Wednesday, July 20, 2016

100 Echo--On the Market Summer 2014

Gorgeously Renovated, Meticulously Maintained, but First-- 

If You're Under 50, You Still Hafta Read This---

You might have noticed my reference last week to "AARP-certified"--a young buyer came into a recent level listing and said "my mom said this home was AARP-certified."  What a great concept.  For the last few months, coincidentally, I've been making my way through
The Accessible Home by Deborah Pierce (feel free to contact me to borrow it).  Pierce creates a roadmap for owners looking to accommodate: 
  •  regular visitors with accessibility challenges (I regularly hear "this house won't work for us--my mother can't handle all those stairs when she comes for dinner"),   
  • themselves at all ages,  
  • a disabled child, or  
  • a disabled partner.  
Her mantra is "Universal Design Equals Intelligent Design," and she's so smart!  Think about how much easier it was/is to use strollers on corners with curb cuts ostensibly for wheelchairs, or to change diapers in the disabled bath stall.  And think about how many of us are likely to be inviting our parents into our lives and households in the coming years.
Much of her thinking looks at changes you can make (or plan in a renovation) that are great now, but lifesavers later (and think about the costs if you had to move because a home no longer met your needs).  Asking the right questions is as important as the anticipated needs you plan for.

Key insights for all of us include: 
--Closet planning can increase efficiency by 60%.
--Knobs are a problem; cabinet pulls and door lever handles are not.
--Pocket doors (and "barn" doors) can be really useful in avoiding do-si-do routines.
--Low maintenance layouts and surfaces are good for everyone.
--Can everyone get out safely in an emergency?
--Changes in stone or pavement color (slate to concrete) can signal surface or slope shifts, particularly for the visually impaired.
--Drawers for the fridge, for pots, for files are easier for everyone to access, as are side-swinging oven doors (Gaggenau has had them for years).
--Think about easy and rain-protected ways to get folks out into fresh air--level-out decks, etc. turned me onto the notion of placing shower controls in a location that doesn't involve your getting wet every time you prep for a shower (try doing that in a wheelchair!)
--Bay windows are another way to create "elbow room" in tight spaces.
--Think about dual purpose grab bars/towel racks. 
--Planning in laundry rooms and mud rooms is key.  There's a lot of maneuvering that goes on in each, and a washer and dryer in the basement is a pain for everyone, including kids who can otherwise help out.
--In-bath storage.  Use for linens now, and various medical supplies later. 
--And what about a bidet after all, for keeping things clean?  Those Japanese toilet retrofits (Google "Toto Washlet") work really well.
--Don't forget the needs of a caregiver (my new listing at provides a great private housing arrangement.....)
Lofts can often be just the ticket--they typically involve elevators, low-maintenance concrete floors, wide spaces and modular functionality.
Note that the City of Piedmont, when recently overhauling its zoning code, added a "reasonable accommodation" reg.  Historically it was very difficult to get a permit for otherwise-prohibited renovations needed for various disabilities--say to convert an existing half bath to a full bath in order to allow an owner to live comfortably on one floor, or to expand an entry porch roof into a setback to provide a sheltered area for someone to get keys to open a door.  And frequently these adjustments had to come out when the owner sold the home, even though that meant the home again became less-accessible--a particular problem in Piedmont given that our housing stock is so old, on average.  Now, the City "may" require that the space be returned to its original status, or it "may" leave that more accessible home as-is for future owners.  See Chapter17.22.a of the City code for more.
And finally, I've mentioned it before at Margie Bowman's suggestion, but take a peek at North Oakland Village for thoughts and resources on how to stay in your home longer--assuming that's your preference.  If you're happy to move, just call me and we can make that happen too!
100 Echo Avenue, A 3/2 Home with Legal 1/1 Unit
Tucked between the Piedmont Line and Piedmont Avenue

Sunshine yet Privacy

Gorgeously renovated with careful attention paid to form and function, 100 Echo Avenue is tucked between the City of Piedmont border and Piedmont Avenue Elementary.

