Blog Posts

Barry Shaw
February 21, 2018
LVL vs Steel

Owner’s Advocate – A Resource For Savings

A friend of mine took his car into the shop for work that he knew needed to be performed and was also advised that a ‘check-up’ should be done regarding other parts of the vehicle; he said ok.

A couple days later, a very large estimate was given to him with the explanation that his car needed additional work done and that there was only one way to accomplish this; or was there?

Similar situations can and do occur, in the construction industry with hundreds of options and decisions needed throughout the project.

An Owner’s Advocate, independent Architect, and/or General Contractor who’s fiduciary is directly to the Owner and independent from the Owner’s hired Architect and General Contractor, can provide the Owner with a separate pair of eyes, experience, and options that could benefit the Owner immensely.

For instance, lets say that during the architectural design phase of a new building project, that the engineer designs a structure with steel beams and posts, to achieve an open floor plan effect.

Well, the Owner is not likely experienced to know there is an alterntive to the steel framing. Glue laminate wood beams for instance, will save a significant amount of money and time and still accomplish the clear span request.

The steel structure will require certified welders, cranes to erect and set in place, an additional/different subcontractor and material supplier from the framer, and will require additional carpentry work when integrating with the standard wood framing members.

If the Owner had an independent Advocate/Consultant that provided a well seasoned amount of design and construction experience, he would be advised to explore the above suggested alternative, with the following benefits:

In an average size new two story home project, that we actually just completed, the cost saving differential, from not using steel, would be about: $4,500 in material + $3,000 in initial labor installation + about $2,500 in framing detailing + $1,250 in welder services + $2,500 in crane and erection + about $1,250 in special inspector services, or an additional $15,000!, just in this trade alone (imagine the additional savings available for the other 20 trades in the project!).

Actually not much different either from having an ‘insurance advocate’ on your side, independent of your insurance company and looking out for your best interest exclusively.

If you would like to explore this and other options available for your project, please send us an Inquiry and we’ll get back with you within (24) hours.

Best Always!
Barry R. Shaw AIA, GC

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Barry Shaw
January 24, 2018

Owner Benefits From Paint-Less Building, with Choice of Colors

The exterior of a building can be clad in a multitude of finishes, of which stucco or plaster, has been a choice for many owners, either in whole or part.

Plaster provides a smooth finish, that is reflective of many Modern style homes, while stucco is typically the choice for a Contemporary style home. We have designed both, in Denver, Pacific Palisades, Kailua-Kona, Austin and many other cities with varied architectural designs, climatic conditions and budget considerations.

Plaster is about three times as expensive as stucco, because of additional labor required and material costs as well. Stucco therefore becomes more cost effective and can also come ‘close’ to a plaster finish, depending on the proportion/type of sand that is specified into the mix.

Another valuable ingredient to either a plaster or stucco mix, is an option for color. There are many different manufacturers that offer an array of different color add mixtures, that can compliment the architectural design and other exterior finish materials of the building.

These color packets are typically designed as a 1-4 bag additive to the cement mix. The more packets added, the more ‘rich’ or prominent, the color of the building becomes.

Since the color is now added to the final coat of the plaster or stucco finish, there is no need to paint the building; it already has the color selected for the end result design.

Thus, literally tens of thousands of dollars is saved from having to paint the exterior walls of a building, not only initially but virtually forever! Additional extraneous cost savings include: no painters scaffolding needed during construction, no disruption of landscape that needs to be replaced from ladders and men working to repaint the building every five years or so and no payment for price increases to perform painting maintenance work, for decades to come.
The subject matter of this article was actually a small part of a ‘whole-house’ analysis performed by us, as Consultants to client’s whom were in the design phase with their architects and requested our On-Call Consulting work.

The scope of this work included a thorough analysis of their architectural plans, before submittal to the building department, in terms of suggested cost savings. In this case, the client saved $50,000-$100,000 that was slated to be paid for, during construction.

For more information on how our Consulting Services can benefit you and your project, please tell us about your needs and let us know what type of project you are working on: Online Consulting

Design, Construction and Consulting Services are available for Light Commercial and Residential Projects, throughout the U.S.

Best Regards Always!

Barry R. Shaw, AIA, GC
Barry Shaw & Associates, Inc.
Architects & General Contractors

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Categories: General
Barry Shaw
September 28, 2017

BSA On-Call Consulting

The business structure for design and construction of a new project, whether it be a Custom Home or Commercial building, is typically contracted in one of two ways: the Owner hiring a separate Architect and separate General Contractor, or one entity that is licensed to provide both services, commonly know as a Design-Build company.


in either case, who does the Owner really have, as an independent fiduciary to them only and is a seasoned Resource, looking after their personal interests exclusively and confidentially?

