Should I create an addition, backyard cottage, or remodel?

New Avenue starts every project with our 30 questions. You can skim these questions and answer a few of them in five minutes or you can spend an hour.  We recommend you spend about 15 minutes.

These questions are based on thousands of past client meetings. We also collect feedback during construction changes and figure out what we have to ask early on in the process so we can avoid making the same costly mistakes in the future.

A client recently contacted us with some questions about what to do with their home. They are in their 60s and want to make a long term plan for how to use their home.

Here are a few of our questions and their answers.  Their full design proposal is below too:

Q: What do you want to do?

A: We would like to add a rental unit to our existing two story & 5 bedroom & 3.5 bath home.  We really do not know if we should do an addition or add a cottage/tiny house to the backyard, so we need help.

Q: What are you using this new space for?

A: We would like to rent it out either as a sublet or airbnb for extra income.

Q: If applicable, what is the 25-50 year plan for your project? For example, you may be renting out an inlaw unit and will eventually move in later.

A: We are not really sure. We could move into the new unit eventually.   We are in our 60’s so we hope it’s a 50 year plan. (:-)).

After reviewing all of the answers and questions they submitted in their Goals & Ideas questionnaire on www.newavenuehomes.com, one of our local designers met with them and provide this Design Proposal.

We’re excited that they quickly approved the proposal and design is beginning this summer.

To get this project started the owners:

  1. Filled out the Goals & Ideas survey on Newavenuehomes.com
  2. Set up a call with a New Avenue project admin to review the design/build process
  3. Paid $250 to have a Design Session with a vetted New Avenue designer
  4. Met with the designer
  5. Received a Design Proposal and clicked approve.

You can read or download the Design Proposal here: Cost of Oakland Basement Conversion to Accessory Dwelling Desig

 

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

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

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.

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.

 

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

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.

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

 

1 - Facebook 1

 

IMG_6320

 

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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.

 

Mona’s Backyard Casita – Plans and Progress Shots

This 609 square foot tiny house fits two bedrooms comfortably. The house has level surfaces throughout, radiant floor heating, a living area fan, spray foam insulation in the roof and tile throughout. Universal design elements were incorporated to improve accessibility and comfort for the family.

New Avenue started this project in October 2012 and completed it in February 2014. This time period is everything from idea to the ribbon-cutting.

Simple line rendering
Simple line rendering
Floor Plan
Floor Plan
Small House Roof
Roof Plan
The backyard before everything
The backyard before everything
Framing Construction
Framing Construction
Plywood, Framing Construction
Plywood, Framing Construction
Framing Small House
Framing Construction
Construction - Moisture Wrap
Construction – Moisture Wrap
Radiant Floor Boiler in Framing
Radiant Floor Boiler in Framing
Living Area Preview
Living Area Preview
Small Kitchen
Small Kitchen
Bathroom Sink
Bathroom Sink
Toilet and Shower Pan
Toilet and Shower Pan
Outdoor Shot
Outdoor Shot
The Cottage - Nearly Done
The Cottage – Nearly Done
Along the fence - daylight
Along the fence – daylight
Evening Shot
Evening Shot
Fencing at Night with lighting
Fencing at Night with lighting

New Avenue is a platform that connects homeowners, architects and designers, and contractors in an integrated project delivery experience that makes adding small homes and accessory dwelling units easier. Interested in transforming your home? Check out a newavenuehomes.com.

Santa Cruz Open House of Mid-Construction Backyard Cottage, Saturday July 19th, 12-2pm

Santa Cruz ADU
Cedar custom 1x4" fabricated and rabbited on site

Tour a 1,000 sq.ft. accessory dwelling under construction on Saturday, July 19th from 12-2pm in Santa Cruz.  The drywall just went up, so it’s a perfect time to get a sense of the size and flow of a beautiful ADU, with all the finishes still up to your imagination! Kathleen and John are building this home for Kathleen’s father.  The space has a 2-car garage, loft, full kitchen and lots of storage space for this active couple’s paddle boards, surf boards and bicycles!

New Avenue representatives will beElevations on hand answering any questions you have about our process and how projects like this work.  Feel free to invite your friends and family. Simply click here to RSVP and get the address.

Stay tuned for invitations to more open houses and events like this one. Please call us at 855.563.9283 or email info@newavenuehomes.com with any questions about this project or one you might have in mind for yourself.