Blog Posts

By:
Barry Shaw
June 2, 2013

When Building a House

When building a house, whether it be in Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades or Brentwood, don’t forget to consider the big picture first, regarding the type of ‘business structure’ that will include the design and construction requirements needed.

Past methods of hiring a separate architect and separate general contractor, that inherently could result in ‘disconnections’ causing cost overruns and delays, can likely be avoided with a design-build contract format.

With this system, the Principle of the firm is most often the licensed architect and the licensed general contractor, thus the very important cost, quality and schedule parameters can be monitored on a daily basis, in-house.

Therefore, in lieu of the traditional method of designing plans first and then going out to bid and hoping it will meet a client’s budget (which rarely occurs), we take the overall budget first and then back it into properly designed plans, so that at the end of the job, the cost of construction is ensured.

There are huge advantages for the homeowner if a design-build firm is selected to perform your home addition and the principle of the firm submitting the plans for approval is also both the architect and general contractor of record.

For instance, when the plans are being processed through the many entities of the Los Angeles Building and Zoning Code Departments, quite often ‘on the spot’ decisions are made that have a significant impact on the Project’s costs. When the principle is experienced and licensed in both professions, an intelligent ‘on the spot’ adjustment to the plans can be made with regard to ensuring that the overall budget remains in tact, without sacrificing quality.

Also, successful approvals from Design Review Boards and Public Hearings will result in timely plan processing, thus relieving unwanted client anxiety.

Adjunct to these basic services that an experienced design-build firm will be able to provide, is the feeling of a confident, trusting and fun atmosphere during the process.

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Categories: Home Building
By:
Barry Shaw
June 2, 2013

Barry Shaw, Santa Monica Architect

Barry R. Shaw AIA is a third generation Santa Monica High School grad, who took the path of architecture to new heights. He has combined his design talents with his general contracting expertise, to create a successful Design-Build system for interior, addition and new ground up single family and multifamily residential projects.

He is an alumni of the second ranked school of architecture in the U.S., Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, as well as the first place recipient of the Los Angeles Business Council Beautification award competition, for single family residential projects. In addition, he has been a contributing writer to Professional Builder magazine regarding interior architectural design.

June B. of Santa Monica recently hired Mr. Shaw. She writes, “What people don’t see from the street is your design penchant for light, space, volume and flow. Not until someone has lived in a home over a period of months can they fairly appraise balance between form and function. Now in our new environment for six months, we can honestly say that balance is centric to the architecture”.

Barry Shaw is an astute team player, familiar with the successful processing of plans through the multiple building department requirements, as well as independent design review boards. All of his construction projects include full service on site observation, as your architect and is part of the design-build delivery package. As written by client Bert W., “You [Barry] surveyed our needs without our even knowing it during the meetings prior to drawing the plans, so that your first set of drawings was virtually perfect”.

All of Mr. Shaw’s design plans are value engineered and designed to blend into the neighborhood, while encompassing the unique characteristics of the client’s programmatic requirements.

Member of American Institute of Architects, AIA
CA Architect Lic. No. C22165
HI Architect Lic. No. AR11535
ID Architect Lic. No. AR984674
TX Architect Lic. No. 23590

CA General Contractor Lic. No. B442403
HI General Contractor Lic. No. BC26058
ID General Contractor Lic. No. RCT4418
TX General Contractor/RRP Lic. No. R-I-18942-10-01387

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Categories: Barry Shaw
By:
Barry Shaw
June 2, 2013

Barry Shaw, General Contractor

Barry R. Shaw has been a licensed, practicing general contractor since 1983. He has maintained a flawless State Board record since this inception, along with an A+ surety rating. His multiple building type experience spanning across twelve states, has led to his specialty of Design-Build residential projects.

Unwittingly, some of his Santa Monica High School alumni, would be providing him with an extension of local resources, some with two or three generations of expertise, as part of his design-build package. Thus, response time to the job site is timely and efficient to the construction schedule.

His business philosophy is based on simple, straight forward professional ethics; trust, reliability, value and satisfaction. “We had a simply flawless experience and it is 100% attributable to your skill and experience”, writes client Siri Kay J.

Our open line of communication is extended to our clients via 24/7 availability. In this manner, all design and construction issues are addressed for immediate attention and most importantly, follow up results.

Mr. Shaw’s attention to detail and quality is paramount to the entire construction process. To ensure the continuity of this process, he is on the job coordinating the crews, almost on a daily basis.

The real satisfaction though, is when you see him around town well after the project has been completed and a proud smile of satisfaction is exchanged by contractor and client.

Member of American Institute of Architects, AIA
CA Architect Lic. No. C22165
HI Architect Lic. No. AR11535
ID Architect Lic. No. AR984674
TX Architect Lic. No. 23590

CA General Contractor Lic. No. B442403
HI General Contractor Lic. No. BC26058
ID General Contractor Lic. No. RCT4418
TX General Contractor/RRP Lic. No. R-I-18942-10-01387

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Categories: Barry Shaw
By:
Barry Shaw
June 2, 2013

Family Expansion and Daily Living Considerations When Adding On To Your Home

Space for children, along with their friends, would be an obvious start for consideration.

