 1.5 tons of weight to the house--something that is not so good structurally speaking - at least over the long term. Don't let anyone convince you that just putting in a T&G roof with proper insulation will do it. It will not have the same effect as a foam roof, even though foam is what many T&G roofers use for insulation. The white color of the foam reflects the heat away from your house, as opposed to absorbing it (just think about the difference between going barefoot on your street on a hot day, versus on white or light concrete and you'll get the idea.)

Anyway, among the other opinions/advice I have already shared, I would say - check out the roofing first - unless you already have foam up there, and pursue the AC second. The combination of the two is unbeatable. Prior to making those changes, I used to stay at the office until 9PM during the summer, just to avoid having to go home to a hot house. Hubby works nights, so he would not let me open up the house until he gets home - which is about 10:30PM. I just hated being a slave to the weather, but this is no longer an issue. I do not tolerate heat well, so addding the new roof and AC also meant the difference between my getting 3 hours of sleep (at the most) or 9 hours of sleep during the summer months.

The link to the Eichler focused professionals on this site can be hard to find, but it is at the top of the home page, under Home Improvement Resources.

Keep us posted on your progress!

Cathye

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Joined: Jun 5 2005

So far, I've done the structural stuff (siding, fences etc.), and I have just had 2 tons of vegetation removed from the property. This uncovered a few problems. Beams need to be fixed, due to plants climbing on them, and my front fence probably needs to be replaced.

I plan to do Asian landscaping, but can't find any good ideas.

For the front fence....I need ideas.....got any?

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

Have one built and then covered with Eichler siding. Paint to match your house.

We did that - as a copy of what other's in our neighborhood have done and love the look. (Keep in mind that we have a courtyard model, which means that 50% of the front of our house is the garage, which is covered in Eichler siding; and the other 50% of the front of the house is the fence - so for us, this was a critical part of "curb appeal.") In our case, we did not know at the time that Eichler siding was still available (an advertiser on this site now makes and sells it), so we got the closest thing to it that we could--so it is not an exact match. In your case, you can make it authentic and it will look great.

Some original courtyard Eichlers had cement block fences, which I also like a lot. Whether or not this is right for your house depends on the model you have and the look/functionality you are after.

Be sure to thoroughly browse the Eichler books (there are two that I am aware of) - as they are a great source for ideas.

Cathye

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Joined: Feb 8 2005

Tyler, I think I live around the corner from you... I am working on a design for a fence right now that you might be interested in. Do you live off of Babel?
Also, just to add to the roofing thing... Our roof was supposedly done in 2000... foam... yet, yesterday 100 outside 90 inside...

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Joined: Jun 5 2005

I've been looking through some books. Here are my ideas for a front courtyard fence.

1. Redwood and bamboo fence
2. Plain old redwood/wood fence
3. Cement block fence
4. Cement brick fence with the typical 60s design on it

What do you all think?

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Joined: Nov 26 2004

Keep it simple with a redwood or cedar fence that has lines which will compliment your Eichler and look like it came with the place vs. built after the fact with trendy or clunky material in 2005. The best way to accomplish this would be to either select a fence that has narrow pickets that approximate the width of your Eichler siding or you could alternate planks (wider planks separated by narrow planks).

I wouldn't get too creative with the materials. Bamboo is "in" now however my personal opinion is that a bamboo fence would be a little over the top and tiki-hut cheap looking. I think concrete would look a little clunkly and sterile, not to mention that it has a degree of permanence which means that you or someone else will likely have to live with it forever unless you want to pay big bucks to have someone demo and rebuild it one day.

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Joined: Jan 8 2005

We were going to do a jacuzzi tub but realized the plumbing would need to be re-routed since you can't really do a shower in the tub. This also really makes the bathroom cramped and you will need a permit if you have to re-route any plumbing. You should think of a big nice tub with a shower head over it and tile the walls above the tub. You can get tile cheaper if you go to tile stores and shop around. As for the gardening on a budget....go to Home Depot and look for some illegal workers and they will knock it all out for $10 per hour. This helps with all of the messy stuff. Most are really talented and hard working! You can also get a tile scraper while you are at the HD and ask the guys to use it to remove the tiles as well because it is really expensive to hire someone to professionally do this. Hey, you can also get some fencing materials and have them fix the fence too!!!

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Joined: Jun 5 2005

UPDATE--

I just fixed rotting beams near the entrance...

Next project is exterior paint...

I have gone back and forth with paint combos

White/Black Trim/Red Door
Cream/Grey Trim/Red Door
Light Blue/Grey Trim/Red Door
Grey/Black Trim/Red Door..I seem to be stuck on the red door
Light Green/Orange Trim/? Door--there is one in Concord like this already
Light Blue/Brown Trim/Red Door

Got any suggestions?

Any advice/hints would be appreciated...

Please e-mail me at itisso63@hotmail.com with your blessed advice...

Thanks everyone!!!

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