Category Archives: Construction-Costs-Today

How to turn your old house into your Dream Home

When it comes to buying a house, what room seals the deal?

It depends on the size of the house. The kitchen is perhaps the most important room in any house. The kitchen in a small house is perhaps the room people focus on the most when they are ready to buy. As you might have noticed, in every party the kitchen is the only room that is always full of people. I am a firm believer that the kitchen needs to be an open, spacious and bright room because you spend a lot of time there with your family.   new-112_opt1

The Master Suite in bigger houses is the room that most people feel should be the main focus when it comes to buying a house. People look for privacy and when there are kids, having a Master Suite helps a lot.

When you have an extra room that can be used as a Family Room, that gives the house some extra points, more so than having a den. A Family Room adds an area where the kids can watch movies or play away from the adults and where the husband with his friends can watch the game and be loud while the rest of the house can be left alone. Continue reading

Are construction code violations a serious matter?

You bet they are…

People call me all the time to ask me about the severity of the changes they made to their properties without permits. There’s no such a thing as a free lunch, people…It is cheaper to hire a consultant to prepare plans for a remodel or addition to your home than to have to pay the fines for construction code violations and deal with the harassment from the City officials after you get caught. They do not like people who try to full them.

To give you examples, let me mention a few:

Non-permitted brand new second story addition: A homeowner thought that because the pitched roof was so steep it gave the house enough head room to have a second story (smaller than the first floor plan, of course), he did not have to bother with the permits. Plus, nobody could see the work being done from outside because all he added to the exterior was a couple of dormers, so he thought he was off the hook. Too bad, he got into a fight with a neighbor and guess what? The neighbor turned him in at the Neighborhood Code Compliance Department. This is what he told me: “All I did was install flooring on a floor structure that was already there!” “I didn’t add anything!” “This is my house and I should be allowed to do whatever I want to it.” The result? A case was filed against his property and he had to pay the fines plus get the permits he didn’t want to pay for to start with.

Complete interior and exterior remodel of a two story house: A homeowner who is a RE agent “didn’t know” he had to get a permit before doing any construction work on his recently purchased property. The changes included: Relocating load bearing walls, reconstruction of balconies, replacement of roof members that were dry rotted, replacement of all the electrical and plumbing¬† fixtures. “Oh, but I didn’t know, I never thought…” The result? Again, a case was filed against the property, etc., etc., etc.

Garage conversion: A homeowner called me outraged because the City was harassing her about taking out a parking space inside her attached garage. What did she do? She built a wall in the middle of the garage and built an office connected to the house through the self closing garage door which connected the house to the garage before. In other words, you had to step down to go into the office (7″ lower) because the office was on the garage slab which is absolutely not allowed by the Fire Department.¬† She complained that she didn’t have to tell anybody what she was doing to her house because she had owned that house for over 20 years. And what does that have to do with anything? You tell me… The result? A case was filed against the property, etc., etc., etc. Continue reading

Where to go for research

There are two main resources for research you can easily get access to: The City and County Building Departments have microfiche documents that you can review to find out more about the property in question.

For instance, at the City of San Diego Building Department, they have a Records Office on the second floor where you can go and do your own research. You have to make an appointment first, so someone can guide you on what you need to do to get the information you are looking for but once you get in, there is a lot you can find out about a property, parcel, neighborhood or even subdivision. They have maps for zoning, sewer and many other disciplines. They have documentation on the different developments in the city, and most important, they give you access to all those documents and even let you make copies of some documents if you follow their guidelines. Continue reading