These bedrooms, closets and bathrooms should be contemplated, designed and articulated with respect to boy/girl sexes not only as youngsters, but teenagers as well (i.e. two young boys sharing a bedroom may be ok initially, but a separate additional bedroom is likely to be needed as each grows up).

Also, a trend that has been developing, is for that same teenager who graduated college out of town to now find their way back into the home, as well as older in-laws who need some special care, seeking refuge in this home. Thus strategic planning in terms of the architectural design layout/location within the home, possibly with a separate outside entrance, insulated walls, handicap bathroom specifications, etc., should be evaluated.

Another trend, but less prevalent, is to utilize space designed as a junior suite, for rental purposes. In this case, the above accommodations along with other considerations such as an additional third car garage (granted that the property can accommodate this), a small independent stack washer/dryer area within the Suite, utility sink/microwave/under counter refrigerator, service area, etc., should be planned for. Depending on site conditions, if a detached two car garage is existing, adding on to this Garage to accommodate an independent Junior Suite space, may be a viable consideration.

Logistics of the family who chooses to live in their home during a two story addition, as well as their personal schedules, must also be considered.

For instance, we are typically on the job at 7:00 a.m. and ready to perform work. On the other hand, the parents and kids are still getting ready for their day, so a request may be given for us to start an hour or more later, thus losing time from the typical day. Sure, we can work later, but with regards to the other Trades that also need to integrate first thing in the morning (i.e. material deliveries), this inherently creates some ‘stand around time’ inefficiencies.

On the other hand, a one story addition can be ‘sectioned off’ from the existing home much easier. This then allows the family to go about their schedule, with much more privacy and our construction crew can go about their schedule with ‘business as usual’.

Another consideration with one or two story, is sound. Because the one story addition is sectioned off, sounds from saws, hammers, people and material being moved around will typically be muffled within the one story addition. With a two story addition, these sounds will likely transmit much more readily, throughout the home.

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Categories: Home Addition
By:
Barry Shaw
June 2, 2013

Home Addition Size Considerations

A one story addition ‘footprint’ will typically be defined by regulations with respect to side yard and rear yard setback dimensions, as well as a percentage of the lot size, along with a bonus percentage (for lots not located in hillside zone or coastal area). Therefore, the larger the property, the more square footage can be added.

If the site has a detached garage, this may affect the size and shape of the one story addition. For instance, typically a ten foot separation is required between the garage and the one story addition, thus possibly impacting the floor plan design of the addition.

Given our above regulations, a two story addition can be up to 75% of the square footage calculated for the total one story addition allowance. As with a one story addition, height and step back considerations are code parameters that would be of planning considerations, during the architectural phase of the Project.

The type of residential zone that the property is located in will dictate the percentages of the above considerations and is the starting point for these evaluations.

A typical family with mom and dad and two kids, will likely covet their backyard spaces, in different ways. Planning for needs such as a BBQ/eating area; pool; half court basketball; maybe soccer space; grass area for the dog; etc. should be considered.

In this case, a second story addition, especially if the lot does not have a lot of depth, would probably be the preferred option for a home expansion. As stated previously, yes it is more expensive than a one story addition, but sometimes there’s not a lot of choice.

Also, master planning this out door space for ‘adult entertaining’, while the kids are young or even when they are no longer at home, should be thought of. For instance, level changes; semi-secluded seating areas; outdoor bars; access to the kitchen; music/sound considerations relative to the neighbors as well; catering and trash capabilities; etc. should be planned out in a landscape architectural design appropriately.

As well, strategic planning/planting of trees; shrubs; flowers; etc. should be visualized for current and future growth in terms of privacy/maintenance/smell/sun screening/visual color/etc. In terms of natural resources, watering requirements/conservation along with the possibilities of home grown herbs/fruits/vegetables and compost recycling, can optimize the outdoor/living environment.

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Categories: Home Addition
By:
Barry Shaw
June 1, 2013

Building Home Addition Structural Costs

Setting aside hillside lots, lets consider a relatively flat piece of property for a moment, when evaluating building a home addition, either going up (adding a second story) or out (staying on one level).
Building a one story home addition onto the rear of the home will take up yard space, thus limiting outdoor play/recreational use, as well as limiting landscaping, pool and gardening abilities. Also, the longitudinal axis of the home will be projected, thus more of a distance to get to the entry door, front yard and parked vehicles. On the other hand, natural light via skylights as well as volume ceilings can be installed though most of the home, creating very pleasant and energy efficient spaces. Also, a one story set of plans can be approved of much faster by the building department and the addition can be built faster.

