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House in Westbury


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I'm a new member to this forum but have been reading it for a couple years. I kept seeing this little house in on Fontenelle (in Westbury South) on HAR and on Houston Mod in the Robert Searcy listings. I found myself feeling sorry for it..lol.. It has nothing inside to save or much that resembles "mid-century modern"..a victim of abandonment and nasty "band-aid" remodeling I just felt the need to save it.........so I bought it...

Of course I live in Galveston but will be working on it during the week with weekends back home on the island.

I will be sharing my experiences on this forum and will appreciate any input or ideas.. I am not a flipper and I am planning on using the house as much as possible...

Hopefully in time I will have the house returned to the original, simple "usonian" style .

Again, I am looking forward to any input or ideas....

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Thanks, Mike

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Edited by mikeybob2
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I've been in that house and always thought it held enormous potential. Spaceage thought it might have been a Floyd Design. Despite its modest size, it really could be an impressive house. It is encouraging to see more of these get into the hands of people that know what to do with them.

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Congratulations! With a flat roof, it's difficult and expensive to make wiring and duct repairs. So don't spare any expense in your initial updates.

when you do start the work esp the services that will be hidden behind sheetrock, you (and your knowledgeable friends) should make several walk thrus determine 1)where you think your furniture may go when complete and 2) what will you need to add (electrical outlets, antenna, cat 5, phone lines, etc) to make the furniture config possible 3) are light switches in correct places ( 3ways needed, nothing on wrong side of doors etc.)

it takes several walk thrus. I did that at my house and others have asked me to do the same for theirs.

once you know what's missing be sure and document it on a master plan. where plugs are needed, switches are needed, etc.

the flat roof does present more of a challenge because if you forget something, then you have to open up the sheetrock to make the additions. the planning is very impt. i know i made one mistake when i wired my house. i didn't factor in that low voltage lighting dimmers require a direct connection to the neutral which isn't always possible depending on the way it is wired. Even though it was wired correctly for just turning the lights on/off from 2 locations, when i decided to put the dimmer that put the "neutral" restriction and i had to run another conductor from the supply neutral directly to the switch. had i not had access to the area above the ceiling, i would have had to open up the sheetrock.

there's a book called "build it right" that can be found on amazon. it was written by an engineer that offers many common sense tips that are very help IMO. it covers all facets of building a home. since you're not doing it from scratch, you won't need to read everything. I loaned my copy to a couple of friends and each thought the author brought up quite a few valid points that they would have never considered.

i must stress that when you hire the electrician, you need to specify where you want the plugs and switches. don't let the electrician make those decisions for you! i know several people who let the electricians make those decisions and then regretted they didn't spend the time. i helped a good friend with her remodel and one of her big complaints was that she wanted a builtin heater in her bathroom. i found her a nice combo heater/ventilation fan by panasonic with low sone rating. The electirician came in and wired the bathroom and didn't wire it correctly for a fan and htr combo. he only wired it for one or the other. luckily she asked me to look at the wiring and i found that problem immediately so it could be easily corrected. with all the modern gadgets that people like, electrical is very critical.

similar things can be said for the other services but for me electrical is the most critical.

Edited by musicman
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seems like a perfect topic for this forum, and if there is a sacred architecture in houston, it is modern.

Do you know when this house was built or by whom?

I lived in Westbury from 58-77, had a brother in law who lived on effingham, and I was once infatuated with a girl on green somthing next to the rr track. I think this was one of the last parts of westbury east of hillcroft to be filled in.

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If you look in the westbury square discussion, there is an aerial photo of your street in the early 1960s, posted by 57Tbird. That photo appears in various forums, it shows up again in Sam Houston Airpark discussion.

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You can see other examples of this design in Walnut Bend which is located south of Memorial Bend, just across the bayou. They are in the south end, first section, of the neighborhood and built around 1960. It is suggested on the Memorial Bend website that these were designed by William Floyd and staff who designed most of the outstanding houses in Memorial Bend. The Memorial Bend website features some photos of these houses but is not presently accessible. There is another house like this currently for sale in Westbury at 5838 West Airport. The flat roof has unfortunately been altered on this example.

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5838 West Airport

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You can see other examples of this design in Walnut Bend which is located south of Memorial Bend, just across the bayou. They are in the south end, first section, of the neighborhood and built around 1960. It is suggested on the Memorial Bend website that these were designed by William Floyd and staff who designed most of the outstanding houses in Memorial Bend. The Memorial Bend website features some photos of these houses but is not presently accessible. There is another house like this currently for sale in Westbury at 5838 West Airport. The flat roof has unfortunately been altered on this example.

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5838 West Airport

I've been in that one. The carport has been taken in, interior walls removed, but originally it was the same floorplan.

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I've been in that one. The carport has been taken in, interior walls removed, but originally it was the same floorplan.

I looked at the west airport house and thought it was to much for me to take on... the roof being #1.. I am not opposed to enclosing the carport but it would have to be in the original style of the house (like a door that is one big slab, not colonial metal panels)).. also the street seemed a bit busy for my Pugs....

