Thursday, June 28, 2012

Irvine Housing Blog

Irvine Housing Blog

Link to Irvine Housing Blog

Open House Review: 8 Brena

Posted: 28 Jun 2012 05:00 AM PDT

It is rare to come across a six bedroom home under $1,000,000, but I found one today at 8 Brena.  While the house originally had four bedrooms and a bonus room, the bonus was converted into two additional bedrooms.  Having been in the original floor plan numerous times, I was excited to see how this one was changed.

The basics:

Asking Price: $949,900
Bedrooms: 6
Bathrooms: 4
Square Footage: 2,955
Lot Size: 5,000
$/Sq Ft: $321
Property Type: Single Family Home
Year Built: 1978
Community: Northwood, Woodside

HOA dues are $97 per month and there are no Mello Roos.

Upon entering, the living room is to the right and the dining room to the left.  Both are pretty standard for a late 70’s home.  They are nice rooms, but don’t really have anything remarkable about them.  The kitchen is through the dining room and has been nicely remodeled.  There are granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, updated cabinets and a newer tile floor.  While the kitchen doesn’t have a built-in island, the current owners have a free standing butcher block in the center of the kitchen to provide extra counter and storage space.  It makes a nice addition.  The kitchen also has a breakfast nook surrounded by windows that look out to the backyard.

The yard is fully hardscaped, but is a good size and has a gate out to the greenbelt.  The home is located just steps from the bridge that connects to the Hicks Canyon trail.

Also downstairs is a pretty family room with hardwood floors.  A bar area was converted to an office space, which is much more functional and modern.  Beyond the family room is a downstairs bedroom.  This one is on the smaller side and rather dark, as it only has one small window facing the house next door.  The closet doors have been removed and replaced with large, dark, heavy curtains.  There is a full bath across from the room, but it hasn’t been updated.

Upstairs there are five rooms.  One room currently doesn’t have a closet or doors to the hallway (curtains separate the room from the hall), but it could easily be converted back to a standard bedroom.  While there used to be a full bathroom off the hallway, it has been converted so it’s now inside one of the bedrooms.  While it’s nice to have another en suite bathroom, I like to have at least one bathroom accessible from the hallway.  Again, this bathroom has not been updated.  The room it’s attached to is good size with a ceiling fan and mirrored closet.

As I mentioned earlier, the bonus room was converted into two additional bedrooms with a Jack and Jill bathroom.  Both bedrooms are a good size, with mirrored closets, high ceilings, and a lofted storage space.  The connecting bathroom has two separate pedestal sinks and, while it’s newer than the other bathrooms in the house, it still seems old and in need of updating.

The last room upstairs is the master bedroom.  It has a fireplace and a gorgeous view of the greenbelt and Hicks Canyon trail.  It has two large mirrored closets, two sinks, and a separate tub and shower.  The bathroom has not been remodeled.

The carpets upstairs had many visible stains and dark spots, with the exception of the master bedroom, where the carpet was newer.   That, along with the older bathrooms, gives the house a bit of a tired feel.  While the kitchen and family room are both nicely redone, the other rooms don’t match up.  However, though it could be nicer, it certainly can be lived in and a family could move in today without making any of the changes. 

I don’t think it’s as nice inside as the other two homes of the same model that have recently sold (23 Alegria for $850,000 last month and 31 Abeto for $912,000 in early 2011).  The asking price of $949,900 is too high.  This home does have one more bathroom than the others, and two additional bedrooms instead of a bonus room, but it needs more work than the others, which both had fully remodeled bathrooms and newer floors and carpet throughout.  Overall, it’s a great floor plan and would be a wonderful home for a large family, but the price needs to come down so the extra money can be put into new carpet and remodeling all four bathrooms.  I’m very curious to see what this one sells for as compared to the other two.

Discuss below or on Talk Irvine.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Home Architectural Design

Home Architectural Design

House in Itaipava by Cadas Arquitetura

Posted: 27 Jun 2012 07:32 AM PDT

This house is surrounded by mountains, rivers and vegetation of Rio de Janeiro. The architectural and structural party blend modern lines with a cozy interior, typical of architecture of this region. Cadas Arquitetura try to bring the garden as a part of the house. The result is an open space plan and glass facade continuing [...]

