Eichler homes continue to be hot properties for families and individuals who appreciate a sleek, modern design. Emphasizing change, boldness and optimism, they typically consist of a U-shaped floor plan with an atrium, glass walls and radiant floor heaters. Spread across California (including the Bay Area), they embody home design flair and affordability. To learn more about Eichler homes, let’s look at who Joseph Eicher was and why his approach to custom home building has made such a huge and lasting impact.
The Man and the Philosophy Behind Eichler Homes
Master builder: Developer Joseph Eichler (1900-1974) is credited with building nearly 11,000 single-family homes in California. Inspired by his own Frank Lloyd Wright home, he hired local modernist architects to design houses that were different from the cookie-cutter homes that other developers were building. According to eichlernetwork.com, he never held a hammer, wrench or saw, but that did not stop the successful Bronx-born businessman from becoming a master builder.
Establishing modern standards: Houses built by Eichler Homes, Inc. have come to epitomize the Mid-Century Modern style of architecture that is still in demand today. With functional layouts, clean lines, distinctive roofs, big windows, open foyers and plenty of natural light, they introduced an appealing indoor-outdoor living style that was in stark contrast to the tract houses of that era. Industry experts credit Eichler with setting the tone for what we consider standard or desirable in a home today.
Delivering style and affordability: Although they are highly-coveted architectural works of art, Eichler’s homes were built with both style and affordability in mind. At the time, the modern style was associated with luxurious custom homes rather than middle-class residences. Parents Magazine once said that an Eichler home was the best in the country for raising children!
Remodeling potential: Over the years, Eichler-built homes have received numerous awards and continue to be in high demand. The clean lines offer plenty of remodeling potential. However, selecting the right contractor is key to adding modern comforts and efficiencies while retaining Joseph Eichler’s original vision.
Eichler Home Remodelers Balance Traditional and Contemporary Style
By creating easily accessible outdoor spaces, incorporating large windows and walls of glass, providing expansive backyard views and so on, Joseph Eichler sought to bring homeowners closer to nature. Our remodeling specialists skillfully incorporate 21st century floorplans and conveniences while keeping the most beloved features of your original Eichler intact.
As a residential contractor that has successfully completed hundreds of renovations, additions, and new homes, we believe in a client-first approach. Count on the experienced team at Flegel’s Construction to preserve the original Eichler vision while offering increased functionality and style for your home.
We have customers across Silicon Valley, including in Palo Alto, Los Altos, San Jose, Cupertino, Mountain View and Sunnyvale, CA.
Contact us online to learn more about Joseph Eichler and discuss your custom home building or remodeling project.
Tearing down a home to build a brand new one is an ideal option when you love where you live but want to enhance your living space. Why give up your excellent location, strong ties with the community, perhaps an easy commute to work, proximity to social and entertainment facilities, etc. simply because your home’s structure is not ideal?
Building your new dream home on your current property allows you to increase living space and design every square foot to your taste. Custom home building can also significantly increase the value of your property. Before you get started, learn what’s involved in a teardown and trust an experienced construction company for the job.
3 Considerations for Custom Home Building Involving a Teardown
Determine costs: If your current house is too small or outdated, a complete rebuild might make more sense than renovation. While the expenses associated with both options will vary, large scale makeovers can amount to a sizeable sum. Often, the cost of moving to a new area can be much more than staying put and rebuilding. Speak with an established architect or builder for an accurate idea of what the demolition and new build is going to cost. If your custom home will be valued at double or three times the price of the current one, it is worth starting afresh at the same location.
Check local building regulations: Teardowns and rebuilds require permits. Your city will have regulations for what you can and cannot do, especially if you live in a historic district. Homes built before a certain date may need special demolition permits because of the materials used in the original structure. Obtaining the necessary permissions takes time and can be challenging due to the complex paperwork required. With proper planning, your new home construction can be a satisfying and stress-free experience.
Find a trusted home builder: A contractor who has worked in the area will be familiar with local building codes and can prevent common problems. Before engaging the builder, you must check that their experience is relevant to your project. It is important to hire a builder with a track record for quality work, completed on time and within budget. Obtain visual and tangible evidence of their project management skills before you sign on the dotted line.
Work with a Custom Home Builder Who Can Deliver Your Vision
At Flegel’s Construction Co., we welcome the opportunity to build your custom home. Understanding what you want and need, enables us to construct a functional, attractive home that you will love. We are happy to work with your designer/architect to ensure your project is a success. Our commitment to building trusting, collaborative relationships has earned us customers across Silicon Valley, including in Palo Alto, Los Altos, San Jose, Cupertino, Mountain View and Sunnyvale, CA.
Contact us online to learn more about what’s involved in a teardown for custom home building.
Building a custom home gives you the freedom to design every square foot of space to your taste. From the layout to choosing the building materials and interior finishing, you can select what works best for you and your family. Before your architect finalizes the blueprint, explore the latest trends in luxury home building, so you can decide exactly what you want.
