CFAH

3794 16th Street
Known simply as “Xiao-Yen’s house” on Craig Steely’s website, 3794 16th Street is the lower half of the soup to nuts renovation. And it’s now on the market asking $1,098,000.
3794 16th Street Bed
The steel exoskeleton is partially a seismic upgrade but also supports the decks and a pack of “bi-facial solar panels.” Atop the building but not part of the unit for sale, a glass enclosed penthouse and sod roof grows. And on that unit we’re calling dibs.
UPDATE: As the property looked before when purchased for $1,204,000 in January 2007:
3794 16th Street Before
∙ Listing: 3794 16th Street (3/2) 1,700 sqft – $1,098,000 (TIC) [MLS]
Xiao-Yen’s House [craigsteely.com]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by curmudgeon

    Like!

  2. Posted by John

    “completely re-done from the ground up by Dwell architect Craig Steely”
    What’s a Dwell architect? Does the magazine hire architects? Run a firm? Does he also work for the magazine?
    Who can set me straight?

  3. Posted by mikey woodz

    ^”dwell” is a term that realtors use for anything that is not considered traditional or Victorian

  4. Posted by noearch

    Not correct. Dwell magazine, as many of you know, is an outstanding shelter magazine that focuses on well designed houses and products, expressing a very “modern” way of living: Clean, fresh, modernist architecture that is often very sustainable, not arrogant, not showy, but humanely functional and handsome: Clean, functional design, livable and minimal.
    Craig Steely just happens to be a talented architect who often designs in this idiom, as well as others who design with that approach.
    Some realtors may use the term “Dwell” to describe a similar style of architecture or interior design.

  5. Posted by mikey woodz

    Noearch…we all know about Dwell magazine that wasnt my point, my point was that Realtors use the term very loosely to describe anything thats not traditional in nature and has any hint of modernism
    BTW agree Craig is a good architect and a nice down to earth one as well

  6. Posted by givemeabreak

    Thanx Noearch– not all of us knew that much about Dwell. Nicely explained

  7. Posted by Dwell builder sparky-b

    Can anyone who’s been in the Dwell use the title?

  8. Posted by Schlub

    I wouldn’t dwell on it.

  9. Posted by Brian

    Looked at this place back in late 2006 when it was for sale, and it needed quite a bit of work. Apparently they had tenants in the lower unit that had lived there for ages – that kind of scared us off (as well as the $1.6M list price).
    Beautifully re-done, I wonder what the top unit would have to sell for to make them whole on this…

  10. Posted by SocketSite

    UPDATE: In honor of Brian’s comment, a before shot of the building has been added above. The property ended selling for $1,204,000 in January 2007.

  11. Posted by 45yo hipster

    ^ hmm, so somebody’ll make some dough on this 2 unit remodel. Nice.
    And btw, my description of “dwell” mag: annoying as hell trendy ass mag. Has to be identified as a “shelter” mag, home, house or god forbid architecture ain’t good enough. I canned my subscription several years ago when I realized that every featured homeowner would be photographed with: a) the obligatory black chalkboard in the kitchen (lame!) and b) always walking around barefoot, to signify how comfortable they are! It looks more like forced comfort to me. Dwell just tries too hard to be casual and functional to be authentic.
    OTOH, me thinks that Craig steely fella is a frickin’ genius. I wonder if his homes are practical to live in after the housewarming fanfare. but he sure makes some seductive fantasy designs, and I usually like his in your face facades- a nice reprieve from baywindowsville.

  12. Posted by lol

    so somebody’ll make some dough on this 2 unit remodel. Nice.
    Not
    Sold
    Yet
    How many times do we have to go through this? It ain’t a comp if it’s still on the market.
    Whether they make a buck of not, I’d say the 3 who will make a sure profit are the architect, the contractor and the salesman. No wonder we have fluj and Sparky-C so eager to deny any softness in he current market. Buyer fear is their worst enemy because it freezes sales and redos/flips.

