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Bernhard Ave project had a very unique scope of work. The owner, a retired teacher with a limited budget, needed to buy a house that also included a separate rental unit. Here, our design/build services started much earlier and were expanded to include consulting for purchasing a suitable property. We began working with the client very early on and helped her find and buy the right property, which offered two independent living spaces. The property remained affordable even after we remodeled based on the owner’s satisfaction.

The house on Bernhard Ave, bought with our help, had a large lot with access from north and south streets and included two modest size buildings at the north and south end of the lot. The building at the north end was in fair condition so we were able to fix it for habitation first with less expense. The other building, the one on the south end, was however built poorly and badly damaged due to the dry rot and lack of proper exterior framing and foundation decay. Furthermore, we had to deal with numerous challenges during the renovation of the south end house including the failing water-supply lines and substandard electric-supply cable, which made the plumbing and electrical system upgrades quite difficult. Additionally, the failing chimney collapsed during the demolition and rendered the fireplace useless, which in turn compromised the heating source for the living space.

In short, the building on the south end was ramshackle with one bedroom, one bath, and limited plumbing for a small kitchenette. Due to the poor condition of the existing framing, plumbing, and electrical system, the remodeling work could not even begin before addressing these issues. Since framing, plumbing, and electrical upgrades were inevitable, we decided to rethink the layout and reconfigure the bedroom, closet, bathroom, and kitchen while renewing these services.

We relocated the kitchen to the back, to face the backyard, and opened it to a large deck facing the garden and hillside at the north. Inside, a small private hallway leads to the bathroom, bedroom, and front yard. The large living room stayed in its original location on the north side.

The addition of a foyer offered a completely new experience at the south entrance of the house.


We had an additional challenge for the house at the south end. The owner, a retired teacher, and a meditation/yoga instructor desired a living room, which can also function as a meditation studio when needed. Hence, to accommodate that our design allowed light and ventilation from three sides of the living room. The fireplace was moved to the southwest corner of the living room and the wall adjacent to the backyard. Additionally, a large sliding glass door opened the living room/meditation-yoga studio to the backyard patio and garden. At the west wall, a window placed high on the wall was built to allow for the creation of meditation alter below it.

Our main accomplishment on this project was controlling the cost and staying within the main limited budget.

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