Hot Trends in Silicon Valley Custom Homes
Lighter-colored flooring: Washed wood finishes like ash, grey and white as well as stone floors are the newest hot favorites. These lighter shades brighten up the room and also show less dirt. If you prefer dark flooring, consider slightly lighter tones. With specialty designs and multi-tonal colors, engineered wood flooring provides an exotic look.
Open concept floor plans: Today’s contemporary homes are moving towards open concept floor plans because they appear more spacious and allow better flow. For example, in an open concept layout, the kitchen, family room and living room flow into each other and are great for large gatherings. A vaulted ceiling will add a dramatic impact and give it a lofty feel.
Multi-functional rooms: Many custom home owners want their rooms to work smarter; meaning, they serve multiple purposes. Your living room may be a place for the family to congregate, entertain guests and also be a relaxation area. You can plan your décor and furniture accordingly.
Stylish kitchens: Choose your design, materials and appliances carefully. The kitchen is the heart of your home and a big selling point too. Stainless steel and granite are seen in most homes today. You may want to explore more luxurious options like engineered stone counters and glass appliances. As with flooring, lighter-colored and white cabinets are making a comeback.
Statement features: Glass and metal are dominant decorating features today. Some homes have replaced walls between the living, dining and family room areas with metal and glass doors that disappear with the press of a button. Others have huge decorative motifs to embellish the staircase. If contemporary is not your style, consider metallic art. You can also make a distinctive statement with color. Use bold shades or furnishings to accent certain walls and areas of a room.
Outdoor kitchens: These are almost a standard feature of modern luxury homes. They can be fully equipped with an oven, grill, refrigerator, sink and a bar for barbeques and dinner parties. Some even include large television sets.
Work with a Trusted Luxury Home Builder
At Flegel’s Construction Co., we consider it an honor to build your custom home. By working to understand exactly what you want, we are able to realize your vision. We are happy to work with your designer/architect to ensure your new home construction project is a success. We have customers across Silicon Valley, including in Palo Alto, Los Altos, San Jose, Cupertino, Mountain View and Sunnyvale, CA.
Contact us online to learn more about the latest trends in luxury home building.
New guidelines aim to promote compatibility, ease friction between neighbors
Ever since they made their Palo Alto debut in 1950, Eichler communities were intended to be more than the sum of their boxy, glassy parts.
Characterized by glass doors and large windows, flat or low-pitched roofs and ample backyards, developer Joseph Eichler’s homes famously celebrated indoor/outdoor living. They also promoted a community ethos through use of common space, as evidenced by the community center, neighborhood park and swimming pool in Greenmeadow, one of two Eichler neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Districts.
Yet these very qualities that have long united Eichler owners have also created rifts in many of the city’s 31 subdivisions. Large new Spanish-style homes in Eichler enclaves like Faircourt have sparked outrage — and calls for action — from longtime homeowners. Some have appealed the approvals of proposed new houses that they deemed incompatible; others argue that two-story homes should be banned altogether.
The conflict hit its crescendo in 2015, when residents from four different tracts petitioned for “single-story overlay” districts, which prohibit new two-story homes and second-story additions. In a series of tense meetings, the council approved the requests from two neighborhoods (Los Arboles and Greer Park North) and rejected two others (Royal Manor and Faircourt).
In each case, the council weighed arguments of those who characterized two-story homes in Eichler neighborhoods as architectural blasphemy — a garish indulgence that threatens the privacy of neighbors and diminishes the aesthetic of the community — and those who see two-story homes or second-story additions as ways to accommodate multi-generational families and as legitimately entitled by property rights.
In an attempt to bridge the divide, council directed staff to draft special guidelines for constructing homes and additions in Eichler neighborhoods. On Feb. 22, the city’s Historic Resources Board approved the guidelines, which are now set to go to the City Council for final approval this spring.
Even though the new guidelines are voluntary, they are already causing frustration and confusion among some Eichler owners. At the Feb. 22 meeting, some argued that the guidelines don’t go far enough in protecting neighborhood character while others claimed that they are too proscriptive.
Michael Nierenberg, who owns a two-story Eichler, argued that the city conducted insufficient outreach. Staff sent postcards to each of the more than 2,000 Eichler homes, but only about 150 people, Nierenberg noted, were interviewed before the guidelines were crafted.
He was one of several residents who rejected the idea of “freezing Eichlers in time” by restricting design options.
“As new materials come along — and new looks and things — we might be missing out on siding, roofing and things that might make your house better, not worse,” Nierenberg told the board.
Manas Madal, who lives in Fairmeadow, argued that adopting the new guidelines would infringe on the property rights of homeowners. If approved, the guidelines should stay voluntary and not subject to regulation by the city.
Others lauded the guidelines as a good step, even if they took issue with certain details. Diane Reklis, who has lived in an Eichler for 40 years, said the document has “lots of good stuff in it” but raised concerns about the document’s provisions on accessory dwelling units. The guidelines allow homeowners to build detached housing that is up to 17 feet in height and 900 square feet in area.
If these small houses are positioned in the rear of the property (as the guidelines suggest), they will require occupants to walk past the main residence, possibly intruding on privacy, Reklis said. She also noted that 900 square feet is quite large in the context of Eichlers.
