The New Backyard Cottage @ Sunset Celebration Weekend 2015 – Picture and Video Tour

New Avenue and Sunset Magazine teamed up this June 6-7 for Sunset Celebration Weekend 2015 to present The New Backyard Cottage. Here’s a picture and video tour from the event!

Take a video tour!
Take a video tour!

If you haven’t already heard you can enter for a chance to win a 7-day getaway at the New Backyard Cottage at Truckee, CA. There is no cost to enter. Click here for more information.


Exterior, deck, pergola
Exterior, deck, pergola
Visitors to the New Backyard Cottage
Visitors to the New Backyard Cottage
Visitors to the New Backyard Cottage
Visitors to the New Backyard Cottage
Kitchen shelving, spiral staircase
Kitchen shelving, spiral staircase

Living area

The New Avenue team sitting on the steps
The New Avenue team sitting on the steps
Visitors around the New Backyard Cottage and landscaping
Visitors around the New Backyard Cottage and landscaping
Landscaping around the New Backyard Cottage
Landscaping around the New Backyard Cottage
Landscaping - pebble arrangement
Landscaping – pebble arrangement
Landscaping around the New Backyard Cottage
Landscaping around the New Backyard Cottage
The New Avenue team at Sunset Celebration Weekend
The New Avenue team at Sunset Celebration Weekend

SPUR Lunch Forum: Getting to Know Our In-Laws

Image courtesy of Flickr user Lwp Kommunikáció
Image courtesy of Flickr user Lwp Kommunikáció

12:30 p.m. | Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SPUR Urban Center: 654 Mission Street, San Francisco

Accessory dwelling units, or “in-law” units, are a great tool for increasing density without affecting neighborhood character. After many years of thwarted efforts in San Francisco, two pieces of legislation supporting these units passed in 2014, and there are more on the horizon. Come learn about this housing type and its role in the city’s housing market. Co-presented by the San Francisco AIA and San Francisco Housing Action Coalition.

+ Kearstin Dischinger / San Francisco Planning Department
Mark Hogan / OpenScope Studio
Supervisor Scott Wiener / San Francisco Board of Supervisors
Kevin Casey / New Avenue Homes

To register or learn more, visit the SPUR’s event page.

Home Renovation Survey Results

Last month we conducted a small home renovation survey. The results are in! We want to thank everyone who took the survey for their time. This information helps us help you when it comes to get started and talk about your project.

Thinking about a project

Have you started or considered starting a home construction project in the past three years?

Yes 47 98%
No 1 2%

If yes, what type of project?

Accessory Dwelling 15 31%
Addition 11 23%
Conversion 4 8%
Kitchen remodel 12 25%
Bath remodel 11 23%
New home construction 10 21%
Other 9 19%

Why have you started or considered starting a home construction project?

Improving the look and feel of my home 14 29%
Making my home more functional 18 38%
Accommodating family members 16 33%
Accommodating guests 12 25%
Increasing home value 15 31%
Generating rental income 14 29%
Downsizing my lifestyle 12 25%
Other 7 15%

Project Scope

How big do you imagine your project might be?

0 to 200 square feet 6 13%
200 to 400 square feet 11 23%
400 to 600 square feet 8 17%
600 to 800 square feet 11 23%
800 to 1000 square feet 5 10%
Over 1000 square feet 2 4%
Not sure 5 10%

What is your project budget?

Less than $5,000 3 6%
$5,000 to $25,000 8 17%
$25,000 to $50,000 11 23%
$50,000 to $100,000 10 21%
$100,000 to $150,000 9 19%
$150,000 to $200,000 2 4%
Over $200,000 1 2%

If you have thought about a project but haven’t started, what are some reasons why you have decided not to begin? (Some respondents have selected more than one option.)

8. Not enough land or no land 7 15%
7. Not enough financing or no financing 15 31%
6. Unsure of permitting requirements 11 23%
5. Unsure how to start the process 9 19%
4. The process is too complex or stressful 9 19%
3. Uncertain about timing and my schedule 10 21%
2. Couldn’t find an architect or contractor I could work with 5 10%
1. The planning department has said I can’t do what I want to do 2 4%
0. Other 10 21%

Are you considering another home construction project in the future? If so, when do you plan to start it?

Within 1 month from now 0 0%
Between 1 to 6 months from now 7 15%
Between 6 to 12 months from now 6 13%
1 to 3 years from now 13 27%
3 or more years from now 2 4%
Other 6 13%

Working with Service Providers

How confident do you feel when it comes to permitting? (1 = Not at all confident, 5 = Very confident)

About 65% expressed that they were not confident (3 or lower).

