Exploring the New Van Nuys Eco Compound's Curious Possibilities

While the individual components have their own unique architectural virtues, together they're a bit of a conundrum.

Photo via MLS Some people believe that prebuilt houses, like this LivingHomes C6 that's LEED Platinum Certified and contains three bedrooms and two bathrooms, can help budget-conscious families and the environment at the same time. This one in Van Nuys, Calif., is part of a compound with more traditional structures.  

It’s a storied property in a neat little pocket of Van Nuys, Calif., and now it boasts a main house from one of the area’s most intriguing new builders. This interesting compound is nothing if not unique, with the price being unusual for the neighborhood — owners are asking a whopping $1.395 million.

It’s being described as a celebrity property. The original house was built in 1949, but claimed fame in 2007, when actress, spokesperson and fitness guru Forbes Riley, perhaps best known for her work promoting the Jack LaLanne Juicer, allowed filmmakers to literally blow up the residence for a scene in Live Free or Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis.

The property has gone through vast changes since then, with four main structures now existing on the 16,799-square-foot lot, located in the middle of a quaint Van Nuys neighborhood called Midvale Estates, full of nice, comfy houses where you can imagine Beaver Cleaver riding his bike. It seems miles away from Van Nuys urban sprawl and the 405 Freeway, although both are just a few blocks away. And it is definitely Costco close.

The property was eventually developed into an “Architectural Eco Compound.” It features a LivingHomes-designed solar electric-powered, prefabricated main house, two full guesthouses, a separate office structure, an oversized two-car garage and a large detached storage pod.

Photo via MLS Here are two of the three guesthouses surrounding the pool in this unique new compound in Van Nuys. Note the intriguing modern fountain in front of the green wall and, beyond that, in the corner, you can see a hint of the spacious storage unit.

The professionally landscaped grounds include artistic water features, a raised planter bed vegetable garden, a solar-heated swimming pool, a top-of-the-line outdoor kitchen, large grassy areas and a spacious motor court.

But it’s the main house that attracts the eco-curious. Built in 2012 by LivingHomes LLC, it’s the C6 model that was featured at Dwell on Design just last summer. It’s LEED Platinum Certified and contains three bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus a 10-year builder's warranty. It was built in segments in Arizona then shipped to Los Angeles and assembled where the previous house once stood.

If it sounds too good to be true, know that this house is only 1,232 square feet. That humble space allows for three very quaint bedrooms, a small kitchen which opens into a living/dining/family room, and limited closet space. A king-sized bed would be an extremely tight fit in the master bedroom.

And the structure itself is a bit, ahem, austere. Obviously, the environmentally friendly building materials do not include traditional luxury finishes like marble, granite or rich woods. The family that can afford almost $1.4 million for the property is probably accustomed to somewhat grander living spaces.

Of course, family members could always spill over into the other buildings, which were substantially constructed right there on the premises and have many interesting architectural features. It was suggested that the building with the full kitchen and high ceilings could be used as a master bedroom — or perhaps the two-story building with the outdoor shower would work for the parents. Mom and Dad would probably want to install a robust, high-tech intercom system to keep an eye on the kids if their living quarters were so spread out.

The compound might be more ideally suited for some sort of creative campus with the main house serving as office space. Individuals could live-in and work on independent projects, yet still be just a stone’s throw away from each other. There are five bedrooms and four bathrooms total, and an infinite number of practical configurations. Still, a buyer would need to investigate zoning issues.

Jana Jones Duffey and Fred Holley of Coldwell Banker - Beverly Hills South are representing the property. For more information, visit: 6549Peach.com

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