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Real estate: The rebirth of the Eichler

Original post made on Feb 15, 2013

Realtor Monique Lombardelli isn't content just to sell iconic, 1950s-era Joseph Eichler homes. She wants to build them, too -- capturing the midcentury-modern aesthetic by using the original floor plans but updating the construction to meet today's standards.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 15, 2013, 8:59 AM

Comments (25)

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2013 at 9:31 am

Eichlers are in more communities than one might imagine, including San Jose and Los Altos, for example, and hundreds in Sunnyvale - and the develpments and their character, and the character of each home is quite particular,despite what some feel is a rather bland front.
It is a classic situation for visitors to be surprised at the inside and back and remark about this upon entering a home.
The developments went in at different times, there were different architects, and some of the materials have held up better in some areas than in others. The piping and etc.
There have been some very well-known, very knowledgeable Eichler specialist agents including "The Eichler Queen," Connie Misiewicz; and Jerry Ditto (author of a substantive book, " Eichler Homes - design for living," Chronicle Books, 1995)
We are in a new era, with newer agents becoming informed about Eichlers as a specialty, and that is fine, there is a learning curve. Some agents know next to nothing about Eichlers or avoid them.
What's more, how Eichlers have been maintained (or not) varies a great deal. Generalizations are worthless in the Eichler realm; you MUST examine the individual house to determine value, current level of condition and so on.
They're a large subject; if one is interested, it's worth knowing the speciality contractors, options for roofs, heating, windows, wondow is great when someone who cares purchases and maintains (or renovates carefully, in good taste) an Eichler home.
It is tricky to renovate an Eichler for a bunch of reasons; however some of the designs are so livable and attractive, this is why people are continually drawn to them. On the other hand, some owners and contractors have butchered/altered some Eichlers. This has led to the 2-storey overlays (not just in Palo Alto, incidentally). There is also the "problem" of Eichler look-alikes, which may be cheaper/older modest homes, leading to confusion and some disrespect for actual Eichlers among the less well-informed.
-from someone who has owned two Eichlers.

Posted by Eichler Owner
a resident of Triple El
on Feb 15, 2013 at 10:36 am

Great idea. It seems that, because there are so many aspects of Eichlers that are replicated in all (or most) models, this would be a great candidate for pre-fab building, which would also help keep building costs down.

We live in an Eichler and love it, and want to preserve its original asthetic, but when we consider upgrading/updating the plumbing, electrical, windows, heating, etc and doing other Eichler-consistent remodeling, I often wonder if it wouldnt' be more cost effective to tear down the existing house and rebuild the exact same house from scratch.

Posted by cid4houses
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Please note the alarmingly rapid rate they burn to the ground if they happen to catch fire: Web Link

Posted by doube lA
a resident of Los Altos
on Feb 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm

How can I reach Monique? I have original Blueprints of our Double A Frame

Posted by Ken
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Homeowners that build large, expensive "Eichler style" homes in neighborhoods like Old Palo Alto will be very sorry they did so.
When these houses go out of style, and they will, these homes will be very difficult to resell.

Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm

"When these houses go out of style, and they will, these homes will be very difficult to resell."

Where are you seeing that in Old PA? All I see is ugly-ass faux Med being built around here. I'd rather have mid-century modern rather than the blandness I see in the spec homes being built by the developers here.

Posted by Non-non
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Please remember that Eichlers were built very much on the cheap. Cheap materials, cheap construction, a lot of corners cut. The result was leaky roofs, cold rooms in the winter, hot in the summer, drafty, single wall construction, bad, bad, bad.

They were built to be affordable for men getting out of the armed forces. FHA-VA construction. In their day, not too many people who had gainful employment would buy them. So many of them now are in dreadful condition for that reason. Many others have required lengthy, expensive reconstruction to bring them up to code.

There is no way these Eichler clones can be built inexpensively and still be up to code. As long as you have flat roofs, there will always be problems with standing water on them and eventually leaks. Ask any contractor what he dreads most. Chances are he will tell you it is rehabilitating an Eichler!

Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm

If the eichlers are considered to be historic, then they should not be allowed to be modified n any way. I cannot see how the people in town who worship eichlers would allow any modifications-- inside or outside, any change would destroy the historic nature of these buildings. Now all bow before Eichler

Posted by Frank Lloyd-Wright
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 15, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Joe Eichler may have been a genius, but he was not a realist. He did not build the houses that bear his name to last, but merely to be a place for people to live temporarily after getting out of the service. A place to own while building up credit, getting a college degree on the VA, until a real, good-paying job could be procured. As bad as they are, they were never intended to last as long as they did. It was assumed that once fully well-employed, owners would tear them down a build a more permanent structure.

