Effective January 1, 2017, local laws regarding Secondary Dwelling Units were superseded. State law now mandates that local jurisdictions ease restrictions and barriers to the permitting and use of what are now referred to as Accessory Dwelling Units (“ADUs”). Continue reading
Most medium and large construction jobs are handled by a general contractor or G.C. The general contractor may be called a builder, building contractor, remodeling contractor, etc. What makes him a “general” contractor is that he enters into a contract with the owner to complete a project and takes full responsibility to get the job done for the bid price. In general, he purchases the materials, hires the tradespeople, and brings in subcontractors to get the work done. The subcontractors are responsible to the general contractor, not to you, the owner. Continue reading
The Power to Plan
Local agencies derive their authority to shape their communities through planning and land use from the “police power.” The source of this power is both the federal and California constitutions. The police power is broad and elastic and entitles cities and counties to take actions to protect the public’s general health, safety, and welfare. However, in most cases local regulations may not conflict with overriding state law.
Local authority to regulate land use can expand to meet the changing conditions or priorities of society. Thus, actions that might not have been thought of as part of the general welfare a century ago (for example, curbing sprawl or promoting affordable housing) can fall within its purview today. Continue reading
Picking the right siding for your house is a delicate balancing act between good looks, durability, maintenance, and affordability. With wood, vinyl, stone, brick, or stucco, you might get only two or three of these. But with fiber cement, a resilient mix of wood pulp and portland cement, you get all four. It’s the only siding that combines the performance of masonry—minimal upkeep; rot-, fire-, and termite-proof; unaffected by wind or cold—with the look of painted wood clapboards, shingles, even stone or brick. Yet fiber cement goes for just a fraction of the cost of these other materials. No wonder nearly 15 percent of new homes—and many TOH TV projects—are clad with the stuff.
All this has happened in just 25 years, since fiber cement was first introduced. Now architects regularly specify the siding because it holds down costs without compromising aesthetics. It’s even accepted for use in many historic districts. Continue reading
Entitlement is approval from governmental agencies to use or develop a parcel of land. Approval may depend on many factors—including the building’s use and size, appearance, historic status, and environmental impact—overseen by separate agencies. The process is especially complex in cities, where land is scarce and land values are high, which makes development a risky proposition. Development means change, and there are many who resist change, often for valid reasons. Opinions are strong. In such challenging circumstances, the most effective tool for gaining approval is a good design. Continue reading
Several factors need to be analyzed and understood understood before design begins: program, site, regulatory and political context, and budget and schedule constraints. By working through these factors with your architect, you not only develop a set of quantified needs, you also begin to give the architect a sense of your values, goals and aspirations. Understanding these deeper, often less quantifiable factors will enable your architect to go beyond the bare satisfaction of need, to design a building—a place—that enriches your life and work. Continue reading
You’ve hired your architect to design a building for you. Whether it’s a new building or a renovation, before the architect puts pen to paper or mouse to pad, there’s a lot of information to gather and assess. The most important decisions are the early ones: what to build, how much to build, where to build. It is crucial that these early decisions be well informed. That’s what the phase known as Pre-Design is for. Let’s look at the essential considerations. Continue reading