How to permit and permit costs of an accessory dwelling vs. an accessory structure in Albany, CA

The Albany Planning Department has a very strict interpretation of an
“accessory building” (that is not a dwelling with a kitchen) and what triggers requiring a permit. Based on a conversation in February 2017, if a storage building (accessory structure) that is less than 120 square feet in size has power or electricity, then Albany requires a permit.

Similarly, if the accessory structure is intended for any use other than storage, Albany requires a permit. A workshop accessory building would require a permit based on the proposed use. This interpretation is unique to Albany.

Re: parking
Parking requirements have been waived as of January 2017.

Re: planning and permit costs:
Because the technician was not forthcoming with what fees would apply, we made some assumptions so that we will have a reasonable amount in the budget to account for potential fees. Our project falls somewhere between an Albany defined “accessory building” and an ADU. We exist in a grey zone which their fee structure does not account for. We think once we have a master plan for development of the back yard, we should sit down with the actual planner to review the project, and the likely phasing of the
project.

At that time we should get a clearer idea of the planning fees.

Again, the building permit fee we estimated was based on a $200,000
construction budget all submitted as a single project. That’s a number we
pulled out of thin air at the counter just to get the technician to commit
to an amount for a building permit.

As we revisit the proposal, do you have drawings of the existing house and
site that might have been prepared for your recent remodel?

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

We know of just one apartment out of an estimated 30,000-40,000 illegal in laws in San Francisco that was legalized! This is the story about that apartment’s legalization process.

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 was an existing and unpermitted in-law apartment that was 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 because very few people have done this. We answers these questions here and this is based on experience, not guesswork!

Our network of architects and contractors collectively have more experience than any other company we know of and we only know of this one project that legalized an unpermitted in-law apartment.  Of course we know plenty of unpermitted apartments.

Here are the facts about the legalization process:

When did the clients accept the design proposal and hire the architect: June 2015
When were permits submitted: September 8, 2015 (3 months of design)
When were permits approved: April 2016 (8 months waiting for permits! you should plan on the same)
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 administration.
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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Cost of a Garage Conversion to an Apartment or Accessory Dwelling Near San Francisco

This garage conversion is just over 25% completed at the time of this article.
The owner of this home is a young recent Berkeley graduate who bought a home near a local BART station.  He can commute to downtown San Francisco in about 30 minutes (when there aren’t BART delays… a big “if”)

Michael plans to rent the home out.  Other clients with projects like this have collected $2,000+ per month and paid off the entire project in 5 years.

This is a tricky project as it is built on the property line. This is allowed when converting an existing space.  The structure that is there will technically remain in order to meet permit requirement however the wood is all rotten and useless so it is just an added challenge that complicates construction and makes building a big more expensive.

The full budget is saved as a pdf file that you can view or download here: Garage Conversion Budget

Photos of the plans follow:

Site Plan - Garage Conversion Elevations - Garage Conversion Floorplan - Garage Conversion

 

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Award winning accessory dwellings, backyard cottages, and in-law units designed and built by New Avenue

Backyard Cottage / Accessory Dwelling for Karen Chapple of UC Berkeley
Backyard Cottage / Accessory Dwelling for Karen Chapple of UC Berkeley

This was our first project, a tiny backyard cottage for a Berkeley professor (the loft is way too small, but that vaulted ceiling is quite nice: https://www.pinterest.com/NewAvenue/karens-cottage-studio-with-a-sleeping-loft/

Modular backyard cottage

A cottage we did with Sunset Magazine
https://www.pinterest.com/NewAvenue/the-new-backyard-cottage-at-sunset-celebration-wee/

Backyard Cottage
Berkeley walkway

A small cottage with a proper sized loft and nice landscaping/entry:
https://www.pinterest.com/NewAvenue/susan-s-cottage-studio-with-upstairs-loft-in-the-e/

Bruce and Nancy's Guest Room, office, storage
Bruce and Nancy’s Guest Room, office, storage

This is an office/guest room with no permitted kitchen (that we know of:)

https://www.pinterest.com/NewAvenue/bruce-and-nancys-pad-in-berkeley-ca/

Judy's Backyard Cottage in Albany, CA
Judy’s Backyard Cottage in Albany, CA

This is a 420 square foot cottage: https://www.pinterest.com/NewAvenue/judys-garden-cottage-downsizing-to-a-backyard-cott/

Our architects can work in any style. These are all in the mid range for costs.  We can show you some luxury projects and more basic projects too.

You can sign up here and I’ll set up a meeting for as early as next week. We can do almost everything remotely too: https://newavenuehomes.com/pricing

Cost to design an accessory dwelling in Albany, CA

As part of New Avenue’s efforts to educate owners and architects about the timeline and costs to design and permit projects, we are sharing this detailed design proposal for an accessory dwelling in Albany, CA.

You can view and download the entire proposal here: Design Proposal Accessory Dwelling Albany

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

Cost of a guest house in Atherton California

New Avenue shares design proposals, construction bids and actual costs so that you – as an owner – can be informed as you begin a project.

We try to educate owners, architects and contractors about the costs of comparable projects so that it is easier for you to manage your projects and create the addition, remodel, custom home of your dreams.

