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SFH.............?

SFH.............?

Old Sep 3rd 2012, 5:23 am
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Default SFH.............?

Hi,

Wifey and I continue to search for a place to buy. We started off with primarily townhouses but then ventured into Single Family Homes over the last couple of weeks. A decent townhouse in teh area we ware looking (San Ramon) would go up to 550-560K. Recently a couple of SFH's we saw are around 600K mark. We plan to take a 80% mortgage.

Can someone help us understand what are the main things I should be taking into consideration in going for SFH v Townhouse. We are of course aware of things like HOA but we need more guidance than that
1. Maintenance cost. Yes there is no HOA but are the maintenance cost for SFH high?
2. A typical SFH is on a 7000 sq foot land with 1800 sq foot living. Are there any restrictions in adding another room and increase the living space?
3. SFH's are generally old and may be remodeled. Can I, say in 15 years, demolish my home and construct a brand new home? I suppose we own the land? Are premits for remodeling or complete demolition and rebuild given out? Are there any other issues with this? the reason why this is critical for me to know is usually these homes were built in 70's and both my wife and I like newer style living.
4. Are there any other things I need to be worried about or should I consider?

Any guidance would be appreciated.

Regards,
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Old Sep 3rd 2012, 5:43 am
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Default Re: SFH.............?

The size of your "footprint" on the land, i.e. what percentage of the land is taken up by your home and what percent needs to be grass/open is a matter for your local zoning board and the zoning status of where your house is. In some areas, like a dense city, you can basically have a 100% footprint with the house extending to the borders of the land. In environmentally sensitive areas, you can take up say 20% or you must have something like 5 acres.

Generally to raze and rebuild isn't much of a problem, unless your zoning has restrictions (common in environmentally sensitive areas).

Basically, as with everything here, the answer is dependent on where exactly the home is located. First thing would be to look up the zoning maps for that subdivision, which are probably online through your local city or county clerk / assessor or zoning and planing department.
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Old Sep 3rd 2012, 5:55 am
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Default Re: SFH.............?

Thanks. How do I even start looking up for zoning maps and how do I know which subdivision the home is in?

It's San Ramon, CA.
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Old Sep 3rd 2012, 5:57 am
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Default Re: SFH.............?

Do you have the address?

Here is the zoning map for San Ramon

http://www.sanramon.ca.gov/zoning/zo.html

The actual map is here:

http://www.sanramon.ca.gov/zoning/images/map.pdf

Each area will have a different definition (like single family home, multi family home, etc) and that will tie to a definition on the other page. If you can find your place on the map we can see the zoning classification for that area and then work down to the specifics.

I'd say with something that large adding a room or a garage shouldn't be a problem, but there might be environmental issues that could be tricky (also if it is in California there are sometime wildfire issues to consider if it is a rural property).
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Old Sep 3rd 2012, 6:01 am
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Default Re: SFH.............?

Actually, it's "Casa Ramon" sub division of San Ramon.

I think I can locate the SFH under area RS-7 on the PDF that you provided. How do I proceed next....

Last edited by E3only; Sep 3rd 2012 at 6:11 am.
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Old Sep 3rd 2012, 7:47 am
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Default Re: SFH.............?

Take a look at this document, page 2-17 I think.

http://www.sanramon.ca.gov/zoning/2008/D-2.pdf

It looks like there is no lot coverage percentage, which means you could probably build a pretty big place.

For the most definitive answer though, you could visit your local zoning office and ask them, or just ring them on the phone. They could probably tell you over the phone what would take you a few hours to google on the internet.
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Old Sep 3rd 2012, 8:55 am
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Default Re: SFH.............?

Originally Posted by E3only View Post
1. Maintenance cost. Yes there is no HOA but are the maintenance cost for SFH high?
Assuming that you are just talking about true ongoing "maintenance" costs and not the costs involved in either renovating a "fixer-upper" or remodelling a home to your particular taste then, no, I don't think that maintenance costs are particularly high.

The main things that you will be looking at (assuming normal Northern California construction) are having the exterior repainted periodically - say every 5 or 6 years - and the need to replace the roof when it is 15 to 20 years old.

Most other things like landscaping and yard maintenance are essentially cosmetic and are things that you can choose how much you want to spend on them with the low end of the range being almost nothing if you do all of the work yourself.

My current home was built in 1986 and I have owned it since 1991 when it was 5 years old. While I have done quite a lot to the interior. including hardwood floors and redecorating it was all pretty much optional - the need for actual maintenance work has been minimal.

2. A typical SFH is on a 7000 sq foot land with 1800 sq foot living. Are there any restrictions in adding another room and increase the living space?
As others have already said, this all depends on the local ordinances and zoning restrictions. Be aware that these may change over time and that, when they do, they tend to become more rather than less restrictive.

3. SFH's are generally old and may be remodeled. Can I, say in 15 years, demolish my home and construct a brand new home? I suppose we own the land? Are premits for remodeling or complete demolition and rebuild given out? Are there any other issues with this? the reason why this is critical for me to know is usually these homes were built in 70's and both my wife and I like newer style living.
Permits are needed for almost anything - some are formalities and just a way for the licensing authority to make a little money and keep track of what is happening - some are not. Be aware that building codes are continually changing - an older home will often not fully meet the requirements of the current building codes but will be "grandfathered" in and considered to be compliant - this can all change when you start to do significant remodelling and you may, for example, find yourself obliged to bring various parts of the existing home into compliance with the current building codes. (For example, when I bought out my ex-partner's 1/3 share of our house a few years ago that transaction was treated as a property "sale" and triggered a local city requirement to upgrade the toilets and shower heads to ones that had reduced water consumption)
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Old Sep 3rd 2012, 1:58 pm
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Default Re: SFH.............?