As an example, Barry Shaw & Associates, Inc. is currently retained as an independent Architect and General Contractor Consultant, providing On-Call Consultant services for Homeowners in Santa Monica, CA. The scope of work is a new ground up 5,000 sq. ft. home and detached Studio/Garage.

In one of our initial meetings and before a permit was pulled, just two insightful architecture/construction cost saving suggestions paid for our fee and saved the Owner’s over $20,000 in construction costs, that were slated to be spent.

This was accomplished in a collaborative manner, before plans were submitted to the building department and along with the clients architect, so drawings and specifications could be revised as needed, to optimize the cost effectiveness of future construction trade agreements.

Base Consultant Services Include:

  • Receiving direct-cost Supplier pricing for: quality, environmentally appropriate and virtually maintenance-free materials, that are available from our pool of resources over the past three decades.
  • Optimization of a cohesive team of Subcontractors, whom have proven their ability to provide a timely, cost effective and quality job, with follow-up service as needed, after the project has been completed.
  • Contract Safeguards implemented into trade ‘boiler-plate’ agreements; ensuring additional protection against excessive cost and time overruns within subcontracts.
  • Construction schedule, quality and cost saving alternatives, after review of the plans
  • Cost data cross checking throughout the job, between field work and contracts, averting runaway budget overruns.
  • Conjoining with other team members before and during construction, to provide the Owner with unrealized project benefits

Above Consulting services can be provided remotely and/or on-site and are now available from our Colorado office in the cities of: Denver, Erie, Fort Collins, Vail, Boulder, Aspen and Broomfield, as well as California cities of: Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Westwood and Brentwood.

Adjunct Consulting Services Available Include:

  • Photographic documentation of the construction process
  • Explore/rework alternate floor plan designs for: schedule efficiency, quality and cost optimization
  • Contractor performance resolution during construction
  • Client construction job-walk analysis
  • Owner Special Requests

For more information or discussion on how our Consulting Services could best fit your needs and benefit you, please inquire at our contact page.

Best to you always!
Barry R. Shaw AIA, G.C.
Barry Shaw & Associates, Inc.

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Categories: Barry ShawGeneral
Barry Shaw
August 17, 2016

Inspector Approves Six Trades-In One Day? With the Seventh of Intrinsic Value for…

a new Luxury Home Design-Build project in Westwood, CA, with some of the most stringent and extensive codes in the Nation, that necessitates in-depth Trade coordination; individually and cohesively, throughout the entire construction project.

In this case, BSA Inc. scheduled a six Trade ‘rough-in’ inspection for a single day (Framing/Structural Connections; Electrical; Plumbing; HVAC; Sprinklers and Green Code requirements), admittedly a significant amount of work for an Inspector to scrutinize at one time; with typical expectations of three or so being approved.

These inspections are notably important and what we call ‘Milestones’, of which we passed, allowing us to insulate, drywall and then start finish work.  Months of preparation with multiple material suppliers, subcontractors and our in-house resources, was strategically woven in and out of daily/weekly/monthly schedules, with our close on-site supervision, ensuring quality work as well.

All Trades were building from our Architectural plans produced in our Los Angeles office, which was designed and engineered with our proprietary Design-Build system, yielding a cost effective, quality and timely project.

For example, in the case of a new ground up home, if there was only $1,500/trade of ‘industry standard’ Inspector requests, along with at least a few days for each trade to come back and revise as needed, that would have added about $10,000 in extra costs, a half a month of move-in time extension and over $7,000 in property mortgage/temporary rent expenses; not so for our Client.

But the biggest benefit to the project as a whole, was probably the ‘Seventh’ Trade; the one with no tools; no materials; no trucks and is unseen; it’s the Trade of ‘Positive Psychological Momentum’ that is so important to an ongoing and consistent progression of construction, upholding the project’s initial goals.

Everybody wins and the benefits are realized and enjoyed by all participants: the Homeowner saves time and money and will be able to move in to their new home sooner; the Subs feel a sense of accomplishment and are proud of their work and we feel quite gratified from our achievements, working with City Building Inspectors.

Our New Custom Home design and construction services are available in: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho and Texas.

Best To You Always!

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Categories: Design-Build
Barry Shaw
July 13, 2015

BSA, Inc. Tent Event

We integrated again with one of our favorite charities (A Precious Child), whom assists disadvantaged children and their families, to procure a productive and happy life, in a dignified manner.

This event took place in Denver, Colorado area, not far from our satellite architecture and general contracting office. The venue was a resort golf club and included raffles, auctions and of course a catered lunch. We arranged for participation by a local restauranteur, whom we are consulting with for design and construction services for their remodel and future franchise prototype plans. He was kind enough to provide a delectable assortment of lunch entrees, supplemented by the participation of a champion Iowa smoker/barbecue ‘chef’, that we are friends with and brought in for this event.