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CGM House by Ricardo Torrejón Schellhorn

Posted: 27 Jun 2012 05:39 AM PDT

The main challenge CGM House was making a 'primary residence' compatible with the context and environment of a 'vacation house'. The basic requests was a house that able to facilitate an intense social life with relatives and friends, adults and kids. At the same time, it has to be able to house ordinary family life, [...]

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Irvine Housing Blog

Irvine Housing Blog

Link to Irvine Housing Blog

IRWD Water Rate Will Increase in July - Why?

Posted: 27 Jun 2012 05:00 AM PDT

“Over the past five years, imported water costs have increased approximately 65%.”—Orange County 2011 Community Indicators Report (

 “Water is heavy (62.4 pounds per cubic foot) and tends to resist moving uphill. It takes a lot of energy to move water, but also to treat it, and then treat it again after we use it.”—19 Percent: The Great Water-Power Wake-Up Call,” KQED (

“We’re also developing alternate waste supply strategies to further reduce the need for costly imported water.”—Beth Beeman, IRWD Director of Public Affairs


Starting July 1, rates for customers of the Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) will increase by .02cents per one hundred cubic feet of water. In addition, the service charge will increase by 55 cents. You might think that this is due to the recent snow pack level which was only 40% of normal. However, reports are stating that this year’s water supply is adequate since last year’s snow pack was well above normal.

So, if water supply is adequate, why are the water rates increasing? Approximately, two-thirds of the IRWD water is from local sources such as ground water wells, reservoirs, and recycled runoff. However, the other third is imported water that IRWD purchases from the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC). MWDOC purchases this water from Metropolitan Water District of Southern Californian (MWD). The infrastructure cost associated with this imported water is the primary reason given for the need to increase IRWD water bills.

MWD gets it water from the Colorado River or the State Water Project. The Colorado River aqueduct, which is needed to transport the Colorado River water to southern California, was built in 1939, and the State Water Project system, which transports water from the northern California delta and the Sierra snowmelt by means of the California aqueduct, is out of date. Both these systems are in need of infrastructure updating. For example, the bay delta system, which is just a portion of the State Water Project system, is anticipated to need an estimated $27.8 billion in retrofits.

In addition, IRWD is responsible for maintaining 1,500 miles of pipelines, 53 reservoirs, and two wastewater treatment plants. Over 40% of MWD facilities are over 60 years old and need repair or replacement. For example, Yorba Linda’s Diemer water treatment plant, built in 1963, and La Verne’s Weymouth treatment plant, completed in 1940, are scheduled for $143 million in retrofits in the next two years.

IRWD was criticized by a recent grand jury for holding too much money in reserves ($225 million). However, Beth Beeman, IRWD director of public affairs, said, “These are not reserves.” Beeman also said, “That money is designated for infrastructure maintenance and improvements that will be needed in the future. It’s like putting money away for your kid’s college. It’s there when you need it.”


“Water rate hikes could be worst,” Tina Richards, Foothills Sentry (

Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) (

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Robert B. Diemer Water Treatment Plant Update (

Open House Review: 243 Terra Cotta

Posted: 26 Jun 2012 05:00 AM PDT

Condo Contrasts on Quail Hill     243 Terra Cotta, $769,000

As I exited the San Diego Freeway and made my way up Quail Hill my first impression was how remarkable the contrasts are in this community.  Moving off the packed lanes of the San Diego Freeway,   I drove past rolling open fields, and then approached  the door of a sleek condominium at the end of a quiet cul de sac.

For some this could be the best of several worlds.  Quail Hill offers access to 600 acres of permanent open space with first rate hiking trails,  the convenience and ease of upscale condos or homes, and quick freeway access to work, entertainment and other nature and art communities like Laguna Canyon.

Quail Hill has over 1,650 homes and condos in a secluded community with pools, shopping, outdoor fireplaces, tennis courts, playgrounds and Irvine’s quality schools.  At the foot of Quail Hill, the 2.8-acre Quail Hill Trailhead connects to southern Irvine’s extensive trail network.  Located at the end of Sand Canyon Road it marks the beginning of the Quail Hill Loop Trail, an easy two-mile natural surface trail open to the public from dawn to dusk.   Check the Irvine Natural Landmarks  website  for more nature trail information.

Inside 243 Terra Cotta I found  all the flair and function of a well planned condo. This detached and dramatic condo is a nice contrast to its rustic surroundings.  As you enter, to the left there is a small but impressive formal dining room.  To the right the living room is contained but quite dramatic.  The high ceilings, designer draperies and rich colors all work well with plantation shutters, ceramic tile, wood and carpet floor areas. The multiple window and balcony views are beautifully treated with faux draperies.