I really appreciate all the info already.. my closing is March 1.. can hardly wait.. I wish I could get in there right now with my crowbar and carpet knife....

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I'm a new member to this forum but have been reading it for a couple years. I kept seeing this little house in on Fontenelle (in Westbury South) on HAR and on Houston Mod in the Robert Searcy listings.

Fontenelle was right around the corner from where I lived in 1961-68. It was only a few blocks long and ran from Ashcroft to Atwell. I think I remember the houses on that street were only on the north side. I sure don't remember that one. Is it east or west of Landsdowne? Address?

For Croberts... Your infatuation must have lived on Green Craig.

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I don't know this area too well, but it seems like it should have so much upside. It's in a great location, just miles from Meyerland and Bellaire. We just need people like you to move here by the hundreds (instead of out to the country/commuter hell!) Not to get too spiritual, but I pray daily that Westbury/Willowbend/Post Oak Manor will continue to turn around and attract good hard working people who take pride in their property.

Best of luck to you! Take pictures!

Jason

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when you do start the work esp the services that will be hidden behind sheetrock, you (and your knowledgeable friends) should make several walk thrus determine 1)where you think your furniture may go when complete and 2) what will you need to add (electrical outlets, antenna, cat 5, phone lines, etc) to make the furniture config possible 3) are light switches in correct places ( 3ways needed, nothing on wrong side of doors etc.)

similar things can be said for the other services but for me electrical is the most critical.

music has a pretty good grip on the topic but I would not take furniture placement as a guide for where utility ports are placed because furniture is mobile while utility ports are somewhat static. In my first rental property, I instructed my electrician to place duplex and phone jacks as close together and as low as possible on any wall I had painted with a red "X". Almost every wall in every room had the X except the baths and kitchens. He balked and required 50% of the cost of his service up-front because he had never done that and thought I was crazy.

30 years later he not only installs duplex and phone jacks close together-and sometimes in the floor-he adds broadband connections as well. My partner and I are also his girl's godfathers in addition to being equal partners.

Damn, I love my life! :D

Edited by nmainguy
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It is 5735.. west of Landsdowne... (on the old east/west runway)

I guess my long-term memory is not as good as I thought. Good luck with the house! If you would like, I can PM you the name of an old neighbor of mine just a couple of blocks from there, who can give you a lot of the history of the neighborhood. He moved there just before I did in 1961 and is still there. He is a retired plumber, so he might be able to offer you any advice you might want in that phase of your remodeling. I visited with him and his wife about a year ago and drove around the area. It sure looked like it was going downhill. Maybe you can give it a boost.

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These were the first two houses that my wife and I looked at when we moved here from California. I can't remember which one, but one of the two had a really bad mold problem, and the other one had been vandalized while sitting vacant which made us a little nervous. If we were thicker skinned I think that we would have probably bought one of these. Glad to see someone finally did.

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These were the first two houses that my wife and I looked at when we moved here from California. I can't remember which one, but one of the two had a really bad mold problem, and the other one had been vandalized while sitting vacant which made us a little nervous. If we were thicker skinned I think that we would have probably bought one of these. Glad to see someone finally did.

Mine probably had both...mold because it had a hole in roof for quite a while and vandalism because it was empty and neglected. I think the presence of a homeowner will keep the vandals away..As far as mold, I am going to remove all of the drywall from walls and ceiling , so any mold can be detected and remediated while in the "down to studs" stage... A lot of work but I'm looking forward to another house adventure... My house in Galveston is 120 years old and has the fierce elements of the Gulf tearing at it daily.. Like the Golden Gate bridge, the maintenance is daily.. The house in Westbury seems pretty easy.. ;-)

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  • 2 weeks later...

The work has finally begun.. The new HVAC is in (what an expensive ordeal that was!, lol) A pleasant surprise found during wall demolition is the good condition of the "bones".. and NO MOLD.. yay!!.. The new ceiling in the LR is up and evened out (some of the 2 x 8 ceiling joists had warped from having a leaky roof). I have opened up some walls (without odd out of place posts) and what a huge difference.. light and traffic flow is so much better as you can see in the pix.. I am being very careful not to ruin the integrity of the oringinal design, just updating it. The only disappointing surprise is the lack of space in the ceiling for recessed lighting.. with less than 8" and most of that taken by insulation, recessed lighting is next to impossible.. I had some wiring put in the ceiling for furture use (as soon as I can think of something clever). After the ceilings and walls are re-rocked, I'll start the pulling up the carpet and scraping up the HD "marblesque" ceramic tile.. Soon after that, I'll begin restoring the grim bathrooms and kitchen... I appreceiate all the great advice I've received here... Thanks

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Some "before" exterior shots..

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Here is a photo of the living room of a Walnut Bend version of your house. This was all the original decor the original owners placed in the house when they moved there in 1960. Notice the brick wall at the end of the foyer. It was a grill pattern and lighted from inside. The fixture was accessed thru the closet next to the foyer.

After the original owner sold it to a flipper, it was unmercifully Home Depot-ized and later demolished and replaced with a large, formless mass.

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