renovated 1970s kit house

June 8, 2011 — 12 Comments

In Alamo, California, a run-down 1970s kit house was saved from likely demolition by new buyers Wayne and Marilyn Rasmussen, who renovated it rather than tearing it down.  “Appreciation for a round house is an acquired taste — it’s not familiar, and, until you understand it, it doesn’t seem to be a comfortable living place where you lay down with your pets and the kids are watching TV and there’s the smell of food cooking.”

Designed by architect Leon Meyer in 1973, the house was in terrible shape in 2005, when the Rasmussens bought it.


12 responses to renovated 1970s kit house

    Marvin McConoughey August 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    After living in a round house for nearly 24 years, I find it very comfortable and pleasurable. It is the most satisfying house that either of us have ever lived in.

    Round House Owner September 20, 2011 at 3:59 am

    How do you replace the roof on a round, kit house? We’d like to preserve the beams inside, but don’t know how to replace the metal roof and have good insulation while preserving the beams’ visibility inside.

    Marvin McConoughey November 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Round house roofs vary, just as on other houses. We made our roof of plywood and coated it with liquid roof coating. The coatings have several manufacturers and can be made from several chemicals. Our original roof was a neoprene rolled-on base coat followed by several coats of Hypalon, a synthetic coating applied in liquid form. This proved durable but I used a liquid polyurethane for a much-later roof recoat. This, too, has worked well. I see now that GACO WEST, our supplier, has a new silicone based roof coating for which they claim lifetime durability.


    I live in a sister kit house to this one. Virtually untouched in terms of amenities, same 1970’s dishwasher. I love what they did, but they did change the roof. The other originals of this kit, 2 in Oakland that I know of, have zig zag roofs, like a victorian collar or an opened up cupcake wrapper. I just redid mine with foam. I was easy, durable and not that expensive. It fit the odd shape and needs of my roof.
    I am looking to do a remodel on my house. Does anyone have any suggestions for contractors and architects, in the East Bay California, who are willing and able to deal with the oddities of a round house?


      Oddly enough, I live in Lafayette and have this same round home with the same flat roof. I’m in the process of a rehab and I’ve replaced all the windows and flooring and added a much needed garage. Email me as I’d love to hear more about how you recovered your roof. I could also provide a contractor I used to help with my windows. He does a lot of work on custom homes in the bay area. thesynic at yahoo dot com.


      Leon Meyer only built two “folded” roof models. Both in Oakland, one for himself and his family and one for a client. I interviewed him long ago— he said the folded roof was very difficult and something he would never do again. Both folded roof rounds are still standing in good condition.


    I live in a fiberglass round house from 1976. The company that built the shell went out of business. Half the roof collapsed and is laying on the ceiling. I was wondering if you could give me an estimate of what it would cost to replace the roof with shingles or metal?


    I bought the last Round House that Lee Meyer built before he passed away. It’s in Escondido, California. His widow lives in another one in Escondido. I never met Mr. Meyer but I did have the pleasure of speaking with his wife on several occasions. These were not kit homes, and many may have been hand-built by the architect and his family. I no longer own the round house, but regret that I don’t. Some day I will build another one in the same spirit as the 50 or so that Lee built over his lifetime.


      How interesting — I’d love to hear more. I had no idea that he designed so many round houses. What year was the house built, and if it wasn’t a kit house, did he basically sell a set of plans? How did you hear about Meyer in the first place? Thanks!


      You’re right Dwayne. It is not a kit. These were custom and built by Meyer for site specific applications.

    Sabrina Schultz March 14, 2014 at 6:49 am

    We bought the plans for the the Round House from Leon Meyer and my father (John Bjorklund) built our house in Piedmont, California in the early 1970’s. (We submitted his plans to the City in January, 1971). My parents still live there and our family loves it. It has a beautiful view of Oakland /San Francisco out the living room windows. Of course I can imagine all kinds of upgrades, but my mom says the “next owners” can do whatever they want! Sabrina (Bjorklund) Schultz, Castro Valley

    Livon Diramerian June 11, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    This is a beautiful house design, not only the house was round, but also some of the furniture.The basic unit of a circle is the curve, and to have a perfect housing atmosphere all the elements of the house should be based on the curve shape.

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