architecture blog

Recent Articles Published Featuring Modative

Posted by Krystal Navar on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 @ 07:03 AM

Modative has been featured in a couple of recent articles: one in the Los Angeles Business Journal and another in Architect Magazine. Yay us! Check them out below. 

Published February 23, the Los Angeles Business Journal's cover story, "Tight Market", looks at the design challenges of small lot homes. (To learn more about the Small Lot Subdivision ordinance, download our handy guide and information packet.)

LA_Business_Journal_Cover_Story

Modative featured in Los Angeles Business Journal cover story titled "Tight Market".

LA_Business_Journal_Small_Lot

Christian Návar in front of the Fay 3x Homes, designed and built by Modative. Fay 2x Homes and Fay Phase III are visible in the background.

 

Posted February 1 to Architect Magazine's website, an article titled "Time Management" looks at the techniques managers employ to stay organized. Christian Návar, principal and co-founder of Modative, speaks about the processes in place at Modative to encourage employees to work efficiently. 

Architect_Magazine_Modative_Navar

Exerpt of Architect Magazine article titled "Time Management", for which Modative was interviewed.

Tags: los angeles architects, Modern Design, real estate, Architectual Practice, AIA, construction, Development

2014 Modative Year in Review

Posted by Krystal Navar on Wed, Jan 7, 2015 @ 06:01 AM

2014 was an eventful year for Modative. Two projects were completed, construction began on six projects (two of which are Modative Build projects), and five projects are currently in the entitlement process. 2014 also saw the birth of Modative founders’ third company: Modative Development. 2015 is going to be a big year!

01: Bento Box almost Complete

Construction continues for Modative Build at our West-Hollywood-adjacent, 5-home small lot subdivision project. This week, we are applying the 3-coat stucco and continuting with interior finishes. Construction is slated to be complete the first quarter of 2015. 

Los Angeles Modern Homes

Rendered view from corner of Romaine and Crescent Heights

Bento Box Small Lot Subdivision

Cement board siding visible through the scaffolding

Hollywood Hills Modern Architecture

View of the Hollywood Hills from the roof of Home 1

West Hollywood Modern Architecture

Marble running bond tile installation in master bathroom

02: Roberts Ave under Construction

As you may have read in a past blog post, construction began on this 3,600 square foot single-family home in Culver City in 2012 then stopped after the slab was poured. But, in 2014, it went vertical. It is now fully framed and is scheduled to be finished the second quarter of 2015.

Culver CIty Modern Home

Rendered view

Modern House Architect

Home during framing stage of construction

Culver City Modern Architects

Wall of glazing at second floor living level

03: Fay Ave Phase III Complete

This project has been in our office in one form or another for nearly 7 years. It was originally conceived as a 7-home small lot subdivision project. Due to delays caused by a down economy, it was built in 3 separate stages. The third and final phase was completed in October of 2014. All phases were constructed by Modative Build.

Fay Ave Small Lot Subdivision

Rendered view of the front unit of Phase III

Art District Dwellings Modern

Photo of completed front unit (check out how closely it resembles the rendering)

Modern Kitchen Architect

Kitchen and living room

Los Angeles Modern Yard Architect

Covered outdoor living room and backyard of front unit

04: Cardiff Cubes Construction

This 3-home small lot subdivision in Palms, a stone's throw from downtown Culver City, began construction around the same time as our Bento Box project. We're in a friendly race to see which project will finish first. 

Los Angeles Small Lot Culver City

Rendering of street view

Palms Small Lot Construction

Framing stage (like the Bento Box project, it is four stories tall)

05: Formosa Fusion under Construction

This 10-home small lot subdivision project is located just northwest of La Brea and Melrose and began construction in December of 2014.

Small Lot Community Architect

Rendering

Small Lot Foundation Construction

Footings and formwork

06: Hangar Homes Construction 

Modative Build began construcion on this 4-home small lot subdivision project in December of 2014. These homes are located just north of Santa Monica Airport on Ocean Park Blvd. and took inspiration from the aircraft hangars once located nearby.

