Judy Peterson, lead writer for the Los Gatos Weekly Times, came to our second Collaborative Informational Session on Wednesday, March 10 and interviewed a number of people. George Sakkestad came with Judy and took photos of the event.
The Los Gatos Weekly Times just published Judy’s story today (the text of the article appears below).
Attending Monte Sereno’s City Council Meeting
Bryan attended the City Council meeting and took the opportunity to address City Council regarding the sign ordinance.
Eichler ‘California Modern’ is goin’ green
Couple is updating their 1969 home
By Judy Peterson
When real estate developer Joseph Eichler started building homes in Northern California in 1950, he targeted middle class home buyers who appreciated the houses’ light and airy architecture that eventually came to be known as California Modern. With skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out onto gardens, patios and pools, Eichler’s vision was to “Bring the Outside In.”
Fast forward to the late 1960s, when Eichler set his sights on Monte Sereno, building a 16-house subdivision on Via Sereno, just off Winchester Boulevard. Today, one of those Eichlers is being re-built to reflect what could well be called California Green. That’s because the new California style is to build sustainable, healthier homes, with many homeowners trying to achieve LEED certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Homeowners Bryan and Jo-Anne Mekechuk bought their 1969 Eichler in 1997. At the time, they had no children. Now they have two, plus they needed room for visiting grandparents. So, it was time to plunge into the money pit that is known as home remodeling.
“We’re building this house to live in for the next 15 years,” Bryan Mekechuk said.
At first, the couple considered adding a second story.
“A second floor on an Eichler is not appropriate,” Mekechuk said.
Instead, they took the house apart board by board and dug a basement. Even so, Mekechuk says the home will remain true to Eichler’s vision.
“We kept all the design,” Mekechuk said. “The footprint of the house is identical. For example, the garage door is in the same place.”
Well, almost identical. Besides the basement, 18 square feet was added and three windows were moved. But two windows at the front of the home are identical and Eichler’s trademark atrium will be rebuilt. Mekechuk was able to reuse 100 percent of the original home’s redwood boarding, while adding structural insulated panels-styrofoam insulation sandwiched between plywood. Mekechuk gets LEED points for that. The LEED rating system gives homeowners points that, when added up, can determine if a house is LEED certified or if it is certified as silver, gold or platinum. Mekechuk is shooting for platinum.
Mekechuk also gets points for holding educational open houses.
But it is the guts of the house itself that will determine if he reaches his platinum goal. That’s why a cistern was dug to capture rainwater that will irrigate drought-tolerant plants. Polished concrete floors are a key element as well. “It’s easy to keep concrete clean, plus it doesn’t trap dust and dander,” Mekechuk said. The concrete floors are composed of 70 percent slag. “Slag is a byproduct of steel production. Slag usually goes to the landfill,” Mekechuk said.
The house will be heated and cooled by a geothermal system.
“Geothermal takes warm water out of the ground and uses it to heat the house through tubing in the concrete floors,” Mekechuk said. “Cooling is the reverse of that.”
Mekechuk also plans to put 48 solar panels on the roof.
“Monte Sereno is really pulling out all the stops to encourage this kind of project,” Mayor Don Perry said at a recent open house. “We’ve waived all permit fees for solar panels. We’re really proud of this project.”
Vice Mayor Lana Malloy was also on hand, pointing out that the city once tried to get Via Sereno designated as a “street of historic significance,” but in Monte Sereno homes must be at least 60 years old before they’re considered historic.
Even if they’re not technically historic, Eichlers set the tone for post-war development in California. Mekechuk expects his new “Eichler Green” to be completed by late October.
To follow Mekechuk’s progress, visit www.eichlervision.com.
© Los Gatos Weekly Times, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers.