When it comes to home remodels, most of our clients come to our Long Beach architecture firm with a general idea and a budget in mind. For example, they want to add a new master suite to their existing home, and they have X amount of dollars for the whole project. We occasionally work with homeowners for whom money is no object, but for most people, it’s important for them to stick to their remodel budget.
When a budget doesn’t quite match the scope of the project the homeowners are envisioning, we often have to get creative. There will probably be some compromising that has to happen on the part of the homeowners, but there may also be some out-of-the-box solutions that an experienced Long Beach architect can employ to save some homeowners some money. We discussed some of them in a previous blog post about square footage thresholds to consider when remodeling, but we wanted to revisit the topic and provide some updates for Long Beach homeowners looking to remodel in the most cost-effective way possible.
Home Remodel vs. New Build
It used to be that as long as you left at least one wall of the house standing, a project could still be considered a “remodel” rather than a “new build.” By keeping it in the remodel category, homeowners could avoid a reassessment of the home for property tax purposes. This could save homeowners a lot of money in the long run.
However, in the last few years, most cities in the Long Beach area have revised this policy. Now, if a remodel impacts more than 50% of the existing home, it is considered a new build. For a new build, not only will the home’s property taxes increase, but the entire home may require a new foundation as well as fire sprinklers throughout. The entire home may also need to be brought up to current energy efficiency standards.
Unfortunately, the 50% rule can get complex, which is why it’s important to have an experienced architect in your corner. In Rossmoor, for example, where our architecture firm does a lot of work, the county has developed a very involved formula that determines how the 50% is calculated. Knowing how to utilize the formula to make sure a remodeling project stays under the 50% threshold is one way Grisafe Architecture can save our clients substantial amounts of money.
What About Building Accessory Dwelling Units in Long Beach?
An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a popular addition to many Long Beach residential properties. An ADU could be a space that is designed to house aging parents (sometimes called a “granny unit” or “mother-in-law unit”) or to be a rental unit to provide some side income. Whatever its purpose, there are some square footage allowances that should definitely be taken into consideration to keep costs down. For a detached ADU on the site of an existing residence, the threshold is typically 750-800 square feet.
Once the ADU goes over the square footage threshold, things like developer fees and sewer capacity fees kick in. To give you a concrete example of this, our Long Beach architecture firm recently worked with homeowners who originally wanted an ADU that went about 50 square feet over the 750-square-foot threshold in their city. If they had gone through with that design, the homeowners would have been charged $3,600 in developer fees and an additional $1,500 in sewer capacity fees just for that small overage. These fees were avoided by making some small changes to the design to keep the size of the ADU under 750 square feet.
What Other Expenses Can Be Triggered in a Long Beach Home Remodeling Project?
There are other fees and added costs that may be incurred when you do a home remodel, but here’s an example of one that would be cost prohibitive for most homeowners:
If a home is in an area that is subject to flooding, such as Belmont Shore, and the proposed remodel impacts more than 50% of the home, the homeowners will be required to raise the entire house above the flood plain. This, of course, would be very costly. However, an experienced Long Beach architect would be able to inform a homeowner of this issue upfront, before they get too deep into the design, and offer alternative solutions.
Hire a Long Beach Architect Who Will Be Your Advocate
Nobody likes surprise costs—especially ones that put you over your allotted budget for a home remodeling project. That’s why, at our Long Beach architecture firm, we make sure to inform you of any known fees or costs that your project may incur while it’s still in the design phase.
If you have a residential remodeling project in mind, contact us as Grisafe Architecture. We can provide you with sound advice and creative design solutions that will keep your project within your budget, while still giving you the home of your dreams!