Sunnyvale Project Submittal

Sunnyvale has a one-stop project review process set up to expedite the permitting process. It is apparently very popular. This was the line 15 minutes before opening time:

Our project was a master bedroom suite addition. We made it through all the required departments and were approved without having to make any revisions and return later, although it took about 4  hours. Most other cities, for a project of that size, would take 4 to 6 weeks minimum.

Los Altos remodel and addition

First of all, we need a new larger job site sign.... 

The existing entry and stair after finishes removed.

The existing entry and stair after finishes removed.

A rendered view for exploring step and handrail options.

A rendered view for exploring step and handrail options.

The project is a whole house redo inside, replacing all windows and exterior doors, and a small exercise room addition on the second floor.

The project is a whole house redo inside, replacing all windows and exterior doors, and a small exercise room addition on the second floor.

A visit to the steel fabricator

The La Loma project in Los Altos Hills has a custom steel and wood staircase. We recently met at the fabricator's shop, Brian's Welding, to look at the layout.

I was fascinated by the leftover pieces scattered around the shop.

I was fascinated by the leftover pieces scattered around the shop.

The detail drawings we produce for the project.

The detail drawings we produce for the project.

Brian's full size layout on the shop floor. 

Brian's full size layout on the shop floor. 

Checking the details and relationships with Glenn Denis, the contractor.

Checking the details and relationships with Glenn Denis, the contractor.

Fire!

A recent house fire in my neighborhood prompted the writing of this post. 

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Over the years, I've had several projects that were the result of or were needed due to the client's houses burning to various degrees. No matter how the fires started, the extent of damage to the home and disruption to the lives of the families can not be overstated. 

One house caught on fire due to painters' rags selfcombusting. Although only one end of the house burned, the smoke and heat damaged the rest to the point where nothing was salvageable and house was torn down. With the insurance funds, our client had us redesign a new house.  

Another project similarly was due to painters. While the clients were on their honeymoon, the painters they had hired had left drop clothes on top of a floor furnace which came on in the middle of the night. Fortunately, the fire department was on patrol that night, smelled smoke, and finally found the house when the fire was just breaking through the roof. The firemen said the inside of the house had reached over 1000 degrees. The refrigerator was a puddle of plastic on the floor.  All solder joints in pipes had melted loose and the wiring insulation had all burned off. Anything that hadn't been heat or smoke damaged was water damaged from fighting the fire. For this project we were able to strip all finishes to studs which were painted to seal in the smell. The clients chose to go beyond a simple rehab and had us design a much more extensive remodel and addition.  

Walking through a house after a fire is humbling.  The smell is just awful and everything is black.  

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Here's my take away:

  • Smoke detectors: Of course, with fresh batteries. 
  • Insurance: Be realistic with your stated value for the replacement converage due to the higher cost of rebuilding in our area. A current code rider is critical as upgrading will most likely be required and can be costly. 
  • Permits: This can be a biggy. Insurance adjusters will check permit history on houses.  Un-permited work may result in denied coverage.