Purchased for $465,000 this past October as a Contractors Special which wasn’t habitable, didn’t have a functioning roof, and required a liability release to enter, 1687 Alabama has just returned to the market as a “light infused” North Bernal home listed for $1,249,000.
In addition to a new bedroom and bath on the ground floor, 42 lights were added to the home. Per the permits, and permit fees, the cost of the renovation was “$125,000.” And yes, we’d be willing to bet that’s a little “light” as well.
∙ Listing: 1687 Alabama Street (3/2) – $1,249,000 [Redfin]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by BillyBalls

    Very well done remodel necessitated by the poor condition of the acquired property.
    That said, in my opinion, this isn’t a million dollar home, and certainly not a million dollar neighborhood.

  2. Posted by DataDude

    Not that this ever happens, but what’s the incentive to under-report the renovation cost on the permit application?
    Is it so that property taxes don’t go up too much? Are permit fees really that expensive?
    It must be a pretty strong incentive, without much if any penalty, because this seems to be a pretty widespread practice.

  3. Posted by DataDude

    And is the bathtub an isosceles trapezoid or is that just a funky camera shot?
    Is that so that two people have enough shoulder space on one end, with their feet taking up less space on the other, so that it is both luxurious-nouveau-Kohler-spa and drought-conscious-green at the same time?
    For shared tubs, isn’t it nicer to face one another, so that you can maintain eye contact as you clink your acrylic champagne glasses and say “cheers” on a Saturday night?

  4. Posted by meep

    north bernal is not close to the projects ?

  5. Posted by mikey woodz

    Its a duravit model tub, its usually for odd shaped bathrooms that cant fit a wide tub

  6. Posted by boggle

    Ah yes, the lovely un-watered and dying new grass grid in the backyard.

  7. Posted by SF Doc

    This is an interesting part of Bernal. Not sure if it can command 1.25- maybe if it was higher on the hill a la Elsie? But Bernal does seem to be experiencing a resurgence these days…

  8. Posted by sparky-b

    It supported this house only 1 block up the hill.

  9. Posted by vanillablue

    this will be a very interesting data point for the market. the square footage isn’t listed, but 1.25 is a lot for the neighborhood east of precita park. 315 precita sold for 1.275 last summer, but that house is right on the park and was probably larger. the condos on harrison sold for over 1.5 but those were definitely substantially larger. depending on how big the new bed/bath are, if this goes for asking it might be close to $800/sf which is closer to Noe prices.

  10. Posted by sparky-b

    Also, this up the street a block. Don’t think it ever sold but it would be more than 1.25 if it did:

  11. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “Ah yes, the lovely un-watered and dying new grass grid in the backyard.”
    The classic “landscape staging”. It is pretty easy to create a lush Potemkin Garden that stays fresh long enough to get a place sold. Creating a garden that can be maintained and sustained requires more work.
    It is kind of hard to see in the photo but I cannot find any evidence of a sprinkler system, one of the keys to simplifying garden maintenance in dry California. Surely the developer didn’t cut corners to save the ~400$ required to install sprinklers on that tiny back yard. Or did they? Do first time buyers even think to check?
    Retrofitting in a sprinkler system is a lot more difficult once the hardscape has been installed.

  12. Posted by futurist

    Hmmm. There’s also the tried and true hose and spigot. Works pretty good on my yard and landscaping.

  13. Posted by BernalJames

    Prediction: This will go at our above asking.

  14. Posted by kddid

    Am I the only one who questions the quality of a to-the-studs remodel that is done in only 5-6 months (Nov – April, if you build in permits, inspections, punch list, etc)? Will this look this good in 5 years? Or is that adequate time to do a good job?

  15. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Yes a hose and spigot works fine so long as the yard is small and there’s someone home every week of the year. People who travel or have significant landscaping on the other hand will appreciate automated watering. As a bonus you can time watering to occur at the optimal early morning hours while you sleep.
    Irrigation systems are so inexpensive I don’t know why anyone would not install one, especially in a home vying for over one million like this one.

