Category: Home Construction

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
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
July 16, 2013

Plans and Permits

Except for very minor projects, such as painting, fences not over 6’-0” high and such, building permits are required if a structure is to be enlarged, altered, repaired, improved, etc.
So typically this would involve the design and engineering of plans and specifications by a licensed Architect or licensed Engineer. Upon completion of these documents, they are submitted in person, as an example, to the Los Angeles Department Of Building and Safety for review. Other building departments, such as the City Of Santa Monica, have implemented an electronic submittal process.
Many various departments, including Planning, Zoning, Engineering, etc., are a part of the review and approval requirements.  Therefore, it is most important to have a complete, accurate and professional set of plans drawn up, so that the interrelationships of the many, many different aspects of architectural design and engineering can be transmitted in a clear and precise manner, to the respective Plan Checkers.
For a modest sized project, such as a one story addition of less than 500 square feet, or a significant interior remodel, I prefer to ‘walk the plans through’ these departments and meet with the various Plan Check Engineers ‘over the counter’, one on one.
In this manner, a professional interplay of question and answer, between the licensed Architect of record and the reviewer, can resolve issues in an expeditious manner. We have been quite successful ‘pulling permits’ for a project of this size in one day. This is quite unusual, but again accomplished recently with our plans for a West Los Angeles design and construction job of this size being Approved with issuance of a building permit, in less than one days time. We feel this is a testimonial to our successful Design-Build system that has been developed and refined, over the past (30) years of practice.
For a larger project than in the above example, or one that is in ‘particular locations of concern’ (i.e. Coastal areas) adjunct to the above Agencies would be additional reviews by the Coastal Commission, City Design Review Boards, etc. As was the case with two projects we did in Pacific Palisades, our professional, trustworthy and friendly approach to the various entities we request Approvals from, has benefited our Client’s significantly.
Some of these benefits include: savings from additional filing fees; savings from additional Architect and/or Engineering work; savings in interest paid daily on a building loan; savings in material price increases and savings in temporary housing costs.
To learn more, don’t forget about our new Online Design and Construction Consulting-let us know about your Project questions and within (24) hours you’ll receive professional guidance!
Best Regards Always, Barry R. Shaw AIA, GC

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Barry Shaw
June 2, 2013

License and Bonding of Architects & General Contractors

Architects must first obtain a minimum of (8) years experience graduating an accredited School Of Architecture, such as Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, along with practical full-time work with licensed Architects. This is the minimum requirement in the State Of California to even be eligible to apply for the (42) hour State Board Exams and then upon successful completion, become a licensed Architect.

Other States such as Hawaii, Idaho and Texas have varying tenure requirements. Most States though, also require Architect’s to participate in yearly continuing education courses, which adds greatly to the value of your home design and renovations.

A General Contractor (as I recall from 29 years ago anyway), must have completed (4) years of full time work with another G.C. and then be eligible for a one day exam. Upon successful completion of the exam, Surety Bonding and Workers Compensation requirements need to be met.

Also, the General Contractor’s license number is an authentication of how long he has been practicing, regardless of ‘words’. For instance in California, a G.C. license that starts with a ‘9’ indicates licensure for less than three years or so. On the other hand, a G.C. who’s license number starts with a ‘4’ has been licensed over (26) years. The lower the starting number the more experience you will benefit from.

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