Building a second story home addition will provide a more ‘compact’ home, without taking up much yard space. Traversing up and down stairs is a consideration, that should be viewed as a long term condition. Logistics of access to the kitchen, garage and outdoor areas, is likely to be a less frequented decision, but will also likely be thought out much better. Architectural plans will take longer to approve of by the Building Department and permit fees a little more costly. Enjoying views that may be available is a big plus, along with first / second floor privacy that can be enhanced.

The structural part of the building will be an important influence to cost. The footings for a one story home addition, given acceptable soil conditions, can be of modest depth, thus less digging and less concrete needed. Also, the framing elements for a one story addition can be of all timber members. The other trades have less of an impact on cost.

On the other hand, the footings for a two story Home addition will be deeper and their will likely be the necessity for ‘pads’, contributing to more labor, concrete and rebar costs. Many framing members will now be of heavy timber, with much heavier connections. Also, it is likely that steel will need to be installed, with certified welded and bolted connections. After removal of the existing roof, there will be electrical circuits, plumbing and hvac considerations to be rerouted, contributing significantly to costs.

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Categories: Home Addition
By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

How The Building Inspector Influences Change Orders

Throughout the construction process, inspections are a requirement for approvals to be obtained, so that the next major phase can then proceed.
Building Inspectors have the power to ‘override’ the Architect’s plans that have already been approved of by the Building Department.
Most of the time, this is within reason, as the site conditions unfold in the field revealing what could not be seen ahead of time by the Building Department or Architect.
In a remodel project for instance, an existing wall that is opened during the project could reveal galvanized pipes, that now need to be replaced with copper; a Plumbing Change Order. Or, old and frayed wiring discovered, thus needing to be replaced with properly sheathed and gauged new electrical wires; an Electrical Change Order.
Site conditions also have their ‘natural’ characteristics to deal with. Lets say an old home is completely demolished and hauled off of the site, making room for a new home to be built. Upon Inspection of the soil that was underneath the home, it’s discovered that some of the areas contain significant pockets of clay. Therefore, this soil needs to be removed; possibly new structural engineering calculations reflecting foundation footing resizing/redesign; import of new good soil; time delays and obviously cost upgrades; Change Orders.
If you would like to know how to prepare for and even avoid some of the many possible Change Order costs, contact us

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By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

How To Pay Home Building Change Order Costs

Change Orders are services (design, engineering and construction) that are outside of and in addition to the Original Contract’s Scope Of Work, for a particular Project.
Most Change Orders occur during construction and consist of material and labor requirements to accomplish a certain Task(s).
Depending on the size and complexity of the work, some of the ways to pay for them are: deposit with balance upon completion of work; deposit with payments as work progresses; no deposit and lump sum payment upon completion of work and possibly a credit or ‘trade off’ against other work of equality in the Original contract.
The above scenarios are assuming the customary ways and means of the General Contractor providing all material and labor needed for the Task. Occasionally, the Owner will for instance purchase specific material and the General Contractor will install it. Either way, the same or similar payment(s) can be made.
For more information on the upside and/or downside associated with the above options, contact us.

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By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

Does The Home Building Contract Contain All The Costs?

There are many different types of contracts for consideration, but for purposes of this short Blog, lets look at some commonalities.

The contract costs are based on the architectural plans and specifications which are based on the Client’s scope of work requests and budget, at the beginning of the process.

Within this world and not withstanding other factors, variations in cost will naturally unfold as part of human nature, no matter how good the intentions are to stick to the plans.

For example, if a self-rimming stainless steel sink is originally selected for the kitchen, but after the granite has already been picked out, fabricated and installed at the site the Homeowner sees that it would look much more appealing to have a Kohler tile-in custom color sink instead, there will be an upgrade in costs.

Or, lets say the master bath has been built inclusive of framing, electrical, drywall and vanity wall mirror, when the homeowner decides that the six-lamp bar sconce, previously designed to run horizontally at the top of the mirror wall, will not be as preferable now as two wall mount sconces, also on the mirror wall. Therefore, the mirror must be replaced; the electrical outlets relocated; and new light fixtures purchased; an upgrade in costs.

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By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

What Part Of the Project Contains The Biggest Costs and How to Control It

A typical Remodel/Addition project will contain a multitude of costs, revolving around material and labor Resources.
Of the two and depending on the type of Project, labor constitutes about twice as much costs as material.
Labor is comprised of both direct labor and Subcontractor labor. For purposes of this short Blog, let’s accept the Subcontractor as mostly inclusive of labor costs (material portion is therefore less intensive).
Direct labor (i.e. finish carpenters) is best utilized in teams/pairs, where the higher paid ‘lead man’ and the ‘assistant helper’ will provide the important resources for this Trade.
Therefore, daily efficiency; a well rounded and complete tool box; along with substantial experience, should yield the most productive outcome, if one other major influence is also provided.
That is supervision and experienced oversight provided by either the General Contractor or on-site Superintendent.
To learn more about how to negotiate, contract with and skillfully supervise a Project, please contact us.

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