Transforming problem houses into Dream Homes

Project in Progress: San Francisco Legalization

The project to legalize an existing secondary dwelling at the garage level of a house in San Francisco is getting closer to be completed. The permit was issued in May. So we are three months into construction and it’s starting to look pretty good. This project is being built as part of the City program allowing the legalization of second units.

There was quite a bit of construction required to bring this space into compliance with the current building codes. Like most of these “in-law” “garden apartments” in San Francisco, the space is small (a studio), and providing day lighting is a challenge.

The owner made one change from the design, replacing what was to be a 5-foot wide sliding glass door with a single 3-foot swinging glass door. Her thinking was that any tenants would need some wall space to place furniture. Consequently, the living area is less light than it might be.


The picture above is of the kitchen/living space taken from the sleeping alcove. The door to the right provides access to the back yard. The entrance into the room is to the left of the kitchen. There is one wall cabinet missing. It will go over the range which will be installed just to the left of the contractor’s bench.


This picture is from the kitchen area looking into the sleeping alcove. There is a ledge running along the outside wall to allow for the thickness of the foundations. We had some fun with the running the ledge “waterfall” fashion down to the floor at the door. The exposed column, in the wall between the door and the window, is being left raw and exposed on purpose. We will sand down the paint drips so it has a cleaner appearance.


This photograph is from the living area looking toward the sleeping alcove and the entrance. The door leaning against the wall will be located at the front of the house. The opening just to the right of the uninstalled door is to a closet that is going under existing stairs. The opening to the right of that is into the entry space. The bright construction light explains the strange light and shadows in these photographs.

What I couldn’t photograph was the entry way and the bathroom, both spaces too small and the bathroom had two guys finishing up the painting before they started the tile installation.

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