A new future for live/work artists lofts in Oakland is here!

The City of Oakland and a group of local artists are working together to keep Oakland safe and affordable for artists.  Today, Oakland planning department approved the permits for the first large scale live/work loft in the city!  A 15,000 square foot empty warehouse in West Oakland will soon become 14 legal studios and 9 more work spaces.

After the tragedy of the Ghost Ship the necessary evictions of many artist live/work spaces made the housing crisis of the Bay Area even worse.  Few artists can afford to stay without living in dangerous places.  This project in West Oakland is a path forward for this one artist community and it can serve as a model for arts in the Bay Area!

Tanya Retherford is the local architect and member of the community of artists who are making it all happen. Like many great innovations, necessity was the mother of invention. Tanya was evicted from an unpermitted live/work space after the Ghost Ship.  To solve the affordable artist space problem she spoke to Tom Dolan, a pioneer in live/work spaces since the 1990s and they hatched a plan to do something big! When we say big we mean safe, legal, healthy, and for use by a community of 50!

Tanya found an amazing old warehouse in, negotiated a 15 year lease with option to buy with the owner and worked with the city to increase the allowed occupancy from 4 people to 14.  The 4 person limit for live/work spaces has limited that mode of living from being a viable solution for artists.  Now, these 14 apartments can truly be affordable and this building can truly be a model for a shared, creative community.

If you are considering converting a warehouse or building to live/work in Oakland, then here’s the schedule and step-by-step guide!

Tanya is specializing in this type of work and you can set up a design session with her here!

  • April 2017: Tanya found the space
  • May 2017: Started some design concepts
  • June: Preliminary permit research
  • June/July: Negotiating the lease with the owner
  • October 15: Submitted the planning permit application (~$4,000 + $500 for expediting). They paid for expediting and got an approval in 1 week!
  • 11/13/17: Permit is officially approved and the local appeal period has expired.
  • December (est): Submit building permit application
  • 1/31 (est): Building permit issued
  • 2/1/18 – 9/1/18: Construction
  • Burning Man
  • Move in!

You can sign up and use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

 

Cost of a remodel and restoration of a 100+ year old historic home outside of San Francisco in Alameda

Our clients and their twin boys had outgrown their condo in San Francisco and need space and a lawn to play.

So they did what many young couples do…. they bought a fixer and spent two years remodeling it.  And the results are amazing!

In this story, our clients bought a 4,800 square foot 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom home that is 110 years old. The home needed extensive work as it had been 50+ years since it was last remodeled. They focused on sustainable products and maintaining original details such as the redwood found throughout the home while completely modernizing all the systems such as seismic, electrical, and plumbing.

They made a massive increase in the usable space in the home by converting the 4th floor attic to an 800 square foot office.

The project started in March of 2015 and finished spring of 2017.  The design, permitting and remodel was an even two years. Half of the time went to permitting.

The work was intense. A steel frame was inserted from the basement to the top of the roof and everything in between was dismantled and restored and replaced, or built new.

You can review the actual construction budget for the restoration in the link below.

4800 square feet of remodeling

Construction Budget 4,800 square foot restoration 1908_70 Lines

The finished photos are stunning!

Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders
Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Heath Clock in Bay St Kitchen

Coffee nook
Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Copper Creek Builders

Bay St House

Copper Creek Builders

Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

$100,000 Contractor ripoff that New Avenue would have prevented

A crooked contractor stole over $250,000 from 10 different clients. One young couple lost over $120,000.  All of them would have been protected if they used New Avenue’s bid form and construction agreement. Read this post and use the format provided and this won’t happen to you!

New Avenue partnered with a local general contractor to build a project for one of our client. They had glowing Yelp reviews, they completed projects for high end modern architects that are part of our team, and they have been in business for years. They passed our filters and likely would have passed your filters too!

When working with New Avenue, this contractor and our clients finished the project without a hiccup. As part of our standard process  we received a detailed bid and we paid them as the work was completed on site.  The project turned out so well it even ended up in numerous magazines!

This contractor started building his own business independent of New Avenue and sold over 10 more projects outside of New Avenue.  They even stole a New Avenue client by promising better service (and at a higher price too!) if the client just worked directly with them.

They took deposits on these projects and then mismanaged almost everything.  The contractor went bankrupt and left the clients with nothing.  Now over 10 clients, including the young couple that is out over $120,000 is hoping to recover some money from materials that are sitting in a garage and slated for a bankruptcy auction. They’ll get pennies on the dollar if anything.

The craziest thing, is that contractor is now pitching homes to fire victims in Sonoma following the fire and his business partner is continuing under a new name.  They even called us to talk about working together, as if nothing has happened.

They stole a life changing sum of money from several families and aren’t  even trying to make it right. They just charge ahead, onto their next mark. These are the people giving contractors a bad name.

