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Are Eichlers a pain? Does this Chron article speak to your experience?

Original post made by Jeremy Loski, Ventura, on Jul 29, 2006

Here's an interesting take on Eichlers from the San francisco Chronicle, with a Palo Alto resident quoted. Personally, I'm mixed in my opinion of this style of architecture, but am interested in hearing what others have to say.

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Comments (14)

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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 30, 2006 at 9:04 am

The only thing that I can say is that I would imagine that any house that had not been maintained for that many years would be a mess. I live in a lovely eichler and last winter I was not cold (yes, I have intact radiant heat in the floor, huge windows and no window coverings) or wet and did not have raw sewage on my lawn. However, I do maintain my house. Perhaps, if the house had been maintained her experience woiuld have been different. I do not think that this is an eicher issue, it sounds more like a family problem.


What I would like to better understand is why she chose the fact that this house is an eichler as the target of her frustration? Its just a house. Yes I love my eichler, but I am pretty sure that all recognizeable archtectures have people who feel strongly about them.

It may be that her house is not worth saving. She clearly thinks so. I just hope that if someone does tear it down, they are senstive to the privacy and concerns of the neighbors. Eichlers do have much glass and a two story home next door can adversely effect the property value and quality of life of the neighbors.


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Posted by KC
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 30, 2006 at 11:08 am

I agree with the previous commenter. It's good that the writer is going to become a renter soon, because she is obviously not prepared to be a homeowner. "Wahhh - my old neglected roof and sewer system leaks. I don't like the colors and furniture! Tear down the house!" That's silly and infantile, regardless of the architectural style of the house.

It's notable that the two people interviewed in the article who admire Eichler homes are not from Palo Alto. Here in Silicon Valley, we have developed a true indigenous architecture, designed by some of the top architects of their day to fit with the climate and lifestyle of this specific area. Palo Alto with its 4000 Eichler homes is the arguable center of this California Modern style and yet, within Palo Alto the familiarity has bred contempt.

I recently met Ned Eichler, the original builder's son. He has been surprised to find in recent years that his name is now recognized around the world: "Eichler? Like the Eichler house? They're so cool." People elsewhere know the houses because they've seen them in design magazines and style pages in the major papers (NY Times, LA Times, Metropolitan Home, Dwell, Spaziocasa . . .).

From the photos with the article, it looks like one side benefit of the inattention the house has had is that the redwood ceiling has not been painted. That clear redwood alone is worth $100K. The Eichler I live in was also very neglected when we bought it. A new roof took care of the leaks, and we installed the finishes and cabinets we wanted. The one thing we had to reluctantly live with was the fact that someone had previously painted the redwood ceiling with cheap white paint.


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Posted by EH
a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2006 at 12:45 pm

The original Eichler homes should be made extinct due to their energy inefficiency. Period.


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Posted by orangepeel
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2006 at 9:20 am

Poor girl, forced to live in a cool house for free. I really feel badly for her. Not because she had to live in a house she didn't like, but because as a "freelance journalist" she totally fails journalism 101 by not checking her facts.

She can't understand why the homes are architecturally important when Eichler himself wasn't even an architect. Whoa! Maybe she's uncovered a fundamental flaw in Eichlerville!

Nope.

She coulda Googled the architectural pedigree of the homes and discovered that the reason people are gaga for them is that Eichler hired world-class architects to design the homes he developed: Anshen + Allen, A. Qunicy Jones & Frederick Emmons and others.

We also get sage wisdom: "Eichlers are old."

And more insights: "Did you know that Eichler homes have a funky "radiant heating" system? This means that the heat comes up through the floor. Very weird." Whoa! Man, that's really strange. . . to think that heat actually rises. That's a stretch.

She's gonna be a professor at a UC school in the fall. To her students: good luck!


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Posted by Lori
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 31, 2006 at 2:52 pm

I couldn't have said it better than Leslie, KC and orangepeel, previous commenters, but I
won't hesitate to add in my two cents.
I live in, and love my Eichler, despite it's maintenance issues (and we have
plenty) because I'm
experienced enough to know that no matter what it's age, or what type of house, it
will require an endless laundry list of "to-dos"- forever!

As for the "funky radiant heat system," well, I guess to each his own
but nothing could be "cooler" than waking up on a chilly Jan. morning
with toasty floors and no socks required! Even the dog appreciates it.
Now, on the other side of that coin, the master bedroom (second floor) has no heat,
zilch, zero.
Why? Apparently former owners didn't like the space taken up by the
built in wall heater (we have a rare, split-level two story Eichler) and they ripped
it out. In the middle of winter our room is like an ice rink, but I don't whine, I throw on another
blanket and deal with it- there are worse problems in life.

Apparently she is out of her league in regards to
the obvious problems that need to be fixed- did she really think that
a house, rent-free or not, from the 1950s would be hassle free?
So, sell it someone who's been searching for that elusive Eichler; still
with priceless original finishes (ceiling, panelling) but in need of fixing.
Somone who will do the work needed without destroying
the neighborhood- that'll save her and all of us in the Eichler community
another round of depressing news.
Then, she can she laugh herself silly as she's handed her
share of the sale and she can go live in Santa Cruz, happily paying rent and
leaving those of us in the know, better off.


