New Avenue Process Phase III – Months 3-9

The principal focus of Phase III is choosing the specific products to go into your project like floor type, siding, windows and doors, roofing, tiling, faucets and other fixtures. We work on scheduling all of the subcontractors. Though small homes are small construction projects a remarkably large number of people will be involved. (See our master list of trade professions involved)


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This is an exciting part of the process because picking out products is a tangible feeling step towards completion. It can also be one of the most stressful due to the number of decisions you have to wade through. Working with one of our architect’s is a big help here.

These are the decisions that need to be made before the construction documents to the city.

  • Roofing
  • Siding
  • Plumbing Faucet Manufacturer
  • Drywall Texture
  • Interior Doors and Trim
  • Heating system: in-floor radiant, gas, electric, mini split, solar
  • Flooring
  • Curbless Showers – See our blog post on this.
  • Mirrors and Shower Enclosures
  • Tiling
  • Hardwood for transition areas in the home
  • Appliances

Continue to the next topic – New Avenue Process Phase IV – Weeks 21-36






New Avenue Process Phase II – Months 2-4

Our clients typically take a couple weeks to digest the estimate before deciding to continue so we pick up Phase II at week 10. Two fundamental project components are in place from Phase I. We understand the zoning & permitting requirements that need to be followed for your city, and we understand the functionality you need from a small home and budget you want to achieve.

Here’s what weeks 10-17 look like:

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 Let’s take a look at each item.

1. Survey – Some cities require a survey to verify your property lines. Even if it is not required it can be a smart move to verify property lines and potentially win more buildable space.
2. Geotechnical/Soil Stability Report (needed for 1/10 projects) – This report is an analysis of the soil composition in your backyard to analyse what type of foundation work is needed.
3. Existing building investigation – As the utilities for your cottage will attach to the main home it is important to verify that the water, electrical and gas lines are capable of handling extra capacity.
4. Conceptual design with elevations and floor plan – You work with one of our architects to start transforming sketches into a full set of construction documents.
5. Meetings to review and modify design (elevations and floor plans) – You’ll want to take time to sit with the designs, speak with friends and family, visualise it in your yard and modify as necessary.
6. Furniture Plan – Adding furniture to the floor plans makes it much easier to visualise what the interior space will feel like.
7. Project Schedule – New Avenue starts putting together a project plan with our subcontractors.
8. Verification of city requirements – As design modifications are made, we need to verify that everything adheres to city regulations before submitting the paperwork.
9. Zoning fee to city (Range $800-$20,000, Average is $2,000) – The first step in the project approval process is submitting the zoning application and paying the fee.

You will spend Phase II working with one of our architects on the shape and size of your home and big design questions like orientation, number of windows, relationship to your main home and square footage of the living area.

Our team will meanwhile figure out what upgrades might be needed on your site, develop a project schedule with you, and collect all the necessary city required information before submitting for the zoning approval.

Continue to the next topic – New Avenue Process Phase III – Weeks 17-26

New Avenue Process – Research and Design Books

It’s crucial to dedicate appropriate time to gather your thoughts and consult with friends, family membera and neighbors before making a decision to start. Take the time to collect ideas in design magazines, looking online, visiting friends cottages, attending open houses, snapping photos of styles you like and deciding what you need, what you want and what would be the dream. By putting in some hours up front brainstorming and organizing thoughts, you’ll end up with a enjoyable project experience and reduce the likelihood of needing to make changes mid stream.

We built the Design Book tool specifically for this purpose. It gives you a notebook, scrapbook and photo organizer all in one. Design Books are to get you thinking about what products and options go in a small home project and all the big and little decisions you’ll need to make. You can use it to get your feet wet before moving on to speak with designers and architects.

The Design Book tool lets you collect ideas for 9 different ‘Spaces’ of a cottage.

The spaces we give you to work with are:

1. Architectural Style – General look and feel of the home.
2. Bathroom – Tile, Vanity’s, Tubs, Showers, Faucets…
3. Bedroom – Lofts, Queen’s, King’s….
4. Entry & Outdoor Space – Decks, Patios, Breezeways…
5. Kitchen – Countertops, Islands, Pot Racks, Sinks…
6. Floor Plans – Different interior arrangements for similar square footage homes.
7. Living Room – Cathedral Ceilings, Natural Lighting, Wood Beams…
8. Office – Different styles and designs.
9. Systems & Sustainability – Green Roofs, Grey Water Systems, Recycled Materials…

You can save pictures of styles you like to each Space by searching our selection, uploading your own or using our bookmarklet to save pictures from anywhere on the web. If you like to clip magazine images, you can transfer them to your design book easily by taking snapshots with a smartphone. You can do the same for any drawings or sketches you make yourself.

We encourage you to browse other member’s Design Books for inspiration and publish yours when you’re ready to show it off for fun.

Your Design Book allows the New Avenue team to see what you see and get on the same page with your vision. Creating an account takes 10 seconds and you’re ready to start.

Continue to the next topic – New Avenue Process Phase I – Weeks 1-7

The Design/Build Process The Every Project Follows

How do I make a backyard cottage happen?

The core of New Avenue’s business is knowing how to do this and knowing how to make the process enjoyable for our clients. Cottages are small but involved construction projects. Building a new home in your backyard is a personal and creative endeavor and a large investment.

Designing, permitting, estimating, contracting and building all offer their own unique pitfalls that risk to break your schedule or break your budget. The whole process requires several different professionals and a great deal of knowledge. Our job is to set our clients up for success, guide the process and cover the right details at the right time.

New Avenue Process Series will share some expertise gained over the last 4 years. An average project will span 52 weeks from the time you make a decision to start. This series will lay out the detailed roadmap about what happens from start to finish.

The first topic we’ll cover is design research and tips on how to use the New Avenue Design Book system to your advantage. Then we’ll detail all that happens during each of New Avenue’s 5 phases:

I. Program Development – start zoning research and begin sketching the plans
II. Schematic Design – defining the size and shape of your home. This includes such aspects as floor plans, window plans, architectural style etc…
III. Design Development – Determining finish details, tile plans, appliances schedules, materials, siding type, kitchen layout and much much more.
IV. Construction Documents – producing the technical drawings for your building permit and for your contractor to follow when building the home
V. Construction Administration – Coordinating the many aspects of building a home including signing contracts, including or denying change orders, tracking progress and administering payments.

Continue to the next topic – New Avenue Process – Research & Design Books

New Avenue Process Phase I – Months 0-4

The time estimates you see here and in the following posts are averages for how long things take when you factor in life made busy by kids and work and family and everything else. It’s possible to go faster, definitely possible to go slower, but on average the process will take 52 weeks with our clients.

Let’s take a look at Phase I and weeks 1-7.

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Weeks 1 and 2 are spent consulting. We spend time getting to know you, your home and your goals for the project and assessing what your legal parameters are. We consult the city to find out some basic starting points like how large you can build, how high you can build, where you can place it, what the main zoning considerations are and how you can maximize the benefit of your cottage within all of these rules.

Over weeks 3, 4 & 5, our design team synthesizes information from your design book, city requirements, our on-site consultation and our understanding of your goals, and produces an initial floor and site plan. These drawings show you what the outside looks like, how the inside is arranged and where the cottage will be situated on your site. We also take the time to research and understand all the fees you may face.

Wrapping up Phase I in weeks 6 & 7  initial design for your goals and drafting an estimate budget to work from when we start customizing schematic design in Phase II. In summary, Phase I is dedicated to shaping your ideas within parameters set by your city, conceptualizing a design and targeting an estimate budget.

Continue to the next topic: New Avenue Process Phase II – Weeks 8-17