Please note: this page contains reviews and opinions sent in by Berkeley Parents Net subscribers. Your
own experience may be different. Please always check references before hiring!
Berkeley Parents Network >
House & Garden >
Small space (250sf) - design/build or architect?
I would like to convert a free-standing 250sf art studio
into livable space for my elderly mother. I plan to do the
work with permits, so need someone who is familiar with
permitting in Albany. I'm looking for suggestions about (1)
whether to go with a design/build firm or architect +
contractor, (2) recommendations of local people who have
experience and success with designing micro-apartment-type
spaces, and (3) ballpark figures for expenses.
Here are the parameters. The space is in the back of a
free-standing garage and was converted with permits. Right
now the space has finished walls, hardwood floor,
electricity and running water, but would need to hook up to
main house sewer line and we would have to figure what to do
about heating (i.e. maybe should run a gas line). The
cooking and living areas would be in the main 250sf space,
but the bathroom could project into the garage. I will want
a built-in twin-sized loft bed and a full-sized murphy bed.
**Very important: I need someone who has a history of
sticking to budget. I can't embark on this project and then
learn that it will cost significantly more than the original
If you are a design-build firm or architect yourself, can
you send links to your portfolio -- particular design work
for small spaces?
It was almost 6 years ago, but we used More Than a Carpenter
(based in El Cerrito) for a significant home remodel. They
did good work, were pleasant to work with, and were mindful
of our needs and concerns (around pets/children/etc.). They
stuck quite well to budget. Good luck and enjoy!
I'm a Realtor and believe in architects. I see so many homes
that have no sense, design in a cheap way but I do have a
great contractor who is creative and resourceful with lots
of experience and very competitive prices. It is easy to
work with him and make decisions his name is Piotr
Krasnowski (510) 333-1566 www.pkremodeling.com
I use him myself fro closet, bathroon,windows and small
projects as well. All my neighbors have been using him and
are very happy. Good luck! Mariedda
Start with architect Susi Stadler
(firstname.lastname@example.org), who specializes in planning for
small spaces AND senior housing. She's local, near Ashby
BART. Check out the 'Apartment A' project on her website:
http://www.stadlerarch.com/ . . Good luck! SP
You might want to talk to Laura Natkins. She is an architect
who has done apartment building designs as well as
residential projects. I have seen her portfolio. She is
talented. I'm amazed to see how she transformed a small
space into multi functional living space. Hope she can help
you as well. Her number (415) 519-4302. Email:
architect for a Berkeley flat
We are planning on redesigning our living space and would
like to receive recent recommendations on professional help.
We are not just looking for someone who will rearrange the
existing set up, but are envisioning a project on a grander
scale. We would like to add a lot of built in storage to
maximize space. Looking for someone with excellent space
planning skills and interesting ideas about using
We have enjoyed working with architect Sarah Deeds on plans
to improve the layout and curb appeal of our small house.
She has always listened to our ideas closely and then makes
very thoughtful suggestions that demonstrate she understands
the way we use our space. Her entire approach is grounded in
environmentally sensitive solutions; we've worked with her
heavily on window and exterior upgrades to make our home
more energy efficient. Her website is www.deedsdesign.com.
Wizard Architect to find space for a half-bath
My 2 BR, 1 BA 1915 cottage is small (under 900 sq ft). I
would love to find an amazingly creative architect who has
found space in small houses to add on at least a half-bath.
It would really save my sanity, as I am sharing the one
bathroom with a teenage daughter. The other hitch: the lot
is extremely small also -- probably would be non-conforming
by today's standards. (When the house was built it had more
land, but newer house lots on perpendicular street ate into
it in the mid-30s.) So I don't think there's room to move
Anyone know such a wizard?
I'm not Snow White
My wife and I have had great luck working with Alex
Chiappetta Architecture (510-798-5502 www.acastudio.com) for
several stages of remodeling our 1911 Berkeley home. He is
local, specializes in residential work, and does great
bathrooms and kitchens. Plus he is a wizard with getting the
Berkeley building permits. David
I highly recommend Laura Natkins who is a very creative
architect with make- overs. She's definitely worth talking
to. Laura is located in Berkeley; her phone is 415-519-4302
or email email@example.com David
My wife and I moved into a 1 bed, 1 bath 820 SF 1912 cottage
before the real estate boom and bust. As our family grew we
couldn't afford to move and needed to use our resources
strategically. We've worked with architect, Scott Galka on
2 projects. He was very easy to work with and has helped us
to colonize every square inch of our house. Scott can be
reached at (510) 610- 6602 or by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck! Jason
I know an architect with an amazing ability to find
solutions. You could easily schedule a consultation with
him where he would come out to your place and look at your
space and give you some ideas/options. If it is possible,
I'm sure he will find a way.
