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Update or leave in original condition?

6 replies [Last post]
Joined: Mar 7 2006

Our custom Eichler located in Green Valley, (near Fairfield) is ~2600 sq ft. and has a host of original traits (mahogany wall paneling, original light fixtures inside and out, door hardware and trim, original blue prints, on and on...). We are in the midst of planning a mini-remodel so to change the look to be a bit more modern. However, after reading several posts the changes we had planned are what everyone is trying to source back to original. Our dilemma is simple; do we stay the course and change the 16' paneling and drywall, modify the door hardware, etc. or keep the home with its original grander? Of note: the changes are not critical as everything is in great condition, we just figured the refresh would add to the overall value of the home...?

So here we are posing the question, (to a biased audience of course ;) What would you do?

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Joined: Apr 2 2003

Well, you are in an enviable position. Most Eichler owners are not as fortunate as you--a custom Eichler AND in great original condition AND with blueprints. If you could move that house to San Jose, I'd buy it in a minute!

First, realize you could not probably build today, without a very hefty price, what you already have. With that in mind, be cautious that any changes you contemplate do not de-value critical elements. (Like painting solid redwood ceilings worth 10s of thousands of dollars, reducing their value to the equivalent of drywall).

- If re-sale value is the purpose of the mini-remodel, then you need to talk to a *knowledgable* Eichler realtor--maybe a couple. They can probably advise you what might add value to your home vs. what would actually decrease its uniqueness. Depending on the era, you might find that grounding outlets, adding circuits, or upping the electrical service would be valuable upgrades. Adding a water softener, upgrading the boiler--all these can add re-sale value and increase your own comfort to boot.

- If re-design is the purpose (you're tired of the same old thing), you can probably totally revamp the look with interior changes to the furniture/accents/colors without touching the mahogany "backdrop". Same for the exterior with changes in color/style of landscaping. Changing *elements* rather than the house itself will safeguard its uniqueness while giving you the breath of fresh air you crave.

Go monochromatic (black/white/grey with leather/chrome/glass) or tiki (tropical/natural with bamboo/barkcloth) or atomic (geometrics/neons with vinyl/art etc.)

To get ideas, browse the photo gallery on this site and others on the web. Invest in some good midcentury modern books and magazines (like CAModern, Dwell, Atomic Rance, etc.)

Have fun and dream of all the possibilities that are possible without guilt!

My 2 cents.
Jake

eichfan at rawbw dot com

Joined: Mar 7 2006

Jake thanks much for the feedback; many points for us to ponder. We always knew how great this home was but have never seen anything remotely similar considering our location to many of you on this 'lounge'. I appreciate the feedback and am interested in hearing more from others.

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Joined: Aug 28 2003

Re-wiring for use with modern computers and adding a DSL line could also increase your resale value. We did that as soon as we moved into our Eichler because I work from home but also because we wanted a very fast connection to the internet.

Joined: Mar 2 2004

Fans in the bathrooms and a better kitchen fan are good. Updating phone and cable along with network wiring is good. Modern windows and wall insulation are items that improve quality of life and value while preserving the distinctive nature of your 'modern' home. When you replace your roof be sure to eliminate the little lakes and add more insulation. Insulating gradually pays for itself, and makes life worth living on hot Fairfield days. Does your house already have A/C, and when was it built?

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Joined: Mar 25 2003

I've updated two Eichlers, both to get back to a more original look. In fact, in our neighborhood, the more original ones can often sell for more than ones that have been "modernized".

You can probably get by with updating the bathroom tile (I like one inch glass mosiacs in a neutral or monochrome color), the countertops (inexpensive formica works great), and flooring (in our neighborhood black slate or white VCT seem to be top choices). Upgrading the aluminum windows is also a smart choice provided you go with aluminum windows with the same look.

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Joined: Mar 25 2003

Oh, and whatever you do, do NOT change out 16' paneling for drywall.

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