San Carlos Accessory Dwelling

In the draft Housing Element, the City of San Carlos will promote the develocraftsman-exteriorpment of second dwelling units (SDU) to increase housing opportunities. Some of the incentives for secondary dwelling units include encouraging local agencies, districts and utility providers to reduce hookup or other fees to facilitate the development of second units.  The City also aims to modify some of the second unit development standards, such as eliminating the 400-foot distance standard currently required between secondary dwelling units.  Another progressive goal for the city is identifying possible sources of funding for secondary dwelling units and “research potential funding sources for remodels of existing homes to create an autonomous second unit within the existing structure”.   The city will also continue to promote the amnesty program to legalize existing unpermitted second units.

Here are a few of the current requirements related to second dwelling units in San Carlos, though we recommend you review the zoning ordinance for the most accurate definition, requirements, variances and exceptions:

  • Attached SDU may be 30% of the home’s square-feet in area up to a 1,200 square-foot maximum. Detached SDU is limited to 640 square-feet maximum.
  • A Detached SDU must have a minimum of five feet from all side and rear lot lines. Detached SDU may be located in the rear one half of the lot and have a second floor element only if located over a detached garage.
  • Maximum height is 15’ unless located over a garage, bringing the height limit to 28’.
  • A tandem parking space may also be used to meet the parking requirement for the second dwelling unit, providing such space will not encumber access to a required parking space for the primary single-unit dwelling

Second units are not allowed if there is another second dwelling unit within 400 feet measured from nearest edge of the lot line of each respective or proposed second dwelling unit. However, the homeowner can obtain a waiver for this restriction.  Two other waivers related to the SDU are for the 5’ setback requirement (only for SDUs created prior to January 1, 2003) and window and door openings.

Verify with the Planning Division to confirm your requirements in your zoning district. Learn more about transforming your home by learning about our process, or contact us today if you are interested in building your own second dwelling unit, carriage house or other home project.

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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.

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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 info@newavenuehomes.com.

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Redwood City Considers Updates to Regulations on In-Law Studios

Redwood City
Redwood City

Redwood City is working hard to make it easier for homeowners to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), encouraging public participation as they consider potential changes to current regulations.   Based on public comment and input from Planning Commission and City Council from recent study sessions, staff is now considering the following recommendations:

  • Allow the ADU parking space to be in the front, side and rear yard or tandem in the driveway
  • Decrease setbacks from 20 feet to 6 feet for one-story units but remain 20 feet for two-story buildings
  • Allow homeowner residency in either the ADU or main house, as opposed to restricting the homeowner to living in the main house only
  • Increasing the height limit to 20 feet for detached units, and maintaining the 2.5-story height limit intact for attached ADUs
  • Increase allowable number of bedrooms from one to two for properties greater than 10,000 square feet
  • 10 percent lot coverage bonus if the ADU is provided as housing for the elderly or individuals with special needs

There will be at least one additional Planning Commission meeting allowing for public comment and any final recommendations will be discussed during a public City Council session.

As the leading expert for accessory dwellings, New Avenue is excited that these discussions are taking place in Redwood City. To learn more, visit at www.redwoodcity.org/adu

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Little Atherton’s Big Housing Market – How Small Homes Strike a Balance

An unincorporated area of San Mateo County, the tiny town of Atherton has a major market for mansions.  In fact, Atherton is Atherton, CAreportedly the most affluent zip code in the nation and is home to Silicon Valley’s tech darlings like Facbook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Google’s Eric Schmidt.  For this reason,  Planning for the required number of housing units has proved especially difficult for this Peninsula community with their limited space for new construction.  By utilizing the expansive lots and existing infrastructure of their single family homes, these accessory dwellings are a practical solution.  Other benefits of these small homes include the valuable opportunity for multigenerational living, supplemental income for owners and affordable housing for renters. Here are a few of the requirements related to accessory dwelling units in Atherton, though you’ll have to  review the municipal code for the most accurate definition, requirements, variances and exceptions:

  • The second unit shall not exceed 1,200 sq ft (doubled in 2010 from previous maximum of 600 sq ft)
  • May enroach into the side and rear yard setbacks by not more than twenty percent of the required setback
  • Maximum height is thirty feet
  • Parking requirements are 1 space per number of bedrooms in second unit

In addition, the owner must occupy either (or both) the main house or second unit.  Verify with the Planning Division to confirm your requirements in your zoning district. Learn more about accessory dwellings by learning about our process, read our client stories or contact us today if you are interested in building your own backyard cottage.

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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.

Chicken Coop or Cottage?

What’s in YOUR backyard?

Do you have an old garden, incessant blackberry bushes, or perhaps a chicken coop?

Chicken Coop
Chicken Coop

Dennis’ mother was happy with their decision and although she wanted a cozy space and a rustic style, even the chickens didn’t care for the coop that had no chance of being repaired.