His name is Alex Korn, with Catamount Design. 1913 Addison
St. Suite 301. 510-551-3384. www.catamountdesign.com
He has solved problems for me where I didn't see an answer.
And I've seen some of the homes and remodels he has
Dear looking for a great architect,
Berkeley architect Laura Natkins would be the perfect small
space wizard for your project. She specializes in the 'just
enough house' principle and has extensive expertise in
creating functional and stylish rooms and living
environments. Laura values collaboration and will work with
budgets of any size to lead you through the design/build
process. We are extremely happy with our Oakland remodel and
could not have done it without Laura Natkins.
Architect for basement remodel
We would like to remodel our basement that includes two
rooms, laundry room and a bathroom, and we would live ideas
on how to best deign the space. We would very much
appreciate any recommendations.
I am very impressed with the architecture done by
Berkeley-based www.jswdarch.com In addition to houses, they
work on spiritual spaces, such as Spirit Rock. SP
Laura Natkins is the architect for you. She loves to do
designs like yours and she's very talented. She got her
architecture degree at Harvard and it shows. She's very
practical and keeps it simple but gorgeous. She'll do a
great job for you! She's in Berkeley, but her number is:
We recently had our home remodeled which included a
substantial excavation to create a much larger downstairs
with a completely new foundation. We used Studio G&S from
Berkeley and they we're great. Ed was able to anticipate our
prefrences and recommended many extra architectural
additions/changes without adding to our budget. Ed was a
pleasure to work with and is a very skilled architect. In
addition to the architectural work, Ed was invaluable when
selecting fixtures and furnishings both in terms of sub
contractor selection as well as asthetic design. We were
totally impressed with his design skills as well as his
architectual skills. It was a very positive experience and I
highly recommend them. Feel free to contact me for further
questions or if you want to view a sample of their work.
In response to Lesbeth's March 22 question about a designer
to help with a remodel of a basement: I would like to
recommend Timothy Clark of 'Home and Temple' (Timothy Clark,
timothy@HomeAndTemple.com, 800-853-2010). Timothy helped us
with our extensive remodel of our North Berkeley home, and
prepared all of the plans for submission to the City of
Berkeley. He was thoughtful, responsive, knowledgeable, and
creative, and he charges very reasonable rates. Mark
A very good and creative architect is Stuart Sidells in
Berkeley. He has been our architect on several remodel and
room addition projects for us and has always done a thorough
and complete job with a artistic eye for details. He does
not push his ideas on the owners but rather works with them
to incorporate their wishes and ideas into the project. He
is very personable and easy to work with. Stuart can be
reached at:548-0684. Roger
Architect experienced in modern residential & commercial?
Can anyone recommend an Architect experienced in modern
residential and commercial design? I've got two small
projects, and I would like to try to use the same Architect.
I have used William Coburn, who works out of Oakland, but
covers the entire area. He is a Harvard trained Architect,
is a father of two kids at my children's previous school and
is knowledgeable, affordable and easy to work with. His
info: William Coburn, Wk ph: 510 893-8826 Cell: 510
I highly recommend Turk Kauffman:
He designed the modern-ish split-level addition to our
California Bungalow home and really made it work. He also
designed an amazing kitchen/living room which opened up our
whole front room. We love it and get compliments all the
I would like to recommend a local architect, Tom Beil. His
office no. is (510) 848-0895, and his cell is (510)
220-4947. He is located in Berkeley, works in Berkeley, and
his office is also in Berkeley. We worked together on
several occasions from small projects (residential) to large
(commercial). I highly recommend him; he is very easy to
work with. Tom is very affordable and his price is easy to
adjust in different situations. His office is well known at
the City Hall planning divisions. It was (and still is) a
pleasure to work with him. Marius
I recommend Alan Cross at PROTOinc. Alan did some work on
our office space in San Francisco and his firm has done a
lot of contemporary residential and commercial projects
throughout the Bay Area. Alan and his business partner,
Hugh, are both talented, easy to get along with, but also
understand construction and are technically savvy. You can
see their work at www.proto- inc.com and you can contact
Alan at 510.282.4648. Former Client
We used Cathy Schwabe for our kitchen and basement remodel,
and she was terrific. She specializes in residential and
green design, and has the patience of Job, considering what
is involved in all the decision making related to such
projects. Here is her information, including her website:
Cathy Schwabe AIA
Cathy Schwabe Architecture
5332 Shafter Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618
Without reservation I'd recommend Alex Jermyn of Atelier
West Architecture. He has impeccable taste, having worked
internationally including designing Marc Jacobs stores. His
sublime aesthetic is refined and elegant in an understated
way. I will warn you to research an architect well, because
there are a lot out there that turn out awkward products.
