New Permit Rules for San Leandro Accessory Dwellings Are Coming Soon!

The permit rules in this attachment are important. We have been following the rules and contributing our two cents when possible.

Don’t be deterred.  The picture on the cover is a shed! That’s not what wea are talking about here. Accessory Dwellings are homes.  Many of them are two bedrooms with an upper floor, a large kitchen and all the comforts of any custom home.  So the first pic you will see has got to go!

San Leandro Accessory Dwelling Unit Memorandum_Dec2016

If you are a homeowner, the bottom line is that you have the right to add an accessory dwelling.  Almost everyone should be able to get permits. It will be a process, but it is possible.

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Redwood City is Removing Parking Requirements for Accessory Dwellings

A series of changes are coming up in the Redwood City zoning code.

This PDF lists the currents changes:

Redwood City Accessory Dwellings – PublicNoticePCFeb212017ADU

Most relevant for many homeowners is the easier parking restrictions. You won’t have to pave over a big section of your yard to make parking work.  They are removing the parking requirement entirely for most projects!

If you do need parking, smaller existing spaces are allowed.

You can build a bigger accessory dwelling too.  Increasing from 640 square feet to 700 opens up the possibility of much nicer two bedroom accessory dwellings in Redwood City!

 

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$1,000 for a custom home plan? Heck no! That’ll cost you.

One of our architects recently emailed this to me:

“I lost a commission on a NEW BUILD to a guy who charged a grand!!! Now I made most of my fee back, fixing it, but you wouldn’t believe how often that is the case.”

The key here is that the owner in this story still paid “most” of the original architect’s proposed fee. For the same cost the owner had to endure a painful experience of starting with a defective plan, then figuring out how to fix it during construction.

Every architect has this story.  Very few owners understand it.

The lesson is that a great designer or architect will create a better design, your project will be a much more enjoyable experience, and the time that the architect spends working on your project creates efficiencies that save you money.  Basically, you can’t avoid the work so you might as well hire a professional who knows what he or she is doing!

Eight years ago, I founded New Avenue and at the time I was guilty of misunderstanding the design process.  I had no idea what an architect really did. I fell for the prefab myth that scale and efficiency would save you money. It turns out shipping costs and cranes eliminate any cost benefits of prefab building. Worse than the lack of savings is that you get stuck with the existing design. That is never as good as a truly custom design for the specific site where you are building.

The key is finding a good architect who follows a good process and stays involved start to finish.

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Jacob Bek, a New York City Architect discusses a Hamptons summer house and the cost of firing the architect

Let me tell you a quick story about a recent client of mine, what not to do, and the serious impacts their early decisions had on their dream home.  These clients, let’s call them Jack and Jill (obviously not their real names), purchased a new summer home in an exclusive neighborhood about an hour east of New York City (The Hamptons). The house needed serious work, but the property and location were great (minutes to town and the beach). “Jack and Jill,” both very successful professionals, and at no fault of their own, had never experienced a building project and didn’t understand the process or role of their architect.

“Jack and Jill” first hired a “design architect” to “design” their home renovation project. I put “design architect” in quotations because this individual misrepresented him/herself as an “architect,” was unlicensed, and therefore illegally practicing architecture. Saying nothing to the design, a professional may had advised the clients that they would be happier, and it would be more cost effective, to simply rebuild the home. Regardless, they continued through the design stage with this individual, and then were forced to hire a second “licensed architect” for the limited purpose of permitting. This second architecture firm was not invested in the project and only preformed their limited scope of obtaining the required municipality approvals.

Then with very poor drawings and documentation the project was bid to three contractors. When the bids came back, the lowest was just over one million dollars, and the highest nearly three. This disparity alone tells you there was something very wrong. Without a professional architect guiding the project, controlling the budget and very poor documentation, there was no possible way any contractor could accurately bid on the job. The lowest bid was chosen and the “design architect” claimed he/she could handle overseeing the construction. Needless to say the “design architect” was not qualified and unable to do so; and half way through construction, the entire job site nearly stopped. The first “design architect” disappeared, the second architect only performed the work he/she was contracted to, and the contractor did not know how to proceed. At this point it was nearly two years into the design and construction process. This was when I was called, architect number three.