1 13 27%
2 7 15%
3 10 21%
4 8 17%
5 8 17%

How confident do you feel when it comes to selecting an architect? (1 = Not at all confident, 5 = Very confident)

About 70% expressed that they were not confident (3 or lower).

1 11 23%
2 13 27%
3 9 19%
4 7 15%
5 7 15%

How confident do you feel when it comes to selecting a general contractor? (1 = Not at all confident, 5 = Very confident)

About 78% expressed that they were not confident (3 or lower).

1 12 25%
2 13 27%
3 11 23%
4 5 10%
5 5 10%

What are your primary reasons for not hiring an architect or contractor?

Reputation is not great 4 8%
Seemed disorganized 6 13%
Cost too much 16 33%
Did not return calls fast enough. Difficult to communicate with. 7 15%
Other 14 29%

New Avenue is Recognized by San Francisco Business Times among the Top 100 Fastest-Growing Companies in Bay Area

Biz TimesNew Avenue was recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the Top Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the Bay Area. With 175.5% growth from 2011 to 2013, New Avenue placed among the top 50, ranking #46 in the publication’s Fast 100 annual list. This prestigious ranking will appear in the October 24 edition of the Business Times.

New Avenue’s mission is to help homeowners renovate their homes to add an accessory dwelling—such as the in-law apartment, a backyard cottage or a converted garage.  New Avenue developed a software platform to bring efficiency and transparency to the home-building process. With an integrated project delivery process, New Avenue empowers and educates homeowners, allowing for easier collaboration with their architect and contractor.

“I am excited about our continued success and growth,” says New Avenue CEO and Founder, Kevin Casey. He adds, “We want to change the way people live.  We see the direction is shifting and people – both Baby Boomers and Millennials – are creating opportunities in their backgrounds with small homes. We are the only business in this space, providing a solution for the myriad housing issues using technology.”

According to a recent National Association of Realtors study, 14% of U.S. home purchases last year involved a multi-generational household. Additionally, the 2010 Pew Research report indicated 20% of people 65 and older live in a multi-generational household.  Aside from the economic gains in supportive housing, another benefit, as proven in several studies, is increased levels of happiness and an improvement in quality of life.

Casey realized early in his career the opportunity in this type of shared housing. While earning his MBA at UC Berkeley, he discovered that 30% of all homeowners wanted an accessory dwelling but did not pursue the housing option. Homeowners either didn’t know how to or they thought it was too difficult.

New Avenue uses data and structure to streamline the development process.  The entire project team collaborates on a shared, online project workspace that centers on communication and the budget. Furthermore, New Avenue saves homeowners from the stress of uncertainty by providing them with true historical costs and details of what they may expect to encounter in their own projects. Year-to-date, 100% of their construction projects came in either on or under budget.

Based on their accelerated growth, New Avenue is likely to expand their business to a national platform by the end of 2015.  The tech startup was honored last night with the other leaders of the Bay Area’s “Fast 100” at an awards reception at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

See our founder’s interview “Transform Your Home with an Accessory Dwelling” on BayAreaForSale

See our founder’s interview “Transform Your Home with an Accessory Dwelling” on BayAreaForSale, a top site for Florida state homes, Texas real estate & Emeryville, CA real estate.

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Many accessory dwellings and second units fail to get built because of confusing permitting rules, custom design requirements or the difficulty of managing the 45+ people needed to complete the design, permitting and construction. New Avenue solves these problems with a structured process, people and data to give you an integrated project delivery experience.

We research, screen and enlist qualified designers, architects and contractors who work with our standardized process to get you through your project from start to finish. With our proprietary platform, everyone on your project team stays on the same page with a timeline, notifications, product schedules, forms and checklists.

Can you briefly explain what an accessory dwelling is?

Any new home or apartment added to a single family home. This includes additions, a remodel of existing space, such as an attic, bedroom, lower level or garage, or a separate independent home, such as a backyard cottage, casita or guest house.

What are some of the most common questions (and answers) you’re asked about accessory dwellings?

“How much does a home cost?” In the San Francisco Bay Area, cottage costs range from about $100,000 to $300,000. The most popular size is a 2-bedroom cottage of about 640 square feet that, when you include architecture, engineering, permitting and construction, this costs close to $250,000 in California – but as little as $125,000 in other parts of the country. Our shared project page keeps everyone in the loop and this makes our partners more efficient. Add our competitive bid process and you get the best pricing possible.