He is very accessible and a true pleasure to work with. He
is attentive and receptive, and committed to have the
project come in on time and on budget. Renovation/building
is a very trying process in the end, and I really urge you
to find someone you know will pay off with something that
you will love, and someone who can make the experience as
easy as possible. His firm's website is
I would like to recommend Jason Kaldis Architect Inc. I have
worked with Jason for a couple of years now and have a high
regard for both he and his team. They are all extremely
competent and efficient. Jason and his team have a specific
skillset that is valuable to both builder and homeowner
Jason Kaldis Architect Inc.
1250 Addison St. #210
I recommend Pierluigi Serraino Architect. He only does
modern homes he actually published books on northern
California mid century homes. So easy to work with.
Residential Designer for Remodel
We are looking for a residential designer to produce
drawings to submit to the city for our remodel. Can anyone
tell us how to find one? Karen
We loved working with Kathryn Rogers at Sogno Design Group.
We saw how she so smoothly transformed our friend's one
story home into a 2-story home -- and it looked like it
should have been that way all along. So when it was time
for us to put a large addition on our home, we hired her.
We love her taste, and found it was so easy to work with her
and her staff. She was very knowledgeable about the
bureaucratic aspect of getting a remodel done, too (i.e.
submissions to the city, permits, etc.) and helped
facilitate the process. The new part of our home is our
favorite place to hang out. We hope to remodel our kitchen
in the future, and plan to hire her back! Her email is
I would strongly recommend Kathy Rogers and her team from
Sognos Design Group http://www.sognodesigngroup.com/. Kathy
Roger and Debbie (from her team) designed the remodeling
project of our Queen Ann house in SF (kitchen remodeling +
new B= bath + new masterbath + basement remodeling into a
living area) . She designed the layout, produced the
masterplans, helped choose the right material and lighting
with great taste and after carefully listening to our own
preferences and taste. She was opinioned in a good way,
meaning leaving ample room for our participation (ex: we did
not want customized kitchen cabinets, did not want to break
too many walls, wanted modern into a classic house, but not
too much etc.....) while guiding us with professionalism and
sure taste. She was constructive and efficient, from the
structural part (I believe she was a carpenter before so she
knows what she is talking about) to the more decorative
aspect. We could tell she was experienced and that was
reassuring. She let us choose our contractor over her usual
ones. Even though I could tell that it would not have been
her first choice, she collaborated with our contractor (that
we highly recommend too by the way, his name is Serge
Colombeau) in a highly efficient way, so that the project
went smoothly with no delays, and both the contractor (and
us!) were extremely satisfied. It was such a success that at
the end she was even interested in collaborating with him on
other projects, which tells a lot about her open mindess and
flexibility. They formed a great complementary team and she
and her team were available for any question in a timely
manner. She overviewed the construction site a few times,
with precise remarks, and made a few additional drawings to
make sure it was performed properly. She knew where to focus
her time, but was also able to work with a more cost
conscious budget in less important areas. I donC",b"t regret
having followed any of her recommendations at the end. They
were always thoughtful and right. Lastly, she submitted the
plans to the city to get the permit, and I was impressed
that we got it so fast (over the counter with only one
attempt) while this was not a given (complex remodeling, a
few structural changes) and which saved us 6 months and a
lot of paperwork. One year after the end of the work, we are
thrilled by the results. The house looks gorgeous, respects
the original bones, our own taste and the 'san Francisco
spirit'! Finally, both Kathy and Debbie are delightful
persons to work with, always smiling and enthusiastic. And
always supportive. I again highly recommend you to choose
them if you have a remodeling project. Dorothee
We hired Kathy Rogers of Sogno Designs
(http://www.sognodesigngroup.com) for our home remodel
(basement room addition, kitchen expansion and redesign,
added a deck) and I can't say enough good things about her.