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Posted by Betty Schneider
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 1, 2006 at 4:19 pm

I love my Eichler and would hate to live in a box with holes punched in for windows. It has served my family well, from small children to disabled husband over 52 years. Long live the Eichler homes that make living inside feel like you are living outside. It is by far the most comfortable, accessable shelter we have ever had. The radiant heating is unbelievably even and pleasant; the floor to ceiling windows a constant joy to look out into the garden. Even two architecture students from Brazil arrived to actually see an Eichler, which had been discussed in their university architecture class in Brazil. They asked to visit others in the area and rounded out their experience by viewing some of Frank Lloyd Wright's houses in the states, as well as the Eichlers. They were unanimously pleased and delighted to actually see and study them.


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Posted by Rocky
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 1, 2006 at 10:39 pm

I couldn't have written it better, orangepeel. I've been living in a 1950 Eichler for the past 10 years and haven't any major systems fail, including the wonderful radiant heating. With all its so-called energy leakage, my total utility bill for a family of 4 runs about $150 per month. No complaints, Joe Eichler.


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Posted by trudy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2006 at 10:49 am

It's pretty sad to read this article. What an ignorant person. I hope the house winds up with an owner who appreciates it.


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Posted by trudy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2006 at 10:49 am

It's pretty sad to read this article. What an ignorant person. I hope the house winds up with an owner who appreciates it.


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Posted by KCS
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 2, 2006 at 11:23 am

And just for the record, Eichler and his architects did not invent radiant heating, the Romans did. This earliest method of central heating was picked up again by Frank Lloyd Wright and others, including Eichler, in the 20th century.

I grew up in the house I now again occupy and I have fond memories of lying on the warm floor on a rainy winter day reading books and doing puzzles. I echo what others have said here, I hope someone who appreciates the fine points of Eichler houses can purchase this woman's grandmother's house and lovingly restore it.


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Posted by designer
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2006 at 1:44 pm

As an architecture student who calls Palo Alto home, the article upsets me as well. She obviously doesn't appreciate the things us Palo Altans call "character". Having once lived in an original Eichler near Duveneck Elementary, I was captivated by the striking roof line and modern sense of style. Now I'm not calling "Eichlers" the greatest homes to live in - but I appreciated my past home (we moved, didn't tear it down) and my individual study of Eichler in school has made me respect it a lot more architecturally. There's a great Eichler remodel on Greer between Oregon Avenue and California that I always thought tastefully of.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 3, 2006 at 10:05 pm

You have to admit that the sliding door built-in cabinets whose doors no longer actually slide and the poor quality woods used in their construction and installation aren't really a high point in the Eichler homes. I've seen some great "restorations" which include much better energy efficiency and hardware that actually works. All in all, you have to admit that the Eichler style isn't the most comfortable, and that you have to live with quirks . . . I choose not to since avocado green appliances and orange shag carpeting aren't my thing.


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Posted by SM
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2008 at 2:04 pm

My sister lives in one of the eichler homes. I must say that I love the floor to ceiling windows. However for their family, 2 working parents of 2 growing kids, the maintenance of that house is way over her head. She has 2 big trees in the lot and almost every 6 months she has blocked toilets. The house is small (no family room and very small bedrooms, no attached bath for the master bedroom). She considered remodeling to add some more space to her house to accommodate her kids needs (my nephew would like to play drums, but there is no space in that house to keep it). However, the plumbing problems, not to say the leaky roofs, the non-sliding floor to roof windows, single pane, and many more issues that comes with a 60 year old eichler house was too much for my working sister to manage. They would love to move out if not for their 2 kids going to school and let a eichler loving person buy it and renovate it to preserve the originality of the neighborhood, but alas in Palo Alto, they can't afford anything else either and they must stay for the kids sake. So, she has decided to build a new home. Some of the comments sounds like as if people bought eichler homes because of the architecture. I guarantee you that most people in my sister's neighborhood who bought in the last 15 years bought those houses because of the good schools!! They had no choice. In bay area, we really don't have much choice. Expecting some of these hard working families to care for the falling apart 60 year old house is too much. Particularly if they didn't buy it for its architecture to begin with. So, I have nothing against a eichler home getting replaced by a non-eichler home. Expecting someone's personal home to be restored as if it is for historical reasons is absurd. Yes, people can probably be educated about the charm of certain types of homes. But my sister fails to see it in this eichler home because it doesn't fit her family needs. And she is highly educated. I wish she had more money & more time to tastefully remodel this home keeping its original eichler architecture, but right now she doesn't. So, I am fine with her decision. I can see all the sunset magazines I like and point it out to her each eichler home showcased there, but for my sister's house to go from what it is now and to one in the sunset magazine, I'll have to wait another lifetime.


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Posted by Old News
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 2, 2008 at 4:16 pm

This story is from Jul 29, 2006


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