Los Angeles Small Lot Santa Monica

Rendered View

Ocean Park Modative Build

Photo at twilight after demo and grading

07: Pettis Ave Complete

This 2,400 square foot single-family residence, located in Mountain View, CA, was completed in March of 2014. This home sold for $2.35 million.

Single Family Modern Architecture

Rendering of street view

Mountain View Modern Architecture

Photo of completed street view*

Modern Residential Architecture Pettis

Photo of rear view and backyard*

Bay Area Modern Home

Photo from master bedroom*

*Listing photos courtesy of Rob Mibach of Intero Real Estate Services

08: Strata Homes Construction

This 10-home small lot subdivision project is located in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles on Yosemite Dr. and takes its inspiration from the nearby Eagle Rock rock formation.

Los Angeles Small Lot Architecture

Rendered view from street

Eagle Rock Small Lot Subdivision

Footing formwork for Homes 5-10

09: Foothill Blvd Live + Work Zone Change Approved

Foothill Blvd. Live + Work is a 6-home subdivision in Cupertino. Our application for a zone change was approved in Septemeber 2014, changing the existing Commercial zoning to Commercial and Residential. This allows the current abandoned gas station to be redeveloped into six homes with office spaces facing Foothill Blvd. We submitted for permit at the end of 2014 and construction is expected to begin in 2015. 

Cupertino Modern Home Architect

Rendered view from Foothill Blvd.

10: New Projects in 2014

a. Alvarado is a 46-home project in Palm Springs, CA currently in Planning-approval stages.

Palm Springs Modern Architecture 

Rendered view from North Palm Canyon Drive

b. Hyperion is a 8-home small lot subdivision project in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. It is also currenly in Planning-approval stages.

Los Angeles Modern Home Architect

Rendered view of street elevation

c. Ave 57 Art Walk Homes is Modative Develop's first project! It is a 5-home small lot subdivision project in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles and is in the early stages of design.

Highland Park Small Lot Developer 

Early Site Plan

d. Edinburgh is a 8-home small lot subdivision project is just northwest of Fairfax and Melrose. It is in early design stages.

Los Angeles MidCity Small Lot

Early Site Plan

e. Flores is an 11-home small lot subdivision project is located southeast of La Cienega and Beverly. It is also in the early stages of design.

Beverly Center House Architecture

An early collage expressing the design intent for the internal driveway / courtyard

11 Staff Updates

a. Both Katherine Costa and Krystal Návar earned their Real Estate Sales Person License in 2014. Do I sense a fourth Modative company in the near future?

Modative Real Estate Sales Person

b. Modative began a Health + Wellness program in 2014, which encourages employees to live healthier lives by incentivising physical and mental respites throughout the week. 

Modative Health Wellness Baldwin Hills

Photo from group outing to climb the Baldwin Hills stairs

c. Modative also began an Education program to encourage well-rounded professional development in employees. A stipend is granted to each employee to be used that year toward a personally valuable and professionally enriching activity.

Spanish Eduction Architect LA

One employee used her fund to purchase Rosetta Stone Spanish for the office

d. Summer, our Office Manager, and Jesus, a Project Manager, became engaged at the end of 2014. How exciting is that?!

Jesus Summer Architecture Modative Love

I mean, seriously. How cute! 

e. Modative Development, Inc., the third company from Derek + Christian, was born in 2014. 

Los Angeles Small Lot Developer

Modative Development logo

f. Modative and Modative Build hired six people in 2014. Brad Benefield and Steve Knight were brought on with Modative Build. Alan Dana was hired to project manage for Modative. Kenny Lee and Deborah O'Connell came on board as interns for Modative. And Stephanie Garcia was hired to assist Summer with office management duties.

Modative Build Happy Employees

From left to right: Brad Benefield and Steve Knight of Modative Build

Modative Happy Employees

From left to right: Kenny Lee, Alan Dana, and Stephanie Garcia of Modative (Deborah O'Connell not pictured)

Tags: Residential, Development, Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, Modern Design, construction

Modative in LA Planning Newsletter

Posted by Krystal Navar on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 @ 06:12 AM

During a recent trip to City Hall, I stumbled upon pLAnning, the quarterly newsletter of the LA City Planning Department. In this edition, Simon Pastucha, a City Planner with the Urban Design Studio, presents the City’s newly-issued Citywide Design Guidelines and Small Lot Design Guidelines. Both of the images included in the article are of Modative projects: The Cullen Street Art District Homes + Artis @ Echo Park!  