Our space is gorgeous - Kathy has such talent for designing
functional space with lovely details. She was responsive to
our ideas and concerns (esp. $$ concerns), but also knew
when to push us. She and her crew were very easy to work
with and very knowledgable about the city of Berkeley
permitting process. Heather
Architect with modern sensibility for Lamorinda remodel
looking for an architect for a lamorinda remodel - need
someone with experience in lamorinda, with a modern
sensibility, good at making a small space seem appropriately
large. does this person exist? seems hard to find anyone
who has a somewhat modern style and does smaller projects on
this side of the tunnel.
would appreciate any contractor recs also.
lamorinda modern - oxymoron?
You should speak with Vit Salvo of Arcistruct. He works
primarily in Lamorinda and Berkeley. He will give you a
free consultation. He can be reached at 510- 517-7151. He
has worked extensively on my home as well as many others I
have seen. You won't regret it. At the very least, you
will come away from your conversation with some interesting
ideas. At best, a new architect/builder for your project.
I can think of a few modern houses in Lafayette that you
could drive by and ask the homeowners who their architect
was. People usually love to talk about their houses. There
are two on Glenside Dr. between St. Mary's Rd and Reliez
Station Rd, and another on Freeman Rd after you turn right
from Bridgefield Rd. Good luck! Christina
I would like to recommend an Oakland based design-build firm
called Building Lab. They had done residential projects on
both sides of the tunnel. They do have a modern sensibility
and they apply it well in renovating mid-century modern
residences. My own house is of a rather confused mix of
styles but they did a modern kitchen and baths which tie
everything together seamlessly and give the interior a
timeless beauty. Visit their website: www.buildinglab.com
Give Allen Sayles a call. He's a great architect in Walnut
Creek 925 937-3986. Used him on our house and kitchen
renovation. Also try Wendy Zampino 925 283 6638 of home
systems, she's the designer who got us our cabinets. And
Rolander Construction did the work 510 339- 3655. It all
came out great, opened up walls and changed the whole feel
of the house. I love it! Sandy
Dorrice Pyle is the gal for you (dorriceplye.com) out of
Albany, CA. She is awesome! She has a great eye. She
brings a huge background of experience. She listened to
my needs and turned a very small space into a fully
functioning room that took into account the need to make
the space functional and appealing. She is a real
professional. You will not be disappointed.
Architect for low budget addition
Does anyone have a recommendation for an architect who will
work on a low budget second story addition to a small house
(it will be a small addition, too- one or two bedrooms and a
bath). The house is on a relatively level lot in Berkeley,
and foundation work is in progress.
You should talk to Ethan over at Drafting Cafe. I know
several people that have used him for their projects, and he
did a great job and is very affordable. www.draftingcafe.com
A good, inexpensive architect for home addition?
I am looking for a good, inexpensive architect for an
addition to our home. Ideally, we would like to work with
someone who can be both a good draftsman and a experienced
architect/designer at the same time. We have ideas, but not
exactly sure how to start the process, so we need someone a
bit more knowledgeable then a draftsman, but don't want to
pay the price for a large or midsize architecture firm.