If those clients had used New Avenue they would paid for work after it is completed and visible on site. They would have been protected. They would not have lost their money.

Every client should have a policy to have a detailed bid, clear construction agreement that states what you are building and pay for work that is done. But as an owner you are probably doing this type of project once, or maybe twice. So there is no reason why you’d know how to do this.

That is why New Avenue provides the best practices in getting bids, construction agreements and paying with an easy transparent process.

If you use this New Avenue Example Budget and this type of New Avenue Construction Agreement

Want to hear a less terrifying but sad story about the other side of this? The bad client? Read here.

You can sign up and use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

Standing Room Only at the Ashby Village Accessory Dwelling Workshop

Joanne Sullivan, a  founding member of the Ashby Village organized a workshop on accessory dwellings.  The event drew over 100 members of the Ashby Village who are all interested in creating a way to remodel or add-on to their home to create a new affordable apartment or cottage that they can share with family, friends or an affordable tenant.

One member of the audience immediately signed up to start a design project specifically because she has worked in social work her whole life and she wants to

Another member is looking to downsize to a backyard cottage so her children can afford to move back to Berkeley from out of state. There’s no way her children can afford to live her without pooling their resources with their parents.

Another member of the audience works for the UC Berkeley retirement association – a group that organizes 10,000+ UC retirees.

This is what a grassroots movement looks like. We suspect this is what the future of housing looks like and these are the people who will define the future.

People in the audience asked the following questions:

1.  How does an accessory dwelling or ADU effect your property taxes?

Answer: Usually your property taxes are just over 1% of the value of the addition.  Most projects have an assess value that is about half of what you spend. This is due to the significant amount of work that qualifies as repair, maintenance or finishes and furnishings. So a $100,000 project may have a $500 property tax increase and a $300,000 project may have a $1,500 property tax increase.

2. How fast can you build a detached accessory dwelling?

Answer: First, you want to think about design and permitting which usually takes a year!  That’s a reality and many people convince themselves their project will go faster. That’s a mistake.
Construction takes six or seven months.  We have built homes much faster, in as little as five weeks, but most of the time you will spend six or seven months.
3. Is the ost of accessory dwelling less than raising the house? (what is a cheaper option- accessory dwelling or raising the house?)
Answer: They usually cost about the same. We recently finished an attached two story addition that was the same size and cost of a detached accessory dwelling and they were almost the same price (just over $300,000).  However either one can be more or less expensive. We can determine this on a site visit.

4. The average cost of building a house in Berkeley.

Answer: Most people spend $350 per square foot if they are building something $1,000 square feet or larger.  Most people spend over $500-$600 per square foot if they are building less than 500 square feet. We can tell you how to manage your costs.

5. Who are you guys and what is this all about?

The Berkeley Community Housing Task Force consists of over a dozen local business leaders who have an interest in helping with the housing crisis, aging in place, first time home buyers, affordable rents and most socially connected and sustainable communities.

6. I have a 2-bed house, what is the best- raise the house or add the accessory dwelling? What is the cost? Am I allowed to have ADU?

Answer: Every home is better with a detached accessory dwelling.  It’s more private, more flexible, you can collect better rents, you feel like you have your own home when living there.

Costs vary, we can share completed project costs.

Yes, you are most likely allowed to have an Accessory Dwelling. The State of California gave you the right to build one!

 

Ashby ADU meeting_27 Ashby ADU meeting_25 Ashby ADU meeting_21 Ashby ADU meeting_13 Ashby ADU meeting_6 Ashby ADU meeting_8

You can sign up and use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

Dennis and Doug’s Income Property

Dennis and Doug are brothers who bought two income properties right next to each other.

The buildings they bought are a few blocks from UC Berkeley and just up the street from the famous Gourmet Ghetto – Berkeley’s restaurant district and the home of Chez Pannisse.

Both properties have ground floor storage and parking that is frankly, just a huge waste of space.

They hired New Avenue to design, permit and build additional apartments on this lower level.

Lower floor will become apartments
Lower floor will become apartments

Sign up to see more example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

A New Custom Home: The Goal “A Home to Grow Old In”

Amy and Tom owned a 743 square foot two bedroom one bath home that was built in 1943.  That’s tiny and it just doesn’t work for all the goals the owners have.

And their goals were clear. When asked what they want they said they want a home for “Growing old in. We want to add a new larger living area with redesigned kitchen, add a bathroom for the second bedroom, enlarge original bathroom to accommodate wheelchair if necessary and convert attic to accommodate 2 home offices.”

The answer in this case was a new modern custom home that we designed and built from the ground up.