Modative contributed project images and participated in review sessions for the creation of the Small Lot Design Guidelines. In fact, both Cullen and Artis were featured on the cover. We are proud that two of our projects have been selected by the Urban Design Studio as being representative of thoughtfully-designed projects that contribute to the urban fabric of Los Angeles.

LA City Planning Newsletter Cullen Modative

Cullen on the front page of the newsletter 

LA City Planning Newsletter Artis Modative

Artis on the back page of the newsletter 

Modative has created our own Small Lot Subdivision Guide, a "how-to" for developers interested in Small Lot Subdivision. Check it out and contact us with any questions.

Tags: Residential, Development, Small Lot Subdivision, Modern Design, Housing, architecture resources, real estate, los angeles architects

Phasing a Future Small Lot Subdivision: The Fay 3X Homes

Posted by Michael Scott on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 @ 18:07 PM

As we started design work on phase two of the Fay Ave project earlier this year, we had to keep in mind that the project’s overall mission was still the same: affordable, interesting, modern housing that pencils out as rental apartments or for-sale Small Lot Subdivision homes.  

Keeping that in mind, whenever we start a new project, we like to take a fresh look at things. This is no different for a phased project. So, we hit the ground running, establishing the following new project goals.

  • Decrease the number of phases from four to three in order to reduce the nuisance of construction for the neighbors and take advantage of economies of scale in construction pricing.

  • Incorporate improvements from feedback received from potential end users (the tenants of phase one) and subcontractors.

  • Retain ideas and elements that were successful from the first phase.

Modern Apartment Site Plan Los Angeles

One of the best things about a phased development is that we were able to analyze and learn from round one (Fay 2X Homes) and incorporate the new knowledge into phase two. Outside of internally looking at the project through a critical eye, we also received feedback from potential renters of the first phase. The Developer and Modative both talked openly with prospective tenants about what they liked and, more importantly, would like to see improved. The responses were overwhelmingly positive, but  as problem solvers, we focused on the areas needing improvement. Slightly larger bedrooms, increased storage, more yard space, and a master suite topped the list of most-desired improvements.

For us, the project working in a spreadsheet is just as important as it working in architectural plans. Phase two wasn’t going to happen if it didn’t make financial sense.

To keep costs down, we knew that we only wanted to add square footage where we needed it. Most of the spacial concerns were in the private rooms, so we knew that the additional area should be on the second floor. We accomplished this by cantilevering above (front unit) and bridging across (rear units) the carports. This move shifted the spacial balance, which was essentially 50/50 public/private in phase one, to lean towards the private space. We offset this shift by connecting the ground level living areas to large (by urban standards), usable outdoor spaces, creating a nice indoor/outdoor flow.

Small Modern Homes Diagram


Upgrading one of the bedrooms to a master suite was another high priority item. This meant a larger bedroom area, an upgraded bathroom and a walk-in closet.  At the minimum, we wanted the upgraded bathroom to have a dual sink, but we were also able to fit a larger shower and a linen closet. We also placed the wet walls back-to-back, a move that will make the plumbing subcontractor very happy.

Modern Small House Plans Improvements

So, after adding all this area to the bedroom level, we crunched the numbers and found that  the master bedrooms are 32% larger and the secondary bedrooms are 11% larger in phase two than phase one. While the walk-in closet naturally increased the master storage, we also grew the storage in the second bedroom by over 50%.

Homes Modern Apartment LA Fay 3X

We kept the elements people liked from phase one: simple forms, interesting facade treatments and a cost-effective building design.

Phase two has three units and three door and window types, thus earning it the nickname 3X Homes, which is a spin-off of the 2X Homes concept of phase one. Construction on this phase will start in the fall of 2012 with construction completion scheduled for spring 2013.