Another popular question is, “What about permits?” Cities and states across the country have changed their laws to give homeowners the right to build second units. New Avenue has permitted homes in over 25 cities. We have the experience that you need to navigate through the local processes in any city.

Can you list the basic steps involved with designing and building one?

We recently counted all the essential steps involved with building an accessory dwelling and there a too many to list out – over 200! To manage this complicated process, we just released a new feature that we call our roadmap, which lists out the various steps and milestones of the project and tracks where you are in process. So, in short, step one for building an accessory dwelling would be to call New Avenue.

How much flexibility and input do homeowners get with the design of a new accessory dwelling?

It really depends on the constraints imposed by your city, as every jurisdiction has their own set of rules for height, size, setback, parking and what features are allowed. Generally speaking, our architects will work hard to make your dream home a reality, and incorporate all your needs while complying with any city restrictions.

What are some of the biggest things should people take into consideration before deciding if they want to build an accessory dwelling?

Every homeowner should consider an accessory dwelling. We ran an analysis that shows how accessory dwellings are an economic win. For example, it can yield a potential income of nearly $1M over a 23-year period in asset appreciation and rental income. In addition, the savings are substantial if you are considering housing your loved ones versus using a retirement home.

Homeowners should also know that we conducted a survey (and external studies verify our findings) that revealed how accessory dwelling occupants experience lower levels of stress and increased levels of happiness. It’s for this reason we are so dedicated to our mission of educating the community on the benefits of accessory dwellings. Not only is this is a type of infill development that mitigates sprawl, accessory dwellings are an ideal form of shared housing that brings families together, and we can have an immense impact if every household tried to have their own little backyard cottage.

What’s the best way for people to contact your company?

Call 855-5NEWAVE, email or, fill out our contact form at

In-Law Studios: A Creative Housing Solution for San Francisco

In-Law Unit
In-Law Unit

Grappling with their affordable housing crisis, the City of San Francisco is evaluating this pressing issue from many different angles. One unique solution is encouraging the development of accessory dwelling units (also commonly known as secondary dwelling or in-law units).   Recently, the Board of Supervisors passed two pieces of legislation that now supports this type of housing:

First, Supervisor David Chiu’s ordinance grants legal status to existing illegal units built before January 2013. The ordinance also prohibits the costs of legalization from being passed through to the tenant.  Recognizing the existing illegal units can potentially add anywhere between 30,000 to 50,000 units to the City’s housing stock.

The second recently passed ordinance was Supervisor Scott Wiener’s legislation that legalizes the new construction of accessory dwelling units in District 8, primarily the Castro neighborhood. Density and other planning code requirements are waived to support the development of in-law units. To ensure these accessory dwellings meet the City’s goals of offering these units as additional affordable housing options, the Planning Department will monitor the rents and publish a report evaluating the effectiveness of the ordinance.  Other requirements  include:

  •  limiting the maximum square footage to 750 square feet
  • the units must be built within the existing building envelope
  • for buildings that have less than 10 existing dwelling units, only one in-law unit is permitted
  • buildings with 10 or more units are permitted to have up to two in-law units

Now, Wiener is proposing yet another piece of creative legislation to spur the increase of in-law units. His legislation would allow property owners who are mandated to do seismic work on their buildings to add in-law units within their soft-story buildings. This provides an opportunity for the property owners to earn additional rental income that will make the necessary retrofits viable.

As stated in San Francisco’s Housing Element, the housing market continues to be tight and housing costs are beyond the reach of many households. In-law units in existing residential buildings represent a simple and cost-effective method of expanding the City’s housing supply. Click here to learn more about San Francisco’s planning code for accessory dwelling units.

If you are interested in pursing your own accessory dwelling units, reach out to New Avenue at 855-5NewAve or email


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:

Concord Open House – Saturday, April 5

A wonderful project of ours is nearing completion, and we’re opening it up for you to see Saturday, April 5th, from 12-2pm. We’ll be there answering any questions you have about our process and how projects like this work. Feel free to share this invitation with your friends and family.

Click here to RSVP, and we’ll email you the address a few days before the event!


Correction: The event city is Concord, which is near Walnut Creek, but it’s not Walnut Creek.

This picture was taken recently, and the cottage will have siding and drywall completed. Come see how much can change in less than two weeks!
This picture was taken recently, and the cottage will have siding and drywall completed. Come see how much can change in less than two weeks!