A View of the Bay with Kathy and Carl Price
Kathy and Carl Price planned to buy a retirement home in Austin. In December 2012, they went house hunting and were stunned at the cost of real estate.
Written by Kathy Price as told to Juliana Goodwin
I was out jogging along the ocean in January, and it was beautiful. I texted Carl and said, “Why are we looking at a place in Austin where we can’t do anything outside for six months because it’s too hot, when we could look here?” We did just that. We bought our home in April 2013. The location was phenomenal because it is on a hillside and overlooks Monterey Bay. There is a spot in the home that looks out into the bay, and you look out between these California coastal oaks that are almost sculptural, and lose track of time. The view is incredible.
The first phase was cleaning it out, as it was a foreclosure. There was a lot of garbage. We were in the house two years, doing little things like adding a hood vent in the kitchen. We furnished it from IKEA. After two years, we found a builder who was a neighbor.
When we looked in Austin, we had found a house that we both loved. Carl did some sleuthing and tracked down the architect, Clint Garwood. We hired him to remodel our house in California. We were very constrained with the remodel. In Monterey County, if you change more than 50 percent of the interior walls, you have to install a sprinkler system. If you change more than 50 percent of interior and exterior walls, you have to retrofit the home for earthquakes. We knew we didn’t want to do that. As we were taking out the appliances, we realized there were serious wiring issues and ended up taking the house down to the studs. We ended up biting off a lot more than we thought. We had to reinforce two corners of the house and build a retaining wall.
I like the way Clint envisioned an older home and made it more contemporary. Very clean lines. He changed the color and introduced us to some exotic hardwood: Garapa, a beautiful orange hardwood, and cumaru, a Brazilian wood almost maroon in color. It will last forever.
Tips for Remodeling from Afar
1. Visit and communicate
Plan on going out there at least once a month to monitor the progress. Be clear on your expectations of when things should be finished. That caught us by surprise. If we weren’t coming to look at it, it got put on hold.
2. When life gives you lemons…
When you do a remodel you never know what you’re going to find until you’re in the wall. We had some lemons that we had to make lemonade out of. Because the house settled, we had to re-pour the floor so we put in radiant floor heating.
3. Understand building codes and hire a good architect
Austin has very strict building codes. Our architect commented that in Monterey County, they were always able to answer questions and help us stay within the codes of the county. One of the creative things he did, we couldn’t change the exterior footprint, but we had a problem. There was not a designated front door, just a wall of glass. He designed a freestanding entryway that overlaps the roof. It looks like it’s part of the house but on inspection you will see it’s not. But it gave us covered entryway. It is functional and very attractive.
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