Cottages Approaching Completion

We’ve uploaded a bunch of new pictures of backyard homes and cottages in construction, approaching completion, or already completed. Check them out and see a little of what is involved in breaking ground and building a small home.

$1,000,000 In-Law: Zillow Determines Our Backyard Cottage is Insanely Valuable!

According to Zillow’s “automated valuation model”, New Avenue’s eco home in Palo Alto is worth $1,025,000!

At New Avenue we have been lucky to have great clients from all types of neighborhoods embrace backyard cottages and second units. One of our biggest surprises is that the more expensive a home is, the more likely the owners will want a backyard cottage. Part of this is caused by simple demand – real estate is all about location, location, location and expensive homes tend to be in areas where there are lots of jobs and lots of people who want to live near them. As a result, in-law units or backyard cottages are in highest demand in the most expensive neighborhoods. Another interesting cause of this is that people with nice homes tend to want to share these homes with family and friends. What fun is a big beautiful home if you have to live there all by yourself?

One of our best “clients” isn’t a client at all but a partner. The City of Palo Alto partnered with New Avenue to create an Eco House that is in the center of their community at Rinconada Park. While the park is certainly not for sale, this display home will have to move somewhere in about a year so we listed it on Zillow to let people know that the home itself is actually for sale.

While the home isn’t worth a million dollars – this Zestimate proves a point that an in law unit or backyard cottage in this neighborhood really does create a million dollars in value. And that’s not even counting the quality of life improvements like living in a walkable community, a great school district or near family or friends.

Accessory Dwelling Mediterranean Design in Orinda, CA

Size: 674 square feet
1 story
1 bed
1 bath

At the end of a long narrow driveway this Spanish-style cottage is tucked between twisty old oak trees and towering redwoods. Spring’s new cottage is a beautiful 674 square foot home that has a double-sided glass fireplace that faces both the bedroom and the living room, large windows that overlook the Orinda hill, and a brick courtyard that connects to the main home. Extra storage is tucked in out-of-the-way places with a coat closet at the main door and extra linen storage in the bathroom and a kitchen that will make almost any homeowner jealous. You should see the soft-close drawers. 🙂

SmartPlanet covered the home in this video: Click to watch it!

The original plan was to fix up a cute little guesthouse that was built with the main home in 1932. Spring interviewed a number of local architects and hired her Ron Klemmedson directly before engaging New Avenue to manage the bidding and construction administration.

The lack of a foundation, a sewer line, and asbestos made it necessary to demolish the guesthouse. After interviewing a number of contractors and receiving inflated quotes that were way out of Spring’s price range she contacted New Avenue. One of our local contractor partners worked with Spring and the architect to figure out how to build the house she wanted at a cost that was reasonable.
The heart of the story is about the three generations that share this big, hillside lot in Orinda. Before building this cottage, Spring was living in a much larger home in Southern California while her daughter, son-in-law, and their two boys owned a tiny house in Oakland. With school starting for the elder of the two boys, space running out and housing prices being out of control in the Bay Area, this family joined forces to create a living arrangement that benefited all of them.

This cottage is much more than a home, though. It is a different lifestyle for the entire family.

Now, Spring only has to pop across the yard to see her daughter and, for the two boys, their grandmother isn’t just someone they see around the holidays for a few hours but an integral part of their daily lives. This is a change that most any grandparent would enjoy. Having an extra adult around means there’s often a babysitter or summer camp chauffeur available, and that’s a lifesaver for two young working parents.

Spring made the following references the following about New Avenue:

“I talked to at least half-a-dozen contractors, all of whom gave me ridiculously inflated quotes – way out of my range. Then I talked to New Avenue, and they worked with me and my architect to figure out how we could build what I wanted at a price I could afford.
I think one of New Avenue’s main strengths is dealing with planning departments – they are absolutely amazing. Orinda told them this would have to be considered a new build, not a remodel, which would have bumped the fees up to about $50,000. They found a document showing that the house and the guest house had been built in 1932 (long before Orinda existed) and that the guest house was an independent dwelling, with kitchen and bathroom. So the city had to accept that. They brought up one idiotic quibble after another, all of which was dealt with with astonishing patience and we got the results we wanted.
The team New Avenue put together for me is terrific, friendly and hardworking. I couldn’t ask for a better crew. When they were almost finished the forms for the foundation I was very impressed with the meticulous placement of each plank, the careful bracing, the minute attention to each detail. I had never considered how important this part of a building was, but this cottage won’t go anywhere for centuries!

All building projects seem to come with unexpected problems. We discovered that we would have to put in a new sewer line and a new water line, both having deteriorated with age.
One thing I really appreciate about New Avenue and their partners is that they are very flexible, willing to work with me on ways to cut down on costs, etc. They are perfectly happy if I want to do the painting (or anything else) myself, buy the materials (using their contractor’s number), and even offered to pick up heavy stuff that I can’t transport easily. They really seem to care about me and my budget, and I feel very fortunate to have found them. And of course their green philosophy is a huge plus.”

This project won an award from the City of Orinda! Click to read about it!

Downsizing to an eco-friendly home

New Avenue Homes founder Kevin Casey is rethinking how we live by focusing on multi-generational living, where grandparents, parents, and kids share one piece of land with two homes on it. The parents and kids live in the main house and the grandparents live in an eco-friendly backyard cottage that his company designs and builds. SmartPlanet visits Casey on one of his construction projects in Orinda, Calif.

Continue to full article: http://www.zdnet.com/article/downsizing-to-an-eco-friendly-home/

Second Units for Stronger Communities: B the Change New Avenue


New Avenue Homes of Berkeley, CA is taking a small approach to solving a big problem. Most of us live in more space than we need, and sink more time and money than we would like into maintaining these large spaces. A practical approach to solving that problem is putting more people within big spaces or otherwise put – increasing the density of our living environment. This doesn’t mean packing too many people into one house, it means getting more utility out of the space that we have.

Building a second unit on a single family property makes sense in several ways. First, property becomes more useful and less expensive. Adding a second living space gives families flexibility to accommodate older parents, young adult children, live-in care takers and nannies, or the option to take an entrepreneurial route and become a landlord in their community. Each of these actions minimize the cost and maximize the benefits of owning property.

Continue to full article: http://blog.bcorporation.net/2011/08/stylish-second-units/

Clean Tech Accessory Dwelling in San Jose

New Avenue Homes, builder of a popular NZE tiny house in Berkeley, has a new Clean Tech Exhibit home on display in San Jose. The home has a living room, kitchenette, bedroom, bathroom, storage, and all sorts of green technology and sustainable materials. New Avenue prefabricated the structure and estimates that a home of this size costs about $70,000 to build and permit, not including upgrades or special circumstances.

Continue to full article: http://www.jetsongreen.com/2011/08/clean-tech-exhibit-home-san-jose.html