  16. Posted by soccermom

    Nice work by the developer!
    I like the stainless railings. Where does one go to shop for something like that? Is it a custom welding job, or can you buy those in components and have them assembled?
    (Who cares about the grass? Any time you lay sod, there is a transition period while the grass roots find their way into the soil below and are properly bonded.)

  17. Posted by futurist

    The yard is small, typical for that SF neighborhood.
    The hose works just fine.
    It’s sod and will bounce back. It’s brand new.
    Maybe they didn’t WANT to put in a sprinkler system.

  18. Posted by sparky-b

    CRLaurence is a good place to start looking for glass railing components.

  19. Posted by R

    @kddid: no, that’s plenty of time.. whether or not this developer did a good job I won’t vouch for, but if he didn’t, it’s not due to a lack of time.

  20. Posted by curmudgeon

    It’s a nice renovation, and the neighborhood is fine. Meep mentioned “the projects” (which are across C.C)…first, these “projects haven’t been awful since they were rebuilt some years ago, and second this house isn’t particularly close to them….way too far away to have any impact. Those modern condos that sold last year were much closer. Six months ago I would have said 1.25 would be a ridiculous price for a nice but modest house in this location. Now (sadly) seems like an easy sale.
    BTW…Precita Park is very popular and well cared for, and there is a great new Precita Park Cafe on the corner of the park nearest this house. Same folks who own Dolores Park Cafe and Duboce Park Cafe. In other words…this neighborhood has arrived. (and, if anyone even needs reminding, it has near perfect access for a south bay commute).

  21. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “It’s sod and will bounce back. It’s brand new.”
    “Who cares about the grass? Any time you lay sod, there is a transition period while the grass roots find their way into the soil below and are properly bonded.”
    Not really. Properly installed sod never looks brown and begins to dry near the edges like on this property. Aside from installing underground irrigation (the first step) to properly install sod you need to:
    1. prepare the base soil. Augment it with mulch, manure, and other soil components depending on the state of the existing topsoil. Then you need to uniformly compact and level this base soil. Often you need to rent a lawn roller to get the substrate flat enough.
    2. install the sod
    (there’s actually a third step of compacting/rolling the installed sod to get better contact. Anyone who skips step #1 will also skip this step too)
    Step #1 is probably 90% of the job. It is labor intensive because the soil must be tilled do a depth of at least six inches and you encounter all kinds of fun hard stuff like rocks and roots that should be removed. It might require importing soil adjuncts that are more expensive than the sod that will lie atop. The purpose of all of this prep is to ensure that there’s a soft, flat, nutritious surface for the sod roots to bind into and establish deep healthy roots. If for example you don’t smash out lumps of soil during the leveling step this will create air voids that the sod roots cannot span, resulting in dry dead patches later.
    Step #2 is pretty easy to do, just a matter of laying the sod tiles and trimming the perimeter to fit.
    Since you can save a bundle by skipping step #1 many flippers do so. On a fresh install (i.e. the first month) you can’t tell whether step #1 was skipped because the sod itself can live on its own without binding for several weeks. The best way to tell whether step #1 has been skipped is to peel back a tile and inspect the soil beneath. I’ve done during many an OH and often find hard packed clay below. No way the roots from the sod are going to get a healthy bind to lumpy hard packed clay.
    I wonder how many buyers of such shoddy soddings have had their “lawns” die out within a few months after moving in and have assumed it was their fault for improper watering and maintenance. In reality there was no chance for the sod to survive.

  22. Posted by jack

    I am guessing $1.25 or higher, and that is without having gone to the open house.

  23. Posted by futurist

    Yea, have to admit I have NEVER heard such a long winded, diatribe on something as mundane as laying sod.
    Now my life is complete.

  24. Posted by radar

    Geez….give the guy a break !
    Hey Milkshake………..I enjoyed ‘sod 101’ I like to learn something everyday.

  25. Posted by unwarrantedinlaw

    Nice little platform in the back yard. Probably are some sod issues. Usually it seems sellers simply ignore the back yard, I’ve seen lots of re-done houses where everything’s in great shape, but the back yard is untouched.

