Ask Us: 815 Alvarado Just Doesn’t Jibe

Have a look at the front of 815 Alvarado (4 bed, 3.5 bath, 3 car parking, “Single Family Residence” asking $2,965,000) :


Now have a look at our reader’s question:

So whats the story on 815 Alvarado, SF…..listed as a House…but really has a Legal Inlaw, and only 2 bedrooms upstairs. One can be divided….but you have no hallway in between. Property tax records still have it based on original purchase price with no improvements in the structure base. All work performed under permit???

So what do the tax records say? Well, for starters, 688 square feet! (To further confuse you, we pulled tax records via MLS, which shows the new property photos that clearly don’t jive with the data.)


Sounds a little bit more like this doesn’t it? Record of sale in 1997 for $325,000 from $279,000 asking:


It really doesn’t jibe, and this is all too common and one big reason tax records in San Francisco should be taken with a grain of salt. But to answer your main question, “all work performed under permit”, we’d have to assume yes. If not, that is a monumental oversight on the part of the city…which of course wouldn’t surprise us. As to the the story on 815 Alvarado, we’ll have to defer to some of our other readers to help with that question, as we do not have the answer. There is also a good thread on this house on SocketSite. You might want to lob your question in there too.

[Update: Sophie digs up the permit dirt and adds her “$.02 to the buyers… have EVERYTHING checked and rechecked … so you don’t end up paying top dollars for the house AND top dollars for cleaning/clearing the messed up permits.”]

Thanks for reading theFrontSteps!

815 Alvarado [property website]
Tax Records 815 Alvarado

17 thoughts on “Ask Us: 815 Alvarado Just Doesn’t Jibe

    or type the address here:

    Sorry, no existing electrical permits were found for this address. —>>> NOTE: the house is NOT WIRED AT ALL! (green chuckles.. illegal wiring of a house scares me….) ((no, there is no electrical inspection ‘included’ in other permits))

    Sorry, no existing complaints were found for this address. —->>> they have not P… off the neighbors.

    Permit # Block Lot Street # Street Name Unit Current Stage Stage Date
    436390 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST 2/26/2003
    434254 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST 1/6/2003
    421649 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST 2/1/2002
    413920 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST 7/12/2001
    413097 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST 6/21/2001
    404634 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST 12/1/2000
    392880 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST 2/23/2000

    Permit # Block Lot Street # Street Name Unit Current Stage Stage Date
    M22910 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST ISSUED 02/18/2003
    200210300384 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST COMPLETE 02/07/2003
    200210300385 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST COMPLETE 02/07/2003
    200204295208 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST EXPIRED 08/29/2002
    200204295211 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST EXPIRED 08/29/2002
    200112044441 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST EXPIRED 04/04/2002
    200107163779 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST EXPIRED 11/16/2001
    200107163775 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST EXPIRED 11/16/2001
    M14532 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST EXPIRED 09/13/2001
    9817786S 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST EXPIRED 06/13/2001
    200012087508 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST EXPIRED 04/18/2001
    200012057235 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST EXPIRED 04/05/2001
    200011145683 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST COMPLETE 02/21/2001
    M11409 2802 045 815 ALVARADO ST EXPIRED 06/02/2000

    details of permits:
    Description: sidewalk repair permit (2003)
    Cost: Not Specified

    Description: STREET SPACE USE
    Cost: $147,000.00

    Cost: $147,000.00

    Cost: $2,000.00

    Cost: $800.00

    Description: RETAINING WALL
    Cost: $300.00

    Description: SIDEWALK REPAIR (2000)
    Cost: Not Specified


    for 3M … that’s a lot of unclean/unclear remodeling to swallow….
    The way they were not REASSESSED it that they cheated their teeth out… like applying for permits, never using them, never getting any inspection, letting everything expire etc.
    The only “complete” permits are simple renewals – NO INSPECTIONS.

    My .02 to the buyers… have EVERYTHING checked and rechecked … so you don’t end up paying top dollars for the house AND top dollars for cleaning/clearing the messed up permits.