Post by Michael Scott. Contributors to this post include Krystal NávarDerek Leavitt and Christian Návar.

Tags: Development, Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, Fay Ave Art District dwellings, small homes, Small House, affordable modern architecture, los angeles architects, modern architecture firm

Small Lot Subdivision Branching Out of Los Angeles?

Posted by Christian Navar on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 @ 06:04 AM

Derek and I recently spoke at a mobile workshop on LA's Small Lot Ordinance at the American Planning Association's (APA) National Conference in Los AngelesAt the conclusion of the workshop, we were asked, by an attendee of the workshop, a question about affordability (we like to use “attainability” because when people hear “affordability” they tend to only think of low-income housing). The attendee who asked the question turned out to be a City Council member from the capital city of a state, outside of California, with a population of over a million people (for the sake of privacy and the future of this person’s political career, the person and the city will remain nameless in this blog entry... for now). 

At the conclusion of a very brief back-and-forth dialogue with the councilman, I offered an open invitation to discuss the issue in greater depth. I suggested modative help him figure out if the economics within his district warranted what we feel is one of the greatest city ordinances in the United States. He gave me his card and asked that I get in contact with him. 

In today’s blog post, I would like to share with everyone my initial e-mail to the Council District  representative in an attempt to follow up and get this innovative planning method and practice into another great city: 

 

Hello [City Council member], 

I hope the rest of your stay in Los Angeles and your travel back to [your city] was great!  It was nice briefly meeting you on the APA Small Lot Subdivision tour. Thank you for joining us and I hope you enjoyed our brief presentation regarding a few of our Small Lot Subdivision projects. 

Your question regarding "affordability" was a fantastic one and I would love the opportunity to discuss it further with you. Here, in our office, we utilize Small Lot Subdivision as a means to practice architecture and construction. However, our true passion lies in better understanding the economics involved in the ordinance's implementation. 

Our goal is to develop these projects and provide an attainable housing alternative that will help stop the mass departure of our own friends from Los Angeles. All of us at Modative attended the University of Southern California. Our friends and colleagues from USC are now Architects, Engineers, Lawyers, Doctors, Professors, etc. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of housing in Los Angeles, homeownership is no longer attainable, even for those who practice in top-tier professional fields. Many of our closest friends can no longer afford to live in the city and state they grew up in. We are tired of attending going away parties for friends and family moving to more affordable cities like Portland, Austin, Denver, and Phoenix. We see the potential in the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance to solve this problem. 

Our involvement in the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance has been a great experience thus far. We have become experts in this ordinance and have ideas about how it could be modified to better achieve what it was originally intended to do. We are still firm believers in this housing alternative and think that, with a few small changes or by thinking a bit out of the box, we will soon be able to develop a housing stock that keeps L.A.'s professional class from migrating elsewhere. 

From your website, I gather your city is experiencing some growth and you are very interested in future planning while providing opportunity that is mutually beneficial to your constituents and those looking for new possibilities. We believe [your city] would be a great place to adopt a similar ordinance and provide a better, attainable housing alternative. After an initial quick glance at your Planning and Zoning website, it looks like your [medium density residential 1] through [medium density residential 2] zones would be ideal zones in which to implement a Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance. 

Reviewing some aerial maps, I found a project at the termination of [This] St. and [That] St. that looks to be an approximately 15-unit residential project with "adjoining walls". This may have been a perfect opportunity to provide a "fee-simple" alternative to new home ownership (see below). 


Small Lot Subdivision Illustration

 

When are you available to talk more about the economics of this type of project? Please let me know when you are free to schedule a follow-up phone call.  I look forward to talking to you soon. 

Here is a link to a page on our website where you can access the guide we developed regarding developing small lot subdivision projects in Los Angeles. 

Small Lot Subdivision Guide - Free Download

Here is a link to a page on our website where you can access useful documents from the City of Los Angeles pertaining to the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance. 