This I learned from an older friend who once worked for, and has researched the life of. Joe Eichler.

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Malvina Reynolds

Posted by steve san jule
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm

well....lots of interesting comments!!! some of the comments are well founded....and others are mis-informed. my father was co-founder of eichler homes.He was very proud of the developments that were built in palo alto...namely, fairmeadow and greenmeadow. THEY WERE NEVER BUILT WITH THE INTENTION OF BEING TEMPORARY HOUSING!!! In the late 40's and early 50's...many men were coming out of the service. these homes were very affordable.palo alto was a small university town...but,one of many that connected with the commuter train to san francisco. it had great schools...influenced ,of course, by stanford ubiversity.certainly not are confusing that with daly city!!! yes...they burned quickly....our home at 3730 redwood circle burned to the foundation in 7 minutes. but...they were wonderful homes to grow up. of course they will be expensive....this is not 1951. monique lombardelli has a vision...and i certainly wish her well. my father would have liked this young lady...and would have supported her efforts....

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2013 at 9:41 am

Why is this all about Palo Alto (as usual)? Eichlers are around in more communities than you may realize.
The chart in the print article shows comments about construction and materials: under "Roof" I would say you can have 2" insulation - at least that's what we put in one of ours when we needed to re-roof. This was in about 2000. Not a big issue. It doesn't "have" to be foam in 2013, either. It can be T & G. We added vented skylights that worked wonderfully and I was up on the roof myself.I certainly can't get up on the rood of my current house and when I need to re-roof I will have no way to really check up on my roofer or know what is going on - this can be done by an Eichler homeowner.
Quoting from the article by Ms. Blitzer:
"A lot of Realtors five or six years ago would not even show Eichlers. They didn't want to show (buyers) something that looked like a trailer," she added.
(Ms. Lombardelli (the 34YO real estate agent makes the above comment.)
I say: Huhhh?
You don't have much recent historical perspective, sorry.I am not elderly, I am middle-aged, and I do know something about Eichlers.
There have been a BUNCH of agents in recent past who knew enough about Eichlers in N California, used to send out newsletters (plural) about the Eichler market, beyond the two very well-known ones I listed in my first post.
There are Eichlers in OTHER communities besides Palo Alto and some of them are very attractive. Yes, as I also posted, there have been some agents who ingore, don't like the style, dislike, or are uninfom=rmed about Eichlers (even mistaking other homes for Eichlers).
Many people really enjoy the attractive design of many Eichlers; I haven't lived in one for some years now, and I STILL have relatives bemoan that we sold our last house. It was not located in Palo Alto. The garden living was very good in that house. Both of our Eichlers seemed larger than they were in reality, leading me to learn certain things about their designs (one was an atrium model, one was not).

Posted by Monique Lombardelli
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 16, 2013 at 10:11 am

Thank you so much for your comments, especially the one here that is telling me that they have a double A frame that I can see. Please email me at or call me at 650-391-9087 Thank you!! - Monique

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2013 at 11:21 am

Not real estate agent, just someone who likes house design, the different style from years past. As I have shown people, mostly friends around our area. Personal taste plays a big part.

Showed my friends and others what is Eichler, every kinda of reaction to a flat top wafer thin walled horror to the coolest,looking house.

Personally I would like to see more housing types based on Eichler, different kinds of density. I know he built a few high density and some townhouse in Santa Clara.

Posted by music_man
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm

to @ the_punnisher

Pete Seegar wrote that song about a particular part of Daly City, not Eichlers. You can see it from either freeway.

Posted by Cheryl H. Not RE agent
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Having lived in Eichler homes since 1968, I find many of the comments above offensive. Eg., that Eichlers were designed for WWII vets coming home until they could afford a substantial home! Joe Eichler, of Jewish descent, had seen what happens with prejudice (not unlike some comments re: this article) and would not redline any of his developments (vis-a-vis, not allow non-Anglos to purchase). Indeed, this unfortunate red-lining existed all over the peninsula including Palo Alto. In addition to this, the homes are architect-designed for the masses who appreciate the outside/inside feeling of the home as well as other mid-century modern features. After 43 years in Eichlers, I've, of course, met dozens of neighbors. At least 3/4s wouldn't think of leaving their Eichler.

Posted by PaloAltoSince2011
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 16, 2013 at 11:25 pm

We're fairly new in town and obviously over-paid for our Eichler, but we love everything about the house and couldn't be happier living in Palo Alto and in a house with a style that we have become huge fans of!!

Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Feb 17, 2013 at 8:27 am

anonymous says, "Why is this all about Palo Alto (as usual)?"

Since this web site is "paloaltoonline" I would expect this article to be about Palo Alto.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 17, 2013 at 11:31 am

Yes, but EICHLERS are not only in Palo Alto, by any means. There are quite a few communities; there is a rich history as described in the book I referenced above and numerous other sources. Eichlers (and Mr. Eichler) are interesting, but this isn't a "Palo Alto issue."
There is also that issue of the pipes...some of us owned Eichlers that had copper pipe, which was far superior to the cheaper materials put in some Eichlers, including some in Palo Alto, I was always told. When your heating pipes are encased in a concrete slab, believe me, the differences not only in design but in materials in the different cities/Eichler communities do come into play when people state their opinions of Eichlers!
Go online to the Eichler Network if you don't believe me.

Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm

This article was also posted in the Pleasanton Weekly (online) - maybe the editor thought others would find it interesting. I don't live in an Eichler, but do have a home with an indoor patio/atrium. It is one of the best features because you can have doors open in many rooms at all hours of the day or night to let in fresh air and sunshine. I wish more builders included them in their designs.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 17, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I just gotta wonder. Didn't the writer of this story feel a bit like a person running into an Envangelical service Easter Sunday and shouting "It's been canceled! They found the body!".

Posted by Merle Duckett
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I live in an Eichler home in Thousand Oaks which is in Southern California (Ventura County).
There are 105 Eichlers in our neighborhood and they were built between 1964-68.
Most of us are attempting to maintain the integrity of these houses when renovation/repairs are required.
Our floor plans range from approximately 2500-2900 square feet.
Joe Eichler truly saved his "best for last"!!

Posted by Too Many Realtors
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2013 at 7:28 am

Amazing how many folks who made comments are most likely Realtors.
Real Estate is a dog eat dog biz. The competition here is unlike anything I've seen in other communities. When you look at a home with an agent. Another agent might approach you and even ask you if she knows you. A-M-A-Z-INGLY not. I did not know her. Another agent tried to slip me his card. It was so ugly, I decided to rent now and I love it. I don't have 28,000 dollars in taxes per year to pay and the cost to maintain the property would have been at least half that in a good year. And when you add your mortgage and ins. forget it. I've been in many Eichlers. And I rent one right now. Not because I wanted an Eichler. Because it was the only rentable home that I could find at the time that is located in Palo Alto. As for this article, it was very well written and that is why I love reading palo alto online. However, the subject makes this look like a well written ad piece for the agent listed above. She is getting tens of thousands of dollars in free press from this article. I guess it really goes to show us that its who you know that is important. I was amazed to find out she was a Menlo Park Realtor. Wasn't she closer in to SF? Now she's in Menlo Park? I wish her well and she should concentrate on developing a new design that cannot be associated with anything. Nothing like an original. As for the Eichler I live in. Its home. But I cannot imagine paying 1.4 million for a home that was built for 40K.

Posted by A Palo Alto Realtor
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 19, 2013 at 7:48 am

Very good article. Monica is a very nice lady. I had the pleasure of working with her once and she was very honest to EVERYONE. As for the cynical behavior that is being exhibited by a few people, it is unwarranted in this situation. I have heard a few grumblings from a few agents who wished they could have thought of doing what Monica is doing. So what if she was in SF or LA or Sactown. IT DOES NOT MATTER. She has the right to work where she wants as long as she is licensed by the state of California people. There is no reason for other real estate agents to team up against her. Remember this. A Realtor has to follow a strict code of ethics. Monica has and if you are a Realtor you should too. So, if Monica or anyone else has a listing, but you don't like that listing agent...TOO BAD. You should still show your buyer that home. If you don't...I WILL. And I will sell it. I've had buyers come to me and even tell me to write an offer on a particular home that their former agent would not do. When I have asked my new buyer why their former agent would not do it, 99% of the time, it was because their buyer agent did not like the listing agent and no other reason was given. So remember that one if you are planning to sell or buy. Find an agent who does not condemn another agent or use the dreaded R word. Rapport. " Oh I know that agent, she and I have a great rapport, however, that one over there, we need to stay away from him". I call that unprofessional behavior that is against our Code of Ethics.

Posted by Russ
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2013 at 2:26 pm

If you would like to hear more from Monique, she will be givng a presentation and showing her documentary, "Glass Houses." at the Burlingame Library on Thursday, February 27 at 7pm in the Lane Community Room.

It is open and free to the public. Sponsored by the Burlingame Historical Society and the Burlingame Library Foundation.

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