Author Archives: santacruzarchitect

Is Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (A.D.U.) a Good Investment?

No matter where you live – Santa Cruz, Monterey, the Peninsula, or for that matter anywhere in California- if you are considering building an ADU your first concern will be feasibility: will this project pencil out? In this article we discuss considerations when deciding whether to invest in constructing a rental unit on one’s property.

Is an ADU a Good Investment?
Even with ADUs gaining popularity, the value an ADU adds to a given piece of property is hard to calculate. This can make determining whether an ADU is a “good investment” difficult. You may not know whether it is a good investment until you sell the property (which may be many years down the road.) Determining whether an ADU is a good investment is also going to depend heavily on the investor’s (your) financial situation and goals. Continue reading

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The Connection Between Space and Wellness

As living beings, we are our environment.  Design plays a significant role in human health, and the way that we configure and manipulate elements in a space can mean more to its inhabitants than whether they like the color of the walls, or the texture of the carpet.  On the most basic level certain environmental factors have universal effects on all of us – i.e. daylight & circadian rhythm.  In other cases these environmental factors are very personal and specific, based on our genetic wiring.  Genetics set the stage and the environment activates those genes in different ways.  Continue reading

Paint Primers

What’s the Difference: Primers
Learn what the difference is between latex, oil-based and shellac-based primers and how to choose the right one for the job.

For most paint jobs, both inside and outside the house, latex paint is preferred. Latex emits fewer odors and VOCs than oil-based paint, and it cleans up much more easily. In one area, however, oil-based products still hold their own over latex: primers. With interior applications and exterior spot-priming, there’s another option: shellac-based primers. All three primers can be used under latex topcoats. Choose a primer based on the condition of the substrate to be primed and its location. Before you open the can, though, be sure to prep the surface you’ll be priming. No primer will perform its best if the surface hasn’t been thoroughly scraped, sanded, or otherwise readied for painting. Continue reading

Hiding Ducts in Conditioned Space

Ducts, Furnaces, & Air Handlers Belong Within Conditioned Space
Ducts, furnaces, and air handlers belong inside a house’s conditioned space. The best locations for ducts are insulated basements, sealed crawlspaces, or unvented conditioned attics. If placing ducts in these locations won’t work, they can also be installed in open-web floor trusses (in a two-story house with a centrally located mechanical room) or in some type of soffit, dropped ceiling, or chase. Continue reading

Whole-House Fans vs. Powered Ventilators: What’s the Difference?

Whole-house Fans
A whole-house fan is an attic-mounted fan that exhausts air from a home at night, when the heat of the day has passed and the outdoor temperature has dropped enough to feel comfortable. The main advantage of using a whole-house fan instead of an air conditioner is to save energy. A whole-house fan usually draws between 200w and 700w, in contrast to a central air conditioner, which draws 2000w to 5000w. Continue reading

Resilient Building Design

In recent years, with the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and now Harvey, resiliency has become a “buzz” word. Resiliency branches off from the “sustainability/green” movement and aligns with many aspects in the newest thought process with “regenerative” and living buildings. As we deal with issues of extreme weather and changes to our climate many are realizing that a key survival is to design new buildings and landscapes with resiliency in mind. But what is resiliency and how can we incorporate it into our designs? Continue reading

The Advantages of a Smart House

Smart house technology concept with centralized control of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, security locks and video surveillance, energy savings and efficiency.

So-called smart homes take advantage of automation technology and modern building techniques to give homeowners a new level of control. Smart homes may be built from scratch with automation as a key design goal, or constructed from existing homes during a major renovation. In both cases, smart homes offer several advantages over conventional homes. Continue reading