Cost of a one car garage conversion to an Accessory Dwelling in Oakland, California

In the fall of 2013, a Berkeley scientist and his wife approached us about adding an ADU to their rental property in Oakland.

They own a small bungalow with a one car garage and that garage is used for storage.

Their property has two or three tenants in the main home.  Their goals is to generate rental income for the next 25 to 50 years.  They were struggling to determine if they should remodel or tear down and rebuild the garage.

Like all projects there were site issues.  A big pine tree overshadows the entire backyard, a driveway slopes towards the garage and fills it with water causing rot and mildew problems.  Landscaping and a private patio for the ADU is needed.

We considered three options:

Impractical Option 1 Moving Parking and Converting The Garage to an Office:

Technically, there is the option of adding parking to the Morcom Ave side of your property because then you could build or repair the garage to make it a habitable accessory structure. You are allowed to have a special setback of 0’ from the property line. The special setback criteria require a maximum wall height of 9’ and max roof height of 12’. A special setback accessory structure may not contain a bedroom or a full bath, but an office with a bathroom is allowed. However, you will have to maintain the parking space that is technically in the current garage by creating that on the other side of the home underneath the porch. This idea is impractical due to

New Avenue Inc 36 Panoramic Way Berkeley, CA 94705 phone 510.621.8679

variance fees, construction costs, the architecture of the home and little return over just fixing up the current garage.

Option 2 – A Big Attached Accessory Dwelling Unit with garage below: You may be able to create an addition to your main home by demolishing the current garage and building a new one on the rear of your main home. Then you can add a living room and bedroom above that. The bedroom on the rear could be very much like the home across Normandie with the one car garage and addition above it. This addition can also be designed to be either an Accessory Dwelling Unit or a master suite or both over time. If you were to then convert the lower garage to a living area then you’d end up with a very nice second unit on the back half.

Approximate Budget: $175,000

Option 3: Fixing up the current garage:

Simply fixing up the current garage could entail no permit other than possibly an electrical and plumbing permit to add those utilities to the garage. You would have to maintain a legal interior parking space as well as the correct setbacks from the street. The additional work can range from pouring a “topping slab” on top of the existing concrete, strengthening adding insulation and drywall and improving the electrical. Commonly, people will add a bathroom and kitchenette without a permit in a project like this. Or you can get permits for some utilities such as water, electric and gas for laundry. We may be able to add those utilities by expanding towards the main home and adding space on that side of the garage.

Approximate Budget: Less than $100,000

Limitations:

The controlling factor in determining the allowable floor area of your accessory structure or addition is 40% total lot coverage. At 2,613 square feet, your lot allows for 1,045 square feet of built space. Your home is currently 977 square feet leaving 68 square feet for an addition. But by moving the existing square footage of the garage we can attach that to the main home and build a 2nd floor above it.

Permit Fees & Process (All are estimated)

Option 1 Garage to Office Conversion:

1) Zoning department fees

  1. Pre-application review $450
  2. Variance $2,856

To assess chances of getting a variance approved
“No guarantees”, even if you pay the initial $450

New Avenue Inc 36 Panoramic Way

Berkeley, CA 94704 phone 510.621.8679

2) Building department fees
a. Building review $3,830 See spreadsheet for additional info

Includes school fees, inspection fees, plan check.

  1. Mechanical $200
  2. Electrical $163
  3. Plumbing $200

Option 2 – Attached Accessory Dwelling:

1) Zoning department fees
b. Review without variance ~$1,052

2) Building department fees
c. Building review $3,830

Estimate, see fee schedule Estimate, see fee schedule Estimate, see fee schedule

Section 10.52.58 over the counter “footprint addition”

See spreadsheet for additional info Includes school fees, inspection fees, plan check.

  1. Mechanical $200
  2. Electrical $163
  3. Plumbing $200

Option 3 – Fix Up The Garage:

1) Zoning department fees

  1. Review if adding <10% $450
  2. Or – if jchanging windows $57
  3. Or – no planning/zoning fees if not changing anything exterior.

2) Building department fees d. Building review

$1,800 Estimate based on recent project i. Mechanical $200

ii. Electrical iii. Plumbing

$163 $200

The plans ended up being a small studio and a remodel of the garage.

Section Showing Interior Site Plan Elevations

 

Believe it or not, the owner hand drew his plans and got a permit with those drawings!  It may be worth a shot, but we’ve only done this once in hundreds of projects!

Hand drawn plans - ok for permit The owners hand drawn plans got the permit The owners hand drawn plans - are ok for permits

Finally, the construction budget was just over $80,000 in 2013 . Costs have gone up 50% by 2018 though and will most likely continue.  This is a good reference point for where the money goes.

Oakland Morcom Garage Conversion Construction Budget

Lastly, if you ever wondered what permit fees are, here’s the actual receipt. It’s enough to make your head spin.

 

Reinventing a bungalow into a new modern home in El Cerrito, CA

After - Exterior BestOur clients saw the potential to reinvent their small 1940s bungalow in El Cerrito in a way that would support their work-from-home lifestyle. They wanted a modern, fresh approach to their day-to-day life with side-by-side, private work spaces, and the ability to open or close the connection between the two large offices. The home renovation and addition accommodates their spiritual interests as well with a room solely dedicated to meditation, yoga and tai chi. The creation of a small library near the entrance of the home provides a warm environment for research and leisure reading for this dynamic and creative couple.

 

AfterStreet View The photo above shows the new house next to what used to be it’s mirror image. In order to achieve all the clients’ requests, we kept portions of two sides of the original house and wedged a new, modern, 2-story addition in the middle while also extending the home to the rear. This allowed for a spacious master bedroom suite on the first floor, complete with a wet room and Japanese soaking tub. Integral color cement plaster, natural wood and clear anodized aluminum create an authentic, rich, textural experience. The home offers lots of natural light, high wood ceilings, and a fun indoor/outdoor living experience that maximizes the use of the existing yard. The clients love their new home and hope that the design will raise the aesthetic bar for the neighborhood.

Stair

 

 

Architecture Plans for A New Modern Home in California

This 1,519 square foot two bedroom is totally transforming a little single family home – and creating options for income, children, work, retirement.

Modern Duplex

Section
Section
Section
Section

East Side

South Side
South Side
West Side
West Side
Upper Floor
Upper Floor
Ground Floor
Ground Floor

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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 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!

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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

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$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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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