Fixer-upper in Berkeley

This is exactly the kind of building I’d be looking for if I wanted to live in a city (or town) these days. I’d first check to see that the foundation was solid, and there were no rotting floors to deal with.  (The roof looks pretty good, and the eaves do not seem to be sagging, which usually indicates the foundation is not disintegrating.) It would be exciting to fix a place like this up.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

7 Responses to Fixer-upper in Berkeley

  1. If someone were to tackle this project, just do an estimate of "store bought" materials and the required permits. The cost might surprise you. The last few years have seen a dramatic run up in materials' prices. It might take $200K +

  2. Ever hear of Cinderella Homes? I hadn't…(they really do exist….)

    I like the bright pink porch/white door house, only because it "pops"..Other than that…not so much.

    All You Can Lose Is Your Heart (Kehrer Verlag, 2015), a book of photos by KayLynn Deveney, measures the distance between the dream of the Cinderella Home in the 1950s and the truth of today. Deveney has spent the past 6 years photographing Cinderella Homes, which she first came to know in Albuquerque

    (mostly to me, they look as if they sunk. Had to read a bit to see if they were all built on a swamp, but not so)

  3. A Man Built a House/Home for His Family

    Page No. 1 graphs the living space, all on one floor, in a figure-eight arrangement. This is a practical floor plan, created almost certainly with an eye toward being manageable to build. At the bottom of the page, in neat capital letters, read my parents’ formal names, and below that, in the same upright hand, “PLANS BY OWNER.”

    Our dad-built house in central Ohio had its quirks. There was the long utility counter with a drawer sized specifically for S&H Green Stamp books. There was the “secret” passageway, meant to hold two card tables (for family canasta games), and happily just wide enough for a child to squeeze through and exit in the adjacent closet. There was a cupboard built to accommodate our homemade laundry cart. There was a pantry with U-shaped shelves the exact width of an 8-ounce can. Specificity and functionality reigned.

    Growing up, my sense of pride in my father’s master work competed with discomfiture. I had an acute awareness that our house did not conform to a standard. It was unlike those in the burgeoning development nearby, where two-story look-alikes with attached garages and freshly planted saplings announced the newly rising middle class. Those patterned homes didn’t telegraph Homemade! They were, to me, the more conventional, “professional” version. I viewed our house as one would a hand-knitted sweater from a beloved aunt: well crafted, functional, even lovely in its own right, but bearing the telltale signs of something individually produced.

    View Story

    How to stage a house: Kill the clutter

    When a home is set to hit the market, the first thing I always do is evaluate everything room by room, then I minimize and consolidate.

    It took maturity and comments from others to help me recognize that the home my father built was well beyond the standards applied to the grid of nearby sub-development houses. One boyfriend (who, not incidentally, later became my husband) bragged to his family early on that my father had been the sole builder of our house. I began to appreciate that the house I lived in and loved was not an adaptation of the norm, but a hallmark of individuality.

    I lived in that house until I went to college. Later, my mother passed away in that house, and afterward, my father, yielding to the wave of businesses that had sprung up around it, sold it to a printing company. He then bought a Colonial in a development, his new house looking more or less like every other one on the street. It was a house I might have been happy to live in a decade before, but not anymore. The new house was not infused with anyone’s personality, much less the hopes and dreams of a husband and father. It was just walls and a roof.

    A first home can make an indelible mark, and I have yet to live in a cookie-cutter house. A house that reflects the character and idiosyncracies of the builder and the owners, that shuns convention and flaunts its quirks? That’s the house for me.

    More from Address:

    ◾ Room to love: Sea the point in this summer home

    ◾Home of the week

    ◾ Location, location, location: Haverhill

    ◾ The latest in home decor

    ◾Rob Robillard's Ask the Carpenter columns

    ◾Submit your project for Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

    Ellen Goss Goldsberry, a freelance editor and writer, lives in central New Hampshire. Send comments and a 550-word essay on your first home to Please note: We do not respond to submissions we won’t pursue.

    I began to appreciate that the house I lived in and loved was not an adaptation of the norm, but a hallmark of individuality.


    After showing the craftsmanship that goes into handmade tools, John Neeman Tools built an entire home from hand-felled trees, locally sourced stones, and mostly using hand tools. The frame and roof were made with wood joints and pegs, with no nails, screws or hardware.

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of your company name or keyword spam.