El Cerrito is a smaller city just east of San Francisco with an amazing location, easy access to San Francisco. Many of the homes are smaller older cottages that were built very quickly to serve the booming Kaiser Shipyards as they built homes for WWII.  In fact, a few clients have shown us where steel spare parts from the shipyards were used to build the homes themselves!

This is the before picture:
Before Donal

 

This is the new home. It’s twice as big and built to meet the needs of living and working for the next 100 years!
photo 2

Sign up to see more example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

Oakland Welcomes New Avenue with a Gentrification Tag

Aargh…

Well, it looks like lifting a home, restoring it, making it safer with a seismic retrofit and adding an affordable accessory dwelling in the lower floor, remediating lead and asbestos isn’t always appreciated.

Remodel of west oakland bart. Vandalized;(
Remodel of west oakland bart. Vandalized;(

It wasn’t always this nice…

Before Center 2

Sign up to see more example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

What is a Vacation Home

Mountains, beaches or the country, if you’re building a home to getaway to any of these places then we have experience with just that.

We have remodeled and build small beach cottages.  We have created entire Wyoming compounds with a home, barn, and office that can fit 15 people.

Many people dream of a small cottage or cabin in the woods but reality tends to drive these vacation homes to be massive – and quote often two or three times the size of your main home.  This is caused by the goal of inviting guest and those guests may be an entire family or two.  We see many vacation homes that become four bedrooms and three bathrooms and around 3,000 square feet.

Sign up to see more example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

Additions, Remodels and Custom Homes – The 5 Phases of The Design Process

Best Practices in architecture and construction manage a project under five phases that we will review here.  All projects, whether a $5,000 bathroom remodel or a $5 billion dollar stadium have these five phases.

The phases are defined as:

Phase 1 – Program Development: Defining what your goals are, what you want to do, what is in budget and what you are allowed to get permitted by the city or county.

Phase 2 – Schematic Design: The design of the floor plan, layout, exterior drawings called “elevations”

Phase 3 – Design Development: The selection of heating and cooling systems as well as interior design elements such as appliances, materials, furniture, paint etc…

Phase 4 – Construction Documents: The technical “blue prints” and engineering that is needed to get a building permit and build the home.

Phase 5 Construction: Getting bids, hiring a contractor and building the home.

Architecture is critical in all 5 phases.  We usually introduce a contractor at Phase II, Schematic Design as they can provide an estimate at that time.

Design is not a perfect march forward. There will be back and forth and changes to designs and specs all the way through the completion of construction.

You can sign up and use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

 

 

The Right Way to Start a Project: How New Avenue seamlessly brings together owners and architects to start a remodel, addition or new home

At New Avenue, we make it as easy as possible to start your project right.

We have found that just one meeting in your home with an architect is the perfect way to begin.  Architects see things in minutes that many of us will never see!  Design talent, matched with countless hours in a studio during college and thousands of hours more studying other homes in your community makes a difference.

You can get free visits from architects and contractors. They will come by and give you a sales pitch by trying to impress you with their past work while not giving you new design work for free.  We save you time by charging a small fee to justify making the first meeting a working meeting. We don’t make a sales pitch in your home, we come ready to work for you.

Here are our first steps in the New Avenue process. We recommend you follow this process matter who you consider working with:

Step 1: Owners fill out a Goals & Ideas questionnaire on New Avenue.  These questions are based on our experience with thousands of clients and architects and they are designed to get owners thinking about the right

Step 2: Set up a call with New Avenue project manager to discuss the goals & ideas and the New Avenue process. You can tell us a time to call you here.

Step 3: Sign up for a $250 in-home design session. You can sign up on the New Avenue site here.

In this meeting an experienced architect will listen to your goals, share their design ideas, and review zoning and building codes.

We commit to having an architect follow up within a day and we can meet with you within a week.

Step 4: The architect will introduce themselves using your project page.  Here is an example of an introduction:

Hello Rachel & Laura, My name is David. I am a New Avenue partner architect. Your project sounds really exciting! I would like to suggest that we meet at your property so that we can meet, look over the home and discuss your options for design and development. Are you available in the early evening sometime next week? At the moment Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings are open for me. Do one of those dates work for you? David
Another architect said this:
My name is Brad. I’m an Architect with New Avenue. Your project sounds very exciting and I’d love to meet you at your property to hear more about your vision. Do you have any availability to meet next Wednesday between 11AM and 1PM or the following Tuesday also between 11AM and 1PM? I look forward to meeting you.
These messages are posted in a private message on your project timeline
Private Message on Timeline
Step 5: After the meeting you’ll receive a detailed Design Proposal that will list every step in the project, the hours and cost for each step. You can click approve to hire the architect and we automatically provide a design agreement the delivers the industry’s best practices in design, permitting and construction administration.

You can sign up and use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.