Free Download of Small Lot Subdivision Information

Thanks,

-Christian

 

On a side note, if you are a City Council member or city planner, have come across today’s blog post, and are interested in discussing or adopting a similar ordinance in your community, feel free to contact modative. We would be happy to help you draft a similar innovative planning policy or conduct a Small Lot Subdivision housing needs assessment for your city. It is possible to provide a creative “attainable” housing solution that will help create better living environments for you and your community. 

For any developers, architects, or concerned citizens out there who feel there is inadequate attainable housing in your city, feel free to contact us as well. Or, use my letter above as inspiration to contact your own City Council or planning representative. 

We will keep you updated on the Council District representative’s response!

Post by Christian Návar. Contributors to this post include Krystal Návar, Derek Leavitt and Michael Scott.

Tags: Property, Residential, Development, Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, Subdivisions, Housing, los angeles architects, Planning

Modative Architecture Provides Stimulus Package

Posted by Christian Navar on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 @ 06:11 AM

Modative Fay Ave 2 Unit

Spent too much on land?

For years in our industry I used to hear how architects know close to nothing when it comes to staying on budget, that overspending is commonplace for most designers. With the severe downturn in the real estate industry it seems like architects finally aren’t the only ones who can be accused of overspending!

Like many Los Angeles architecture firms, many of our prize projects have been scrapped in the last couple of years. Our projects became victims of overspending, and this time, you can’t blame the architect for over-designing, ignoring budgets and having cost overruns.

These days it is now clear that spending too much on land and planning oversized projects has become the real project killer.

So, you bought too high you say? Now what?

So, you bought a property at the height of the building boom and now your budget numbers don’t  look so good and you need to put the project on hold? Hmm, if I had a dollar for every time I have heard that in the last year, Modative could bail us all out of this crisis.

Being designers, we of course naturally believe that you can design your way out of anything. Here at Modative, we believe that if the government hired more designers, or real problem solvers, we would need less “financial experts” and definitely less slow-moving bureaucrats. If you think members of the Obama Administration are the only ones offering bailouts these days, you should check out our new 2-unit small lot subdivision “stimulus package”.

Modative’s stimulus package

The project site is currently vacant land that sits between two other lots that combined were once part of a 7-unit small lot subdivision project on Fay Avenue in Los Angeles. After the economy crashed, the project was placed on hold, and our client found themselves with an overpriced and underutilized piece of dirt.

Fay Avenue Property

In classic boomtown fashion, the original project consisted of seven luxury three-story units that were slated to be between 1,750 and 1,900 square feet each. After the bust, the client asked us to reevaluate the site, specifically the vacant dirt lot, and propose a simple, cost-effective solution that would bring added value to this property which wasn’t generating any income.

Creative solutions can revive a project

This isn’t our only revisited post-downturn, multi-unit housing project currently on the boards. In fact many of our recent projects have come to us as previously-approved condominium projects designed by other firms. Aside from being asked to turn defunct condominium projects into small lot subdivisions, we hear the same thing over and over, how small can we make a residential unit and still have it be marketable?

In the case of the Fay Avenue project, we proposed starting out with just two very simple two-story, 1,000 square foot, 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath units that could be offered at a price point more favorable in the current marketplace. We then devised a creative phasing option, placing the proposed units on the site so that the owner could utilize the other two lots as part of a future phased expansion, that in the end will total 7 units. In the meantime, they could continue to rent the units on the other lots and wait for the economy and the current lending situation to improve. We have always believed in smaller units, but now, with the current state of the economy, we can finally get people to believe that bigger isn’t always better.

 

small lot subdivision phasing diagram

 

We were proud of our original 7-unit project, but sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. In the meantime, we’ll continue to take pride in knowing that our redesigned 2-unit “stimulus package” will help provide an added income stream for our client.

An architecture professor of ours from USC once said, “I am teaching you how to solve problems, not so you will become good architects, but so you will become great politicians.” Well with the current unemployment rate in California hovering somewhere around 12.4%, anything Modative can do to be part of the solution is something to be proud of.

