149 Mangels Permit: Partial Foundation Replacement

The San Francisco building permit for a partial foundation replacement at 149 Mangels Avenue: San Francisco Building Permit #200703226945. The anonymous complaint for non-permitted work on the foundation that preceded the permit by two weeks: San Francisco DBI Complaint #200794822.

‘Dream house’ collapses on Sunnyside hill [SFGate]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by rafter

    Carla was out there defending the owners, saying they did everything right. Y’know where the projct is now? They don’t need to go thru soundness evaluation & seek a demolition permit. They’ll be able to scrape it & build all new. Like kind repair, my ass.

  2. Posted by AC

    What a jacka$$. Note to self: do not replace my home’s foundation by myself, and with no training.

  3. Posted by godzillow

    That was nothing but cold arson.

  4. Posted by Michael

    I highly doubt the owner had any intention of deliberately causing the collapse.
    I find it much more disturbing that the DBI might have had some early warning signs in the form of the complaint that the owner was in way over his head.

  5. Posted by anan

    Oh, my God, these people are brilliant. The option they avoided: years of fighting city hall and preservationists to demolish this ramshackle place, paying for it, and then fighting the same people over every rebuilding decision for years more. The option they chose: “accidentally” knocking the dump down in 5 minutes themselves, having insurance pay them a few hundred thousand for it (sure they incidentally damaged a neighbor’s house but insurance will pay for that too), and then getting a sympathetic story about their poor “dream house.” They can now clear it all out and build their real dream house several years quicker for several hundred thousand less. Genius!

  6. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    come on, who does DYI foundation work in a major earthquake zone?!?!?

  7. Posted by amused

    badlydrawnbear –
    I think you meant “DIY”, but it would appear “DYI” could mean “Do Yourself In”.
    … though I admit that the ‘collapse’ appears suspicious. Very shrewd and ruthless to leave the dog in there for credibility’s sake.

  8. Posted by rg

    come on guys! He almost died in the pancake. It’s not THAT hard to get a demo permit. The house was even being sold as “enter at your own risk”. I doubt that it was intentional, especially since they had already been working hard at remodeling it.
    What the incident DOES bring up is SFers f**ked up idea of what should be advertised as an “amazing deal!”, “the lowest priced SFR in San Francisco!!!”, “get it while it lasts!”, “at THIS price, it’s going to go fast!” While an empty lot in Sunnyside may be worth $300,000 at most (the Assessor values this lot at $68,216 based on 1985 sales base data) the added hassle and expense of tearing down an existing house SHOULD decrease this value. Yet, people run to slap down over half a million dollars to live in this dump. People should have paid THEM to take this place off their hands. I hope the last owner feels horrible about almost killing someone everytime they look at that $525k in their bank account.
    Btw, unless the owner took out liability insurance on the construction project (which I don’t think they can even do while doing the work themself, but it would at least cover the damage to the neighbor), their homeowner’s insurance won’t pay a cent – they pulled out their own foundation! They’re negligible!

  9. Posted by Anon

    um…. you mean they’re negligent.

  10. Posted by Anon

    or liable; but not negligible…

  11. Posted by samadams

    I believe the house was in probate so the last owner is not going to see a dime. The heirs, yes, the owner, no.

  12. Posted by seamus

    I live a few blocks from that house, and it’s always struck me as a broken-down anomaly in a nice neighborhood. This was the best possible thing to happen, except for those poor neighbors.

  13. Posted by Joe Vazquez

    Friends, this is Joe Vazquez from CBS 5 . . . I happen to be working on a follow-up story on the house on Mangels and I ran across your blog.
    Could someone please explain the significance of the previous anonymous complaint filed to the DBI?
    Thanks!

  14. Posted by fred

    Joe
    I guess the issue is that the homeowners didn’t get a permit until after the anonymous complaint came in. They then received a permit 2 months later. This just demonstrates their maverick approach toward repairing the house. It also calls into the question whether the city acted appropriately in granting the permit and monitoring the work.
    [Editor’s Note: The permit was granted 2 weeks (not months) after the anonymous complaint.]

  15. Posted by cd

    Anybody else wanna have a go at it – 25 Lee
    http://www.trulia.com/property/1040186183-25-Lee-Ave-San-Francisco-CA-94112
    or 227 Lee
    http://www.movoto.com/real-estate/homes-for-sale/CA/San-Francisco/227-Lee-Ave-110_321153.htm
    come be my neighbor… I think there is like one house for sale on each block of this street.

  16. Posted by rg

    Joe,
    To counter Fred’s comments a bit – it’s not that they DIDN’T get a permit, they had applied for one in Dec, but had only listed that they were doing simple work on other areas of the house. It’s not THAT untypical for people to slide other work into an existing permit, but, working on the foundations, that’s a big one! What seems odd to me is that the eventual permit they got for foundation upgrades was pulled “over the counter.” Certainly, I don’t have any idea of exactly WHAT they were trying to do, but if they were jacking up the house and replacing part of the foundation, or “underpinning” the existing foundation to lower the basement floor, this is work that should have structural drawings and calculations. That would necessitate a more thorough review than what can be done in a quick meeting “over the counter.” Something to look into… I don’t like to place blame on anyone, especially when I am only a distant observer, but DBI could have rushed this through without the review it needed. In the long run, your story should include commentary on how outrageously overpriced the SF housing market is, illustrated by people who spend $525k on a house that falls on top of them.

  17. Posted by Jeemster

    Joe Vazquez, your best bet is to contact DBI’s Communications Manager Bill Strawn @(415)558-6250.
    Also note that the NOV was sent on 3-09-07. Replacing a foundation requires structural plans and probally the reason it took the owner so long to finally apply for a permit on 03-22-07. Notice the permit was approved the same day (over the counter).
    Please also note that the Notice of Violation is only the anon. complaint. What you dont see is the actual Notice of Violation (what the inspector actually saw onsite).

  18. Posted by Dude

    Sorry for the tangent….but wasn’t there a Simpsons episode about this?
    “Surly Joe’s Foundation Repair….the only foundation repair in town.”
    “D’oh!!”

  19. Posted by Fed Up

    This isn’t an isolated situation. There is a house under construction in my neighborhood similarly being done by the owner and day laborers. This guy pulled a permit to extend his foundation, repair the back wall and alter the roof. He then proceeded to tear the entire building, with the exception of the front wall, down. It looked like a building facade on a movie set. The thing was just standing there supported by a peice of the second story floor and a couple of 2x4s! The kicker is the city had been on site for at least one, probably more, inspections. They just didn’t notice that the building was gone??!! A related complaint forced the city to take a look at the “scope of the work”. Work stopped briefly while, I guess, new permits were obtained. If the building department isn’t going to enforce its own rules then why bother to get permits at all. Lets all just build anything, anywhere and employ any Tom, Dick or Harriet that can swing a hammer then, possibly ,the sound of buildings crashing to the ground during the next “big one” might wake up sleeping at the building department.

  20. Posted by Ruby Smith

    Joe,
    you can go to the sfgov.org site and go to the building inspection section, then put in the address to look for all the permits pulled on the property.

  21. Posted by Wing Lee

    There are reasons why you need professionals such as licensed architects, licensed structural enginneers, and licensed geotechnical engineers. And of course licensed contractors are great to have even if you think you understand most of the home improvement TV shows that only show snap shots of typical vigorous work processes for srchitectural and structural design and calculations.

  22. Posted by Y S

    It is killing people especially for immigrants like us want to keep up the “living in the American dream” I know a family take up 3 jobs or 4 jobs and neglected their children, missed their middle school graduation, forgot their children birthday becuase they want to “live up the American Dream” I am a social worker and you have no idea how many trouble kids that I need to deal with because their immigrant parents work 3 jobs 4 jobs!!! In this case, I cannot immgine myself paid $525K for a broken house. It is waste of money, time and energy. If we cannot afford a house. Please live happily forever after in an apartment.

  23. Posted by just a thought

    YS… what makes you think these owners were immigrants working 3 or 4 jobs?
    I saw the SF Chronicle article today and I did not get the impression that either one of these were your typical immigrant working 3 or 4 jobs trying to make a go of it…
    Anyway, I agree with you that so many people think renters are 2nd class citizens… in fact, in SF, in really in some ways makes more sense to rent that pay outrageous housing prices…unless you were one of the smart or lucky ones to have bought pre-boom time.

  24. Posted by Y S

    Perhaps this couple did not work 3 or 4 jobs to save up money for their mortgage, but it is definitely hard working money! To own a house definitely translated into “I am better, higher status” My Chinese relative over look my success in school, but they admired my high school graduated cousin brought a house in mid 80’s and sold the house few years ago and exchange for a bigger house. It is sad!!

  25. Posted by kaya

    FYI, you can get permits for foundation replacements approved over-the-counter, structural calculations and details and all. Granted I don’t know what the scope of work was for this house, I’m just saying, it’s not foundation work that triggers DBI to take the plans in for a longer review. While it’s true many people do much more than allowable demolition with only a demo permit (doesn’t require drawings and calculations), it’s a matter of how far you take it. Many people will try and get away with too much, and that’s why neighbors report them.

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