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


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.  


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.


On Clara Drive in Palo Alto, Blome Architecture has completed several projects including a very extensive remodel and addition for Landscape Designer Bonnie Brock. She was interviewed recently by the Palo Alto Weekly about her efforts to reduce water usage in her landscaping projects. The published article focused on the issues of mow & blow gardeners vs a truly integrated approach. 

Here are few pictures of her front yard with her minimal maintenance and neighborhood friendly design.

Check her out at Bonnie Brock Landscape Design

Photo by  Veronica Weber  & The Palo Alto Weekly

Photo by Veronica Weber & The Palo Alto Weekly

Photo by  Veronica Weber  & The Palo Alto Weekly

Photo by Veronica Weber & The Palo Alto Weekly