Award-Winning Green Builder, M.S. Builders, Joins New Avenue; Santa Cruz Project Breaks Ground


New Avenue recently enlisted Marc Susskind’s Company, M.S. Builders to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in Santa Cruz.  The project, a one-level 500 sf dwelling with a 2-car garage, broke ground last month and is already halfway complete, thanks to their management and expertise.

  New Avenue has recently noticed a pent up demand for accessory dwellings throughout the bay area region.

“MS Builders is an excellent addition to the team,” states Kevin Casey, CEO and Founder of New Avenue.  “Their extensive experience with ADUs, custom homes and green building ensures we are delivering a quality product for our client.”

MS Builders is a foundation to finish building team, providing all of the parts from start to finish ensuring that each project is completed in a timely and efficient manner.  They built their clientele entirely word of mouth, having solidified their reputation by treating each project and client with the same respectful approach with a focus on quality, economy and efficiency.

Marc has been building for the past 20 years and has been a licensed general contractor since 2001, the year he founded MS Builders.  MS Builders has received numerous awards, including Fine Homebuilding’s Best New Home, Santa Cruz Straw Bale House, 2012 and four Santa Cruz Green Building Awards for various projects within the City.  MS Builders has been building ADU’s in the City of Santa Cruz since the new ADU ordinance was adopted 10 years ago.

For more information about MS Builders, visit

$1,000 for a “free” salvaged window


Salvaging windows and finding crazy deals on Craigslist can be fun, sustainable and affordable. But salvaged windows can also be costly if they aren’t part of the plan from the very beginning.

In one of our favorite projects for our favorite clients we used several reclaimed windows in a little 120 square foot office.

The windows were cheap and some were free, but there were several changes that occurred that got pricey. This is an example and cautionary tale about how changing something like a window can cause the cost of the work to double or triple. This is due to the increased hours required to make the changes and every hour that a guy is working adds up.

For example, this cool nine pane window could be installed in about four hours. A $65 per hour carpenter adding water proofing, leveling, squaring and attaching it to the walls will add up to a total of $260.

But this office had different windows planned when the walls were built. The original windows were installed and then removed and then new ones installed.

The original plan was to
1) Build the walls
2) Install the windows

But some new salvaged windows were found as the project progressed and the project ended up requiring these steps:
1) Build the walls
2) Install the original windows
3) Find different windows and the superintendent figures out how to make them fit
4) Remove the original windows
5) Rebuild the walls to change the size of the opening
6) Install the newer windows

These changes each required about four hours of work by a carpenter that earns $65 per hour. That’s $260 for each unplanned step #3, #4, #5 and #6. Plus an extra trip to the local hardware store to pick up additional materials. That’s over $1,000 in labor to put in a “free” window.

These are rough numbers to demonstrate a point, but it’s close to the actual costs of making changes like these.

You don’t have to shy away from salvaged windows – but try to find those great windows and put them in your garage before the architect even starts designing the home.   If they are always part of the plan, then you will save a lot of expense and do the environment a favor.    The sooner you can find them the better!