Mission Cliff Gardens in University Heights is one of San Diego’s hidden treasures with a lot of history. Situated on the steep hill above Mission Valley, it was Founded in 1890 by the San Diego Cable Car Company. This was the destination for San Diegans to come to at the end of the trolley line and walk around to see the lush gardens, Ostrich Farm, Aviary and was a real botancial wonder for its time.
The neighborhood is now home to tons of walkers and joggers with its close proximity to Adams Avenue, Trolley Barn Park and the main drag of the University Heights shops and cafes. In 1904 Spreckels expanded the park and gave people view points to enjoy the overlook of what is now Mission Valley. The cobble rock original wall built by John Davidson and entrance is still here and in fact the organ in Balboa Park was donated by the Spreckels and originally planned to be in Mission Cliff Gardens. The park and nature area was closed in 1929 to make way for a 1942 subdivision for single family homes along the canyon.
We bought this small 2 bedroom, 1 bath house in 2021 from a Trustee after the owner had passed away from natural causes. The house is an incredible find, sitting right on the cliff with a million dollar view over Mission Valley. The home itself is very unique in that its only 1000 sf and has a 1 car garage. The previous owner was a bachelor so he reallocated one of the bedrooms to puiblic space used as an office off the living room. It totally makes sense so we decided to leave it knowing who our buyer will likely be.
After some serious consideration I opted to only do a quick flip with flooring and paint instead of getting into a huge reconfiguration and total remodel. Selling it now versus spending $100k and 2 – 3 months here will end up netting us the same with a tune up and fast sale at a lower price. My plan is to list this house on the market in the high 800’s. There was a non-flip sales comp one block down in the mid 900s with no view.
The demographic for this neighborhood suggests a single person or couple, no kids, and urban professional lifestyle. Having not much yard is perfect for someone busy but wanting to enjoy everything University Heights has to offer. This is going to sell really fast even with the time period kitchen we decided to leave as-is. Nothing ever comes available on this side of the street, much less in Mission Cliff Gardens so get ready for a bidding war.
Stay tuned, we are going very bold and masculine with the colors to have some fun!
Zillow is wrong. My Zestimate is $50,000 too high. We will see what it sells for and as i always say, the market dictates the price. Walk through with me and check out the progress happening at the Santee project. You can see the cool reclaimed wood look kitchen floor tile we picked out and some minor floorplan changes to make this house way more functional. We threw a little more money at this house than the average house flipper would here in San Diego, but the buyers are going to have a great house that they can enjoy for years to come! Zillow’s Zestimate has the price so wrong. I read recently that even the Zillow CEO sold his personal house for Millions under the false Zestimate online.
In any other state I could have been all the way up to the second floor framing this week but here in San Diego the City inspector wants to see your floor system framed up first, verify the hold downs and framing, then come back and inspect the underfloor plumbing lines, then come back again and inspect the insulation. You lose a day in between each inspection so this would have dragged out for a week. It really makes sense to do it this way because its easier to do the under house plumbing now, rather than crawling under the house later to do it but the reason the inspector wants it done in this order really just comes down to the fact that he’s not crawling under the house no matter what.
After framing up the floor system in a day I had my plumber come and set all the under floor ABS waste lines and fill them again with water to make sure there’s no leaks. Lastly the insulation got dropped in on nylon netting we strung between the floor joists. Its a real trick way to insulate the floor on a new construction raised foundation house. I’ve used wires in the past but the insulation always ends up falling down in some places. Once we pass then we just sheet over it. The threaded rod you see sticking up is for the Simpson HDU hold downs that secure 4X6 posts in the exterior walls all the way down into the concrete foundation footing. This is to securely hold the structure on the foundation in case of an earthquake and they are strategically placed in shear wall areas by the engineer on the plans.
