Let me take a moment to vent, and I'd appreciate any feedback:
I currently live in San Francisco but have been eyeing homes in the Highlands for some time and now I'm starting to get serious about buying one. I love the homes, the people and the neighborhood. Well, except for those high-power lines. Ahem.
I've been hitting every open-house Eichler and am absolutely horrified as to what people are doing under the guise of "updates". I'm not talking about taking some liberties with using more modern materials and the like, I mean like having kitchens and bathrooms that are taken out of some sort of Country Farmhouse type theme. Stuff that I'd find in poor taste in almost any home but looks absolutely evil inside an Eichler.
I think everyone would like to find an Eichler with good bones that has everything dated and maybe lots of stuff that needs fixin' but is priced accordinly, but these homes are getting more and more difficult to find.
I cringe when I see the real estate ad list "Updated kitchen!" and never seem to be able to prepare myself when I walk in and see that someone has probably spent very good money making the Eichler kitchen into sort of bright country-kitchen.
While I totally understand that a home is a home and you can buy it and burn it to the ground if you so desire, and I to an extent understand what another poster is trying to do but the Eichlers are such a unique place, it's painful to see what is done to some of them, especially when looking to own one.
Save your $ and by an Eichler.......please. The only way to really preserve these homes is to encourage folks who appreciate the architecture to own them. I went through the same process to purchase my home. I walked into countless beautiful architecturally significant homes only to find them badly scared by well intentioned "updaters" who took their weekend course at the Home Depot and attached 2003's french country to their post-war gem.
For the record, I know several realestate agents who feel that these "updates" increase the homes value amongst the ignorant masses. However, I have experienced first hand that an original home that has been treated with respect for the design and appropriate furnishings not only looks great but will fetch a higher price.
Buy the house with the country kitchen
Rent a chainsaw
Those country kitchens are reflective of common denominator tastes and behavior - - that's why Home Depot sells that stuff. This is a (mostly) market driven economy and it is significant that there really hasn't been another builder since the 70's replicating Eichler architecture or style in quantity - - this suggests that Eichlers are unique. Thus, preserving the stock of Eichlers is a niche; the market responds by a lower selling price even though good money was spent on the country updates and if there is a demand for that style, a builder will build it. So, this is a kind of Dead Poets Society while Rap Music is the norm.
Even within respectable Eichler society, I think there is a range of tastes in which one side of the range would not agree with the other side.
Styles come and go. The fashionable country kitchens of the early 90s are giving way to more modern designs of the 50s. For example, the July 2003 Sunset magazine features their annual western home awards of which about 75% are modern designs. Its worth a look to see that these stylish designs of the 50s alive and well in living color. :)
So, this is a kind of Dead Poets Society while Rap Music is the norm.
Shh. Please don't let anyone else know that I happen to listen to 'Rap Music' inside my Eichler. At least I don't play it loud enough for the neighbors (or even my children) to hear. :)
The Eichler we bought a few months ago was owned by a man who was more than a little bit fond of Smith & Hawkins. I'm sure he spent good money replacing the side gate with a wrought iron one. Oh, and the front door screams Country Living Magazine.
At least doors and side gates are easy enough to replace. Now about that bathroom...
I saw this post and couldn't pass it up. When we moved into our house in the kitchen we had crown molding throughout, stenciling on the walls, and they had added a pantery in the corner. To boot we were standing on Italian tile and carpet. Thinking back to what it looked like alwayse gives us a good laugh. Now if I can only finish the 3 rooms 2 bathrooms...
It's topics like these that make me wonder about the condition of my Eichler. I'm very fortunate to have an original Eichler--no remodeling with the exception of reflooring and repainting and a few replaced bathroom faucets. I still have the original kitchen as well, with a 40 year old oven that made one fine turkey yesterday, I might add!
My problem is, if I plan to live here for the next 18 years while my children grow up, then I know there is some minor updating that I personally would like to do. I even consider removing the wall between the family room and dining room from time to time. And although I do feel that these improvements would be aesthetically in line with the current design of this house, I wonder if the value of this home would be substantially higher if kept in its original original condition (in the event that I would sell it sooner).
I think these are appropriate updates:
Drywall the interiors (fire safety)
Thermal pane low e windows-NOT the multipaned country windows in stock at Home Depot
Roof-update as needed as far a covering but NO massive high gables
HVAC-boilers and etc. but it a/c mr slim BUT NO DUCTS ON THE ROOF
Appropriate and code updated electrical and plumbing.
Exterior updates as needed but no faux french country, mediteranean, craftsman McMansionism.
Modern exterior lighting fixtures (see Sunnyvale city guidelines)
If you have to stucco or adobe texture keep it in line with the modern aesthetic-See Palmer and Kriesel Palms Springs and San Diego Homes-they make good use of stucco, siding and brick.
Water/energy conserving Kitchen/Bath fixtures and appliances
Multi-Paned windows with shutters
Diamond pane windows
Gingerbread trim/treatements ala Cinderella/Storybook/Disneyland
Overscaled second stories
'French Country' styled plumbing fixtures and cabinets for kitchen bath
Enough of my rant but you get the idea....
In general terms, the RE agents I have spoken to about the impact of "orivinal versus updated or remodeled" on sale value have indicated that original often sells for a higher price. This is because so many buyers these days respect the original Eichler design and if they do update, they want the opportunity to begin with it in original condition, rather than some ruined remodel job.
I think the previous post that described appropriate updates well. For me personally, I would not hesitate to update a house that I planned to live in for another 18 years -- that is a long time for your 40-year old appliances to last. Just be careful in what you do, be conservative, and above all, I would not remove or move any walls. We liked the look and layout of our original kitchen so much that when we updated it, we kept the cabinets, but had them refaced with new Formica.