The event was held under a heated tent, which provided shelter from light sprinkles, as well as providing an audience of almost (200) the ability to engage with many of the speakers (i.e. retired Denver Nugget star), Sponsors (i.e. Land Rover, Edward Jones Investing, etc.) and bid on an assortment of over (50) items.

We worked alongside our ‘caterers’ for the duration of the event and in the end, hundreds of thousands of dollars were in less than three hours. It was a fun, successful event for all; including of course, children in the near future that will benefit from their ‘silent partners’.

Best always!


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Categories: Community Service
Barry Shaw
April 27, 2015
BSA, Inc. Community Service

BSA, Inc. Community Service

This month Barry Shaw & Associates, Inc. partnered with a Rotary Club near Erie, Colorado, to participate in a segment of the Boulder Valley School District Capital Improvement plan.

About ten of us assisted with reconstruction of the landscaping and upgrades to the school site, at the Alicia Sanchez International School. The days program was guided by
Principal, Doris Candelarie, Ph.D. (seen in photograph with Barry Shaw). The children attending this school come from economically disadvantaged families, thus are not ‘equipped’ with the resources or home environment, that peers at other schools may have.

We feel that One’s environment, whether it be at home, school or work, provides a tangible and/or subliminal atmosphere, that can offer positive influences and be supportive to productive daily outcomes. When children embark onto this schoolyard, their first ‘impression’ when stepping onto the school grounds, are in fact, the grounds themselves.

Therefore, just as the initial entry to a remodeled home provides us with an enriched sense of well being, so does the presence of what these children see, smell and ‘absorb’, on there way to start school in the morning. At the end of the day, an organized, clean, colorful, informative (some of the plants and trees had identification tags on them for educational purposes) and well maintained landscape environment, had been established.

For additional information or inquiries regarding Architecture and General Contracting services, please see: ‘Our Services’ tab, with on-line Consultation at

Best Always!, Barry R. Shaw AIA, G.C.

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Categories: Community Service
Barry Shaw
March 2, 2015

Second Story Addition on (86) Year Old Home-Is It Safe?

Being a Los Angeles home contractor for several decades now, it’s likely that we will be presented with a request to build a second story addition on top of a very old one story home, that will also undergo a major remodel.

Typically a house of this era is built on a ‘raised foundation’, whereby there is a perimeter continuous footing (many times not with rebar in it) and ‘interior’ small concrete piers, supporting posts, girders and the floor joist/subfloor framing.

The raised foundation and framing systems could have been structurally upgraded over the years, but can remain mostly independent from an astute post and beam second story addition design, that we construct as an experienced Los Angeles home contractor, according to the latest seismic codes.

These posts and beams are secured with structural connections, all the way from the roof, down to the new footing pads.  These new pads are engineered with high strength concrete and steel reinforcing bars, that connect to the new post framing members, from specific details incorporated into our architectural home plans.

As a Los Angeles home contractor with an A+ rating, we ensure our Client’s safety, by verifying on the job, that this process is performed correctly. This is accomplished with a licensed Architect or licensed General Contractor from our firm, physically performing on-site observations, verifying that top quality construction methodologies are being implemented in the field.

To learn more about this topic and others that may be of interest to you, please contact us at: 

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Barry Shaw
March 2, 2015

Architect’s Design Contributes to Homeowner’s Savings

Being a Los Angeles Architect for about a quarter of a century now, specializing in home remodel and construction, affords us the insight to not only perfect the vision of our Client’s remodel, but as General Contractors as well, we help to ensure a cost effective project, by the way we design our home remodel plans.

The home addition and/or remodel Scope Of Work that is developed between us and our Client, is processed through our Design-Build system with scrutiny and alternatives, relative to the many different paths that can be taken, with regard to budget conscious design and ultimately construction decisions.

When designing a second story addition onto a home, integrating the functional characteristics and aesthetic qualities, must be sensitively incorporated into the overall budget, as well.

At this point, our Los Angeles remodel Architect now interfaces with our Los Angeles remodel General Contractor, to analyze, refine and implement, the most cost effective design alternatives, into the architectural plans.

We have decades of multi-faced cost data in our files, inclusive of the most current trends, that afford us and our Client’s, with selective specifying for optimization of construction expenditures.

Thus our unique capacity as both a Los Angeles home architect, and Los Angeles home General Contractor, provide our Client’s with significant savings, even before construction has begun.

I recall recently seeing a similar size second story addition being framed just one block from our project, whereby steel beams; steel columns; special Inspector requirements; certified Welders; etc. were needed for construction of this second floor addition.

At the same time, we were constructing our project with all wood and lumber members, at a swifter pace and in my estimation about $18,000 less than the project built with steel.  Both projects obviously meet code, but one is much more cost effective and one is much more timely to construct; the decision and fate of the Homeowner’s budget, lies in the hands of the licensed Architect, who is also the licensed General Contractor, with the combined authority to design and construct a home project, in a cost efficient manner.

