Santa Cruz Open House of Mid-Construction Backyard Cottage, Saturday July 19th, 12-2pm

Santa Cruz ADU

Cedar custom 1x4" fabricated and rabbited on site

Tour a 1,000 sq.ft. accessory dwelling under construction on Saturday, July 19th from 12-2pm in Santa Cruz.  The drywall just went up, so it’s a perfect time to get a sense of the size and flow of a beautiful ADU, with all the finishes still up to your imagination! Kathleen and John are building this home for Kathleen’s father.  The space has a 2-car garage, loft, full kitchen and lots of storage space for this active couple’s paddle boards, surf boards and bicycles!

New Avenue representatives will beElevations on hand answering any questions you have about our process and how projects like this work.  Feel free to invite your friends and family. Simply click here to RSVP and get the address.

Stay tuned for invitations to more open houses and events like this one. Please call us at 855.563.9283 or email with any questions about this project or one you might have in mind for yourself.

Backyard Music Studio May Be the First Accessory Dwelling with Tandem Parking in Albany


The City of Albany is advancing legislation to allow tandem parking for accessory dwelling units.  Tandem parking is the parking of two cars in a row as opposed to two cars side by side.

One project that may benefit is a music studio being designed in Albany for Ellen Hershey, an avid flutist with plans for garden concerts in the home she has owned for nearly 50 years.  She is excited about the potential to make this more than a music studio, and to have the opportunity to use the new space as a small home for her son to move into.

New Avenue is excited to announce that Christopher Sullivan is the lead architect.  Chris joined New Avenue’s distributed team of independent architects last December, and has already has accepted ten projects.  Ellen is happy with the process, stating “Chris is designing such a nice cottage that I might just move in myself and rent out the main house! “

New Avenue is a tech startup that makes it easier for homeowners to complete remodels or add accessory dwellings.  The company promotes transparency and accountability in the remodeling and building industry, and partners with small local design firms and general contractors that have an established track record of providing the highest standard of service.  With over 1,900 clients initiating projects, New Avenue’s success has prompted the company to launch a recruitment effort for architects that are committed to their shared goal of designing and developing accessory dwellings.

Kevin Casey, CEO and Founder of New Avenue, said, “Chris’s passion for our mission to help homeowners build accessory dwellings is evident through his interactions with his clients.  We are excited to have Chris as a member of our team of architects.”

“As an architect and design partner to New Avenue, my objective is to provide solutions to the changing way we live.  Because we are living longer and because living expenses are increasing, the challenge is to provide safe, secure and comfortable spaces for people to thrive” said Sullivan.   He further describes how New Avenue offers the opportunity to work with a variety of clients with a variety of family structures, who are looking to modify their current living situations to suit older and younger generations within the family unit.

Sullivan received his bachelor of architecture at University of Detroit Mercy and his master’s degree of architecture from University of California, Berkeley.  Previously he was project manager for Construction Management West and a project architect for Tom Eliot Fish.  In 2012 Sullivan started his own practice, which he continues to run while contracting with New Avenue.

New Avenue continues to actively recruit architects.  If you are an architect or designer and are interested in learning more, email or visit

For more information about New Avenue’s architect partners, visit

Bevan + Bartlett Team Up with New Avenue


Mike and Carrie, a couple in Oakland, wanted to build a home in their backyard so Mike’s mother can be nearby.  Not sure of where to start, they turned to New Avenue for help.

 New Avenue assigned two of their newest design professionals to the project: James Bevan and Patrick Bartlett of Bevan + Bartlett Architects.  Bevan and Bartlett’s architectural expertise were perfect for this client, as they are familiar with Oakland’s ADU policies and have overall experience in the east bay region.  Since joining New Avenue in February, Bevan and Bartlett have accepted several projects, including Mike and Carrie’s 500 sq ft cottage with a loft.  The loft, it was decided, could serve as an additional sleeping space for a second person.  For example, a caregiver, should Mike’s mother need additional help in the future.

New Avenue contracts with their architect partners, allowing Bevan and Bartlett to run their firm’s primary business, as well as accept accessory dwelling unit (ADU) projects offered by New Avenue.  Bartlett describes the benefits of his newfound partnership, stating how “New Avenue has helped to take the work of finding and attracting new clients off of our to-do list, allowing us to focus on what we enjoy doing the most – designing for these clients”

Bartlett is a licensed architect in the states of California and Texas.  Bartlett brings over

Patrick Bartlett

fourteen combined years of design experience from the architectural design profession. He specializes in custom residential design and renovations, bringing clients’ project ideas to realization.  Recent projects include two condominiums in San Francisco: 5800 Third Street Condominiums and Candlestick Heights.