You can view or download the budget to design and permit a guest house in Atherton here: Cost to design and permit a guest house in Atherton

You can view and download the construction bid for this guest house there: Construction Bid Guest House Atherton CA

The plans for the home follow:Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 1.53.03 PM Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 1.53.16 PM Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 1.53.40 PM Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 1.53.46 PM Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 1.53.53 PM Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 1.53.58 PM Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 1.54.07 PM Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 1.54.11 PM

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 to design a basement remodel in Alameda, CA

The design and engineering cost for a full basement remodel, including adding a kitchen and bedrooms is $14,300.

This is for a construction project that is budgeted for $200,000 in construction spend.

The proposal is here: Basement Remodel in Alameda

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How Much Does a Guest House in Mountain View Cost? And How Long Does it Take to Build It?

We recently completed a detached 500 square foot one bedroom guest house in Mountain View, CA.  This project started off as an accessory dwelling with a full kitchen but permitting problems drove us to create a little cottage with a bathroom but no kitchen. A kitchen will easily fit in the corner in the near future, assuming the planning code changes and the owner actually wants a kitchen.

Here is the schedule of this project:

Design Proposal Accepted: October 2014

Permitting Starts: April 2015 (5 monthf of design)

Building Permits Issued: August 2015 (four months of permitting)

Construction Starts: September 2015 (one month of bidding)

Construction Finishes: March 2016 (6 months of building)

The total cost of design, and engineering was just over $10,000.  The construction costs were $216,000.   The total project cost is just over $225,000 for a new 500 square foot living space.

Here are some of the plans:

Site Plan

Exterior Rendering

 

Floor Plan 500 Square Feet

 

Exterior Rendering Rendering of Space - 500

You can review the detailed budget here: Final Budget Mountain View Guest House

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

Cost to design, permit and build a house in a landslide zone in Berkeley

These are the architecture plans and the budget for completing a small backyard home in a landslide zone in Berkeley.

Anyone considering building on a steep lot and especially a landslide zone will get a wide range of potential costs. These costs vary by project and site of course.  This is one point where you can mark down as accurate.  We finished this project.

Frankly, it’s expensive. The full cost of just the excavation, concrete piers and foundation was close to $40,000.

For the full budget including every line item, see the attached pdf at the bottom.

 

This is the site plan for the backyard cottage.

Site Plan

This is the “elevation” of the front of the house.

Elevation (View from the Front)

This is a more detailed floor plan.  Note how much counter space is in this relatively small kitchen.  It’s better to have room to cook than room to watch TV:)

Floor PlanThis shows the 12′ deep concrete piers that had to be drilled, filled with rebar and concrete, then tied into the visible part of the foundation. Concrete PiersConcrete Piers 2

 

Click here for the full budget including architecture, structural engineering, surveyor, soils engineering (geo tech), permits, site work and all construction.

Budget for Completed House in Berkeley Hills

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Benefits of Multigenerational Living

How can seniors remain out of care facilities longer? How can you remain closer to your parents without the expensive cost of finding a home near seniorcarearizonayours? The answer you’re looking for may be a multigenerational dwelling—adding on to your existing home to better accommodate your needs. More people are entering old age than ever before and because of this, multigenerational homes have gained in popularity. As seniors age, they and their families are faced with difficult decisions of how to provide the best care possible. Ideally, seniors would love to remain in their own homes, but there a number of reasons this sometimes isn’t possible. Most commonly money is an issue, waning health, or loved ones living too far away in case of an emergency. The next best option to living alone is living with their children or other immediate family members.

According to “Aging alone in America,” written by NYU professor Eric Klinenberg, one third of older Americans are choosing to remain independent. With medical advancements and healthier lifestyles, living alone is a possibility and living with a family member is not the burden it used to be. As people grow older, living in a familiar place, with those they love, helps alleviate depression or disorientation that can occur in aging facilities. Furthermore, with multigenerational living you can avoid the guilt and long-lasting arguments that frequently occur when parents are forced into homes they do not want to be in. Unlike much of the rest of the world, Americans tend to live separate from their elders. This can often be perceived by older people as pushing them away or not wanting to deal with them. With the recent economy shift, however, young people are commonly staying in their parents’ homes longer and older people are moving back in with their children. How European of us!

Beyond the obvious cost benefits, living at home can help your parents remain healthy, both physically and emotionally, by keeping with a routine. Housekeeping, yard work, and cooking are all forms of physical and mental exercise that patients do not receive in places like assisted living centers. Once people have been retired for quite some time, they often lose the routine that kept them healthy. Doing small things around the house to keep active can help reduce what is called aging atrophy, eventually leading to a greater dependence on those around them. With your parents in a suite attached to your house, they can perform the cleaning duties or homecare activities you might not have time to do yourself. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Lastly, living in a familiar place allows seniors to more easily control their environments. The house can be as clean as they like and they are able to decide which people they want to see, if any. At facilities, residents are required to see nurses, other residents, and sometimes other residents’ families. As always, if your loved one begins to require too much care to healthily live with, you should look into home-health services or other living options. Aging can often be a time of making major decisions, but keeping parents close can hopefully alleviate some of that stress.

Jacob Edward is the manager of both Prime Medical Alert and Senior Planning in Phoenix, Arizona. Prime Medical Alert allows seniors to stay in their homes longer and is one of the leading suppliers of Arizona medical alerts. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys dining out and supporting his alma mater Arizona State’s Sun Devil sports teams. Jacob lives in Tempe, Arizona.