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Outside the box

Original post made on Feb 22, 2008

The majority of houses in Old Mountain View are decades-old country homes, complete with bay windows, front porches and other western features. It is in this setting that one family scraped their 1908 Craftsman and built a prefab "Dwell Home."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 22, 2008, 4:08 PM

Comments (15)

3 people like this
Posted by Judie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 22, 2008 at 6:34 pm

I live around the corner from this house and I'm not a big fan of modern architecture, but think it is terrific! I have been watching it since they broke ground and I'm really impressed by the quality of construction and the speed at which it has gone up... I even chatted with of the owners while walking past the construction site and he told me all about it. This is going to be a great place for them to raise their family and I am happy to learn that it is built with green materials and is super energy efficient. I actually think they are doing a lot to make a modern house fit into this neighborhood. Despite the fact that it is two stories house that has a flat roof, they are using lap siding and the house has a beautiful front porch that looks like the other homes on the street. I think that once it is painted and landscaped that this house will be a beautiful addition to the neighborhood. I know that it will significantly increase my property value and I can't wait to see it when it's finished. By the way, Mountain View Avenue is full of two story houses and a range of type and (mostly bad) condition, plus there has been a ton of new construction lately... so you can't really say that there is just one architectural style.

3 people like this
Posted by Julie Stanford
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 23, 2008 at 11:19 pm

I live in the beige house with the earth flag in the picture above. I don't think it's fair that you are using my house as an example of why the new house does not fit in with the neighborhood. I really like the modern design of the new house house and think it's neat that my house and the new house have matching porches out front. I think the house does fit with the neighborhood because there is a wide variety of homes on the block and most are two story (unlike mine).

Also, note that the craftsman design of my house is not original but rather a result of a remodel three years ago. Up until three years ago, my house was a ranch style house with almost no porch. So both the design of my house and the Dwell house are new...neither is "the original" look of the neighborhood.

3 people like this
Posted by Craftsman Lover
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 24, 2008 at 1:15 am

I am okay with the new home, but what was the thinking of the MV planning Dept. They make me sick. What happen to the rules of building? Make sure that the homes being built stay in a similar style construction as the neighborhood. I am upset they allowed this. It should have been cought in planning dept. I have seen two new beautiful homes go up in the neighborhood in the last year and they are gorgeous. One seems very petite from the front and compliments the neighborhood, but it is huge. They, I would say, did their homework. These are the homes that need to be in the Voice.

3 people like this
Posted by Honor Spitz
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2008 at 6:26 pm

I had the opportunity to have a guided tour of the Dwell house last weekend by the owner. He was very kind to take the time to show me around, pointing out the notable eco/energy saving features of the home. He's understandably very proud of his new house and very excited about moving in and becoming a long time resident of his new neighborhood and community. It is my hope that the neighbors will welcome the family "to the fold" irregardless of their personal architectual preferences.

To some, this particular case may seem like "nice house, wrong location", but until and unless the City has in place more specific and strict rules and guidlines regarding such matters, people can build whatever they find to be attractive.

3 people like this
Posted by Georgia
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2008 at 3:00 am

Folks with an interest in this issue might want to look at the Dwell website which has information about the cost of their houses( roughly $500,000 to $700,000(seems steep to me.)
Note also that as we try to catch up with our neglect global warming we have to think about the cost to the environment of bigger and bigger houses, even eco-friendly ones. And where do all the tear-down materials go??

3 people like this
Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2008 at 11:56 am

Once an old house is "scraped" it's gone forever. The unfortunate generification of America sadly happens in other communities, but it should not happen in ours. The reason I bought in Mountain View is to enjoy its historical charm. Had I known that our City was so passe about protecting this history, I would have located elsewhere.

Dwell's house unfortunately disrupts the charm that existed before on Mountain View Ave. How can anyone believe that the owners and designers who up to now have been so immune to the opinions of their surrounding neighbors would really be interested in welcoming the community? It's more like usurping the community.

3 people like this
Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 27, 2008 at 1:07 pm

I know the owners and I think it is ridiculous to make claims that the owners built this house without a concern for global warming. A couple of facts that people may not be aware of:
- The owners tried as much as possible to save the previous house but due to years of neglect, it was not possible to save that building. The foundation and the rest of the structure was too badly damaged and it would have cost more than building a new home and potentially use just as many resources but result in a less energy efficient structure.
- The owner tried to work with a company that salvages old house materials by deconstructing the old house instead of demoing it. The companies they contacted that do this, refused to salvage the old house because it was in such a state of disrepair they were not interested in the parts. Even so, before they demolished the house, the owners went through and dismantled anything that could be salvaged on their own and either gave it away or are using it themselves.
- The new house is built using as much energy saving and green materials as possible. The owners are also planning to install solar so that it will not be using any energy from the grid. In fact, a prefab modern house uses less energy than custom homes to build because the materials are not all one-offs.