Over $86K in custom upgrades by the previous owner have resulted in a sparkling gourmet kitchen with granite counters,  island,  and walk-in pantry, plus a remodeled master and guest baths with dual granite vanities and stone sinks.     

Moving down the main hall. which really serves as the spine of the house, the  kitchen is on the left  with a small family room on the right.  Upstairs the master bedroom and bath echo the downstairs theme with designer draperies and rich colors.  There are three bedrooms and two baths with a loft, optional for a fourth bedroom, and laundry room upstairs.

Private outside space is snug, but the closeness to the rolling fields beyond is a particular delight on the patio at the end entrance.  One has the feeling some morning as you sit there and sip your coffee  you might look up to find a jackrabbit watching your every move.  Just a few feet from the patio, the open grillwork fence frames the green fields. The front patio is equally inviting, small but comfortable, nice for relaxing, great for summer suppers, or late night astronomy sessions.

There is a double garage with an epoxy floor, and 2 more parking spaces are available.

Specifics  for this 2 Level Modern Condo:

Beds: 3
Baths: 2.5
Sq.Ft: 2,100
$/Sq.Ft: $366
Common Walls Detached/No Common Walls
Cooling: Central A/C
Wood Fire Place/Gas
Garage Spaces Total 2, 2 parking spaces
Heating Type: Forced Air
Association Pool
Roofing: Spanish Clay Tile
HOA Dues: $220
Mello Roos Tax: Yes

Considerations and Comparisons:  The floor plan is efficient and functional, but for some the space may feel a bit confined. Outdoor private space is limited, but nicely balanced with the closeness of the open rolling fields and the quiet end position in the cul de sac.  On June 4 the price was reduced $5,900. In 2008 the property sold for $843.000.   Nearby properties for sale: 127 Tall Oak condo is listed at $669,000 with 3 bedrooms and 2.25 baths,  91 Canopy is listed at $749,000  with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths.  

Who will be the next occupant?  A small family who likes to hike and explore nature and values quality schools  could be happy  here.   A professional couple or an individual who spends weekends outdoors and wants quick access to work, entertainment, and dining spots will find this condo very workable.    Another couple or family who  works or spends time in Laguna Canyon and other coastal spots might be comfortable here. 

Discuss below or on Talk Irvine.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Irvine Housing Blog

Irvine Housing Blog

Link to Irvine Housing Blog

Kings of their domain

Posted: 25 Jun 2012 08:15 AM PDT

Is it enough if a school has a API rank of 10, or do growth scores govern the home prices of the school’s boundaries?  Today we look at two properties in two different villages of Irvine. Both have API 10 schools, but one has better growth rate than the other. Both properties have a good walk score to the assigned schools.  But for the same listing price, one of them has listed a single family home with four bedrooms and the other one is a detached condominium with three bedrooms.


Listing Price: $699,800
Beds: 4
Baths: 2.5
Sq. Ft.: 2,477
$/Sq. Ft.: $283
Property Type: Residential, Single Family
Style: Two Level, Other
Year Built: 2000
Community: North Park
Builders Tract Name: Evergreen
Builders Tract Code: EVRG
Builders Model Code: 4

Monthly expenses:
HOA Dues: $328/month ($183+$145)
Property Tax ( 1.0595%):  $ 7,414 Annually
Mello Roos: $1,631 Annually
Monthly Property Tax+ Mello Roos: $754
Monthly Mortgage (30 YR Fixed, 3.625%): $2,553

Pricing History:

Jun 04, 2012 Price Changed $699,800
Feb 21, 2008 Sold (Public Records) $700,000
Feb 27, 2006 Sold (Public Records) $875,000
Mar 13, 2002 Sold (Public Records) $472,000
Jun 30, 2000 Sold (Public Records) $406,500

Monthly Fixed Expenses: $3,635

In the North Park area, there were 53 homes for sale in May 2012, with a median list price of $799,000 ($321/SF). The most expensive property on the market in North Park is 39 Vacaville at $1,499,000. The least expensive property on the market is 305 Terra Bella at $315,000. Even though the house comes under Tustin Unified School District, it has excellent schools.