I want to recommend Ethan at Drafting Cafe,
www.draftingcafe.com. They are in Oakland, super
responsive, professional, and personable, And their
services are really affordable. Can't speak highly enough
about him. jaibee
'Inexpensive' is a relative term....We've used Angela Klein
for our attic addition. She did the design and drawings,
but we had to go elsewhere for structural engineering. We
found her hourly rate to be reasonable- she charges on a
time and materials basis, an approach we appreciate since
other architects we spoke with wanted a percentage of the
construction cost, which didn't let us stagger the timing of
the project as we wished. She's been very easy to work
with, and we've been very happy with her designs and the
way she incorporates 'green' principles. Her suggestions on
fixtures and suppliers have been very helpful. Her website
is www.akleinarchitect.com if you want to see examples of
her work. Rachael
Laura Riggs has worked as a residential architect for over
twenty years. She's completed numerous home additions,
remodelings and new residences in communities all over the
Bay Area. She's experienced in hillside construction,
drainage issues, tight budgets, kitchen and bath design,
septic systems, swimming pool design, sauna
installation--just about anything you can think of
pertaining to home design. And although highly experienced,
she does all her drafting herself. I think she might be what
you are looking for. Laura Riggs 510.525.1383 home
267.664.2415 cell Melanie
we would highly recommend stacy eisenmann of eisenmann
architecture. she is wonderful to work with and understands
that a collaboration is a key to a successful project. she
is comfortable working in design languages ranging from
craftsman to modern, and has extensive experience with
kitchen remodels, especially those that open onto other
areas of the house. but she also provides architectural
services such as bathroom remodels, second story additions,
etc. when designing she is thoughtful of the circulation
patterns of daily life and puts much thought into how the
family will actually live in the new space. she offers a
complimentary first meeting to see if it's a good fit, and
is open to a barter. check out her beautiful work on her
website. eisenmannarchitecture.com 510 409 4426 emily
We would like to recommend Howard McNenny as an architect.
He produces quality work at a reasonable price. Howard
recently worked on our 2 story addition in Albany, adding
about 900 square feet, as well as remodeling the rear of our
house, including the kitchen. He is very knowledgeable,
responsive to feedback, patient, timely, and pays attention
to detail. Howard was very willing to work around our busy
schedule and meet with us later in the evening, as well as
on weekends. He is located in Albany, and can be reached
at 510.705.1671 or email@example.com. Good luck! Bob
We had a great architect who was very affordable and clever.
He helped us with our addition and then he helped us with
our office building. He held our hand step by step. I can't
recommend him enough. His name is Pierluigi Serraino,
firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach him at
Great architect for Orinda home?
We live in Orinda and want to add a 4th bedroom and re-
conceptualize the living spaces and kitchen, probably adding @
700 sq feet. We want someone who can listen to and integrate
our ideas and focus on creating a great floor plan and
beautiful spaces. Ideally this architect has designed
multiple homes in Orinda so has experience with the Planning
Commission here. We have referrals for great contractors but
it is proving harder to find a great architect! Any referrals
I am an interior designer working with Rebecca Amato of
Rebecca Amato Architecture in Oakland on a client's
project right now and we love her. I'm guessing she has
done work in Orinda since she is an east bay architect but
can't guarantee. I would highly recommend contacting her
to explore if you would be a good fit for eachother. She
is a great listener and has an eye for creating beauty, a
great blend of left and right brain skills.
688 FAIRMOUNT AVE. 4
OAKLAND CA 94611
Jeff Supran is a great architect who lives in Orinda and has designed multiple
homes and remodels there. He is also a contractor with a great crew. I was
married to one of his carpenters and I have seen many of their projects. Really
beautiful stuff. Jeff's phone number is 925-253-2104.
Adam Barton is a great architect. I have done 4 projects with him, including a
sizable master bed/bath and kitchen reconfiguration and remodel. If you can't
picture it, his computer generated idea drawings will help you- from every
perspective. He also builds on a regular basis, so his sense of design-to-
build feasibility is current. He is flexible in the look, scale and cost-scaling of
a project, based on what is asked for. And, he is easy to work with, a good
listener and determined to get the final look right.
All documents went through the Berkeley Planning Department without issue,
and I was uninvolved in this process.
Feel free to contact me: email@example.com
I used Fred Hyer of Hyer Architecture and am thrilled with the end
result! We not only added space in our Orinda home, but reconfigured
current space. His services are top of the line and he really delivers
a beautiful product! His planning and hands on advice helped me stay
on budget and avoid change orders. HIs contact info is
firstname.lastname@example.org or (510)527-1915 . I personally know of 4
homes he has recently done in Orinda and all of them highly
I realized that this may be a little late, but we just
finished an addition with Shawn Smith of Fargo Farnesi
Architecture and I am very pleased with their work. Our
project was an addition and kitchen remodel of a Berkeley
craftsman. Shawn was extremely knowlegdable in both the
design and construction process/costs. He was responsive to
our many requests and changes. He also explained everything
(sometimes in too much detail for me), he asked my husband
and I questions that we had never thought of. He also worked
well with our contractor. I highly recommend him. Shawn's
phone number is 510-486-0353.
Architect for remodel
We are planning a remodel and already have plans that were
done several years ago. We're not 100% happy with them. We
would like to find an architect to consult with and go
forward from here. Recomendations would be appreciated.