Constrained by the previous design and the work already preformed onsite, we halted all pertinent site work, quickly triaged the project and design, and were able to get the site moving again in a few weeks. It took a few more months to truly get the project back on track. The cost (emotionally, monetarily and in time) of not having a professional architect guiding the process was high. The project ended up costing nearly twice the initial bid and was delivered over a year late. On the upside, we were still able to work with the contractor and our clients to deliver a home they absolutely love and will continue to enjoy for many years.

Yes, part of why I tell this story is to demonstrate the importance and eventual savings (time, money and headache) an architect can provide throughout the entirety of your project. However, the main reason why I tell this story is to display the role and importance of your architect as an expert, organizer and professional leading your project, regardless of his or her skill as a designer. Of course it is essential to hire an architect based on his or her past work and design sensibility, but it is equally, if not more, important for your architect to be a professional and person you trust. You’re entrusting your architect to not only design your project and oversee the construction team, budget and schedule, but work closely with you to realize your dream. My personal view is that a very good architect will do just that, but a great architect will allow you to discover and deliver a project far beyond what you could ever have envisioned.

Jacob Bek, R.A. LEED AP
jba collective

www.jbacollective.com
info@jbacollective.com

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Legalizing an existing accessory dwelling in-law unit in San Francisco

One of our partner architects, David Locicero recently completed the legalization of an existing in law unit in San Francisco.  The process from start to finish lasted 21 months and cost just over $50,000. This is for an existing in-law apartment that needed to be updated to meet current codes.

Do you wonder:

  • Can I legalize an illegal in-law apartment or accessory dwelling in my home?
  • What permits do you need to legalize an unpermitted apartment in your home?
  • What do building permits cost?
  • How long does it take to get permits?
  • How much does it cost to build or legalize an unpermitted apartment?

 

It’s near impossible to get the answers to these questions from other architects and contractors or neighbors because almost no one has done this. We answers these questions here and this is based on experience, not guesswork!

New Avenue and our network of architects and contractors has more experience than any other company we know of, and we only know of this one project where a typical homeowner legalized an existing in law apartment. We know plenty of unpermitted conversions or additions that can serve as a separate in-law unit.  But we know of just one out of an estimated 30,000-40,000 illegal in laws in San Francisco that was legalized!

Here are the facts about the legalization process:

When did the clients accept the design proposal and hire you: June 2015
When permits were submitted: September 8, 2015 (3 months of design)
When permits were approved: April 2016 (8 months of permit time! Just plan on the same)
Permits: The permit process in San Francisco moves at a glacial pace. Once comments are issued, plans examiners can be very helpful.
Construction started: April 2016
Construction finished:  November 2016 (8 months of construction). However we didn’t get the Certificate of Occupancy until January 2017. Between the holidays, and some confusion among the inspectors, it took us quite a while to get our “CO”. (an additional 2 months of waiting.
# Hours of design time: Approximately 45 hours including responding to plan check comments and construction admin.
We had a very good contractor and very few problems uncovered during construction. The existing conditions were very favorable for minimal design costs.
Other subconsultants needed: Title 24 (Energy Conservation Compliance). I used NRGcompliance.com
Approximate design cost: $5000
Approximate construction cost: $50,000

Total timeline: 21 Months from start to finish.

We can share much more details, copies of the plans, and review your project ideas.  It’s free to call New Avenue if you have any questions.  We offer a $250 design session in your home if you want an assessment of your property.

Here are before and after photos of the living room and bathroom:

sunset inlaw_before_1 sunset inlaw_after_1

Bathroom Before

sunset inlaw_after_3

 

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What Architects Say When Construction Bids Come In

We received the following email from an architect as bids were coming in for one of his projects:

Architect Reaction to Construction Bids

This happens all too often.

There are two ways to counter this surprise:

  1. Study the cost of a nearby project that is of a similar size and scope.
  2. Invite a contractor to provide an estimate and “value engineering” beginning at schematic design. This is before you do the engineering or apply for permits.

To get the costs of a completed project you can’t ask an architect or contractor. They design and build and they do so separately. So they have no way of knowing what the other one is charging.

You can ask us at New Avenue – We are the system that manages payments for the entire project.  It’s free to do so:)

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Custom Wood Doors on Panoramic Way in Berkeley, CA (A historic district)

I’m kind of curious about the kind of doors you’ll find on homes that cost $1,000,000 or more.  Do you get a certain quality that you just don’t see in “average” homes?  Or do you get the same?

