San Francisco Real Estate: Escrow Out Loud


#42: Planning Malarkey, Pete and Kevin Part 2

Ep. 42

This week on Escrow Out Loud, our San Francisco Real Estate podcast, we pick up where we left off last week for part 2 of our 3-part interview with Kevin and Pete. To catch up on part one check out our previous episode Avocado-Green Appliances and Faux Brick.

[00:21] As we mentioned last week, house hunting with Kevin and Pete is an enlightening experience, as each of them assesses a property from their own unique angle; Pete is an electrical engineer and focuses on wiring while Kevin has design background and focuses on the space and flow of the property, envisioning the redesign potential. Even the slightest tweaks to the layout can have a huge impact on the overall feel and function of the property. What are some examples of strange layouts we have seen?

[02:36] The planning process for a renovation project can be long and convoluted. The planning, zoning and building permit applications are supposed to be determined in a fair and objective process for everyone involved – in theory. In practice, what happens is people find ways to game the system. What’s more, there also seems to be a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to enforcing certain rules. What are some examples of this?

[06:49] One issue the city planning department is understandably concerned about is setting precedents that can later be exploited by other people. What about using the approach of ignoring all the rules, doing what you want and just paying the fine at the end?

[09:13] We talk do it yourself foundations. Brick vs concrete foundations and why it may be a good idea to get the foundation checked by a professional!

[13:29] Kevin and Pete’s original plans have changed significantly compared to what they finally ended up with, but Kevin explains this is a normal part of the process. A better sense of budget constraints and the neighborhood, as well as the planning process itself, all informed the final design. Once the planning signed off on Kevin and Pete’s plan and they got their site permit – which included working with the gabled roof design challenge – they could start construction of their modern house that was still in keeping with the feel of the neighborhood.

[15:30] Establishing good relationships with the neighbors in advance of starting construction was invaluable in terms of making the whole experience easier and making sure they were part of the close-knit neighborhood after construction is over. Kevin and Pete made sure to include their neighbors in the process and were respectful of their concerns. Not everyone prescribes to this approach, however. To wrap up today’s episode we share some less pleasant experiences we’ve had with disgruntled individuals.

Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. We hope you enjoyed tuning in and join us again next week for part 3 of our interview with Kevin and Pete!

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