  2. This guy owns Design Solutions/Graystone and Charges people
    to do REMODEL jobs to their homes….MO the same….fudge the
    permits, charge and charge extra over the base contract…and hope
    he gets the money so he can run….Permits try not to close out…so no
    inspections!!!! Buyers Beware…a mountain of paperwork to clean up the mess that remains!!This house is green in color..not product as he promotes…Sad …but he keeps stickin it to ya!

    [Editor’s Note: This is NOT the Chris Connors mentioned that worked at Design Solutions/Graystone. We take no responsibility for what has been said, or what will be said in these comments below. Take EVERYTHING that is said here with a grain of salt.]

  3. O Puhlease….! Let’s not feel too sorry for the San Francisco Building Department. People do work without permits in San Francisco all the time and understate its value as a matter of course. A big part of the reason is that permit approvals/inspections etc. are so onerous to obtain, and the Bldg Dept. so bzyantine and capricious, if not downright vindictive, in its enforcement practices, that people would rather take the risk of doing the work w/o permits. That’s a shame, because it encourages people to do work without permits, which of course reduces the level of safety that the permit process is supposed to protect. I would never recommend to me clients that they do major work without permits, but let’s not slam owners/sellers who have chosen to take the risk.

  4. ?????

    I seem to spend my life at the SFDBI, and frankly, I never had a problem – and I think I do negotiate pretty well in our favor each time – and we have been negotiating quite hard during the inspections as well. Moreover, if you DECIDE to apply for a permit, BOTHER enough to renew 8 times your permit, have THREE inspections (none of them significant) out of the 20+ related to this house… then Gime a break you are deliberately playing the system.

    The only onerous part of the process would be that a permit forces you to hire LEGAL and LICENSED companies – which you will have a hard time justifying the unnecessary aspect of.
    (unless you have so much cash burning your pockets that you can afford to self insure your house for a fire, as no insurance will pay a dime over – at best – the last legal value of the last legal dwelling on the lot – which for alvarado would be under half a mill)

    Moreover, you say it yourself: MAJOR WORK.
    We are not talking about adding a bathroom window or adding a deck – or even a kitchen remodel
    ((note: kitchen remodel is all about common sense. 377 clipper did all remodeling without permits – and when the BRAN NEW kitchen with $80.000 of custom cabinets, pro appliances etc … and then, the fridge is plugged on an extension cord across the house … I’m sorry… not only you choose to take a risk – but you CHOOSE to be the village idiot. it’s so cool and hip to have a RED TAG on your house next to the FOR SALE sign )

    With no inspection, ANYTHING could happen, from no insulation anywhere in the house (get that thermal camera out! it’s the only way to know how CHEAP the house was build), no green board in the bathroom (black mold … hmmmmmm… I need a little more at breakfast to keep me awake),
    electricity??? starting with testing each and every plug, and measuring the distance between each plug, and counting the circuit breakers would be a good start. Most likely the smoke alarms are not ok – plugs are not grounded, probably a lot of shitty recessed can lighting with no proper fire control … add miles 14 cables instead of 12 or 10 …

    oh … and some leak of car exhaust into the bedrooms so you can slip into the afterlife in the middle of the night.

    Having permits and inspections are NOT a guarantee of a better house – but having a owner/developer NOT having a permit/inspection is FOR SURE a reason to add 24 pages of legal fine prints in your offer – and have 3 contractor inspections at once to catch as many problems as you can – and have them fixed.

    Because at 3 mill .. nothing but the BEST is acceptable. (that’s current market, at that address)

  5. let’s get more dirt – just for the pleasure of it
    from the real estate agent’s website:

    – what about an illegal un-inspected showroom for a designer? that looks sooooooooooo pretty on your resume!
    – what about a green point raiting certification that will probably not happen as it’s required to have full doc and full permits/inspection documentation?
    – what about the agent who half-lies writing ” “legal” ” for the in-law as it is NOT LEGAL and she knows it?
    – what about a mere 148 recessed lights – how will they make those 70.000 WATTS !!!! pass the green certification?

    oh yeah .. and for 3 mill you get only ONE garage???? where would I park my second electric car to be recharged?

    note the architect plans … which are not stamped “approved” by the city.

