Month: October 2019

Historical Home Styles in Ventura County

Historical Home Styles in Ventura County

Architectural style is a way of classifying architecture that gives emphasis to characteristic features such as design, materials, time period, region or form.

Viewing broadly home styles by time period we will find that:

  • Between 1880 through the 1890’s the architectural styles favored were Greek Revival, Queen Ann (Victorian class) and Italianate.
  • Between 1900 through the 1920’s French Provincial, Normandy, Spanish and Tudor were the styles of the time.
  • In the 1930’s Bungalows was the favor of the day.
  • The 1940’s represented the Cape Cod era.
  • Early Ranch came on the scene in the 1950’s.
  • The ranch style continued into the 1960’s as well as the introduction of the ranch split level.
  • In 1970’s Shed and the New England Colonial were the styles introduced.
  • From 1980 to the current period neo-electric styles have come into vogue.

Using these time periods, Ventura County has some great homes that were built in the era’s referenced and listed below are some of these homes and a history of the home.

Queen Ann

The Queen Ann, a sub-style of the Victorian era, is a collection of coquettish detailing and eclectic materials. Steep cross-garbled roofs, towers, and vertical windows typify the Queen Ann. Multistory floor plans often include projecting wings, several porches and balconies, and multiple chimneys.

Wooden ginger bread trim scrolled and rounded “fish-scale” patterns frequently grace the gables and porches. Massive cut stone foundations are typical of period houses. The style was popularized after the Civil War by architect Henry Hobson Richardson and found favor in the South and West.

Cape Cod

The original colonial Cape Cod homes were shingle-sided, one story cottages with no dormers. In the mid-20th century, the Cape Cod shape became very popular in many suburban developments. During this period the Cape Cod took on a square or rectangular shape with one or one-and-half stories with steep pitched, gabled roofs. Dormers and shutters were an option and the siding usually was clapboard or brick.

The Colonial

During the late 1800’s throughout the 20th century builders borrowed Colonial ideas to create refined Revival homes with elegant central hallways and elaborate cornices. These revival homes are often white clapboard siding with black or green shutters.

The original Colonial usually was a rectangular, symmetrical home with bedrooms on the second floor. Normally they would have double hung windows having equally sized square panes. Take offs of the Colonial also include the Saltbox, Georgian and the Dutch Colonial.

The Contemporary

The Contemporary came on the scene between 1950 to 1970 and were of two types, the flat roof and the gabled type. The gabled is characterized by exposed open beams. Generally both of these types were single story homes.

Often the Contemporary is of odd size, with tall windows and lack ornamentation. The wall materials that set them apart was stone, brick and wood.

The Craftsman

Called the simplist house form by Gustav Stickley, it’s low, broad proportions and absolute lack of ornamentation gives it a character so natural and unaffected that it seems to blend in with the landscape (words by Gustav Stickley in the magazine The Craftsman).

The Craftsman style has also been billed as the “California Bungalow (by architects Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene) featured overhanging eaves, a low-slung gabled roof, wide porches framed by pedestal-like tapered columns. Materials often included stone, rough-hewn wood and stucco.

Ignore Home Permits and Pay….Big Time

Ignore Home Permits and Pay….Big Time

Often people do work on their home (add a room; change the garage into a family room or TV room) without getting a permit for the work.  When the property is put on the market to sell, the seller must inform the buyer that the expansion and other home improvements were done with or without a permit(s). 

If there is no permit this can create a problem for the buyer because:

 (a) if they accept and purchase the property knowing about the absence of permits, they in turn become responsible for the lack of a permit if one is needed in the future;

 (b) and when the property is appraised the un-permitted work will not be included in the appraisal.

If the buyer insists on purchasing the property without the required permits than they should negotiate a significant purchase discount for the risk they will undertake.

Expensive and Difficult

The resolution to the problem can be expensive and difficult.  The City/County planning department can:

Have the un-permitted work torn down and have you re-do the improvements.

Or the City/County inspectors can have you tear down part of the improvements (ie., some walls) to view the electrical and other utility items for inspection.

Or the City/County can accept everything as is and have you apply for a permit but hit you with a fine (maybe upward of 2-5 times the original permit feed) and other costs for failing to get a permit.

Being Quiet Will Not Help

Should the seller be mute on the subject (ie., not tell the buyer of the un-permitted work) they expose themselves to a possible (future) law suit.  If the lending company is unaware of the un-permitted work (which should not occur), they too can take legal action against both the buyer, seller and possibly the appraiser and it could extend to the listing/selling real estate broker/agent and title company.

When it becomes a legal situation the old adage rules:  “Throw mud against the wall and see what sticks” knowing full well that someone has to pay.

Big Brother

Orange Man Detective with Magnifying GlassOf course when the assessor is made aware of the increased floor space the home owner will be exposed to an adjusted property tax increase and possibly the assessor may seek payment of back taxes.

By not obtaining the permits one can face severe and costly remedial consequences to resolve the situation.  One may save a penny upfront but it could be costly in the future.

I think it is safe to say that getting the permits upfront is far cheaper than the added headaches incurred by not having them.