Assigned schools:
Hicks Canyon Elementary (K-5)
API rank 10
API Score of 942

Orchard Hills (Middle School 5-7 for 2011, K-8 planned)
API rank 10
API score of 952

Arnold Beckman High School (9-12)
API rank 10
API score of 866

154 KINGSWOOD #117, IRVINE CA 92620

Listing Price: $685,000
Beds: 3
Baths: 2.5
Sq. Ft.: 1700
$/Sq. Ft.: $403
Property Type: Residential, Condominium
Style: Two Level, Other
Year Built: 2001
Community: Northwood
Builders Tract Name: Arden Square
Builders Tract Code: ARDS
Builders Model Code: 1

Monthly expenses:
HOA Dues: $118/month ($78+$40)
Property Tax ( 1.0595%):  $ 7,258 Annually
Mello Roos: $2,481 Annually
Monthly Property Tax+ Mello Roos: $812
Monthly Mortgage (30 YR Fixed, 3.625%): $2,499

Pricing History:

Apr 19, 2012 Listed (Active) $685,000
Nov 12, 2004 Sold (Public Records) $620,000

Monthly Fixed Expenses: $3,429

In the Northwood area, there were 103 homes for sale with a median list price of $739,000 ($333/SF). The most expensive property for sale in this zip code is 75 New Dawn at $1,829,000, and the least expensive property is 2118 Timberwood at $265,000. Northwood homes also have the best Irvine schools.  Irvine School District recommends calling the district office to confirm the schools, but these are the tentatively assigned schools for the property.

Canyon View Elementary
API Rank: 10
API Growth: 966

Sierra Vista Middle School
API Rank: 10
API Growth: 948

Northwood High School
API Rank: 10
API Growth: 908

Which one would you buy?
If both the houses are built around the same time, and both are in safe/ non-hazardous areas, would a ‘better’ school force you to buy a smaller detached condo vs. a single family home? 
Is $400+/SF price justified for the Northwood condos?

Discuss below or on Talk Irvine.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Great Home Design, Architecture and Interior

Great Home Design, Architecture and Interior

Balcony Garden Design Ideas

Posted: 24 Jun 2012 10:37 PM PDT

balcony floral garden design

In the big city when land or spaces to be very valuable, living in the apartment or condominium is the best ways. But for someone who love with gardening, they must get difficulty to express their hobby that caused by limiting spaces. If you area facing off by this matters why not to try creating balcony garden. Ia msure most of apartment or condominium has balcony. At the balcony you can plan your favourite plan to make beautiful garden there. Here it is some sample tips and guidance to create beautiful small balcony garden that might could be your reference:

simple balcony garden photos

1. Balcony strength, before making garden at the balcony, you had better ask to the developer about the balcony structure strength. Make sure the balcony strength enough to hold the garden weight. I think you don't want to get serious problem when unwanted accident happen.
2. Potting, potting is the best ways to create balcony garden. We can fill the pot by our favorite plan. By potting you can arrange the garden depend on your desire by moving it. By potting can also make vertical garden.
3. Watering and Fertilization, you must make sure your balcony garden get enogh water to watering it. It is very important since water is the soul of the gardening activity. Without water all plant will dead. Sun light also important in order your garden can grow well, please make sure the balcony enable the natural sun light through the balcony.
4. Pruning and fertilization, you must do these activity regularly to keep your balcony garden always grow well for the best appearance.
5. Best places for favorite plan, balcony is one of the best places to keep our favorite plan from the thief since balcony very difficult reach by thief.
6. By adding small garden at the balcony, the quality of air in your apartment will better and make your environment more fresh and green. Yiub can add some furniture to enjoy fresh air for relaxing.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Home Architectural Design

Home Architectural Design

Dream Home in Banya Street Bulimba

Posted: 23 Jun 2012 07:52 AM PDT

This unique residence represents flowing open plan design and the most stylish of contemporary finishes to ensure easy entertaining and relaxed living of Bulimba. The lower plan was open seamlessly through floor-to-ceiling glass sliders to the private grassy back yard, in ground pool and amazing alfresco entertaining pavilion complete with integrated outdoor kitchen and fireplace. [...]

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Vaucluse House by Bruce Stafford Architects

Posted: 23 Jun 2012 07:12 AM PDT

Vaucluse House by Bruce Stafford Architect in Vaucluse, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. This home is situated on a narrow site with waterfront at one short end and parkland along the long northerly side. The prime design generator was to frame the various view opportunities from the moment one arrived off the street, by creating [...]

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