It’s possible to live in Silicon Valley and have no idea that there are still some original adobe houses to be found right here in the San Jose area. Today, though, I hope to help some of our residents discover the past which is lurking right in front of us!
The historic Adobe Woman’s Club is just a block or two off the campus of Santa Clara University, tucked away on a side street now that The Alameda is re-routed as The El Camino. Address: 3260 The Alameda, Santa Clara. According to the state’s historical preservation site, this state landmark # 249 is one of the oldest in the Santa Clara Valley, was built between 1792 and 1800 and was one of many row houses built for the native Americans who worked at Mission Santa Clara. Please note that this is private property and you may not enter without permission, but the adobe abode is very visible from the sidewalk.
Today the beautifully preserved adobe house functions as a nonprofit group with these objectives: “to promote educational, moral, social welfare, cultural, civic and community service. Anyone who supports these objectives is welcome.” This scenic place can also be rented out for private events. The garden is quite lovely and the interior appears to be very modern. You can see photos of the inside of the house at the club’s website: The Santa Clara Woman’s Club.
Many times, homeowners look at the size of their home and assume that all living space is equally valuable on a price per square footage basis. In Silicon Valley, though, we frequently see tract neighborhoods of smaller houses, say 1000 to 1500 SF, in which additions have been made. Sometimes it’s an unattractive “box on the top” over the garage. Other times it’s a tasteful expansion into the overly large front yard or the expansive side yard where perhaps drying lines used to be found.
Most of the time, the expansion will not be valued as highly as original square footage. If it’s a very small addition, this may not be the case, particularly if this leaves the structure’s size still in line with the neighborhood. But in general, the added living space will be valued by most home buyers (and appraisers) on a lesser scale. If the addition was done without permits and finals, home buyers may still find it attractive, but appraisers will most likely count the value as zero. One other factor has to do with the type of room that was constructed. Bathrooms and kitchens are more expensive and therefore will be valued more heavily than bedrooms or family rooms or other space that does not involve plumbing or appliances.
How much less does the added square footage get counted? It depends on many things, such as whether the house is now overbuilt for the neighborhood, the market conditions at the time, the quality of construction, etc. Several times in my career I’ve seen homes which were added onto multiple times, such that it ends up feeling like a bit of a Winchester House. At the other extreme, there are remodels which are so comprehensive that the whole house is nearly rebuilt. In that case, there could be no discount for the addition at all.