“The first phase of the Fay Avenue project is slated to begin construction in the Spring of 2011. The Obama administration is still running some calculations to determine the exact number of jobs this project will add once construction begins, but thanks to Modative, we are pretty sure not only will this project be beneficial to job creation, but maybe, just maybe, it will even help stimulate small businesses lending again!” - Unknown Politician

We plan to post project updates on our website regarding this project, so if you’re interested, continue to check back for more info.

Fay Avenue Property Rear

Contributors to this post include Derek Leavitt, AIA, Michael Scott and Krystal Návar.

Tags: Property, Development, Los Angeles, Multi Family Housing, Small Lot Subdivision, Modern Design, Architectual Practice, Fay Ave Art District dwellings, small homes, home size

Architects Answering the Important Questions

Posted by Christian Navar on Tue, Sep 7, 2010 @ 06:09 AM

People often contact Modative about a project they have in mind, but they are often unsure of how to get started. Common questions we receive are:

  • How much will it cost?
  • What will the city allow us to do?
  • How much square footage can I build?
  • Is it feasible?
  • How many units can I build?
  • How much parking do I need to provide?
  • What is the process?
  • How long will it take to permit or build?
  • I have a lot / want to buy a lot / want to lease a property. What can I do with it?

Modative was recently contacted by two individuals who posed many of the questions listed above. The first individual was a long-time business owner with a hard-to-lease commercial auto body shop in Los Angeles. The second was a young entrepreneur looking to find a property in order to open a new restaurant/bar concept. With both of these clients, their long term plans were contingent upon taking really important first steps to decide what to do with the property they own/lease/were looking to purchase or lease.

los angeles bar architect

Our services often include conceptual renderings like this one for the aforementioned restaurant/bar in Los Angeles. These renderings are valuable tools for our clients (and their investors) to envision the project's possibilities.

Since the economic climate has shifted downward so dramatically, more and more of our clients are requesting that we provide answers to important questions in order to guide them in the decision-making process before they spend too much of their cash reserves. In our ongoing efforts to give people insight into the helpful services we provide here at Modative, we’d like to share a service in which several of our recent clients have had a particular interest: Site Evaluation and Planning Services.

The beauty of our Site Evaluation and Planning Services is that within a few weeks, for a smaller financial commitment, we can provide valuable insight into what can be done with a property. The level of detail provided in our analysis is catered to the clients specific needs. Some just want the basics, like of what uses are allowed and the code restraints, while others want a more detailed investigation, like program development, preliminary layouts, conceptual renderings, and even preliminary budget analysis of construction and soft costs (architectural, consultants and city fees).

los angeles office rehab architect

A descriptive 3D Plan we provided as part of the Site Evaluation and Planning Services for an auto body shop conversion into office commercial.

While we frequently provide these services for ground-up projects such as Residential Small Lot Subdivision projects, we also do quite a few for residential and commercial rehab and remodel projects.

Check out our Site Evaluation and Planning Services page to download a sample report we developed for a commercial rehab project and learn more about how these services are a great way to get a project started without a huge upfront commitment.

 

Download a sample Site Evaluation and Planning report:

site evaluation  

Site Evaluation + Planning Services

A sample case study of a commercial rehab and former auto body shop in North Hollywood, California.

 

Contributors to this post include Derek Leavitt, AIA, Michael Scott and Krystal Návar.

Tags: Residential, Development, Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, Architectual Practice, architecture resorces, architect advice, Zoning Code Search

The Good & Bad of Starting a Building Project Now

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Mar 17, 2009 @ 09:03 AM

So, is now a good time to start a building project? While it is a scary time, there are opportunities abound for those that have the courage and means. I am no fortune teller, but I can dish out a bit of what I've heard and experienced in the last few months. Of course I'll also throw in some invaluable gut intuition.

The Bad

  • Banks - Lending is tight. Really tight. As a banker recently told me, "our current appetite for lending is small." He went on to say that the easiest type of loan to get these days is for an owner occupied building. That is their way of saying if you're building it for yourself to occupy (a home, remodel or commercial building) and you qualify, you may have some of their money.
  • Uncertainty - The development attitude in the recent boom was build it and they will come. This is not the case anymore. You have to be careful what you build, for whom, and at what cost.

