Transforming problem houses into Dream Homes

Project in Progress: Berkeley Cottage

Projects are rarely, if ever, perfect from their immediate conception. Some come together quickly. Others take longer. This project in Berkeley is somewhere in between. But it is coming together fairly quickly. We are working within the city’s planning regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The projects need to be less than 750 square feet, and no higher than 14 feet tall.

In this case, because of the limited building area and the owners’ desire for a two story cottage, we have to sink the lower level down into the ground to meet the height limitation. This means that while the cottage won’t be very tall, it will require some shaping of the land to ensure that the lower level has sufficient daylight.

The Berkeley cottage project is coming along. A few weeks ago I shared an early sketch I had made of the cottage. After meeting with the clients and adjusting some other aspects of the design, the cottage is looking much better.

First pass at what this little cottage may look like. Image copyright 2017 David Locicero | architect.

The first pass at what the cottage might look like included a strong horizontal roof. But after talking to the owner, the idea of creating a simple, elegant box was preferred. The other thing in the image above that changed, is the set back of the upper level. We decided to swap a little floor space on the lower (living) level for a little more floor space on the upper (bedroom) level.

We decided to clip the eaves off and go with the idea of an elegant box. This image was produced using Chief Architect. Image copyright 2017 David Locicero

The cottage is getting closer to what we want to see. We will have a canopy over the front door to provide protection from the rain. We will also have sliding exterior shutters on the upper level windows to protect the house from heat gain and provide privacy in the evenings. The lower level windows probably won’t need shutters because they will be shaded by the fence and landscaping. In this illustration you can also see the “window well” which allows us to have bigger windows in the lower level to meet the daylight requirements.

I think I still need to look at the detail for how the top of the walls are made, and determine where the siding starts relative to the ground level. I think it could come down a foot or so. But we’re getting closer!

As soon as we have a design that the owners and I like, I will take it over the the Berkeley planning department and discuss it with them to ensure that I haven’t missed any of their requirements and that they agree with my interpretation of their requirements.

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