James Bevan

Bevan brings over fourteen years of design experience and over ten years managing and operating an independent design consulting firm. His extensive experience with residential, ground up construction and existing renovations is another key component of the design services offered by their practice.  In addition to being a licensed architectural designer, Bevan is also a licensed general contractor.  Both received their bachelor of architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

With over 1,800 clients initiating projects, New Avenue’s success has prompted the company to launch a recruitment effort for architects that are committed to their shared goal of designing and developing accessory dwellings.  New Avenue continues to actively recruit architects.  If you are an architect or designer and are interested in learning more, email or visit

For more information about Bevan+Bartlett Architects or New Avenue’s other architect partners, visit or visit

Award-Winning Green Builder, M.S. Builders, Joins New Avenue; Santa Cruz Project Breaks Ground


New Avenue recently enlisted Marc Susskind’s Company, M.S. Builders to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in Santa Cruz.  The project, a one-level 500 sf dwelling with a 2-car garage, broke ground last month and is already halfway complete, thanks to their management and expertise.

  New Avenue has recently noticed a pent up demand for accessory dwellings throughout the bay area region.

“MS Builders is an excellent addition to the team,” states Kevin Casey, CEO and Founder of New Avenue.  “Their extensive experience with ADUs, custom homes and green building ensures we are delivering a quality product for our client.”

MS Builders is a foundation to finish building team, providing all of the parts from start to finish ensuring that each project is completed in a timely and efficient manner.  They built their clientele entirely word of mouth, having solidified their reputation by treating each project and client with the same respectful approach with a focus on quality, economy and efficiency.

Marc has been building for the past 20 years and has been a licensed general contractor since 2001, the year he founded MS Builders.  MS Builders has received numerous awards, including Fine Homebuilding’s Best New Home, Santa Cruz Straw Bale House, 2012 and four Santa Cruz Green Building Awards for various projects within the City.  MS Builders has been building ADU’s in the City of Santa Cruz since the new ADU ordinance was adopted 10 years ago.

For more information about MS Builders, visit

Fink Architecture Partners with New Avenue! Company Launches Recruitment Effort for Architects Due to Rapid Growth


Robert Fink of Fink Architecture joined New Avenue in April 2014.  With over 1,800 clients initiating projects, New Avenue’s success has prompted the company to launch a recruitment effort for architects that are committed to their shared goal of designing and developing accessory dwellings.  New Avenue’s business model provides their architect partners, like Fink, the flexibility to continue their own practice.

Robert Fink

“We are very pleased and fortunate to have Fink Architects join our efforts,” states Kevin Casey, CEO and Founder of New Avenue.  “I have long admired Robert’s work. His experience and talent will be a great addition to our collaborative team”

Robert Fink founded his firm in 2005. His work portfolio ranges from custom furniture, and wineries to restaurants and homes.  Prior to starting his own company, he practiced with Backen Gillam Architects for seven years.

Since he’s joined, Fink has accepted two New Avenue projects, Fairfax and Berkeley.  The Berkeley project is an addition for a family creating space for their children’s grandmother, who just moved from Oregon. It is important for the family to develop a comfortable living space that is accessible for the grandmother.

New Avenue continues to actively recruit architects.  If you are an architect or designer and are interested in learning more, email or visit

For more information about Robert Fink and New Avenue’s architect partners, visit or visit

Why New Avenue is a B Corp


We were invited to participate in a roundtable about what it means to be a Benefit Corporation, or what is more commonly called a B-Corp.

This is a quick summary of what we will speak to:

Who we are:  New Avenue is a venture backed technology company based in Emeryville, CA that manages services provided by architects and contractors.    The company was founded in 2009, we partner with local architects and local contractors and we have worked with 1,900 online projects and 95 homeowners across the country.

What we do: New Avenue is the leading consumer platform for managing architects and contractors for an entire remodel or construction of a new home from start to finish.

Why we do it: We founded New Avenue because the suburban housing model is 100 years out of date and our homes need to be completely reinvented to serve the needs of our modern families.

Being a B-Corp:  As a mission driven organization, becoming aa B-corp was a simple decision.   We were excited to receive a ”B Score” of 146 when the median is 80. As a result, New Avenue has been named as a “Best for the World Honoree” in the annual B Corp awards list for every year since we became certified.

What this really means to us as a company, and why it mattes to you:

1) We have a high score because we employ and impact our immediate community.   There are three key measures where we stand out:  employees, community and environment.

Due to the nature of creating affordable and sustainable housing we receive a substantial number of points for the following:

1) > 60% of our employees come from low income communities
2) > 60% of suppliers are local businesses
3) >60% of suppliers have a sustainability certification or product verification

What does B Corp mean for us: The surprising benefit to us is that at least once a month we are approached by a reporter or potential employee because they are tracking B-Corps to either cover or apply for a job.   This has lead to new clients, new strategic partners and new employees.

If you want to read more about B Corps you can do so here:

Or our page on B Corp:

Portland Accessory Dwelling Tour


We’re just back from a great trip to Portland where, we learned that Portlandia is, in fact, a documentary.  They all work 20 hours a week at Starbucks, have chicken coops, ride their bikes all day, everyday.  Or at least, the east side of Portland fits that description.  The west side, we are told, is different.  There are rumoured to be Republicans on that side of town.  It seems doubtful, but none the less, this is about the East Side and more particularly, this great little Accessory Dwelling we visited – Susan’s PDX Cottage.

