East Bay: Old Style Meets New Tech in New Oakland Listing

By Home Girl:

Fresh on the block is a substantial contemporary home at 5881 Snake Avenue Road in Montclair, which stands out for being a mix of old school and state-of the-art techie.

It’s worth making a detour to see this one, because it’s certainly not run of the mill. It doesn’t fit into any of the easy categories we assign to East Bay homes, such as Craftsman, brown-shingle, or post-fire new build.

Completed this month — literally — it’s 4,000 ft of house with lots of crafty touches as well as all the latest in modern gizmos. Architect Tomm Smail of TSI Architects evidently decided he wanted a house with personality. So there are dozens of stained glass windows (by Vicki Combs at Volcano Stained Glass) and acres of custom tile (by Michelle Griffoul Studios).

Then there’s the high-tech part: a whizzbang automations system which allows you to control everything — security, music,  lighting and TV — with your cell phone. (Assuming you’ve mastered TV remotes at this point.)

The advantage of building character into a new home is that you can’t criticize it of being bland. The risk is that nobody will share your taste. Personally, while some of the decor would not be my choice, I could live with it in order to enjoy that all the square footage and the gourmet kitchen. I’m less enamored with the living room configuration: it’s very open-plan and leads straight off the front doorway. I like my fireplace lounging areas to be a little cozier.

But I think the price is fair for the market — it would have been nudging $2m a couple of years back — it’s in a convenient spot for Montclair Village, and there’s always the inherent appeal of a one-off.

Price: $1,695,000
Per sq ft: $424
Walk Score: 80/100 — Very walkable.
Related: Another newly listed, new home nearby also offers “character” (check out the pink up-lighting in the kitchen), less space, a higher price ($1,800,000) and is more car-dependent.
In brief: Will suit those who like ’em new and original.

8 thoughts on “East Bay: Old Style Meets New Tech in New Oakland Listing

  1. As a local appraiser, I’m not sure I see the value. That part of Montclair never commanded $2m and I’m not sure it is worth the asking price now or even a year ago (maybe two years ago). The biggest issue is that is does not have a bay view which one would require at that price nowadays.

  2. Nikko: I agree that the lack of a Bay view should be factored in. I’m curious about Montclair and why prices there seem to be generally lower than in other parts of the Oakland and Berkeley hills. Any ideas?

  3. Certainly at least part of the lack of view is made up for by the address. Snake avenue? Come on now. How cool.

  4. I wish I had time to visit… I LOVE LOVE LOVE what I can see on the website!

    I’m still an old house girl, but depending on choices available, needs, price etc.. .this would certainly be a choice to consider.

    I have one question tho. I have stained glass too, and glass doors, and kids. The difference between glitter in the eyes decor, and great decor would be SAFETY (secured pannels, etc). So like any new construction, I’d be on the back of the contractor inspector for HOURS till everything was checked and double checked.

    Finger crossed for the “developer/seller/designer” team. Great job!

  5. I love Snake Road too. The East Bay has some other wild street names, like Grizzly Peak Boulevard, Wildcat Canyon Road and Rifle Range Road. That’s what happens when you venture out of the urban jungle, I suppose.

  6. Much of Montclair suffers from what we appraisers call regression – a decrease in values because of the surrounding houses. Many of the houses are funkier, Tahoe-style and not as architecturally appealing as those in other neighborhoods. Also, the access can be daunting with narrow, windy streets. And despite the walkscore of 84, this is a ways up Snake and is not walkable. I think Montclair is actually pretty good value and even the architecture snobs can sometimes find hidden gems.

  7. Nikko, I don’t understand what you mean by not walkable. If you walk down Magellan just a few houses & turn left, you go through a tunnel that comes out at the top of the parking structure in Montclair Village. My husband & I looked at the house the night of the Montclair Stroll, then left our car parked on Magellan & walked to the village. The walk to the village is much closer then the drive.

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