  26. Posted by futurist

    Hmmm. I see the SS editors are busy pushing their little censor button on “selected” comments. too bad for the obvious bias.
    [Editor’s Note: If you don’t like the information that somebody has provided, feel free to challenge or ignore it. But simply calling people names and then telling them to go elsewhere won’t fly.]

  27. Posted by Bernie Hill

    This is a very desirable location for many families. Its walking distance to Precita Park & Precita Park cafe. Importantly, its not so steep at this part of Bernal so walking with small children is not a pain. The weather is very good. And its very close to the freeway. That said, its far enough away from Ceasar Chavez or the projects that you don’t get much riff-raff walking up the hill. Its also fairly close to Bernal Heights park, if you want to walk up it.
    Someone else mentioned being high up would command more – a la Elsie street. Its true that the views are nicer up there, but those places are often less walkable, which can be a downside for a lot of people.
    As others have pointed out, there are a number of very nice houses up Alabama street around this house. My guess is that this house will go quickly. Probably to a family that is also considering Noe, but can’t find something quite as nice in Noe for the same price.

  28. Posted by futurist

    Hey editor: then start applying your particular set of rules to EVERY SINGLE commenter on this site.
    At this point,sadly,you do not.
    [Editor’s Note: We do our best.]

  29. Posted by soccermom

    Thanks for the railing advice, sparky-b!

  30. Posted by sparky-b

    No problem. If you are really looking into something like that you should find what you like at CRlaurence and then talk to a glass contractor and see if they have a less expensive off brand. Most of the time they do.

  31. Posted by lyqwyd

    It all depends on the square footage, which is unreported, so it’s impossible to say if the price is good or not. If anybody goes to an open house
    According to public records the building is 1,125 sq ft and the lot 2,008 sq ft.
    I imagine the square footage has been expanded, but unless it’s close to doubled I don’t think those comps posted above are very representative.
    The closest active listing is 1597 Treat Ave which is listed for $799,000 although it is also not a great comparison as it looks to need a good amount of work and has no parking.
    A recent sale is at 87 MANCHESTER St, which sold for $909,000 on 03/21.
    Looking at recent sales prices seem to be around $440/sq ft, with a few at $700, but all of those were quite small, and sold for well under $1,000,000.
    It is a well done property, so for $1.25M to be reasonable lets assume $550/sq ft (which seems a bit high for the neighborhood, but not unreasonable given the appearance of the structure), which would require around 2,250 sq ft for the building

  32. Posted by Happy in SF

    Doesn’t the refrigerator require ventilation space (for example, between the top of the fridge and the bottom of the cabinet above)? It appears to be sealed in.

  33. Posted by soccermom

    This is a semi-serious question about cabinets. Like socket-site serious. This house looks pretty and modern in the pictures, with pretty and modern kitchen cabinets.
    I don’t know a lot about this style of cabinet, I think Poggenpohl (sp?) is a manufacturer in this genre. I also know that one can get “similar” looks from:
    Ikea (the shame!)
    Home Depot (look away!)
    even HD Supply (the horror!)
    I think I could buy knock-offs of just about every cabinet and plumbing fixture in this house at HD Supply. Here’s the thing – I can’t tell from the photos if these are the ‘real thing’ or knock offs.
    At this price point, I assume that the developer/builder should pay up for decent cabinets. I also assume that people will try to sneak in the cheaper options though…
    I wonder if the buying public for a $1.25mm house in San Francisco can tell the difference between $4,000 worth of cabinets and $12,000 worth of cabinets that both aspire to the same design ideal. What do you think?

  34. Posted by anon1

    Lyqwyd, those three Bernal properties are an apple an orange and a pear.

  35. Posted by modernedwardian

    @soccermom re:kitchen cabinets.
    i’ve seen a lot of expensive remodels in noe and potrero that used ikea cabinets and while listening to open house visitors comments was surprised they both didn’t notice or didn’t mind. remember one particular $2MM home with “custom cherry kitchen”…from ikea.
    i’ve used ikea on remodels- in montreal, canada – that looked great and were high lights to high end renters.
    it becomes more of an issue of layout, design, other kitchen details (appliances, counters, sinks, nicer hardware,lighting), and customizing in my book. shelter mags routinely feature modified and painted ikea products. i like to stack base cabinets floor to ceiling for a wall of storage and have repurposed them as wall mounted fauxdenzas and as bathroom vanities and linen cabinets.
    there’s a company in so cal (semihandmade) that creates fronts in custom finishes for ikea boxes.
    disclosure, i am not a realtor or a building/design professional and know little about homes in the over $2MM range.