It’s a beautiful city (in the summer, at least) packed with 100 year old craftsman homes and they are really making accessory dwellings happen.

Susan’s PDX Cottage is a converted garage. Here are several pictures of her little cottage.

That’s owner storage for mostly gardening equipment on the right.

Interestingly,  edgy modern furniture can make a classic old garage exterior really work.

It’s official, SMEG refrigerators are the best looking appliances around:

You see that little hanging spice rack – that’s a $10 IKEA accessory.

Open shelving really works in small spaces.

One of the squares of Ladd’s Addition – the Portland neighborhood with such a unique layout that it is noticeable from space.

DIY landscaping can save thousands and thousands or even tens of thousands.  


Title 24 Update: Are You Ready?


Are you considering any alterations or additions to your home? Or breaking ground on any new residential construction?  If yes, there are some changes taking place in California’s building code standards that you should be aware of.  At a recent AIA East Bay Small Firm Forum, Gina Rodda of Gabel Associates, LLC gave a brief, but comprehensive, overview of this recent update to Title 24 part 6, California’s energy standards for low-rise residential buildings.  Any projects that apply for permit on or after JULY 1, 2014 will be subject to these 2013 standards.

To comply with the mandatory measures, the two methods are the Prescriptive approach (often used for minor alterations and additions) or the Performance approach (most commonly used for new construction).  Of the two, the Performance approach is the more flexible, though more complicated, method.  The mandatory measures generally focus on:

  • Infiltration control
  • Lighting
  • Insulation levels and
  • Minimum equipment efficiency

One of the many changes discussed during the presentation was the need to secure a Certificate of Compliance (CF1R) before submitting to the building department.  There are also several new requirements for residential additions and alternations.  For example, if you are considering a new addition, size does matter; as is the case with all new residential development, a HERs (Home Energy Rating System) rater is required to verify the structure’s ventilation requirements if over 1,000 sq.  Come July, HERS raters are going to be in big demand!

Net zero energy cottage

Though the 2013 Title 24 revisions are significant changes for California’s building community, our state has long-time been a leader in energy efficiency and efforts are paying off.  Rodda illustrates this with “The Rosenfeld Effect” chart.   In 1960, California had the same total electric use per capita as the U.S. average at 4,000 kwh.  However, by 2001 the U.S. per capita average measured at 12,000 kwh, whereas CA was only using 7,000 kwh!

Rosenfeld Effect

For a summary of changes and other information on the Title 24 update, please visit the California’s Energy Commission website at

Design for Aging, Design for Independence


The term “aging in place” is commonly used in the design community, but what does it actually mean? According to MJ Lee, a recent Master’s graduate of San Francisco State University, it is the desire to live in one’s home as long as possible – preferably to the end of life – and avoid institutionalization.  AIA (American Institute of Architects) San Francisco’s Design for Aging committee explored this topic at a recent meeting as Lee presented her Master’s research on baby boomers’ intentions for aging in place.  This entailed a survey of 225 adults, ages 50+.

New Avenue helped Mona Cain build her new, comfortable and handicap-accessible backyard home. Read more about this story by clicking on photo. Photo by Tearsa Joy Hammock / San Francisco Public Press.

When asked of the desire to age in place, 78% of respondents answered yes, which aligned closely with a 2003 AARP study at 80-90%.  However, only 30% of survey respondents made modifications to their homes.  The leading motivator?   To maintain independence and stay in the community.  Home modifications are important in creating a comfortable and safe living space, and boomers should be more proactive in their approach to aging in place.  Examples of such modifications include curbless showers, hand rails and zero threshold entrances. The most common home modification was the installation of grab bars.  Although not many survey participants made modifications to their homes, a large sample did downsize in terms of footprint.  62% of non-boomers (ages 65+) and 68% of boomers (ages 50-64) lived in dwellings less than 2,500 square feet.  A great example is Mona Cain, who now lives comfortably in a 610-square-foot home in her daughter’s backyard, thanks to New Avenue.  A major implication of Lee’s findings is for designers to emphasize independent lifestyle when promoting home modifications and incorporating universal design.  She would like to expand the cohort group for a further survey to increase the diversity of respondents.  To learn more about this survey and her other research, visit her website. 

Ask our clients questions directly with our Ambassador Program


A big, expensive project is often accompanied by big worries. These worries are even bigger when the kind of project is something you’re doing for the first time with people and processes that you’re unfamiliar with. New Avenue has launched an ambassador program to allay your worries. If you are serious about your project and need a little more assurance, you can now ask our clients about their experiences with New Avenue, the design-build process, the problems (and wins) they faced, and the outcome of their project.

Just go to our client stories page, click “Ask me a question!”, and send your message!

The “Ask me a question!” link, shown on the bottom right of the screenshot, is available for clients who are part of our ambassador program. We have several ambassadors now (and growing!).

Introduce yourself and ask your questions in the form, shown in blue below. This sends the ambassador an email.