Author Archives: santacruzarchitect

Vaulted Ceilings: Pros, Cons, and Considerations

In new construction – and occasionally in major remodeling jobs – homeowners are faced with the choice of a standard ceiling height or opening the ceiling to the sloped roofline. This style of architecture is known as a vaulted ceiling or cathedral ceiling. Many people once considered a vaulted ceiling to be luxurious, providing an open, airy, and grand feel in a space. But now opinions are strongly divided, with some homeowners, builders, designers, and others finding the style dated and not energy efficient. So is a vaulted ceiling right for you? Continue reading

Skyscrapers Made of Wood

Construction is a major carbon dioxide emitter, with eight percent of global emissions traceable to the cement industry and another eight percent coming from steel production. Engineers and entrepreneurs are testing out new ways of building things—in terms of both methodology and materials—to make construction more eco-friendly, not to mention cut its costs and provide better spaces for people to work and live in. 3D printed houses are one trend that’s been on the rise for a couple years. Now it seems an equally innovative trend is developing: high-rise buildings made of wood. Continue reading

Building Location, Fire-Rated Construction, and You

Everyone wants to make the most out of their property. Maximizing your open space is the most common approach, and locating your buildings (including accessory structures) as close as possible to your property line is one way to increase the open space between – and thus maximize the usable square footage of – those buildings. However this can come at one fairly big price: fire resistant requirements. This post will explain what has to be fireproofed, what that means, and what that means to you. Continue reading

Vinyl vs. Wood vs. Fiberglass vs. Aluminum Windows

Getting your house some windows but not sure which one to get? Let us help you decide among vinyl, wood, fiberglass and aluminum windows with our gallery of their differences and advantages and see the best fit according to your needs. Picking windows can be a real challenge. If you find yourself in this situation, read on to learn everything you need to know about vinyl, wood, fiberglass, and aluminum windows. Continue reading

What is a Modular Kitchen?

A modular kitchen has huge benefits for many homeowners these days. If you’re thinking of investing in one, but want to understand the pros and cons, look no further! We’ll look at the fascinating history of modular, and all of the benefits and downsides of this type of construction. Continue reading

Homeowner’s Rights to Build Accessory Dwelling Units in California

Over the past few years it’s become much easier for single-family property owners in California to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs, also known as in-law apartments, granny flats or backyard cottages) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs). JADUs are essentially units built within existing structures, e.g., bedrooms with attached bathrooms converted into separate rental units. Prior to 2017, local jurisdictions often used confusing and burdensome permitting requirements to impede ADU/JADU construction. Many towns banned garage conversions, or forced owners to continue residing on converted properties. But statewide ADU/JADU standards enacted over the last five years, coupled with restraints on local control, have fostered a backyard building boom. Continue reading

Slab-on-Grade vs. Crawl Space: Which Foundation System is Best?

Is it better to have a crawlspace or slab-on-grade foundation system? This is a common question among those planning to build or add onto their house. A crawlspace continues to be the more common type of foundation, but slab foundations are becoming increasingly popular. While there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of foundation, the choice ultimately comes down to a combination of personal preference, costs/benefits analysis, short-term vs. long-term advantages, and site-specific conditions accruing to where the new addition or custom home is being built. Continue reading this crawlspace vs. slab comparison to learn which one will best suit your needs. Continue reading

Straw-bale Construction

Straw-bale construction is a building method that uses bales of straw (commonly wheat, rice, rye and oats straw) as structural elements, building insulation, or both. This construction method is commonly used in natural building construction projects. Research has shown that straw-bale construction is a sustainable method of building, from the standpoint of both materials and energy needed for heating and cooling. Advantages of straw-bale construction over conventional building systems include the renewable nature of straw, cost, easy availability, naturally fire-retardant and high insulation value. Continue reading

All You Need to Know About Rainscreens

P1060415

Stopping the rain that gets past the siding. In most cases, the investment in a rainscreen siding installation pays dividends in paint longevity and siding durability.

To lower the risk of wall rot, it’s increasingly seen as sensible to provide a ventilated air gap between the siding material (also known as cladding) and the structural sheathing. As rainscreens become more common, mainstream builders are more often being compelled to ask, “What is a rainscreen? How do I know if I need one?”. This article discusses the most common questions about rainscreen gaps between the siding and sheathing. Continue reading

How to Build your Not-So-Big House

Some are now gearing up to create that long postponed new home or remodel. Yet the lessons of the past several years have left an indelible bent towards frugality in most, and so in our practice we are seeing continuing interest in the Not So Big House. Continue reading