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About to buy an Eichler, advice sought

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: Jun 18 2003


I recently began a search for a new house and when my realtor took me into an Eichler, I fell in love. ( I told my father about the house and it turns out that his parents had an Eichler when he was growing up.) My husband and I are trying to decide between two atrium model homes. I am hoping to get some feedback from people who live in this type of house.

The biggest difference between the two houses is the updating that has been done. In the first house all the windows in the living room have been replaced with French doors and glass windows. In my opinion the replacements are not really in keeping with the style of the house (they are sort of mission style). Foam insulation was added to the roof about five years ago when the roof was replaced. This house also has a drain in the center of the atrium.

The owners of the second house had the sewage and “gray water” line from the house replaced several years ago. They say that when they moved in they were told not to put anything into the garbage disposal and that the toilets were ‘temperamental’. They also report that several neighbors have similar problems. The new sewage line corrected the problem, according to the owners. The owners of this house have also built a custom cover for the atrium to keep the rain out in the winter. (This may be necessary because the atrium does not have a drain.

My questions for you Eichler owners are basically how important would you consider each of the differences in the houses. Also if there is anything you wish you had thought to ask about your house before you bought it, please let me know.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks in advance.


Joined: Mar 22 2003

How are the locations of the two homes? Are the floorplans the same? The location/neighborhood is something that you cannot change, so first and foremost, I would buy for location. Before we bought 8 years ago in Willow Glen, we became regulars in the neighborhood, going there all times of the day and night...walking around...talking to neighbors, watching everone go about their business, listening on the weekends for loud parties or barking dogs. We are in a charming, friendly, quiet neighborhood and well never leave it.

Now for the house: Things like windows and doors can be changed, though it is quite expensive. French doors are nice in French houses, but certainly not in mid-century modern homes, such as Eichlers, at least from an asthetic point of view. I don't know much about plumbing, but the problems that you describe with home #2 would concern me. Being on a slab, having to do anything with the pipes can and often does mean ripping up your floors. Regardless of your final decision, I would hire a really good home inspector to look at both houses, but especially #2.

In summary:

Buy for location first, and the house itself second. Beyond that, pick the home that you like best in terms of its "bones" (basic structure and layout). Finally, remember that Eichlers are expensive to remodel, so that needs to be factored into your decision as well.

Good luck!


Joined: Mar 20 2003

Cathye: how is an Eichler any more expensive to remodel than any other home on a slab?

Also, the first few Eichlers (1949-51) used wood sash "french doors" before switching to steel sliders around 52-53. Of course, these doors didn't have the ugly fake grills you see today.

Joined: Mar 20 2003

I would ask yourself, do I really, really trust my real estate agent. If yes, then they should be able to guide you through the process. If you are like me and like to cover all bases before a major commitment then I would recommend the following,

Get a termite inspection from a company of your choosing. I had a friend in Palo Alto who had carpenter ants and had to have his home tented. Better to do this before you move in instead of after. 3 of 5 houses I looked at had sub-terranean termites (WC and CV areas).
Inspect the radiant heating system. Focus on the piping just as much as the boiler. Make sure that you get a thorough pressure inspection of the pipes. You'll be glad you did. These systems are fantaftic when working properly.
Inspect the domestic water lines. Both the radiant and domestic run pipes in the slab and can be prone to leak if there is ground movement settling.

In my opinion, these are the critical areas that you want to know as much as possible.

Good luck,

Joined: Apr 2 2003

I think the earlier post about getting thorough, complete inspections by qualified, Eichler-knowledgeable people is really critical. And make sure you bring in a specialist for checking the radiant heat system--a home inspector who knows Eichlers should probably recommend that anyway. Ditto for termite inspection--email me if you're having trouble finding someone in the South Bay.

In my mind, poorly done or poorly chosen renovations are very costly as you pay for them twice--you pay the owners who want to be compensated for their expense, then you pay again when you have to redo them (or pay the mental price to live with something not in your taste). So, I'd avoid renovations you already know are not in keeping with the Eichler's modernist style--especially expensive renovations like sliding doors and windows.

Just my two cents.
eichownr at rawbw dot com

eichfan at rawbw dot com

Joined: Mar 22 2003

Joe B:

I did not say that Eichlers were any more expensive to remodel than any other homes built on slab. (Please re-read my previous post.) I chose my words deliberately.

What I did say was that they were expensive to remodel.


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