  13. Posted by Brian

    Oh, was the list price $1.2M? Sorry, been nearly 4 years now, and it’s all a bit hazy at this point…

  14. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Ah, so this is why it was possible to get approval on that huge steel outrigger. The prior incarnation of this facade had a similarly huge but rickety wooden deck attached. It would be impossible for neighbors to shoot this project down based on the bulk of the steel front structure because the current configuration is far superior to the prior. Thanks for that “before” photo because it really explains how we got from A to B without much drama.
    I’ve a deep appreciation for industrial architecture and this facade has somehow made wharfside vernacular acceptable in a residential context.
    That Temple of Bathing however is a little creepy as the design seems to have slipped passed trendyClinical and thunked into mortuary. Good call on the stager though to avoid stainless steel as that would have accentuated the morgue ambiance.
    The photographer should have backed off a little on that HDR/exposure compensation through the interior windows as the results look a little too trippy. Its OK to have the outdoor window scenes a little washed out, that’s normal reality.
    Asides from the nits about expecting to find the coroner in the bathroom, this place is wonderful. The location is great and the design is inspiring.

  15. Posted by Dwell builder sparky-b

    lol,
    WTF? You said exactly what I said (from the other thread), and then talk about how I’m “denying the softness of the current market”. Show me where I said anything about the strength or weakness of this market or any market for that matter.

  16. Posted by tipster

    If you allocate 650K of the purchase price to the lower unit because it has two floors), and $75K for the facade for the lower floor (they did a lot, they cut off the right hand side that jutted out, and then it looks like the steel frame over the entrance way is holding up the front of the house so that they could widen the garage door), then $75K for selling costs, transfer tax, etc, you have $300K left for the interior, just under $200 psft.
    Sparky and Noearch can correct me if I’m wrong, but if I had to hire an architect and a general contractor, given the look of the before photo and the work that likely needed doing, I doubt I’d be paying much less than $200 psft, especially if the bath downstairs was not there before.
    I don’t see a ton of profit here for the seller, assuming it sells around asking. The one who made the real money was likely the former owner.

  17. Posted by bgelldawg

    If it sells at this price, would it be a record for a TIC?
    Since this is only two units, wouldn’t it have been easy to convert to condos prior to the sale? I would think that would make financing easier and get a better price.
    BTW, I am so glad the realtor ended the photo display with a close up of the drawer pulls. I wasn’t sure if I liked this place until I saw what kind of hardware was on a random drawer.

  18. Posted by Dwell builder sparky-b

    tipster,
    I would think your facade number is too high, if the lowers portion is $75K then the overall is $150K for the facade/driveway/landcape. That has to be way off. However, it cost something so this seller still doesn’t make much profit.

  19. Posted by mikey woodz

    Seller wasnt doing this as a flip because the seller is living in the top one…as their residence…just selling the bottom off to cover some costs.

  20. Posted by lolcat_94123

    Outside looked better in the “before” photo.

  21. Posted by mikey woodz

    One of the coolest parts of this place IMO is that they kept the right side Victorian Facade intact, (and painted it day-glow green) (its a shame the photos arent there on the MLS…BTW this has been on the market for months why all of a sudden is it popping up on SS?

  22. Posted by John

    Interesting to hear a professional opinion of Dwell. I’m not in the field, but like many people, have some laymen’s interest in architecture and home design.
    I recall noticing Dwell a decade ago when it first came out and thinking that it highlighted some good examples of contemporary, somewhat minimalist architecture that I (mostly) liked. However, it didn’t register as particularly unique.
    Reading the comment above, I do see how Dwell has perhaps played a role similar to that Terence Conran played a little earlier in the UK.

  23. Posted by curmudgeon

    I saw the place today. It has some very cool aspects, such as the view out the back (northward) which is completely filled with an italian stone pine and a curly willow (I think). The green and the movement would be mesmerizing.
    Also, it is quite obviously a quality job.
    However, there are a couple of things that kill it for me. First, the floors are dramatic, but they are pretty dominating and I would want to cover alot of them up.
    Second, because the living space and MBR vew faces those trees, the house feels very internal, and you don’t really enjoy the views you should at this elevation.
    Finally, Ex-Sfer would hate the kitchen. Certainly I do. There is no kind of island, and the circular stairwaw is located at a very awkward location to make the kitchen work better.
    $1 – $1.2 million seems to be the sweetspot right now for nice, “done” spaces in the Castro (at least 2BR/2BA). Saw four today that would be great to live in…two on Beaver, this one, and a back of the lot cottage on Castro (622A). The latter is the best, in my opinion, although one of the one on Beaver is the only that is truly Single Family (21 Beaver, I think?), and seems priced to generate overbids.