Don’t Read This If You Want To Pay More Taxes Than You Should On Real Estate Transactions

Don’t Read This If You Want To Pay More Taxes Than You Should On Real Estate Transactions

There are two things one has to do to overcome being tax dumb: show documentation and the flow of the money.

One needs to do both to sustain an audit and decrease exposure to capital gains taxes.

Be it an investment property, one’s home or simply an itemized deduction, keeping solid documentation and knowing the sources of money are strong support actions you can take to handle a tax audit and perhaps lessen the tax burden.

For this discussion the focus is on real estate documentation.

When entering or closing real estate transactions one ends up with 20 million pieces of paper, of a print size necessitating a magnifying glass to read the documents.

Consider all of these papers as important and put them in a folder.

Listed below is how I manage my documentation but to be sure you can add or subtract as you see fit.

My folder includes the following sections:

The Tax Documentation Section Should Cover All:

-Offers and counter offers

-Preliminary HUD (mortgage cost)

-Home inspection (even on a new home)

-Structural inspection (if necessary)

-Pest control reports

-Soil reports (if you buy on a hillside or know that the land is unstable)

-Warranties and associated manuals including the builders home warranties

-Home Owners Associations bylaws (if applicable).

-All email and written notes about the transaction

-Pictures of the property (inside and out)

-Any repair reports if purchasing a used home.

If buying a ranch……..

Have a well and water check.  This should be a normal action taken by the buyer’s agent but if it is a private sale one would want a well test and water test for purity and pressure.  A smart lender will insist that this be done.

Septic tanks. Get all documentation and tests previously done and ask if there had been any repairs to the tank.  A septic tank test will last for about 24 hours with water running into it continuously to determine its draining capabilities.  Find out how old the tank is and when it was cleaned last.

Water rights.  More important than gold.  

The Flow of Money Section Should Include:


-Capital improvements (such as an addition).

-Contracts and information about the method of payment (checks/automatic transfers).

-Most definitely show the source of the funds (line of credit, savings or loan) for purchase and improvements.

The IRS loves to ask “Where did the funds come from to …….?”

Proof of Basis Section:  You will need—-

-Final settlement statements (Purchase and sale).

-Mortgage notes, loan addendums and lines of credit


-Plat map

-Title insurance

-Escrow instructions

-Reconveyance documentation

If it is an Investment Property, Include This Section

-Property management agreements and addendums

-Tenant agreement and addendums

-Credit reports

-Pictures of the property inside and out before the tenant moves in.

Have a Section For Insurance:




-Rental insurance

-Loss of income and home warranty insurance policies.

No matter what, strive to keep track of where the cash came from.

Keep copies of your checks and receipts. Make a copy of your bank statement(s) and show notes of funds deposited and payments. If an investment property have a separate bank account. You will be glad you did.

Make copies.

Keep one set of the copy material close at hand. Keep another set (the originals) at a different location (bank deposit box). In the event of a fire, flood, etc., it is nice to know that all of your key documentation are available.

The main thing is to show the flow of money… you got it and how it was dispersed.

Getting In The Mood…. With Flooring

Getting In The Mood…. With Flooring

When people enter a home, or room in a home, their eyes generally focus on furnishings, the furniture, a picture or something unique.  Flooring is the step-child. But flooring is the mood setter for the whole home. 

So take time to set the right tone and mood with good flooring.  Flooring is one of six surfaces that makes up a room. With the wide selections available one can really create a great and lasting mood.  For example:


Stone is a very good flooring material especially for homes that are located in hot areas such as the desert.  Stone keeps a home cooler. Typical stone flooring include limestone; traverstine; polished marble; slate; granite; mosaic; porcelain and terracotta.  This is the high end of the cost spectrum but the investment will be worth it especially on the re-sale side when you wish to move to another home.  

Natural or simulated woods

Natural woods is an excellent selection and investment.  To-days’ simulated and laminate woods are also very good and reasonable.  Not only do they add good visual flooring texture, they are a much better product than their predecessors.  An array of choices include Brazilian cherry; bamboo; Victorian ash; Australian cypress; Tasmanian oak to name a few.

Carpeting and Tiles

Carpet tiles (modularize flooring) are good if you maximize a visual pattern.  Leather tiles create a soft and easy going look for a study, sitting rooms or library.  I once read where a dance studio used leather for its dance floor and had great success with its longevity.   

Carpeting can always be used and is a modest expense as a floor covering but it appears to be losing some of its market luster.  Simulated woods and wood flooring appear to be high on most peoples list.

Carpeting can be cut pile (less resistant to crushing); cut and loop (sculptured for durability); level loop net pile (Berber for example); and multi-level loop pile for high traffic areas.

A Good Mix Can Really Set The Mood.

Today area rugs, coupled with stone or natural woods are used extensively to define changes in colors or a break in rooms of a home.  Selection includes chic, twists, tweeds and Varese. 

Keep the walk flow in mind.

Start your flooring plan in the middle of the home and then add those materials that are similar, cohesive and do well with the homes traffic patterns.  Mix and match and you will see that flooring does set the mood.