You didn't ask me to share with you, but I'm doing it anyway. Also I would like to preface this whole thing by saying that although I am not a professional, I did own a 1907 house that I refurbished.
My husband and I went to the Mira Monte open house today. (You're lucky. I usually call it Alta Vista or Mira Lona). Okay, so the Brown's are being a bit less than truthful. Does the house need work? You betcha. Someone on your blog said it would take a million bucks to redo. Not so much. You have to love old things and you have to love the joy of repairing them.
The walls throughout are in fairly good shape. Could you tear them out and replace them? Sure, but it isn't necessary. The woodwork inside is in really remarkable condition. Very little egg shelling. The windows are perfection. There are floors that need to be redone. Like all houses of this era, there are all kinds of cubby holes. For what purpose? Who knows?
The kitchen can be enlarged by taking out two such rooms. It will then double in size. The cabinets are in good condition. The walls that need to be taken out may be bearing walls, but there is already a header in place. So no problems there.
The back of the house is the area that seems to be in need of the most repair. Again, you can redo the wood, which I have done before, or you can replace it. That is a little pricey as it has to be milled and it has to be redwood. The fireplace is in an odd place, but I believe houses in that period used fireplaces as more than love scenery. It was placed centrally to add warmth. From what I could see it has an inside chimney, which is a good thing. It seems solid.
The foundation is arroyo stone. I looked at the front, the back and the sides, I saw no cracks. This house, as did mine, made it through several earthquakes. I didn't see any real red ticket items.
It appears some of the electrical has been done. Can't run an air conditioner on fuses. There is one wall unit.
I'm not sure from looking at the plans for the Brown house if they could have done a lot split. If they had the money to have the plans drawn then they had a line of credit to fix the house. They did not want an old Craftsman fixer. They wanted a white version of a mansionized monstrosity. Sorry to say that. The most daunting task to me would have been the back yard. What a mess to clean up. Again, doable.
There were several people touring with me, some were construction types who agreed with my ideas. There were Chinese of course. They concentrated on the backyard, I'm sure with the idea of rebuilding. The Realtor leaves it to you to contact the city.
I was much younger when I had my 1907 beauty. I told my husband if I had money and I had nothing better to do with it I would buy this house and slowly but surely bring it back to it's heyday. I have nothing against the Brown's but they were it telling the truth about this house.
If they were honest about it, if they had presented surveys that they had had done, etc. I might have been on their side. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in.
A couple of things I've been thinking about since the first email. Most people have an inspection done when they buy a house. When the Brown's were at that first City Council meeting, they never presented any report. Is there a report that they never offered, or did they think that since they were going to tear it down, they waived doing the report so they wouldn't have to pay for it?
Also, don't lose sight of the fact that they could be putting it on the market in order to say that no one will buy it and they're stuck with it. So, as their reasoning might go, why not let them tear it down?
Also, if they were into the Craftsman style when they bought this house, why wasn't the new house Craftsman-like? The Brown's bought a house for the land and the Realtor allowed it. I believe they think this will help should they decide to sue the city.
I don't think it will fly. I mean anyone can sue but will they win? These are less than above board people who would be aghast if you accused them of being that way. If they had the money to finance a new home, then they had more than enough to fix the original.