To learn more about this topic and others that may be of interest to you, please contact us at:


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Categories: Los Angeles Architect
Barry Shaw
December 22, 2014

Out-Of-State Building, with In-State Team

Haven’t had much time to update my Blog, with out of State projects requiring much coordination time.

Our Design-Build project in Erie, Colorado consisted of a major design and construction remodel to the existing 3,500 sq. ft. single family home, as well as outdoor amenity upgrades inclusive of:
barbecues; landscape design; stereo speakers and new lighting.

The labor and material requirements are similar to a project that is ‘local’ (Los Angeles), but necessitates a different format of ‘flexible structure’.

Since I’m licensed as an Architect and General Contractor in Colorado, we designed and built the home remodel utilizing our Design-Build system, but integrated local subcontractors and material suppliers with our Team, to optimize a timely, cost-effective and quality project.

We used our significant depth of resources, some of which I developed from my early building years in Santa Monica, along with my cabinet maker in Los Angeles; CAD drafting from our Brentwood site; supplier from Pacific Palisades and plumbing distributor from West Los Angeles. After field surveying, designing, specifying and coordinating with the on-site conditions, we had products shipped directly to this Colorado job site, thus our material supplier Team worked simultaneously with our new construction Team, alleviating the time commitment from our job site supervisor and at the same time optimizing the construction schedule.

When it came to finish work requirements, we provided two finish carpenters to further assist with the quality detailing and refinements of this custom home. Additionally, my on-site coordination for eight day periods at a time, provided the necessary alignment for continuation of a cohesive project schedule, with future goals and milestones being established, with subcontractors and material suppliers. Also, my strategic intersection with Building Inspector walk-throughs and obtaining progress Approvals, was influential to the continuous and seamless flow of work from all of the Trades.

Obviously there are many other important considerations, strategies and proactive initiatives that were implemented as well, in order to complete this substantial out-of-State remodel project in just
3 1/2 months, but for the most part, we relied on our considerable experience of designing and building for (32) years, as the foundation to the success of this job.

To learn more about this topic and others that may be of interest to you, please contact us at:

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Categories: Home Building
Barry Shaw
February 26, 2014

Build During Winter Or Wait?

The timing of when remodel construction actually starts is actually one month after submittal of the architectural and engineering plans to the Building Department for a One Story Home Addition, or two months in the case of a Second Story Addition.  Therefore, this ‘readjustment’ time frame within the Design-Build package of services, is actually an opportunity to be utilized, with regard to Homeowner’s who choose to stay in the home and relocate within, as well as for Homeowner’s who choose to move out into a rental unit for the duration of construction.

Obviously rain water and moisture are considerations to be peppered for and abate, during ‘typical’ Winter months. Unfortunately here in Los Angeles, we are part of a CA State drought and not much rain to be concerned about, especially if the Design-Build Project is a One Story Addition. In this case, the openings or connections between the existing home and new One Story Addition/Major Remodel, should be covered with heavy plastic or tarps starting from the eave of one side of the existing house, going over the ridge/highest point of the roof and down the ‘opening’ to the ground, along with extending over the Addition part. Battening down with long wood planks and as few nails as possible, should withstand common wind pressures that could rip up this protective membrane. Simply covering the opening vertically with plastic will not protect the home, as water will find its way into the existing roof framing system and likely traverse down the rafters/ridge and into the house.

On the other hand, a Second Story Home Addition, one of which we are currently building in West Los Angeles, will involve removing much of the existing One Story roof structure, will pose a greater concern to be addressed, but will not negate construction during these months. In this case, there are many more ‘vulnerable’ parts of the existing home that need to be protected such as; the existing wood floor; drywalled walls and existing spaces that may not be part of the overall remodel like the Kitchen.

Mediterranean Second Story Home Addition

In this case, situations could occur where half of the existing roof is totally removed, preface to framing for the Second Story Addition and thus with an impending storm on its way, temporary rafters on a slope (preferably with plywood tacked down over them) and then heavy plastic installed as mentioned above, should shed the majority of rain and protect the existing home.

Also of importance, is the wood/lumber that is installed outside the home (i.e. if on the lawn, layed on top of wood ‘sleepers’), which should be covered with heavy plastic as well, in an effort to reduce the amount of moisture content that will thus be ‘contained’ within the walls of the home during construction. The Code allows a moisture content of 19% already, so additional moisture is certainly unwanted and should be avoided when possible.

Either way, the positive and rewarding result of building during Winter, is the fact that by the time Summer and the Holidays arrive, construction will likely have been completed and you will be living in and enjoying your new One or Two Story Master Suite Addition, Great Room and Remodeled Kitchen, or New Home.

To learn more about the possibilities for your ‘new home’, please contact us at:

Best Always!, Barry R. Shaw AIA, GC

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