Formerly a plant dealer and always a green thumb connoisseur, Lisa used the art of gardening to arrange succulents, agave, trees, shrubs, and potted flowering plants along mazy, pebbly paths.

They decided to nest into the luscious landscaping a 600 sf one bedroom, one bathroom, L-shaped small home with a living/kitchen area and a gable roof and loft.  Take a peek at the transformation in action by visiting the client’s story page.  Also, click on the floor plans and loft below for a close-up look at the details of the design.

Loft
Loft
Floor Plans
Floor Plans
Elevations
Elevations

Now Dennis and Lisa have their beautiful new cottage….

El Cerrito Cottage
El Cerrito Cottage

 

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and a great new alarm system:

 

Beware - cute chihuahua
Beware – Super cute chihuahua

Continue reading “Chicken Coop or Cottage?”

Menlo Park addresses Housing by making it easier to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

  Menlo Park took this opportunity to meet their RHNA of 655 dwelling units by concurrently amending their ADU ordinance. Now it’s easier for residents to build a backyard cottage!  Some of the adopted regulations include:

  • Reducing the required interior side setback to five feet
  • A maximum size of 640 square feet but may be built up to 700 square feet to allow access for disabled residents
  • Increasing the maximum height to 17 feet
  • Allowing parking in required front and interior side yards
The ordinance was adopted on May 13, 2014 and became effective on June 13, 2014.  Visit the City of Menlo more information on the revised zoning code, and for a copy of the amendment, click here.  We look forward to seeing more backyard cottages, in-law studios, private home spas, guest houses, music rooms, art studios and more!
erin
Erin’s In-Law Studio photo credit: Scott Kline
New Avenue did a project in Menlo Park not too long ago. Check out Erin’s story.

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Portland Accessory Dwelling Tour


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We’re just back from a great trip to Portland where, we learned that Portlandia is, in fact, a documentary.  They all work 20 hours a week at Starbucks, have chicken coops, ride their bikes all day, everyday.  Or at least, the east side of Portland fits that description.  The west side, we are told, is different.  There are rumoured to be Republicans on that side of town.  It seems doubtful, but none the less, this is about the East Side and more particularly, this great little Accessory Dwelling we visited – Susan’s PDX Cottage.

It’s a beautiful city (in the summer, at least) packed with 100 year old craftsman homes and they are really making accessory dwellings happen.

Susan’s PDX Cottage is a converted garage. Here are several pictures of her little cottage.

That’s owner storage for mostly gardening equipment on the right.

Interestingly,  edgy modern furniture can make a classic old garage exterior really work.

It’s official, SMEG refrigerators are the best looking appliances around: http://www.smegusa.com

You see that little hanging spice rack – that’s a $10 IKEA accessory.

Open shelving really works in small spaces.

One of the squares of Ladd’s Addition – the Portland neighborhood with such a unique layout that it is noticeable from space.

DIY landscaping can save thousands and thousands or even tens of thousands.  

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Universal Design is not just Design for Aging or Design for Independence

The term “Universal Design” and “Design for Aging” are commonly used in the design community, but what does it actually mean? According to MJ Lee, a recent Master’s graduate of San Francisco State University, Design for Aging is the desire to live in one’s home as long as possible – preferably to the end of life – and avoid institutionalization.  AIA (American Institute of Architects) San Francisco’s Design for Aging committee explored this topic at a recent meeting as Lee presented her Master’s research on baby boomers’ intentions for aging in place.  This entailed a survey of 225 adults, ages 50+.

New Avenue helped Mona Cain build her new, comfortable and handicap-accessible backyard home.  Read more about this story by clicking on photo. Photo by Tearsa Joy Hammock / San Francisco Public Press.

When asked of the desire to age in place, 78% of respondents answered yes, which aligned closely with a 2003 AARP study at 80-90%.  However, only 30% of survey respondents made modifications to their homes.  The leading motivator?   To maintain independence and stay in the community.  Home modifications are important in creating a comfortable and safe living space, and boomers should be more proactive in their approach to aging in place.  Examples of such modifications include curb-less showers, hand rails and zero threshold entrances. The most common home modification was the installation of grab bars.  Although not many survey participants made modifications to their homes, a large sample did downsize in terms of footprint.  62% of non-boomers (ages 65+) and 68% of boomers (ages 50-64) lived in dwellings less than 2,500 square feet.  A great example is Mona Cain, who now lives comfortably in a 610-square-foot home in her daughter’s backyard, thanks to New Avenue.  A major implication of Lee’s findings is for designers to emphasize independent lifestyle when promoting home modifications and incorporating universal design.  She would like to expand the cohort group for a further survey to increase the diversity of respondents.  To learn more about this survey and her other research, visit her website. 

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Summer in Southern Ontario (Backyard Cottages Galore!)