  36. Posted by soccermom

    @modernedwardian – Thank you for your insights.
    Very helpful!

  37. Posted by Jones

    What’s with the white countertops? They look pretty in the marketing photos but will look bad after a very short time of actual use.

  38. Posted by R

    @jones: why?

  39. Posted by Jones

    @R If thy’re made of stone or any porous material, they’ll stain. Onion peels, tomatoes, turmeric, etc. If you actually cook here, you’ll be spending an inordinate amount of time cleaning so that your kitchen looks like the $$ you spent on it. White stone is only practical for the developer looking to wow buyers with more $$ than brains (see above discussion of Ikea cabinets).
    I’ve talked to some of these buyers. They don’t know anything, but they made a bundle on the internet and want a home that looks like the stuff they see on Pinterest.
    People want a ‘restaurant-quality’ kitchen, but restaurants usually use more practical materials like stainless steel for work surfaces.

  40. Posted by anon1

    That lookd like caesarstone or silestone from a mile awauy, jones. It won’t stain. You’re hereby relegated to the “milkshake of despair” over-talker bin.

  41. Posted by Bernie Hill

    according to redfin, the price has been increased, from 1.25 to 1.299.

  42. Posted by fatheroftwo

    Was told there were already multiple preemptive offers well over asking, which resulted in the price increase. the house is 1,500 sq. ft. but the finishes are outstanding. looks like it will sell for more than $1.3M, over $900/ft. New record for the neighborhood.

  43. Posted by Dan

    “New record for the neighborhood.” There was a house nearby, featured on Socketsite, that sold for $2.2 million a few years back– over $900/SF, I think.

  44. Posted by Dan

    Oh, the record-setting house was $2.15 million, for 306 Mullen. When I looked it up, it was listed at around 4500 sq ft, but actually 1/2 that size– maybe they included the garages and outdoor terraces in the square footage.

  45. Posted by quietsnow

    There’s some odd data about this house. First, I was at the house warming about 2 years ago after the remodel was complete. It’s a realtor that owns it, so the fact that property records show a sale in Oct. 2011 and the previous one in the 1970’s is very suspect to me. He’s owned the property for at least 4 years. What gives?
    Oh, and FWIW, the yard wasn’t complete back then, but the rest of the house was…and the ceilings seem low. I’d be shocked if it went for asking.

  46. Posted by R

    Quietsnow: I think you’re confused about which house. 1687 Alabama was a dump until this renovation started after it was purchased as a flip last year.

  47. Posted by jack

    Saw the open house. I think $1.3m is my guess for now.

  48. Posted by lyqwyd

    900 /sf seems insane to me. 306 Mullen was brand new designer construction which sold near the peak in the market.
    According to Trulia the average #/sf is around $570, and I’ll happily admit this place should go over average, but $900 /sf makes no sense. You could buy a fixer below average $/sf, and have $400-$500 thousand dollars to put into the property at that point. You could afford to hire a top end designer and rent a beautiful house and still have at least $100k left over after all the construction was done, as compared to buying at $900 / sf.
    I’m not saying the price is impossible, just that it makes no sense. We’ve certainly seen houses sell for more than what is reasonable in the past.

  49. Posted by mikey woodz

    ^ thats assuming you have about 700k in cash sitting around….which I doubt whoever buys this has.Cash is still king

  50. Posted by DCR

    This is definitely done very cleanly…but the upper floor bathroom is presumably the door to the left of the dining area. Just a bit close to the dining table if you have guests for dinner.
    Everyone knows what you do in the bathroom, but somehow it’s still a little weird to be essentially sitting next to the dining table when you do it. With a gut remodel it doesn’t seem a great choice.
    Is that just me, or a little odd?

  51. Posted by Bernie Hill

    Redfin lists the home status as contingent now.

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