Originally Posted by md95065 View Post
Be aware that building codes are continually changing - an older home will often not fully meet the requirements of the current building codes but will be "grandfathered" in and considered to be compliant - this can all change when you start to do significant remodelling and you may, for example, find yourself obliged to bring various parts of the existing home into compliance with the current building codes. (For example, when I bought out my ex-partner's 1/3 share of our house a few years ago that transaction was treated as a property "sale" and triggered a local city requirement to upgrade the toilets and shower heads to ones that had reduced water consumption).
Yes, we ran into this problem in our househunt. The price of one old house seemed enticingly low, but when we researched local regulations, we found a lot needed up-grading the minute the house was sold. The biggest problem WAS disclosed to us as potential buyers, but in looking into that we found a few other changes that even the homeowner had not understood needed doing if the house were to be sold.

The more research you can do ahead of time at the local Town Hall (or wherever housing info is located in your area), the better!
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Old Sep 3rd 2012, 3:55 pm
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Default Re: SFH.............?

Originally Posted by md95065 View Post
Assuming that you are just talking about true ongoing "maintenance" costs and not the costs involved in either renovating a "fixer-upper" or remodelling a home to your particular taste then, no, I don't think that maintenance costs are particularly high.

The main things that you will be looking at (assuming normal Northern California construction) are having the exterior repainted periodically - say every 5 or 6 years - and the need to replace the roof when it is 15 to 20 years old.

Most other things like landscaping and yard maintenance are essentially cosmetic and are things that you can choose how much you want to spend on them with the low end of the range being almost nothing if you do all of the work yourself.

My current home was built in 1986 and I have owned it since 1991 when it was 5 years old. While I have done quite a lot to the interior. including hardwood floors and redecorating it was all pretty much optional - the need for actual maintenance work has been minimal.


As others have already said, this all depends on the local ordinances and zoning restrictions. Be aware that these may change over time and that, when they do, they tend to become more rather than less restrictive.



Permits are needed for almost anything - some are formalities and just a way for the licensing authority to make a little money and keep track of what is happening - some are not. Be aware that building codes are continually changing - an older home will often not fully meet the requirements of the current building codes but will be "grandfathered" in and considered to be compliant - this can all change when you start to do significant remodelling and you may, for example, find yourself obliged to bring various parts of the existing home into compliance with the current building codes. (For example, when I bought out my ex-partner's 1/3 share of our house a few years ago that transaction was treated as a property "sale" and triggered a local city requirement to upgrade the toilets and shower heads to ones that had reduced water consumption)
thanks very much. this house was bought 3 monts ago and has been completely remodeled so the codes and everything is now to new standards.

Your information is very helpful. As a very young no kids couple (one of the way), 600K is huge amount for us so we want to make sure we do all our research.
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Old Sep 3rd 2012, 4:07 pm
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Default Re: SFH.............?

Originally Posted by penguinsix View Post
Take a look at this document, page 2-17 I think.

http://www.sanramon.ca.gov/zoning/2008/D-2.pdf

It looks like there is no lot coverage percentage, which means you could probably build a pretty big place.

For the most definitive answer though, you could visit your local zoning office and ask them, or just ring them on the phone. They could probably tell you over the phone what would take you a few hours to google on the internet.
Thanks. I will call them - one question

R-7 does say min 7000 sqf and 7000 sqf however it does have front and rear requirements. front 20 feet, back 15 feet and side is 15 (aggregate). Now the min width requirement is 65 and depth is 95.

Can I then say that 3700 sq foot of place needs to be empty.
calculated as 20 x 65 + 15 x 65 + 15 x 95 = 3,700 sq foot. (assuming of course there is no overlap of the sides, front and the rear)

Am I doing this right?
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Old Sep 3rd 2012, 4:43 pm
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Default Re: SFH.............?

Originally Posted by E3only View Post
this house was bought 3 monts ago and has been completely remodeled so the codes and everything is now to new standards..
... verify that ALL permits were pulled and what sort of plans were submitted. Never assume anything - just because something was remodeled etc that it was done via proper channels. One should be able to find out the permit history for a property by talking to the local building department.
Case in point.. few years ago, clients were interested in a property, over the course of the history of the property (early 80's) a room addition was done, additional garage space was done, heating system was converted to forced air, basement was finished, new roof and decks were added, when one looked further into; not a single permit was ever pulled ... (square footage didn't match which was tipoff #1). Another time a place had a pellet stove which was never permitted.

Relevance of permits is that a) meet code - safety standards are met b) insurance companies have the right to either drop you or deny a claim if permits weren't done. (double check the roof b/c wood shake roofs are being mandated out so if a place still has one, its costly to have to replace it).

Oh, you mentioned it being from the 70's (?). Double check whether or not if the walls were disturbed etc? - If the property was completed prior 1978, and they disturbed walls etc, brush up on Lead Based Paint responsibilities. Similar homework for popcorn ceilings (asbestos concerns).
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