Purchased for $1,225,000 in August 2006 and financed with a mortgage for $980,000, in 2007 a second was drawn for $97,206, perhaps to help pay for the “swank” remodel for which we couldn’t find any permits online.
One the market and listed for $1,295,000 since last September, last month a notice of default was filed for the first mortgage which was already $58,806 past due at the time.
While the list price for the property hasn’t changed, it’s now positioned as a “short sale.” And while the listing doesn’t note a chef’s kitchen, if a plugged-in tipster is correct, it is a restaurateur’s as the buyers in 2006 were operating Maya which closed late last year.
Watch your step on those stairs. And no, we don’t believe they’re to code.
∙ Listing: 286 Maywood Drive (3/2.5) 1,928 sqft – $1,295,000 [Redfin]
Selling Short And Still Walking Away With Cash At Settlement [SocketSite]

32 thoughts on “A <strike>Chef’s</strike> Restaurateur’s Kitchen And Misstep(s)”
  1. The only thing more disasterlicious than a stairway without a handrail is the same with a 90 degree turn at the very top. Then add candles that can be kicked off to ignite a fire for extra effect. Oh yeah and put them in glass containers so the occupants will walk through shattered glass when evacuating.

  2. This is an amazing and rare opportunity to choose your own handrail design.
    On a more serious note, this is a really nice place on a big lot with trees. At this price it wouldn’t be too hard to write off even an artsy and well done handrailing. Too bad for the food service worker who held the property.

  3. The Editor wrote:
    > a second was drawn for $97,206, perhaps
    > to help pay for the “swank” remodel,
    > although we couldn’t find any permits
    > online.
    > Watch your step on those stairs. And
    > no, we don’t believe they’re to code
    I’m guessing that there might be a connection between the lack of permits on the line and the stairs without a handrail…

  4. For a building built in the 50’s, it sure does look modern! I’m surprised the neighbors never said anything about the work being done. I really hope the owners and contractor get their comeuppance for not doing the remodel(s) legally.

  5. Interesting that a chef would choose to install a combo microwave/hood fan. Those don’t get good reviews for venting. Maybe the owners were too busy at the restaurant to cook at home?
    Aside from the obvious code violations on the stairs (and assuming there aren’t a lot of other obvious ones), do people here think the unpermitted work will have a real impact on what appears to be a very attractive place?

  6. kadip – I’d guess that the missing staircase wasn’t due to a contractor cutting corners. Instead it was probably done at the request of the owner or their architect/designer. So hopefully there aren’t other hidden problems since changes concealed in walls and below floors usually aren’t aesthetic.
    As for the sub-professional combo hood that choice was most likely to save space. I don’t think a restaurant owner needs a high end kitchen at home. If they want cook up something big then they already have access to their real commercial kitchen and a restaurant makes a great place to entertain.

  7. I have three chef friends and all three only cook at home for special occasions, basic stuff for kids that they pre-make for several days out, or entertaining. Chefs love takeout, IME. Who can blame them?

  8. katdip, the answer to your question is no, few people care one iota about permits. People on socketsite are educated about such things but most people are not and will just think it looks pretty. Their realtor will not educate them in any manner. If it comes up, the realtor will minimize the issue, saying “he knows a guy” who can get it permitted for 35 cents and so the buyer shouldn’t even factor it in. Then the realtor will tell the buyers that lots of buildings in SF have unpermitted work, and no one cares.
    The only real problem with this place is I suspect the kitchen is going to be disappointingly small. Unless triple wide refrigerators and bathtub-sized kitchen sinks were installed, I think you’ll find the photos were altered and this kitchen is disproportionately small for the size of the home. That have recently tended to hurt a lot, while such minor problems were completely overlooked in 2006.
    As MoD so astutely noted, a chef has a better venue to entertain, so this one didn’t care. Other buyers will care. But the rest of the place is really very nice.

  9. As an owner I can never understand what needs permits and what doesn’t. I’m told that a condo owner can rip up carpets and replace it with hardwood flooring without a permit, because it’s happening within the confines of the unit. Where’s an authoritative reference, other than calling the city and hoping the clerk gives you the correct answer?

  10. @HappyinSF: I’ll try to help you out a little bit with regard to permits. It’s not that complicated.
    You can go to the Dept. of Building Inspection website: sfdbi.org
    In the pulldown menu called Most Requested, you will find “brochures”. Go to brochures and you will find 3 basic brochures you can download that answers many (not all) questions regarding what permits are required:”Frequently Asked Questions”
    and “Getting a city permit” are two brochures for your initial info.
    As to such things as carpet replacement in a condo, I’m sure you have to deal with the HOA rules for remodeling,etc. I would check with them also.