We stumbled across a few homes while home shopping in this neighborhood and wow!  What a history of nice custom doors up here. A few of these homes were by famous architects like Julia Morgan, Steilberg, Frank Lloyd Wright.  Others were by lesser known Japanese woodworkers too.

Check out these doors!

This is the side door for a house that cost $750,000. 

754 Panoramic 2

This is the most amazing door of all!

754 Panoramic 1

This was a 1,600,000 house but just a plain old door.  It’s nice but not on par with the home that cost half as much just up the street.

1.63 Panoramic 1

Below is a beautiful door and custom window that matches. But those exterior electrical conduits are a disaster. I get it, you someone had to get the job done cheap.  But let’s do better than that.  This is the side door in a $1,360,000 home.

1.43 Panoramic 4

This is the main door to the $1,630,000 home.

1.43 Panoramic 1

And these are the deck doors from that $1,630,000 home.  Look at that ceiling too!

1.43 Panoramic 2

It seems the cheapest door was on the most expensive home.  Is there a moral to the story?  I guess you don’t have to put in an amazing custom wood door.  But nice doors are so worth it and if you’re spending a million bucks, why not do it right?

 

 

Cost of a basement remodel and a new guest house with roofdeck

The cost of a major basement remodel and guest house is listed in the attached budget below.

This project includes an 899 square foot two story guest house and the remodel of over 1,000 square feet of unfinished basement space into two new apartments.

You can open the link below to see all of the detailed line items in this project. We list the cost of each line item in the project budget.

Oakland Budget

This is the ground floor of the new guest house / accessory dwelling:

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 2.52.14 PM

This is the upper floor of the accessory dwelling including the bridge to the main home and the roof deck:

Accessory Dwelling Second Floor

This is the floor plan of the basement remodel:

Basement Remodel

 

Cost to build a custom home that is 5,000 square feet

This article is part of a series of posts on real project costs.  New Avenue is the leading national design/build system.  Homeowners and contractors enter bids  in our system and send and receive payments for completed work.  Any changes are submitted by the contractor and approved by the owner before the budget changes.  This keeps your project budget transparent, fair and under control.   It’s like PayPal for remodeling and building.  We get a unique ability to collect the complete project costs.  We share these costs to help inform owners, architects and contractors. 

If an owner does not have a team in place, we have a network of proven architects and contractors who are committed to creating homes that make owners healthier, wealthier and happier. 

A custom home is often a once in a lifetime project.  A dream home that is custom designed, permitting and built within two hours of a major city is an entirely different project from a tract home or existing home.

This following budget is for a 5,000 square foot custom home.   This was architect designed and custom built.  The construction costs include every detail needed for the contractor to complete the home. Your project will certainly be different however costs for a home of this quality are comparable outside of any major metro area.

You can download the full budget in the New Avenue system format here:

Country House Budget

Here is a list of the almost 100 line items used to track the progress and pay for work as it is completed.