    Then the disclosure.
    again, mention of the LEGAL inlaw. (with no quotes this time)

    Alex. A legal question. Are STAMPS legally equal to hand signatures? documents are …. oh why do I smell a rat? … stamped, not signed.

    Also, how come the agent AND both owners use the exact same stamp?

    then of course, the beautiful section b.2.
    Have you filed any permit application for work? –> YES
    Were permits issued? –> YES
    Did an inspector approve the work IN WRITING ? –> YES

    !#$^!#$^!$%&Q$%&@ ( = my polite answer… )

    MISHA – are you ALSO CLOSING YOUR EYES ON LYING SELLERS? “because the SFDBI is a PITA, so it *must* be ok to lie on the disclosure packet” ?

    then “were any animal kept on the property? ” –> NO
    I’d ask around. A house fitted with a dog dog, a dog water system, a dog “apartment” … must have had a dog.

    then there is a so polite mention of the building permits … dated 2000 to 2002 – obviously the seller cannot read nor count properly.

    nd to finish the disclosure packet .. a nice reminder that this house is not NEW, is not PRISTINE … but USED.
    some water damage here, no possibility to check bathroom leakage from plumbing that has never been tested/inspected, ventilation not up to code (DUHHHH, not having inspections doesn’t help catching errors while construction).

    —-> to the prospective buyer . do your homework! fight teeth and claws out! get your offer accepted a 2.4M! or retaliate by tagging the house online (“click file a complain” on the permit page — gnark gnark)

  6. Maybe if you spend all this time at the SF DBI and on line you would understand the San Francisco permit system!
    Just a little bit better or maybe know how to start reading PERMITS before you remark on line…

    Seem you need a better checking system or something to do more with your life… or better yet “GET ONE”

  7. joseph .. as in joseph pugliese??

    unless you back up any word from your mouth with about $100.000 of past due property tax, you’re totally worthless – as a owner, AS A SELLER, as a business man, and worse of all, as the “pretend designer” you claim you are.

    shame on you – and I do feel sorry for all the families you probably have scammed in the past.

  8. Mike,
    Whoever posted this is not the Chris Connors who used to work at Design Solutions becuase I am the Chris Connors who worked at Design Solutions and I did not post it!

  9. have to admit, I applaud Sophie for bringing so much detail and info to our attention. She is essentially right about the lack of complete permits..and how flaky this so called “designer” is. I’ve been in their showroom and talked to Joseph..very had to pin down for costs and scope of work…very cagey…be aware of his business practices. he is NOT an architect.

    I would avoid Design Solutions at all costs. They force you into using ONLY the products they are trying to sell..they dont discuss the design process, nor offer you options for a particular solution. Buyer beware!

  10. oh, by the way, I’ve been in the house and it’s flawed in many ways. Poor circulation plan right when you enter. The living room is essentially a big hallway to get to any other part of the house. Makes for very awkward furniture layout. Over designed, heavy use of trim and boxed in ceilings. has NOTHING to do with any influence from Frank Lloyd Wright. This is essentially a misunderstood version of Craftsman design.

  11. It seems these comments have gotten really out of order. Please take note of the “Editor’s Note” for “Chris Connor” above and DO NOT believe everything you read or see here.

  12. open tomorrow sunday. current list price is $2.6M

    you are welcome to check the building permits records again.
    The first complain (none of the complains are from me BTW) did not do anything. The second complain led to some shaking at the SFDBI.

    I’m very mad at the fact that nor the SELLER, nor its AGENT did ANYTHING last year … while the last complain resulted in some updates of the records within 6 days. !!!! who says it’s long and difficult? talk about plain laziness from the selling couple.

    Again, I have no interest in the property, but this says a lot about the seller and the few past Realtors … If you want the $$$, it’s YOUR JOB TO CLEAN THE MESS PRIOR TO MARKETING THE PROPERTY!!!

    (sweet revenge… the house is still on the market – while a few other PRISTINE 3mill houses flew of the shelf faster than we can blog about)

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