  11. katdip,
    exactly the oppposite of what tipster said. But, he knows that. I would use his own line “problems were completely overlooked in 2006″ but they aren’t now.
    Happy in SF,
    I linked to the What You don’t need a permit for brocure”. One of the lines is:
    “15. Installations or replacement of floor coverings not requiring the removal of
    existing flooring except bathrooms and water closets.”

  12. Sparky-b : I don’t want to hijack this thread re: permits, but I lean more toward Tipster’s view than yours. In my one-time experience as a home buyer (and those of several of my friends) I didn’t realize how much previous unpermitted, non-code work I was buying. The disclosures were minimal (e.g. didn’t cover the fact that the kitchen obviously had been remodeled in the 90’s), and the inspection only found the most egregious errors. I heard nearly all of the lines Tipster quoted (other than the 35 cent guy), and I didn’t lower my in response. And my place was not in great shape, so I knew it would need some work. But for a higher end place like this, which looks move-in ready, do folks think the lack of permits will really affect the selling price? Are people who pay this much likely to be more savvy on this point, or more picky? I’m not trying to argue – I really don’t know the answer and wonder what folks here think.

  13. Tipster’s answer doesn’t pertain to the current market, but the last one. That was when he had his SFRE views cemented. Buyers in this market always ask about whether or not work was permitted.

  14. We’ve all discussed permit issues many times here, with varying opinions and ideas.
    I can’t answer why the place was put on the market without that code required guardrail and handrail. I’m surprised (well, maybe not) that the realtor didn’t insist on the railing BEFORE taking on the listing. He/she would certainly know the danger and liability around that stair.
    But, from my point of view, the owner, the contractor, the architect/designer (if there was one) is certainly acting irresponsibly by excluding the railing.
    If that were my project, as the architect, I would not allow it to happen. I would insist the contractor comply with the codes. I would make the owner aware of his liability without the railing. I would contact the local inspector to view this dangerous condition. If someone were to fall off those stairs in that condition, all the parties involved, including the realtor could be subject to a lawsuit.
    I would not hesitate to speak up. But I’m still perplexed as to how it got this far, according to the pictures.
    Codes are put in place not to make more work for the owner or contractor. Yes, some codes can be a hassle and not always logical, but they are in place to protect the public and assure safe building construction.

  15. Regarding the stairs, even with a handrail they might not meet code. There is a rather narrow range of allowable rise/run dimensions and tread profiles; the treads here seem unusually deep and furthermore seem to lack an overhang. Potential purchasers might do well to bring a tape measure to the open house….

  16. Tipster’s answer doesn’t pertain to the current market, but the last one. That was when he had his SFRE views cemented. Buyers in this market always ask about whether or not work was permitted.
    Posted by: [anon.ed] at February 10, 2012 1:11 PM
    That’s a fair response. I suppose we can judge its accuracy, by how fast this sells and for what price.
    In my case, I think I’d just replace the lamp hanging near the stairs with a fire pole, AKA batpole. I might make it to work on time with one of those.

  17. Hilarious.
    In our remodel, we had a number of fixtures and finishes that were present for final sign-off and gone the minute the inspector signed the paperwork and walked out.

  18. Fixtures I can understand removing, but finishes?
    How do you remove finishes? Help me out.
    Stair handrails and guardrails however are not fixtures and finishes.
    Yea, hilarious when someone falls down that stair and the lawsuits start flying.

  19. katdip,
    My experience with buyer inspectors is not at all like yours. When I sell a place I find the inspector to be very detailed going well beyond the actual building code. Last place I sold he was trying to call out the toilets as not low flow enough (he was wrong, but I had to produce the docs), he called out the deck stairs as needing handrails (which they didn’t need), he requested the owner get drainage details, and on and on.
    I do think that in the previous market people let stuff go as they wanted to buy and not get “priced out forever”, lots of buyers, all cash, quick close, you know how it was. It is different now. Unpermitted work is harder to sell, buyers will even request it gets fixed if the inspector calls it.
    but you can choose to take tipsters opinion on the subject if you think it rings true and mine doesn’t. What do I know, I only sold two “higher end” places last year. I only bought one last year, and I only bought one this year. So what do I know.