  24. Posted by Big V

    Wow, what an impressive job of transforming an ugly old building into an ugly modern building.
    should have saved the $$. That thing is hideous.

  25. Posted by 45yo hipster

    My point was not that this would be hugely profitable, but that most likely there IS profit in a recent buy/remodel/resell. Sounds like the buyer did it more for personal reasons, but fact that he won’t loose his ass off is significant…as opposed to numerous bank owned and short sale junkers I saw sell at a premium 2-4 years ago coming back on the market now. Now many of those sellers lost hundreds of thousands. Ouch.

  26. Posted by tipster

    It isn’t going to be “hugely” profitable, it isn’t going to be profitable at all. When you consider the carrying costs, and now it appears it was either vacant or rented for a couple of years (which has usually been at a loss), the owner is going to lose money. Period.
    I was told to plan on $300-400 psft for a high end gut rehab. Allowing $200 psft, and $35K for the outside, and then adding in the carrying costs and the cost of subsidizing a tenant while waiting for the market to “come back”, this guy still lost money, unless it goes way over. If he somehow got it done for $200, he might break even.
    So no, every time someone blabbers about profits, you need to back up your assumptions and list ALL the costs. When you do, there is no profit for the retail consumer. None. Just risk and effort for no return. Zero.

  27. Posted by noearch

    As the resident architect here..correct me if I’m wrong, but are there others?: I have to say this:
    Don’t take Dwell magazine as so gosh darn “holy”..but it does offer a pretty fresh perspective each issue on well designed places for human habitat. The houses are generally free of cliches or fake/historicist styles. They are generally modest in size and often show great examples of “green” sustainable living. It’s honest, it can be fun, can be “tongue in cheek”..it teaches homeowners about how to get great living spaces on a budget, as well.
    As for the cost/sf price of the subject house above, I would find it hard to believe the remodel was around $200/sf…I would definitely have budgeted about $300-375 for what I see. could be lower, but not much.

  28. Posted by sfrenegade

    “The houses are generally free of cliches”
    I don’t know about that. A Dwell-type house is almost by definition a cliche at this point and is even lampooned on sites like unhappyhipsters.com. I made a quick search of the term “Dwell” on SocketSite, and plenty of people are saying it’s cliched at various points, and some are saying they hope that the new owners don’t “Dwell” a classically done house. Not to pick on you, but even you, noearch, have referred to a Dwell’d house as cliched more than once:
    I agree with an earlier comment…the same tired, trendy “dwell style” of house. same kind of stained wood siding, vertical or horizontal, same aluminum windows…bland and boring..
    https://socketsite.com/archives/2007/09/modern_architecture_hits_the_market_up_on_mullen_306_mu.html
    I agree completely with the last several comments. Almost all of the so called new “modern” homes going up in SF look like they came from a recipe out of Dwell magazine. They’re trendy looking, and quite frankly not very innovative. Some firms simply want to be trendy, rather than explore modernism within the context of San Francisco architecture.
    https://socketsite.com/archives/2007/09/speaking_of_aia_recognized_homes_281_chestnut_hits_the.html
    What I don’t understand is why you changed your mind only a few months later:
    https://socketsite.com/archives/2007/12/a_peek_inside_610_el_camino_del_mar_and_yes_were_with_b.html

  29. Posted by tipster

    1700 square feet, taking noearch’s best possible case of $300 psft, that’s $510K. Add 650K for purchase price, $70K for commissions, staging, transfer taxes, etc, and we’re at $1.230M. Now add $25K for the outdoors, it most certainly was higher than that, holding costs of $800K for 6 months @6%, permit fees, etc, probably brings you to 1.260. Add in $75 (the spread of Noearch’s range) for 1700 square feet and you are looking at a range of another $127,500. Could have run around 1.4 to build.

  30. Posted by noearch

    Quite frankly sfrenegade: I don’t know why you spend so much time here “correcting” people and arguing to “make a point” everytime. Who cares?
    So someone, including me cannot change their mind, or revise their point of view?
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and open-mindedness with all of us here.

