The Man Is Keeping Us Down


Click to enlarge

We met with Rick the other night and he delivered some semi-bad news to us. The City of San Jose has decided that attached garages are negatively affecting the integrity of the neighborhood of Willow Glen. Ouch, says us.

Our options are to A.) Spend a few hundred dollars and several weeks fighting the city. Not a bad option, but Rick felt that we had less then a 50 / 50 chance of success with this one. Or B.) Take the path of least resistance and leave our detached garage behind the house and modify some walls. We begrudgingly chose plan B.

The upside to this plan is that retrofitting and keeping our existing garage will hopefully be a lot less expensive than tearing it all down and moving it up on the property.

There are a lot of downsides to the new plan. The first is that when you live in the Bay Area, lots are insanely expensive. If our current house burned down today, we would get less than 10% of the total value of the property. So if you have an expensive lot of property and a detached garage way in the back corner of said lot, you now have a really expensive slab of concrete. Also, in order to accommodate two cars, the garage and the house must overlap each other by a few feet. This is beat because the closest corner of the house must be 6 feet from the closest corner of the garage and the drive way needs to be ‘S’ shaped starting 20 feet from the garage in order to negotiate your car into the garage. Long story longer, our house plan just shrunk by about 100 square feet, we lost ½ a bathroom and backyard is so small that we are going to start charging the neighborhood kids rent to keep the play house back there.

The good news is that we have a great architect that was able to find a way to keep the continuity of the house alive and actually give us a bit more of what we want. We now have a true mud room off the side of the house. Our front porch is larger by 5 square feet and wider to support a really nice porch swing. He dropped in a really cool little study in the front room. I suspect that this might be where we keep all of the audio / visual stuff as well as desks for Holly & the kids to do homework on.

Rick was also wise enough to design the new house to keep a lot more of the existing foundation which will save us a few bucks. We juggled a few things and got a bigger master closet and a coat closet, too.

All in all, the project is chugging along. This is a minor setback, but if it is the worst thing to happen to us, then we are in good shape.

We don’t meet with Rick again for another week and a half, however, between now and then, I am sure that we will be tearing through magazines and stopping at home stores whenever we can.

House in 3d


1 Comment

Filed under Architecture, The City

One response to “The Man Is Keeping Us Down

  1. Stephen

    Just found your blog and started reading it now. Really glad you put it all online for other home owners anticipating many of the same issues you’ve already dealt with!

    As for dettached garages. I love them. There is nothing worse than cookie cutter master planned neighborhoods with 3 car garage driveways butting the front of the street. It looks ugly!

    Neighborhoods with a single lane of concrete that goes to the back of the property frees up much more green space and puts the emphasis on pedestrians instead of cars.

    One of the nice things about Willow Glenn and other older San Jose neighbhorhoods is how walkable they are. The homes look cute & have lots of curb appeal. This is primarily due to the fact that the emphasis isn’t on BIG GARAGE DOORS facing the street.

    I’m glad you and your architect found something that works for everyone!

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