Sunset Idea House a.k.a. 1303 Alabama

by Tiffany Elston:

sunset In the spirit of keeping tabs on San Francisco’s green housing inventory, it seems only logical to draw attention to a green 2 unit TIC in the Mission: 1303 Alabama. The main unit is being retained by the owners. The second unit is a 1,200 SqFt home. The project is the result of a collaboration between Sunset Magazine and Meridian Builders and Developers Inc. and was designed to “take the magazine’s Idea House Program into a dense urban area for the first time, and demonstrate how to maximize construction on a compact site.” Interesting.

I got to preview the 2 bedroom 2.5 bath two Sundays ago during the Build It Green San Francisco Home Tour.

In terms of green building features, the house gets a high score: solar PV, recycled glass tiles, reclaimed wood floors, double insulated windows, dual flush toilets, rooftop garden, and the first residential windmill in the city (On a 1-year variance to see how the birdies fair with spinning blades.)

The unit is on the market for $1,089,000.

How long will it be before someone swoops in on this green baby? Wagers, anyone?

[Editor’s notes: It’d be fun to see what “A” and “M” think it will sell for. I know “A” is reading, but what about “M”. And WTF is up with the MLS photos of this place! You’d think better quality would be demanded of the agent.]

Info on the Sunset Idea House

1303 Alabama [MLS]

24 thoughts on “Sunset Idea House a.k.a. 1303 Alabama

  1. I claim that the main unit IS NOT being retained by the owners as she went too far over budget to pay for the mortgage itself.

    It will, most likely, go on the market after the Sunset tour.

    Anyone want to place a bet?

  2. I saw it on the build it green tour as well. To date there is no solar PV (electric) but only solar thermal and I hear the recycled floor was shipped all the way from back east on a truck…that doesn’t sound “too green” does it?

    Also, can we really have that many lights (non florescent or CFs), water features (pools, spas, tubs, double and triple shower heads), and size and call it “green”? I would believe it if the rain catchment system were located in Seattle but we have rain for only appx.3 months out of a year. All that water has to come from somewhere!

    A wind turbine alone will not generate that much electricity to keep the lights on for 2 units as well as 2 sets of appliances (energy star or not, they aren’t DC), lighted mirrors, etc.. Additionally, they will need to put in at least a 5 kw system to be “off the grid”with the excess that is going on.

    and the poor plants out front….they looked dead!

    All in all, I was disappointed and insulted by this project and felt like they thought the public was really ignorant on sustainability. It seems more like a “trendy” project by builders/developers who aren’t really interested in sustainability or the environment but just want to make a buck from a trend!

  3. I agree completely with Dale..same sentiments when I saw the place.

    Once again, as I’ve said here before several times, this is another example of a “trendy” project, not a sustainable one.. another weak example of a “dwell style” home. The architects should be partly to blame, as well as the developer and owner..

    As for that wind turbine…i listened to it running at full speed in the wind and its LOUD…can you imagine having to put up with that in your back yard?

    I think the SF Planning and Building Department needs to get involved is this issue, especially as a rear yard “negative” encroachment.I would not want to live next to that turbine.

  4. how tall is the pole? risks for the neighbors due to wind/earthquake/lack of maintenance… ?

    from what I know, no european country allows windmills IN CITIES.

    Also, marketing wise if PV systems are a huge plus “it must be sunny there – We can plan parties!”, windmill is a huge minus “it must be windy and freezing cold here”.

  5. I have to agree with dale/duggo. I am all pro-green but the term ‘green’ has come on quicker then the dot-com gold rush. Everywhere you look its ‘green’ this and ‘green’ that. There are many people in the world that have live ‘green’ for decades and decades. These are the people who, ya know, lived in modest houses, kept the heat a bit lower and kept less lights on. The ‘green’ buildings in SF are tailored to people with lots of money, many of whom would be more proud to say ‘well I live in a green house’ then to actually really care about the environment. I bet half the people who buy these places have SUV’s.

    If they city wanted really to show its green it would make some green public buildings or green low income houses. But having ‘green’ private residents where only the loaded can buy is very Ironic. Hell the drug dealers in that neighborhood who deal off their bicycles are probably more green then anybody who owns the place.

  6. [Editor’s note: I just saw the unit. It is impressive, but not finished, and therefore not flattering. Maybe it will be when it is done. I can’t for the life of me figure out what the rush to get it to market unfinished is. Also, a lot of the hullabaloo is for the unit that is not for sale, including the indoor pool, and the big rooftop patio.]

  7. 1303 alabama is SO TOTALLY AWESOME, man…please, bend-me-over and sign me up to pay > $1 mil! (that place will get no more than $700k.)

    if these fools think they will get anywhere near $1mil, they are smoking some seriously good crack. i saw it (for free) sunday, and what a POS. it’s insulting bringing to market, and with such fanfare, an incomplete piece of shit like that. the layout was laughable; the rooms downstairs reminded me of a below grade illegal inlaw unit; the sliding wood doors were purely stupid; and my personal favorite- there is a floor level window in the master bath that actually opens up- literally right on to the busy sidewalk outside! you can shower or take your shit and say high to people walking on the sidewalk, literally less than 2 feet away. lovely!

    and to all these people ‘in the know,’ who worked on the property, guess what? we don’t give a shit! the whole project was presented in an asinine, arrogant, and questionable manner. consequently the disorganization surrounding this project and hodgepodge construction is self evident and pathetic.

    that’s why i originally posted the whole affair as some “funny shit.”