  31. Posted by sfrenegade

    I think people (including politicians, as long as they make a good argument and aren’t simply vote-mongering) are free to change their minds and I kindly tried to figure out why you changed yours, out of curiosity. If you’re going to play the pompous self-appointed “resident architect” here, you should accept that people might disagree with you sometimes, as I did, and wonder why you have the opinions you do, as I also did.
    The question still stands: If you once felt differently about Dwell, what changed that?
    If I had wanted to “correct” or “make a point,” I would have asked more pointedly if you had switched jobs to an architecture firm focused on modern in those three months, rather than keeping it neutral.

  32. Posted by noearch

    good comeback sfrenegade:
    I don’t think of myself as pompous or self appointed. But, lets be real. I seem to be the only announced licensed architect blogging on this site. There may be more. I would welcome them.
    Pompous? No..I don’t ever intend to come off that way, but many (or some) people simply do not like seasoned opinions or commentary from people experienced in a particular field. They feel threatened. Why, I don’t know. My particular field just happens to be architecture, that’s all.
    On a side note, however, I do feel that the “general public/homeowners tend to feel they know a lot about architecture/design much more than they may imply knowing about say..law, or medicine. Why? My theory: they feel it’s just a no brainer to build or remodel a house, which of course, it is not. Other reason: the proliferation of the DIY shows on cable, where they show the homeowner/wife/husband remodeling a kitchen in a weekend: “hey, no sweat, even you can do it..”..but I digress.
    Do I have all the answers? Of course not. I welcome dissent, and in fact, love the challenge.
    As for “changing my mind, or adjusting my mind” about the Dwell look. I like the magazine. I like the general clean style of design. What I dislike, and prob have stated in the past is my distaste for taking the solid bones of a classic Victorian or Edwardian and gutting the interior down to one big open plan, ie: “Dwell” style, without any respect for the existing character..or the way the clients may choose to live. That, I feel, is using the “Dwell” look in the most lazy and misunderstood way possible.

  33. Posted by Brian

    “holding costs of $800K for 6 months @6%”
    Uh… this was held for closer to 30 months.

  34. Posted by 45yo hipster

    Tipsy- $300 sq ft for a remodel is very retail pricing. This ain’t new construction for gods sake. I could do this for ~ $200 sq ft. That’s $340k to remodel a 1700 sq ft 3/2…give me a f-ing break!
    So at that price, there is some profit in this. You [Removed by Editor] keep pumbing up the construction #’s to make everything look negative. Reality is there are smart buyers with cash out there right now doing profitable deals, be they flips or buy-rent-holds. For instance, a 4 unit on capp st recently went for $550k. 3 protected tenants, 1 vacant. The deal there: just get 1 tenant to do a buy out and you’ll have 2 units rented at market value. That’ll give you a great ROI as you wait out the other 2 long termers. And it was a nice bldg with parking. When market peaks again several years from now you convert to tics and sell at a premium and it’s hello millionaire! Worked for me 03-08, and that’s why I’m living off rental income now with no need for a regular job.

  35. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    hipster – If you re-read tipsters comments he initially used a very conservative number of $200/sq.ft. It was only after noearch said that $200 was too low that he adjusted his calculations to noearch’s $300 lower bound on the range for this sort of remodel.
    Even at $200 tipster’s argument makes sense.

  36. Posted by 45yo hipster

    ^ as does my argument makes sense. I said slight profit. Better than a loss.

  37. Posted by sfrenegade

    To be fair, 45yo hipster, I don’t think the “slight profit” would be a replacement for a “regular job.” If the ROI is low, then why even bother taking the risk?
    Is the 4-unit on Capp cashflow positive even if you keep the 3 protected tenants? By how much?
    Btw, your statement on Dwell was brilliant. Cheers!

  38. Posted by R

    “a 4 unit on capp st recently went for $550k”
    I assume you’re talking about 958-964? something screwy there. it sold for 60% less than in 2006? that ain’t right. there’s more to the story.

  39. Posted by noearch

    Yes, hipster sure did nail it on his take of Dwell magazine…:)
    Admittedly, it’s not for everyone, but it does offer a humanist/livable/green point of view of architecture and design in general.
    Somewhat tongue in cheek at times, it seems to speak mostly to the intellectual crowd, that’s why I like it.
    Don’t hate me.