The Good

  • Cheap Land - The price of land seems to be back to where it needs to be to make development projects work again. People assumed that the ever escalating price of new homes and condos was all developer greed. It was not. High land prices and construction costs dictated high sales prices.
  • Foreclosures - OK, foreclosures are bad. Someone loses, banks fail. This is one of the main reasons we got into this mess, right? I get it. Now for the bright side. Foreclosures can be opportunities. The cheap real estate they offer allows for new opportunities - a quick condo flip, land for your new home, the chance to develop a small project, etc.
  • Cheaper Construction - The price of materials and labor have fallen due to demand reductions. Almost all material prices have been in decline since the summer of '08. Contractors are hurting. Less work for them means they will take on projects for smaller overhead and profit percentages. Quality contractors are also taking on smaller jobs that they wouldn't touch a few years back.
  • Cheaper Soft Costs - It pains me as I write this, but the bad market has also lowered the costs of architects, engineers and all the other people that get you to the point of construction and beyond. Why? They are also hurting.
  • Faster Permitting - We do a fair amount of architecture work in Los Angeles, and the difference at City Hall these days is astounding. What used to be a four hour wait to submit for plan check is now a four minute wait. In our experience, their processing times are much faster as well.
  • Time - Time is the typically bane of the architect and owner's existence. Building projects take time. They have to be designed, coordinated with consultants, documented and permitted. All this adds up to a long process that can be quite burdensome. Now, however, this time factor can help with some of our major negatives. Banks will start lending again. The market will recover. So when you think of a building project, think about the time involved. Many projects take about a year to get to permit/construction start (when you need that construction loan), then the construction can take another year (when you move in or need those prospective buyers.) So ask yourself where you think things will be in one to two years.
  • Emerging Trends - Major slowdowns are often times of reflection and change. This is very true in the building biz. Of late, I've seen a strong desire for smaller, more efficient, green buildings. This trend comes both from awareness of climate change and our financial need to do more with less. I like this trend and think that it'll bring about some very innovative and evolved projects.

 

Do you have any thoughts on this? Questions?

Tags: Green, Development, Condos, economy, architect advice, real estate

Opportunity in a Down Economy

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Jan 13, 2009 @ 08:01 AM

Our long time friend and professional collaborator Kayo N. Libiano found a great quote very relevant to today's times and passed it along. I will now pass it along to you.

"Never before in the history of America has there been so great an opportunity for practical dreamers as now exists. The six-year economic collapse has reduced all men, substantially to the same level. A new race is about to be run. The stakes represent huge fortunes which will be accumulated within the next ten years. The rules of the race have changed because we now live in a changed world that definitely favors the masses, those who had but little opportunity to win under the conditions existing during the depression, when fear paralyzed growth and development.

We who are in this race for riches should be encouraged to know that this changed world in which we live is demanding new ideas, new ways of doing things, new leaders, new inventions, new methods of teaching, new methods of marketing, new books, new literature, new features on radio, new ideas for moving pictures. Back of all this demand for new and better things, there is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it."

-Napoleon Hill, from "Think and Grow Rich"
First Published in 1937

With all the doom and gloom in the media today, it's refreshing to rethink these times as times of opportunity, innovation and courage. When the economic downturn all shakes out, will the winners be the ones that ran and hid?  Just like back in the 1930's, sticking with the status quo will not lead to easy success. The optimists and innovators will will use this time wisely and hopefully change the world for the better in the process.

Tags: Innovation, Development, Inspiration, economy, quotes

Fay Ave. Small Lot Project - First Look

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Wed, Aug 6, 2008 @ 11:08 AM

After months of design and tract submittal preparation, here is a glimpse of our latest small lot subdivision project here in Los Angeles. This project, called the Fay Avenue Art District Dwellings, is only two blocks away from our Venice Boulevard small lot project. This design for these seven homes is inspired by the growing art district in the area.



Fay Ave. Art District Dwellings is currently in design development and will be posted to the website in the coming months with more images.

Tags: Residential, Development, Los Angeles, Multi Family Housing, Small Lot Subdivision