Fire battalion chief's high-end home hits market in Los Altos

The expense of Bay Area homes has been well documented. Prices soar well above eight figures for the more lavish properties. But one such home has its origins in very pedestrian beginnings.

Walk into the Mora House in Los Altos, and it’s like being in a dream. A nearly 11,000 square foot modern masterpiece, with an infinity pool in the back, and breathtaking 180 degree vistas. Six bedrooms, eight full baths – a guest house, and four car garage. There’s a lot to offer a prospective buyer.

“The neatest thing about the house, I love the movie theater,” said listing real estate agent Joe Velasco.

And as impressive as this is, the jaw drop comes from learning about the man behind the master plan.

“I’ve been very, very, fortunate. Very blessed that ah, that I did 30 years of service. I retired out as a fire battalion chief about six years ago,” said Melvin Vaughn, the home’s designer and seller.

He started as a firefighter in Milpitas in the 1980s. But as he rose through the ranks, he also cultivated a love of real estate. Skill in fighting fires led to acumen flipping houses – then, designing them. The Mora House is his personal Picasso.

“The idea behind it is to show true California living,” said Vaughn.

So where would a fire battalion chief find the time to design a home like this? Well, Melvin Vaughn says he used his down time at the station, as well as off days, to perfect his craft. Then he teamed with local architects Swatt Miers to design he Mora house.

“I took all my experience in the past, what I had learned from previous projects, and then kind of put them all into this house. So this is like the baby,” said Vaughn.

This potential $20 million dollar baby is turning heads. Celebs such as DJ Khaled have stayed for a few nights, but that was for a recent rental. Potential buyers have been buzzing to see if this modern look is right for them.

“There’s definitely an audience for this for this type of home here,” said Velasco, of Palo Alto-based Compass Real Estate.

He says he appreciates what Vaughn has been able to do. Velasco also comes from humble beginnings -- selling shoes at Nordstrom to pay for classes at San Jose State. Now he’s one of the top Latino realtors in the country.

“I’m an immigrant who came here, and I’m able to sell these $20 million homes in the Silicon Valley. And it’s definitely a dream….that’s become reality,” Velasco said.

Vaughn said once his masterpiece has a new master, he’ll continue designing, and selling, and living his version of the “American Dream.”