You may not like the design, but claiming that the owners have no regard to global warming issues is ridiculous. I would bet if you did a comparison that the new house will use a lot less energy than the old -- which was about to topple over.

3 people like this
Posted by A Neighbor
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 28, 2008 at 9:09 am

I am planning on replacing my older home with a prefab home , although another type of prefab. I have been looking for a long time at what options are open to me, and remodeling an old outdated and not appealing (to me) design is not something that makes sense to me.

I have no need for a great amount of square footage or flair, so I have decided to build an LVL house from Architect Rocio Romero Web Link. Basic home "kits" start well under $50,000 but that does not include finish carpentry, electrical, plumbing or glass. Still once complete I will be WAY WAY under normal market cost for similar construction in this area.

One of the things that really interests me in the styles on most modern prefab home designs is that they seem to follow the basic design thoughts put forward starting in the 1930's by Frank Lloyd Wright and his venerable Usonian home style "designs for moderate cost - one family homes".

3 people like this
Posted by MV-HiT
a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 28, 2008 at 9:35 am

Times change. Mountain View is a high tech city. I expect a lot of more of this type of change to come to MV.....and its part of the reason I live here.

3 people like this
Posted by A MV resident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 28, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Compared to all the oversized Mediterranean-style McMansions going up in the various neighborhoods, this design looks clean, simple, timeless and the streetside view really doesn't look all out of scale and style with the other houses.

3 people like this
Posted by jbunniii
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 28, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Most Mountain View housing is nondescript and often shabby, despite costing $1 million and up. The idea that its character needs to be "protected" from encroachment by other styles is laughable.

3 people like this
Posted by New2MV
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2008 at 3:31 pm

As someone actively researching a pending move to Mountain View, I'm dismayed by many of the critics holding forth about the Dwell house. Have any of you looked at much of the new construction going up in your city??? Search your local real estate listings and you will see a plethora of appalling designs that look like they were made of whatever happened to be on sale at Lowe's that week. Perhaps if the owners will agree to retrofit their new home with beige vinyl siding and fake plastic shutters with matching round louvers the neighbors would feel less threatened. As for the neighbor looking to sell her house... PLEASE WAIT UNTIL MY FAMILY ARRIVES! I'll gladly rescue you from the abomination next door.

3 people like this
Posted by GREENwithEnvy!
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 17, 2008 at 3:12 am

It is utterly amazing to me that anybody who has lived in the Bay Area would call the architecture of this house "modern" or out of place in this community... and I have to wonder if Daniel DeBolt, Laura Goff and/or Carol lewis have ever seen an [url=Web Link] ?!?

Here's a brief architecture lesson folks; Eichlers were built in California from the late 1940's through the early 70's (there are well over 4000 of them right here in the South Bay) and characterized by their flat roofs, indoor-outdoor spaces (atriums), post and beam construction, radiant heat, walls of glass, open floor plan, mahogany woodwork, and clerestory windows. Today, a 50 year old Eichler on a postage stamp sized lot will set you back a million bucks +.

Hmmm... what do you know? The Siminoff's Dwell Home has the exact same features as the "decades old" Eichlers do! Furthermore, this beautiful, dare I say- retro, house DOES have a front porch AND a bay window... Just like the "majority of the homes in the area" do. C'mon, this thing's not modern, it's a throw-back!

I guess the Dwell house does have some features that the old Eichlers and antique Craftsmans don't have; It's energy efficient, sustainably manufactured and one would assume is built to comply with Title 24 and current seismic standards also (oh, so maybe it IS modern?)!

I want one! I guess that makes me green too...

3 people like this
Posted by Resident and Neighbor
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 23, 2008 at 2:31 pm

This house is an ugly box that dominates the lot and is completely out of character with the other houses. SHAME on the owner and the city for putting this monstrosity in our midsts. Does the Siminoff's also have a permit for the business they run out of this house?? It's not enough that they destroyed an older home, but they have to put this crap in its place. And were the city staff paid off for allowing this or what?! This is an affront to my neighborhood and I hope everyone gets out and votes this staff OUT next election. If the owner thinks there's any way in god's green earth this box will "blend in" he is crazier than I suspected.

3 people like this
Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 23, 2008 at 2:55 pm

So, they tear down a house and put in a ticky tacky box, forcing neighbors to move rather than endure this freak of nature. Why didn't these people build somewhere else? Why didn't the city ask US what we wanted next to us? Green With Envy's superior attitude is a great reflection of the owner's. Let me give YOU a history lesson about this wonderful neighborhood -- and it does not include the housing you mention. Here's a new flash: you CAN build Craftmans with energy efficiency built in. It just takes imagination. Something this couple fails to have.

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