General Conditions Allowance

Mobilization $ 1,500.00

Sanitary Facilities $ 1,500.00

Dumpsters $ 6,500.00

Progress Cleaning $ 1,000.00

Final Cleaning $ 1,500.00

Project Supervison $ 25,000.00

Shop Drawings & Samples & Mock-Ups $ 4,000.00

Silt Fencing & Erosion Control $ 1,800.00

Sub- total $ 42,800.00

Site Work

Demolition $ 19,500.00

Excavation $ 18,000.00

Backfill & Drainage $ 17,000.00

Rough Grading $ 14,000.00

Rain Gardens $ 9,500.00

Utility Trenching $ 12,000.00 *

Road Cleaning $ 2,500.00

Driveway $ 18,680.00

Tree Clearing $ 1,000.00

Excavate for Retaining Walls and Propane Tank $ 5,000.00

sub-total $ 117,180.00

Concrete and Masonry

Concrete Foundation and Slab $ 55,200.00

Foundation Waterproofing $ 2,100.00

Boulder Wall and trench drain $ 25,000.00

Stone Veneer on Foundation $ 30,800.00

Chimney veneer $ 5,500.00

Front Entry Step $ 2,800.00

Polished Concrete Floor $ 5,000.00

Division 3- sub-total $ 126,400.00

Division 4- Metals

Structural Steel $ 2,500.00

Gutters $ 2,000.00

sub-total $ 4,500.00

Wood and Plastics

Framing Materials $ 55,000.00

Exterior Materials $ 30,000.00

Interior Materials $ 16,500.00

Framing Labor $ 80,000.00

Exterior Labor $ 45,000.00

Interior Labor $ 82,000.00

General Labor $ 8,000.00

Porch /Deck/Railings(allowance) $ 31,500.00

Outdoor Shower $ 3,500.00

sub-total $ 351,500.00

Windows/Doors

Anderson Windows and Exterior Doors $ 43,000.00

Garage Door- (allowance) $ 3,000.00 A

Interior Doors $ 6,500.00

sub-total $ 52,500.00

Thermal and Moisture

Insulation $ 28,000.00

Roof $ 23,600.00

Roof top Snow Melt $ 2,500.00

sub-total $ 54,100.00

Division 8- Finishes

Drywall $ 21,200.00

Exterior Painting $ 20,500.00

Interior Painting $ 28,000.00

Kitchen Counter(allowance) $ 8,500.00

Flooring- Wood $ 29,900.00 A $6.50 per sf for material

Tile Material (allowance) $ 11,000.00

Tile – Install, waterproof, setting(allowance) $ 18,500.00

sub -total $ 137,600.00

Millwork

Kitchen Cabinet (allowance) $ 35,000.00

Bath Cabinets and Counters (allowance) $ 15,000.00

Master Walk-in Closet (allowance) $ 3,000.00

Closets and Shelving (allowance) $ 5,000.00

Bunk Beds and other Cabinets (allowance) $ 7,500.00

Fireplace Surrounds and Related (allowance) $ 3,500.00

Medicine Cabinets (allowance) $ 1,200.00

Stairs $ 19,500.00

Workbench $ 1,500.00

Balcony Rail $ 2,300.00

sub total $ 93,500.00

Specialties

Door, Bath and Cabinet Hardware (allowance) $ 16,750.00

Plumbing Fixtures, Shower Glass and Mirrors(allowance)$ 25,000.00

sub-total $ 41,750.00

Equipment

Appliances(allowance) $ 35,000.00

Generator – 22kw $ 8,500.00

Zero Clearance Fireplace Unit (allowance) $ 8,000.00

Appliance Install $ 3,500.00

sub-total $ 55,000.00

Mechanical

HVAC $ 55,000.00

Plumbing $ 29,000.00

Propane Tank $ 4,300.00

Gas Piping $ 1,200.00

HRV/ERV $ 4,000.00

sub-total $ 93,500.00

Electrical

Electrical Service $ 5,900.00

Electrical Rough in $ 52,800.00

Electrical Fixtures (allowance) $ 20,000.00

Alarm Install (allowance) $ 2,000.00

TV, Data (allowance) $ 25,000.00

sub-total $ 105,700.00

Landscaping

Stone Paths $ 2,530.00

Soil/Seed (allowance) $ 12,000.00

Irrigation(allowance) $ 5,000.00

Stone Dock(allowance) $ 15,000.00

Shore Protection (allowance) $ 35,000.00

Stone Patio $ 5,750.00

Landscape Misc(allowance) $ 10,000.00

sub-total $ 85,280.00

Sub-total $ 1,361,310.00

GC Fee- $ 204,196.50

Total $ 1,565,506.50

 

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3 Essential & Free Tools Every Addition, Remodel or Custom Home Needs: A Design Agreement, Construction Agreement and Budget

Every project needs a Design Agreement, Construction Agreement and Budget.

Owners, architects and contractors use New Avenue’s innovative system to manage projects that cost between $50,000 to over $2,000,000.  Current projects are located from California to New York.  Our software system collects insights throughout the design, permitting and construction process. In one year we see more transactions, proposals, and changes than most most architects and contractors see in a lifetime.   We incorporate those lessons in the industry’s best agreements and budgets and we provide these to you for free.

We are genuinely afraid of any project that does not have a clear agreement and budget in place.  Without this expectations are almost guaranteed to be wrong.  We recommend that every project use these three agreements to set the right expectations and establish a healthy working relationship:

The New Avenue Design Agreement

The New Avenue Construction Agreement

The New Avenue Bid & Budget Form

Every project should use these forms.  Project are easier to manage, more efficient, and more affordable when the team has a clear understanding of the work to do.  The owner, architect and contractor will be happier during the design/build and upon completion.

Following the guidelines set forth in these agreements requires discipline and the New Avenue project management system makes that part easy.

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