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History has blessed Northeast Los Angeles with a wealth of bungalows. Many are now 100 years old and could use some TLC (and perhaps some additions).

One of the biggest draws to living in Southern California, and Northeast Los Angeles (NELA) in specific, are the wealth of California bungalows. These solid, gorgeous structures are readily found among homes for sale in Highland Park, Garvanza, Pasadenaand Eagle Rock in a range of sizes and conditions.

Which opens up the opportunity for people interested in rehabs. There are plenty of wonderfully restored bungalows, but if you want a good deal on Eagle Rock or Glassell Park real estate, you might choose to do the work yourself – perhaps with the help of a general contractor.

So what would that entail? Every house is different, of course, and there can be a wide range of problems to address. Most California bungalows were built from about 1910 to 1939, most with very solid construction methods and materials. But not all have withstood moisture, neglect – or unfortunate remodeling ideas. The resurgent affluence of NELA has meant more money is being put into these charming structures to restore signature details, and to modernize (and often expand) kitchens and build-out basements and attics, where possible.

A restoration should honor and value the original features of a bungalow. Those tend to concentrate on the front of the house – the welcoming front porch and stairs, the configuration and design of casement windows and Arts & Crafts movement style doors, which are most typical. These features may have been altered over time, or simply deteriorated, so priority might be made to either repair or replicate the original parts of the home’s façade.

Another beloved characteristic of many bungalows are the built-in cabinets, which should be preserved and refreshed as needed. With luck, yours will not have been painted and will richly complement original quarter-sawn oak floors (or whatever wood was used).

But to make for a home that fits modern lifestyles, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms, it might make sense to add on to the house in the back. Additions are an expensive item but will likely add significant value at resale. In lieu of a bump-out, a clever design that brightens up spaces involves adding windows and to-the-ceiling cabinetry might work. 

Many of the bungalow attics were always just that: attics. These buildings were typically 1.5 stories, and today a master bedroom suite might be fashioned from this space. This could include the addition of a bath, perhaps placed over the first floor bath for cost-efficient plumbing purposes. What would not be aesthetically acceptable to bungalow purists would be to add dormers that would be visible from the street.

Note that in Los Angeles there are Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, HPOZs, that can restrict the building and renovations in certain designated areas. One such zone exists in Highland Park-Garvanza. The primary purpose of these is to preserve and protect the vintage feel of these areas, and that primarily means preventing new development that is out of character with what has been there for decades.

Someone who has a great deal of experience with the gorgeous bungalows of NELA is Tracy King, Realtor. Call her (323-243-1234) to find out about current listings and to discuss where an investment in restoration might make sense.

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or