5 Kitchen Remodel Ideas That Pay Off

Kitchens are a place of sustenance and sociability. Food, family, and friends mingle to create a winning combination. So it makes perfect sense that remodels are so often geared toward the kitchen. What about thinking of your kitchen in the long-term sense, in terms of investment and return? Will your kitchen remodel projects be a positive contribution to your home’s value or will they erode that value? Continue reading

A Step-by-Step Guide for Building Your Custom Home

You know you want to build your dream house, but don’t know how to begin? It can seem like a daunting task to build a custom home. And admittedly, it is complicated. This 3-part checklist is aimed at getting you on the right track and providing an overview of the process. Continue reading

Five Best Design Practices for Small Homes and ADUs

Over the years our architectural practice has worked out some best design practices for the design of small homes and accessory units, as well as the design choices that should be avoided. You can benefit from our experience. Here’s a list of common design mistakes people make when planning their Not So Big House or accessory dwelling unit. Continue reading

What is the Heat Island Effect?

Urban Heat IslandsAs urban areas develop, changes occur in their landscape. Buildings, roads, and other infrastructure replace open land and vegetation. Surfaces that were once permeable and moist become impermeable and dry. These changes cause urban regions to become warmer than their rural surroundings, forming an “island” of higher temperatures in the landscape. Continue reading

How China Built an Emergency Hospital in Just 10 days

Huoshenshan HospitaOn 2 February 2020 China opened an emergency hospital set up specifically to tackle the novel coronavirus. The emergency specialty field hospital constructed from 23 January 2020 to 2 February 2020, taking only 10 days to construct. Continue reading

City of Santa Cruz Enacts Prohibition of Natural Gas

cities prohibiting natural gasThe city council in Santa Cruz voted unanimously on March 24 to prohibit gas hookups in most new buildings, bringing the total number of California building gas bans and electrification codes to thirty.

The ordinance, which aims to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, stresses Santa Cruz’s vulnerability to both sea-level rise and wildfires. Santa Cruz’s reach code incorporates parts of gas ban reach codes previously implemented in places like Berkeley and San Jose. Continue reading

Healthy Buildings

Can indoor building features such as ventilation, pollutant-reduction, and lighting influence our thinking, behavior and health? New research suggests a big “yes.” According to latest research, environmental factors within your building — the degree or type of ventilation, airborne contaminants, lighting and noise levels, for example — can play a significant role in how good or bad you feel, and even how well you think. Continue reading

Slab-on-Grade or Crawl Space: Which Foundation is Best for You?

Until recently, crawl space foundations were the favored type of foundation, but in recent years slab foundations have become increasingly popular. While there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of foundation, the choice ultimately comes down to a combination of personal preference plus site-specific considerations regarding where the home is being built. Continue reading

Windows 101: Know What You’re Getting Before You Buy

What To Look For in Buying a Window
Buying a window takes far more research than buying a sofa. That’s because windows are a complex commodity. A window is meant keep you comfortable and dry while offering a nice breeze now and then. At the same time it needs to withstand the harshness of the outside environment while keeping the inside as pleasant as can be. And it needs to do all this as efficiently and as cost effectively as possible. Continue reading

Bamboo Flooring: Pros and Cons

Is Bamboo Flooring Right for You?
As a flooring material, bamboo has many of the same benefits and drawbacks of hardwood flooring. Like wood flooring, bamboo is an attractive natural material that generally adds real estate value to a home. While the bamboo plant is a type of grass, not a tree, bamboo flooring behaves much like wood flooring—it can even be refinished in the same way. Bamboo is every bit as hard as most hardwoods and is slightly more water-resistant. But like wood, bamboo can be scratched, and it is prone to cracking in conditions where humidity levels swing dramatically. Continue reading