I’m just back from a week in Silver Bay, Ontario where I had a great time with family and old friends. Silver Bay is a little bay on Lake Erie south of Toronto and west of Buffalo, NY. I grew up spending summers here and spent time in and around a number of little backyard cottages. There was the bunk house that we used to crash in after sneaking Labatt’s Blue past the parents, the mansion with a “gate house” that I rode past on my way to a summer camp, and the backyard cottage that a friend’s mother built for herself so her kids and grandkids could live in the main home.

While there I took a quick bike ride through some neighboring bays to see how many other small cottages might be tucked in corners or hidden back in wooded lots and hoped to find something worth sharing. I was shocked to see that there were tons of backyard cottages that came in all shapes and sizes.

The bays along Lake Erie’s north coast (yes, a lake can have a coast) has been a part of Canada’s cottage country for over 100 years. Trains used to cut across Canada to get from New York to Buffalo to Detriot, Chicago and beyond. A quick shot across the Canadian side of Lake Erie was the most direct route and since this was before cars were common, people would hop a train and ride 10, 20 or 30 miles, (just far enough to escape the city heat and get away from the belching smoke of the steel mills) then hop off at their stop and walk one mile from the tracks to their cottage. And then they’d stay there for months. It was a summer we’d all dream of: truly off the grid and literally unplugged.

Here are a bunch of the backyard cottages, guest houses and in-law cottages that are tucked away on dirt roads and little firelane’s around Silver Bay, Ontario.

A few old friends enjoying a martini (or two or four) on the deck of their main home.

And the backyard cottage behind where their children currently live.

2 - Jake and Sue Laneway House

This mansion was build over 100 years ago… and came with two great little gate houses that are now perfect little homes.

3 - Mega Mansion

One of two gate houses to that accompany that mega mansion.

4 Gate house 1 of 2 for the mantion - front

The second gate house.  This is just across from the blue one.  5 Gate House 2 of 2 for the mansion

6 Gate House 1 of 2 for the mansion

Here’s a second stone mansion on acres of land.  The little house on the left was truly a carriage house when the original home was built approximately 100 years ago. The carriage house is now it’s own nice little second unit. 7 Carriage House on the left

A close up of the carriage house…8 Carriage House - Now a private home

Another mega “cottage” in the back right that came with a carriage house that is now a perfect little beach front home. 9 Big 100 year old house and carriage house

That little cottage on the right is an old garage that has grown and evolved overtime.  It hosts a small business part time and family the rest of the time.

10 Guest House tucked away behind the main home 11 Guest house tucked away between the street and the main home

This guest house was a big surprise.  It’s tucked away in the woods but it’s an architectural gem and frankly, way nicer than you’d expect in a little bay outside of Buffalo, NY. 13 Guest House Cedar Bay

The side of the Cedar Bay guest house.

14 Guest House Cedar Bay - privacy lattice

The front of the Cedar Bay guest house. This is the front deck that looks out over Lake Erie. 15 Front of Guest House in Cedar Bay

There’s the main house on the left and the little guest house on the right. 16 Cedar Bay Big and Little House

This is standing on the beach looking back.  You can see a bit of the guest house hidden in the trees on the left. 17 Guest house tucked away on th left

This cute little cottage is not all that little, but the red is inspiring.

20 Not a small home.. but looks great

If I was a gambling man, I’d bet that everyone who has stayed here enjoyed profound clarity of thought, deep soul filling happiness and they wrote a novel while there. 22 Stone Guest House

This was once a garage but is now a serving a much more important role in this universe… it hosts poker nights, sleepovers, and rowdy games of eucher. 23 Garage Conversion

I’m really not sure if this is just storage or if it’s a working cottage.  It looks like it has some history to it and hopefully it will have a colorful future too. 24 Guest room… needs a little TLC

25 Squatters

People are often looking for barn doors.  It’s not necessarily an expensive project that has $2,000 custom doors and $700 hardware… there are countless sheds and barns with simple hardware like this shed has…28 Rolling Barn Door - the budget variety It’s not all mansions with carriage houses around here.  There are a number of smaller homes with us regular folk living there.  This little guest house made of reclaimed windows is a great little backyard cottage. 29 DIY guest room

This is neither tiny, nor small, nor a backyard cottage, but it’s such great design that it’s worthy of inclusion here.  30 Huge Porch on a not so small cottage

31 Fireplace

Technically the little detached guest room does qualify as a second unit… 32 Tiny Guest room

33 Tiny Guest Room

When a growing family needed more space they added a second cottage just slightly behind the first one.  It looks quite separate from the street now and they feel like two totally separate homes while only being about eight feet apart. 34 Two little houses 35 Two litle houses 2

Lastly,  this little guy has been hanging around for a while and there never seems to be a summer weekend when it isn’t put to use.  36 This works too!

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