The Rose project was a challenging process. There were two dwelling units in need of major repairs. Almost no part of the existing structures were salvageable. So the best solution was to demolish and replace the existing structure with two new dwelling units. But that solution was not possible because the existing structures were built outside of the allowable building setbacks mandated by the City of Berkeley Development Standards. If demolished we could not rebuild the structure in the same footprint and that would cause a significant loss of living space with almost less than 70% of the existing footprints.
In addition, the process of demolition and reconstruction would trigger the approval of the new design by the Use Permit (UP) process, which would take more than a year to complete.
The second best solution would be to gradually demo and rebuild the existing structures, so that was what we did. Starting with a foundation Permit, we have replaced the existing foundations and reinforced them where it was too difficult to replace them.
Then the design build process followed by receiving the permit for framing and structural repair, renovation and reinforcement. In this stage we realized since we cannot increase the floor area of the new living spaces, due to building footprint restriction, we would need to think out of the box. It would be revolutionary to tap into the “the existing forgotten space”, the attic. Attic space in most of the old generation of houses are used as a thermal insulation buffer or as an unofficial storage space. Now we were able to use this hidden and forgotten space to increase the heights and volumes of the rooms and such increase will boost the feeling of the space even when the actual floor area would remain unchanged. The highlight of this creative use of volume and height manifested itself in the remodeling of the smaller dwelling units in the back, with only 360 sq. ft. footprint. The second dwelling unit remodel could provide a decent size living room, a practical kitchen, a well balanced bathroom, and a modest sleeping loft above the kitchen and bathroom ceiling.
The renovation and remodel of the main dwelling unit in front used the same design concept and opened up the attic space into the living/dining room, kitchen, and two bedrooms. Even though there was no increase in the original floor area of the building, experience of the interior spaces were phenomenal. The high vaulted ceiling with generous use of skylight and recessed ceiling lights gave a sense of three-dimensional experience bringing to life the length, width, and depth.
We then wrapped the front building with a deck, porch and patio, which in turn enhanced the experience of indoor/outdoor that was missing in the original house. The final touch was creation of a small off street parking, in front of the house, for an electrical vehicle charging station.
The design and built of Rose project with 2,640.00 sq ft lot area and 1,240.00 sq. ft. total gross floor area provided two comfortable dwelling units in one of the best neighborhoods in berkeley with efficient design and excellent workmanship and with project timeline of less than a year from design to completion of construction.