Handcrafted Details Joined with Comfort

Walk through the gate under the handcrafted rose arbor and through the garden,

and then revel in the historic home's gorgeous architecture, great light, thoughtful details, remarkably open layout, and fine materials--

--host family and friends in the unique octagonal dining room with its coved ceiling, cozy fireplace and open connection to the kitchen;
--convene the book group in the large living room, while your spouse relaxes in the main-level parlor (originally a bedroom) or in the hot tub in the private rear garden;
--enjoy a bath in an original cast iron tub on the main level, or step into the upper bath with its luxurious warm floors and roomy stall shower;  
--prep breakfast or dinner in the light and bright recently renovated kitchen with its heated tile floor and high-end finishes;
--appreciate the home's many built-in shelves, discreetly placed closets (including cedar-lined closets in the master), and thoughtful storage solutions.

Take Advantage of the East Bay's Walkable Lifestyle

The secure and dog-friendly fenced home is just a long block from Piedmont Avenue and its cafes and prized restaurants (including Michelin-starred Commis, and highly rated Baywolf, Gregoire, Dopo, and Homestead), the Piedmont Theater, Piedmont Grocery and other amenities.  Hoping for a big flat yard?  The playground of up-and-coming Piedmont Elementary School is just across Glen Avenue (as is the new Piedmont Avenue library); several private elementary schools are within a few blocks of the home as well.

Further afield are Lake Merritt, with its 3.5 mile run-walk trail, 700-acre Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Mountain View Cemetery at the top of Piedmont Ave., and the East Bay's parks-beloved photographer Galen Rowell said in Bay Area Wild, "we bought our ... home so we could run, hike, ride, and bike the extensive trail system through this section of a thirty-mile greenbelt that rims the back of the East Bay hills from Richmond to almost Hayward....No other major metropolitan center in the world boasts such an extensive system of wild greenbelts.... For years we surprised out-of-town guests by taking them on wildland walks along our favorite trail, frequently seeing deer, foxes, and coyotes at dawn or dusk."

Hop on an AC Transit bus to downtown Oakland, the nearby McArthur BART station, or to San Francisco's Financial District (WiFi included!)--it's all so convenient you can sell the car!  College Avenue, Berkeley's Elmwood, and Oakland's hip Uptown neighborhood (home of Art Murmur) are all closeby, as are Routes 580, 880, 24, 13, OAK and SFO.

An Eco-Friendly and Efficient Option, Done Right

High-End Sun-Drenched Kitchen
Too frequently, buyers ignore a home's infrastructure.  These smart owners have not!  Through several rounds of renovation, the owners carefully upgraded to double-paned windows, high-efficiency furnace, Icynene insulation, Energy Star appliances and water-wise fixtures.  The roof is sound, the foundation upgraded, the sewer lateral replaced, the garage is practically new, the galvanized plumbing is replaced with copper, the seismic work is done, the drainage system is tried and true, and the pest inspection is under $2,000. 

Moreover the homeowners have been great stewards of the place.  They continually amended and enriched the property's soil, and used only natural fertilizers and pest control.  (The garden's snails were for many years collected and sent over to the elementary school to feed the ducks and chickens that were raised there by a teacher!)  Hummingbirds and butterflies enjoy the garden's carefully selected plantings. The home's layout and energy flow was improved based on feng shui consultations, and in front, a gorgeous rock "anchors" the home to the surrounds.

The Lower-Level Unit Offers Great Flexibility

Legal Unit Below
Originally a single family home when built in the early 1900s, and a legal tri-plex more recently, the home has been used as a single-family home with a sound-insulated and attractively updated and spacious legal 1 bedroom/1 bath unit below for many years.  Perfect for visiting relatives or friends, for an au pair or caregiver, for college students or as a large home office, the unit also can provide the buyers with a prudent financial cushion if rented out.

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