“You’re taking half the size of a current Eichler and sticking it in the backyard,” Reklis said.
The recommended 126-page document includes guidelines on everything from placement of doors and design of windows and roof forms to broad issues relating to cladding materials, massing and height. They encourage the builder to employ post-and-beam construction (which is synonymous with Eichlers); use roofing materials with a “flat, visually unobtrusive appearance”; and avoid historicist styles such as Mediterranean Revival and New-eclectic.
It also includes guidelines for constructing basements and first-story additions. Whenever possible, the document states, the project should avoid direct views into neighboring windows that may require additional privacy, including bedroom and bathroom windows.
Board Chair David Bower said that in recent meetings on the new guidelines, the issue that kept coming up was privacy. Residents said they were particularly concerned about second-story add-ons and neighbors peering through windows into their yards. The guidelines address these issues, he noted.
“While I don’t think they are a perfect approach, I think they are a good start,” Bower said.
Board member Michael Makinen pointed to another public concern: uncertainty over how the guidelines will be used. Though they are currently not subject to any regulations from the city, that can change, he noted.
“Yeah, we’re calling it voluntary but is it really voluntary? I think there is a feeling … that they may be more than what we advertise as voluntary.” Makinen said.
It will ultimately be up to the council to decide how to use the new guidelines. The board considered various approaches toward incorporating the Eichler guidelines into the city’s review process but refrained from specifying the exact nature of how or whether the rules should be enforced. They agreed that, when possible, the city should defer to neighborhood preferences. The board did vote 5-0, with Brandon Cory absent, to recommend that the new guidelines at least be used in tandem with the existing Individual Review process when considering two-story homes and second-story additions.
Councilwoman Karen Holman, the council’s liaison to the Historic Resources Board, recalled the city’s tendentious path toward the new guidelines and expressed hope that the new document will help tone down the acrimony and reduce the number of appeals being filed by residents concerned about the new house going up next door.
“We have neighbors fighting neighbors … because of new construction, additions and such in Eichler neighborhoods,” Holman said. “I see these (guidelines) as a resource to help abate those appeals and those battles within neighborhoods.”
Not Sure If You Should Maintain or Upgrade Your Eichler Home?
Retain the Original Vision with Expert Home Remodeling
As an Eichler homeowner, you may be skeptical about renovations because you are anxious to preserve the original look of your home. A deteriorating façade can, however, increase your maintenance expenses every year. With rising home prices and the growing trend towards generational living, you may want to increase the existing interior space. Perhaps you dream of a modern kitchen and luxurious bathroom—two remodeling projects that provide greater comfort and significant returns on your investment. If you are trying to decide whether to maintain or upgrade your Eichler home, here is a quick overview of important dos and don’ts outlined in an eichlernetwork.com article.
Eichler Home Maintenance and Renovation Guidelines
Replace old fencing: A rotting and sinking fence is unattractive and unsafe. Retaining the distinctive Eichler look can be a bit of a challenge. Homeowners who have walked the fine line suggest using the carport as inspiration. Mimicking the glass inserts, for instance, can give a sophisticated appearance. You may choose a cedar fence with bamboo posts for a rustic look.
Replace old siding: Repainting or staining worn out siding is just a temporary solution. The three most common types of Eichler style siding are available at eichlersiding.com. The company also offers custom solutions to replicate the specific type your home needs.
Restore exterior lighting fixtures: A light sandblasting can remove the dirt and corrosion from your anodized aluminum fixtures. Powder-coating or re-anodizing will restore them beautifully. You may want to consider adding motion sensors for enhanced security. Keep in mind that if the corrosion is severe, re-anodization might give mixed results. If so, look for contemporary lights that will blend nicely with the Eichler design.
Change the old front door: Finding the right replacement for your front or garage door is challenging. To upgrade the look without taking away from the Eichler charm, architects recommend custom doors. It is also possible to automate your original garage doors with electronic sensors. Except when broken, it is not necessary to replace them.
Aim for an integrated look with your home addition: This is perhaps the hardest part of any Eichler home renovation project. Inappropriate remodels not only look out of place, they will also lower your property value. It is best to hire a professional home remodeling contractor with extensive knowledge of Eichler designs.
Eichler Home Remodeling Specialists
At Flegel’s Construction Co., we work hard to exceed your expectations of workmanship and service quality. As Eichler home renovation specialists, we create a harmonious blend of past and present. You can count on us to preserve the unique, mid-century architectural features of your home while giving it a modern touch. We are happy to work with your designer/architect to ensure your Eichler home renovation project is a success.
“Our home in Palo Alto was in need of help. Built in the early 1950s and barely updated since, there was a lot to do. Over 12 months and two phases, our home was transformed into the perfect mid-century modern oasis for our
“We interviewed at least 7 contractors for our Eichler remodel and decided on Flegel’s construction and I am so glad we did! Working with Scott and his crew was such an pleasant experience. We had heard so many horror stories
“I cannot say enough about Scott Flegel. He is on the ball. He works on the project with his employees. He has very high standards and his employees follow his example. Our architect has come back to look at the project