    This may be the start of simply not letting this kind of building get by on its’ looks and oh-so-boring “dwell style”

    San Francisco deserves better. the Mission deserves better.

  9. I don’t understand how a project that was a creation of ‘sunset’ magazine got so botched. Were they trying to be ‘tough and rough’ by placing it right dab in a drug and gang area? I get Sunset and like it a bit just because it is better then say Readers Digest. However they really should stick with building the bling houses in the Los Alto’s of the world. To ‘A’ I really doubt it will only go for 700k. No need to hate like that on the property. There will be some 29 year old googler or whatever who wants their ‘green creds’ and their ‘i live in the mission creds’ or whatever who will buy it around asking. Look at what those places in the mission went for considering the location. People have money to burn.

    Duggo, you talk about ‘dwell style’ houses a lot. I am not trying to pick a fight but am curious. What do you look for in modern inspiration beside that? I used to like dwell but I can almost interchange every month with a different month. Every house is some IPE or other natural slat siding, some concrete and a bunch of Eames era furniture. Dwell almost has become the modern design guide for the non-creative. I love a lot of it but if I build my own place would not want it to look like it was right out of dwell.

  10. [deleted by editor…yup, I deleted my own comments. If you saw them, you know. Have fun…debate…discuss…keep it civil.]

  11. building green from scratch. There is a good example in TOH october 2007 issue.

    They built from scratch a house in Florida, creating new green path in the no-standard state.

    I haven’t visited the house of course, I wouldn’t even build a house like that (because I wouldnt live in florida in the first hand) – but I have to say they did GREAT… and the MAJOR part of the design is not about using the right materials, but about nailing down the right space design.

    To quote the homeowner, this house is an attempt to mimic houses that were built without all the energy-intensive appliances – built prior to air-conditioning and electricity – and then, apply all of the modern conveniences. – that includes no or little wondows on the south side, lite color south wall, lite color roof etc…

    I also laugh out loud at reading “green features Double Insulated windows”. First they are a requirement by code, second, they do NOT insulate any better than single pane windows (incorrectly installed double is worse than well installed single pane) – third, they do not call for what is really interesting (all the custom coatings that you need to tailor to the orientation of the walls. One coating on the west side, another coating on the south side.. and of course, a self cleaning upgrade to stop the homeowner from buying windex)

    To finish on the green features that this house probably doesnt have – it’s a low radiation design. Soil emits dangerous levels of radiation – and the first floor slab can be the occupant best friend or worse enemy. (so far, I havent seen many houses that address the problem, and certainly NO new “green house” featured here).

    So yes, I agree with the “dwell” look. To be honest – those new houses are SO identical in look that my memory is confused.

  12. I wouldn’t buy the place for 1M+ but if it goes for 700K as one of the posters was betting it would go for that would be a steal. There is some fool out there that would pay the asking price or something close to it despite the flaws noted.

  13. FACT:

    Insulating glazed windows do IN FACT perform better than single glazing. Don’t believe anyone who says otherwise.

  14. This house is not that great. Its like a really great house and a cheap inlaw. I went by it finally and I think the main ‘cool’ house must be like 2500 sq feet yet this unit was far from complete and the work looked really shoddy. They really need to fix this place and the before it sells. And finish the house as well. The main unit has the amazing back yard and deck etc and this is like an inlaw unit…

    As far as double paned windows. I think PGE can attest they get half the money from me a month thanks to the windows.

  15. duggo – YES – but ONLY in a test when everything else is the same.

    the easiest example that comes to mind is that a DOUBLE glazing monted on aluminium frame with heat bridge does WORSE (in R value) as a SINGLE plane 2/8th monted on wood frame – you leak more heat thru the frame as you save from the glass.

    The difference of R value of the glass part has so little to do with the R value of the window – that is the glass AND the frame AND the instalation AND the trims/insulation inside and outside.

    Plus, to be very technical, the city accepts LAMINATED instead of DOUBLE – because again, depending on the whole window, laminated will do as good as double in our climate (but laminated will outbeat double as for sound proofing)…

    My point was that is was a stupid selling argument, and even more stupid to say “double” as double is filled with gas – and some are still not very “green”. So unless they were claiming a special gas, or a special asymetrical double glazing or anything else that would be fancy/green/efficient/extraordinary… they should just zip it.

  16. sally, just saw your post about how the owners are not retaining the bigger unit. I was told otherwise at the open house yesterday.

  17. does anyone know when this house is going to be on Tour? November has practically come and gone….maybe the relations between Sunset and the owner/builder have gone by the wayside.

    Does anyone know why this project is so terribly behind schedule?

  18. Looks like the house is now open.

    Why don’t construction projects finish on time?

    Poor construction management.

  19. Pardon my ignorance, but I was reading and one poster referred to ” TOH october 2007 issue ” and a Florida built green style house. Could anyone tell me what is “TOH” ? I don’t know these acronyms.


    the article is “Green House
    One couple’s eco-sensitive, super-efficient, and stylish dream home”

    available in the public libraries:
    This old house
    New York, NY : Time Pub. Ventures, c1995-
    Show library holdings
    Location: Magazines for branches
    Call Number: 643.705 T349
    Library Has: Chinatown, Marina, Merced, Ortega, Portola
    Location: MAIN – 5th Floor – Mags & News
    Call Number: 643.705 T349
    Library Has: Preview issue (May/June 1995)
    Latest Received: December 2008 v.13 no.10

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