With a limited San Francisco average home lot width of 25’ and the myriad of restrictions and building codes, it might appear impossible to complete an addition to your home in SF.
Fortunately, many homes built in SF have an unfinished garage or storage level. Maybe you are familiar with this area? The receptacle for; laundry machines, dusty exercise equipment, and the hallowed gear for Burning Man, Camp Mather, or all?
Many homeowners don’t realize that even with low ceilings, uneven floors, and an exposed labyrinth of plumbing and electrical systems, these spaces are usually the quickest and most cost-effective areas to convert into beautiful, finished living rooms. In the design phase, we can lower floors, add windows and doors and reconfigure systems resulting in a new bedroom, bathroom, or even that new requisite Zoom room.
To turn these inhabitable areas into potentially finished usable space, we begin with the initial design phase of our design + build process. Conversations between the homeowner and our design team assess and document what is missing and needed to make the home more suitable for the homeowner.
Is there enough space to make an extra bedroom, office, bathroom, or encompass them all? We begin with programming. After the designer “programs” the area and the budget for the project are considered, it is time to bring in our build team who can determine, at an early stage, not just what is feasible but what makes sense given the programming parameters of the budget, and constructibility.
Access to light, air, and other spaces in the house all factor into the rooms’ layout. The level of effort and difficulty required to achieve the program becomes central. Does it require extensive digging, structural upgrades, or permitting challenges? By knowing how to accomplish the programming requirements within the realities of working within an existing, defined space, the design + build approach creates a unified and complete picture solution for this type of project. For the homeowners, the holistic design + build process fulfills their dreams within the many constraints and considerations early in the process, compared to a design + bid solution where construction feasibility, unforeseen issues, and additional costs do not get discovered until after the design is complete, leading to a much higher rate of project abandonment and frustration.
This type of project has many inherent efficiencies to consider. If we complete this work within the existing exterior walls, the time to get a building permit approved can be months faster than doing an addition. Conveniently, a home’s building systems, what is needed to tie in the new space, usually run through the garage or storage areas to be converted, taking less time and money to access. Also, the impact on the other living areas above or adjacent can remain minimal, meaning less hassle and disruption to daily living routines and less expense by not having to relocate during construction.
All this is not to say that it is easy. Creating useful, desirable space within the confines of an existing building and its systems is always more challenging than building an entire new envelope. That challenge however, is exactly where a design + build approach is most efficient, leaving the homeowner with more time and energy with which to enjoy the results.