The house was almost a personality in its self. Being the last house built by famous geologist/seismologist Andrew Lawson, when he was eighty nine years old, he had followed his original inspiration for an earthquake proof and fire proof house. It was located a half block from the Hayward fault, the main earthquake fault in the Berkeley Hills. He built the entire exterior of the house of large hollow red clay building blocks inside a frame of reinforced pre-stressed concrete floors and ceilings. On the inside the concrete sections showed the deep wood grain of the forms used. In the downstairs the walls were also the same red clay blocks. The roof was covered in curved Spanish tiles. That there were only two bedrooms did not distress Renee and Rex allowed his concerns to be overshadowed by his wife’s insistence.
In the back yard was a double garage that Rex saw as potential studio space. The upstairs front bedroom looked out on the street. The other bedroom looked out on the back yard and neighboring gardens. Rex and Renee chose the front bedroom, looking south and down the hill. Renee assigned the other bedroom to Margaret. A place was made in the hallway for a bed, dresser and a bookcase for Peter.
Rex soon set about landscaping the back yard into a series of planters made with the left over building materials of the house and converting the garage into his painting studio. The mortgage had been designed to make the monthly payments seventy five dollars.