  20. “As an owner I can never understand what needs permits and what doesn’t. I’m told that a condo owner can rip up carpets and replace it with hardwood flooring without a permit, because it’s happening within the confines of the unit. Where’s an authoritative reference, other than calling the city and hoping the clerk gives you the correct answer?”
    I can only speak from my experience, being a board member of my previous condo association (I no longer live in the building). Our bylaws stated that owners were not allowed to replace wall to wall carpeting with hardwood floors *unless* a certain percentage of the floors were covered with area rugs. However, since it was a 1963 concrete and steel building, noise wasn’t too much of an issue.
    So no, hardwood flooring does not require a permit.
    On a separate issue, I stay far away from properties that didn’t pull permits. Who wants to be fixing some amateur’s costly mistakes after the property is purchased? Once at an open house (A TIC that had been completely gutted) I was looking at the info the realtor had left out and I noticed that none of the permits were pulled. When I called out the realtor on it he completely chastised me for being concerned about it. Like I was making a big deal out of nothing. They didn’t even install GFCIs anywhere near the kitchen sink. I certainly hope the buyer had a good inspector.

  21. Tipser, Good one! I’m managing construction on a new fire station. Most of the guys all need to take at least one slide down the (bat)pole–it is the best way to get downstairs!

  22. “Who wants to be fixing some amateur’s costly mistakes after the property is purchased?”
    True though fortunately most amateurs aren’t very ambitious. My last place was owned by a guy who I came to think of “Mr. Nails” since his solution to every problem seemed to involved driving large nails into the frame. What is it they say about a man who only has a hammer? Bad work is easy to recognize with a cursory inspection. Fortunately Mr. Nails didn’t attempt to meddle with the electrical or plumbing systems. A DIY homeowner who does good work is indistinguishable from professional work but that is moot.
    The worst DIYsaster I’ve seen was at a friends peaked roof garage. The owner had decided that the ceiling joists (the horizontal boards) were there as a convenience to store stuff above. (They’re actually a crucial piece of the structure, forming a rigid triangle with the roof rafters.) That didn’t deter this genius who decided to cut off and lower the joists by about a foot to create more storage space above the cars. His “improved” version left the joists hanging suspended from the roof rafters and vaguely tied into the walls by nailing them to the sheet rock. So instead of helping to transfer the roof load the joists were now adding to the roof load. He’s lucky the garage didn’t collapse. That was a big job to remedy, essentially a beyond gut remodel of the garage.
    As for having a GFCI near the kitchen sink, you don’t need an actual GFCI socket module (the one with the light and buttons) next to the sink. All that is required is that the sockets be GFCI protected somewhere upstream and that could be another socket on the kitchen counter (they’re chained together). Normal sockets can be used. All counter level sockets should be GFCI protected whether or not they’re near the sink. There’s a little pocket sized tester ($10) stocked by hardware stores that can test whether a socket is GFCI protected, so no need to trace the wires. It also tests whether the socket was wired correctly, another common DIY goof.

  23. Milkshake — you’re correct, I should have clarified the GFCI issue that I saw. Or should I say lack of GFCIs. It wasn’t just by the sink, there were none to be seen. That’s my own personal red flag with a property (any property for that matter). I figure if no one has bothered to install them, I can only imagine what bigger issues have been ignored as well.

  24. There’s one other possibility Lori: The GFCI could be in the breaker panel. I haven’t looked into whether using a GFCI breaker to protect kitchen circuits is allowed by the electrical code. But I do have an opinion that it is a lot less convenient than having the GFCI reset button available right in the kitchen. Saves the scramble out to the breaker box when you’re in the midst of whipping up dinner.
    I’d be surprised if a new kitchen remodel skipped GFCI breakers because they really don’t add much at all to the total cost. Perhaps the kitchen remod you saw was wholly superficial (i.e. new cabinets and surfaces, no change to electrical and plumbing systems). It might be legal to retain the old grandfathered in systems though foolish not to take the opportunity to bring everything up to current standards. But it wouldn’t be the first time a SF flipper marketed a cheap “disposable” remodel.

  25. Milkshake — perhaps my memory is failing me (it wouldn’t be a surprise) but I recall with the last kitchen I gutted, new cabinets required a permit. With my current kitchen, doing away with 50 year old formica and replacing it with granite did not, as you stated. I didn’t think about GFCI being in the panel box. But the complete gut job, coupled with no permits whatsoever, really made me nervous.

  26. How did you find out they defaulted on their loan? That is really useful information and seems to me they should have disclosed the short sale status from the beginning, not three months into it.

  27. NoIdea — I believe that when a notice of default gets filed against a property, it becomes part of the public record. What this means in practice is that any number of real estate services and/or web sites will list that fact, along with the borrower, etc.
    You could always find this information in the past if you went looking for it, the web just makes the process easier and faster.

  28. Having fallen out of escrow, hopefully without anyone falling off the stairs, the list price for 286 Maywood Drive has just been reduced to $1,095,000.
    Once again, purchased for $1,225,000 in 2006 but then remodeled.

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