Of course I had a better idea. I tried to speed things up by only calling once to have him come do all 3 inspections simultaneously. I had the insulation pulled back along the sides so he could see the framing, plumbing and hold downs thinking this would be fine, unfortunately he wasn’t really that excited about my idea. My regular inspector didn’t show up but rather a Senior Inspector who happens to be very thorough and whom I’ve dealt with before. He almost gave me the signature required in order for me to sheet the floor with CDX and start putting walls up, but he found one plumbing fitting that he said wasn’t correct so he’s coming back Monday after we change it and also wants me to pull more of the insulation back for a better look. Uggghhh. My plumber swears the fitting he used is allowed, its a Sanitee on its back for a 2″ vent pipe. The inspector wanted a sweep which is weird cause its only a vent, not a waste line. Who knows but I wasn’t going to argue with him, I told him he’s the boss but I kinda want to check the code book now though just out of curiosity.
The senior inspector asked who the general contractor was. Hesitantly, I told him I was an owner/builder. Seeming surprised he said it looked better than most jobs and kept congratulating me on doing such good work. Maybe he was just trying to make me feel better because he could see it on my face that I was bummed not being able to start putting up the walls. He knew I was totally ready to go, as he was doing his inspection I received the first delivery of truss material for the second story. I should pass on Monday and we’ll be back in action. I’m a Chevy guy but how cool is this early Ford extra cab delivery truck from La Mesa Lumber?
Just a little more concrete last week and now its time for framing. The first thing I did was have a third party inspector come and sign off on the construction of my block stem wall. He personally witnessed the mortar mixture and rebar placement inside. Then I called the City inspector also to sign off on it once it was completed. The reason for the extra stemwall is because the outside wall is the balloon wall and the inside wall supports the load from the upstairs floor joists. The stairs go up in between these two foundation walls and each has its own footing.
When the truck came to fill it up we also had to have the third party “special inspector” on site to take a sample of the mixture that came out of the truck. He packaged it into a small box that he’ll send to a lab for analysis. They test part of it at 7 days and the balance at 28 days for compression strength by putting it in a crushing machine. Inside the stem wall I used 2500 PSI grout mix. I only normally use big rock but this is the only place that its o.k. to use the pea gravel mix. I would never use it in a concrete footing , foundation or driveway. The cost for the 2 trips from the special inspector and the lab test was about 500 bucks. I don’t know what would happen if the lab discovered I got a bad batch from the concrete company, probably make me tear down the wall and start over. I’d rather know now though before I move in that’s for sure!
Next I poured the garage floor. First I rented a compaction machine for the dirt, then put down plastic moisture barrier, topped it with 3-4 inches of manufactured sand and then my #4 rebar 18″ on center tied into the perimeter footing as the plans called for. Once the City came and inspected it we just backed the truck right up to it and poured 7 more yards of 3000 PSI 3/4″ concrete. Once again you’ll see a lot of guys using pea gravel mix but its not nearly as good and tends to crack faster. The larger the rock size in concrete the better. I’m ready for framing now and getting material price quotes from Home Depot, Lowes and Dixieline. Hopefully we’ll be starting on the floor system by mid week if I can get a quick delivery, the framers are anxious and cant wait to get started. I’ll order my custom Milgard windows and exterior doors this week as week so they will arrive about the same time we are done with framing.
My Mid-Century Modern renovation is done and truly is out of this world! 2 days ahead of the construction schedule and it came out just as nice as my conceptual design. This extensive rehab took just over 11 weeks to complete and went as smooth as butter.
You can see I added the final modern features out front like the frosted front door and horizontal wood panel with the house numbers illuminated by the up/down cylinder sconce. A matching stainless steel mailbox and doorbell finished it off and tied everything together with the full-view Amarr garage door.
Here are the after photos of our “1962 Leonard Drogin” Mid-Century Modern San Diego ranch house in all its glory. Hope you enjoyed the project, its now listed for sale MLS#120016356 for $599,000 and ready for a new buyer to bring in some Eames chairs, put on some Sinatra and roll over the drink cart for some Martinis.
Open House this weekend Saturday and Sunday from 12-3. 4841 Sparks Avenue San Diego, CA 92110. Buyers without agent representation call Green Button Homes LLC @ (619) 438-0234 for a showing. Sell House San Diego. We buy houses in San Diego.