  40. Posted by EBGuy

    The building at 958-964 Capp was foreclosed on Dec. 28, 2009 for $858,328. Looks like HSBC took a $300k+ hit. Move along, nothing to see here…

  41. Posted by sfrenegade

    Redfin lists the rents for the building 45yo hipster is talking about (haven’t hit 46 yet?):
    Unit 1: 593.60 (3/1)
    Unit 2: 730.30 (2/1)
    Unit 3: 709.66 (2/1)
    Unit 4: vacant 3/1
    However, that $552,500K sale that he referred to is stated to be a TIC sale on Redfin. Would that be the vacant unit? If so, that seems like a shrewd move by HSBC to actually take advantage of selling it as a TIC. That means they are getting over $2K/mo on the other 3 units, which is a 150 GRM on their investment of $306K.
    The original sale in 2006 was $1.255M.
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/958-Capp-
    St-94110/home/1688481

  42. Posted by tipster

    The redfin listing looks to me to be for the whole building.

  43. Posted by R

    So we think multi-unit buildings in the mission are now $136 a square foot? No way. Unless it has been condemned. I repeat, something screwy there.
    Someone bought it for $1,255,000 in 2006, foreclosed for $858k last year and sold for $552k now. Doubt it.

  44. Posted by 45yo hipster

    Yeah $552k was for the entire bldg. It needed to be all cash due to an abatement (which was not major and is being remedied). I think it was a great purchase.
    Also 712-716 natoma is 6 units for $679k (which dropped from $829k). Don’t remember the bldg income, maybe ~ $60k/year. Still a good GRM for the city.
    Basically non prime multiunit are being discounted by sellers who really want to move their bldg, so there are some good buys. But I only noticed this change in the last 3-4 months. Earlier prices were still pretty high.

  45. Posted by looking

    The interior looks beautiful, with high quality finishes, but it’s totally non-functional. The main level has one small closet in each bedroom – that’s the total closet space for that level! Where are you supposed to store things – like coats, shoes, towels, linens, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, vacuum cleaner, etc? The kitchen is even worse -almost no cabinet space! From the photos, the upper cabinets, the few that there are, look much too high – all above the level of the top of the refrigerator. Most people could probably reach only the first shelf without standing on a chair or ladder. And there is no microwave. If I’m paying over $1M for a home, I’d at least expect a microwave and some reasonable closet and cabinet space. Overall, I’d say it is very poorly designed.

  46. Posted by curmudgeon

    21 Beaver, which I reference in the string above, went for $1.38…130K over asking. I thought it was priced to generate overbids, but that’s a high price for a relatively small, but very functional, place. Assessor’s data is 1300 square feet, if that’s close to accurate (and I think it is) then we’re talking $1000/square foot. Yow.
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/21-Beaver-St-94114/home/1073592

  47. Posted by sfrenegade

    Oddly 21 Beaver has no building permits since 1990 despite the claimed remodels, although they have a plumbing permit for replacing the water heater in 2006. The addition to that house was permitted in 1990 along with some other work.
    It actually looks bigger to me than a 1300 sqft 3/2 I used to live in, but hard to tell from photos, obviously. Also, is that laundry room in the master bedroom? That’s an odd design choice.
    Great result for the seller.

  48. Posted by curmudgeon

    It was a total reconstruction/floor addition around 1988-1990 (I lived across the street at the time and remember it happening). No major renovations since then, probably just some updating.

  49. Posted by curmudgeon

    oh, and sfrenegade..if you look at googlemaps it looks like 1300 is probably about accurate. Building footprint appears to be about 25 X 25 more or less.
    I think the result speaks partially to how cleverly the architect arranged the space…it’s tight but feels very comfortable. And I think the listing agent had a pretty crafty strategy in a weak market.

  50. Posted by SocketSite

    The MLS listing for 3794 16th Street has been withdrawn from the market without a sale.

  51. Posted by John

    Is this really up for rental as SocketSite speculated. If so, how much?

  52. Posted by anon

    And now for rent on craigslist at $5000:
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/2073861696.html

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