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Eichler

I own what is known as a "basic Eichler house" in Palo Alto: a building company owned by the Eichler family constructed thousands of low cost houses in various locations in California, mostly suburban San Francisco and Los Angeles, using a bastc template:

the house is L shaped because it gives the structure resistence to wind stress in both directions - a wall is resistent to distortion longitudinally but weak transversally, and the L shape provides strength in both directions; this structure is simply bolted on a L-shaped concrete foundation that lie below the walls, the main house having a hollow space under the wooden floors, surrounded by the concrete foundation, while the garage has a concrete floor between the four sided foundation.

It was the structural simplicity that helped to keep the construction cost low. The same structure, with just different roof lines (some have flat roof throughout; some a low-pitch roof for the house with a flat roof for the garage, and some had pitched roofs for both, using the tar-and-gravel roofing method in which 2-inch interlocked boards were covered by tar paper then a layer of gravel, which kept the tar from being melted by sunlight on hot days and the paper from being blown away by wind; there is no drainage gutter, and rain water is, hopefully, collected in the slight depressions in the tar paper next to the eaves and directed to the down pipes situated in various spots along the eaves, but water almost always overflows the eaves making the woodwork wet so that constant maintenance is necessary as water causes paint to peel and wood to decay) and different orientations (some houses are turned sideways

so that the two toilet windows face the street, which might be odd to Asians like myself, but makes sense to privacy-minded Americans, who prefer to face their own backyards from their living room windows rather than the street), were constructed in clusters of tens, even hundreds, in various areas.

The house I bought is considered small in USA, 1400sqft in the house itself, but with a large garage that could be converted into an extra room; the garage is however also used for the laundry, and it is undesirable to have to go through the laundry on the way to the new bedroom. This makes it necessary to reorganize the laundry both to free some space to make the new room larger, and to provide a convenient access path, but without expensive plumbing changes.This is the plan I came up with

The front part of the garage has to be kept unchanged - US cities have strict rules on not changing the appearance of your house in significant ways without approval, so a small storeroom was the result; the design also has to take into consideration the existing beams for the roof and manholes to go into the roof, and hiding the tap and sewage lines for the washing machine and laundry sink inside a new cupboard

We are now half way through the works, and some photos of work in progress


the door from the living room to the new room, showing also the cupboard hiding the pipes


the much reduced laundry area, viewed from the living room through the open door

the frames for the door to the storeroom and for the closet (which extends into the storeroom space, making it deeper in the left half and less deep in the right half) 


new window opened on the side of the garage - you can see the fence to the neighbour's house - the wall on the left is to the laundry and the right the store room with just part of the door frame visible

Having the chance to look into the Eichler house structure and its various potential problems, I conclude it is viable in dry and not very cold climate only; it would not work in areas with high rain fall or high wind, and the heating bill will be exorbitant in cold weather. However, it seems to work here.