We were very happy with our architect, Richard Janzen.. He
is very reasonably priced, and is just really nice to work
with. He is creative and was very patient with us.
His website is:
Finn-Laczko is well versed in residential remodels ranging
from small low cost one room projects to large high end
homes. Having worked with both David and Brian on several
projects, they are in tune with the budget and costs of the
project, understand construction and codes, and offer
brilliant solutions to residential design. They can be
reached at 510-649-9299 or at email@example.com. David
We are in the middle of a remodel architected by Travis Van
Brasch (Fong/Brasch Design). The guy really has an eye for
what will look good, and was very creative in imagining new
possibilities for us. He's based in SF but seems to have a
lot of East Bay clients. His email is
firstname.lastname@example.org. I never did ask the reason for
the email address. tv
I highly recommend Toby Long of Toby Long Design. We worked
with him on two major remodels over the course of three
years and it was a very positive experience. He is
committed to getting to know you, your priorities, and how
you use (or would someday like to use!) your living space.
His firm came up with a few different designs, not just
minor tweaks of the same basic design, and he helped us
think about the pros and cons of each. He guided us through
the permit process, evaluated contractor bids with his
knowledge of the costs of local labor and materials, came up
with solutions for problems that emerged along the way, and
remained attentive and accessible from beginning to end. If
you have any specific questions or just want to hear more
details, feel free to contact me. Jen
I can recommend Gary Struthers at Struthers - Dias -
Architects: www.struthersdias.com He is very personable and
I am sure he can help you. Good luck! Susanne
I heartily recommend Sunny Grewal at Studio GS Architects,
510-548-7448, email@example.com, or view their website
Sunny worked on my neighbors remodel and I was very
impressed. I have also seen a lot of his designs and
presentations and I am very confident in his work. Good
I would like to highly recommend Andrew Mann Architecture
for residential remodels and additions. His website is
www.andrewmannarchitecture.com. I worked for Andrew for
three years before I left to be a stay at home mom. His
work is clean, modern, classic, and simple and he works
beautifully with light. While I was there, we worked on
many projects throughout the bay area including new
residences, large and small additions, and interior
remodels. All of them turned out stunning and the clients
were incredibly satisfied. Andrew is not only a fantastic
designer, but also a fantastic guy and easy to work with.
We used Ron Shattil, AIA. We are tough customers, very
picky and I dare say demanding, and he was outstanding in
every way. He listens and is responsive to feedback, and
has tremendous integrity. And his final design for our
remodel was right on; we love it. Ron Shattil can be
reached at 510 482 0340. erica
We've done two re-models with John Kinstle, Design & Build,
and now he's designed and is building a house for us. The
first re-model was a 2-story addition. It went very well
even though the re-model was quite extensive. Part of the
reason it went well was John's ability to hire and keep some
very good workmen. I felt comfortable with the people who
came to work in our home because they were courteous (no
loud music or turned it down or off when we were around),
tidy and trustworthy. John told us when the noisy parts
would be in advance and always kept his appointments and
answered or returned our calls. John was very conscious of
our need to keep costs down and because he is a builder as
well as an architect, he could design for cost effectiveness
and still give us something nice. This was true for the
re-model of our bathroom, too. He gave us advice on what to
do to save costs and maximize space. He's very conscious of
re-using perfectly good things (both green and saves $s) and
updating around them. He is also a painter so he has a very
good eye for color and design - a big plus for a couple with
very little knowledge about color and decor. For our new
house, John really listened to how we live and designed to
suit our needs within our budget. As with any relationship,
there is give and take. We have been pleased with John's
results and his approach. Peggy
I want to highly recommend our architect, Kerstin Hellmann
for your project. (I did not see the original post). We are
just finishing up a big project (adding second floor,
kitchen remodel, upgrading systems) and we feel very
positive about our work with her. She has a great eye for
detail and was very involved in our project, assisting with
finish details and helping us with design features and
materials. Our addition works well with the original design
of the house and the neighborhood. We implemented many
energy and water saving features in our project, as well as
green materials, and she was helpful in that area as well.
her number is 706-4527. Berkeley homeowners
Experience with Amato Architecture?
We recently interviewed Rebecca Amato of Amato Architecture out of Oakland
for an addition we are planning on doing to our house. We really enjoyed her
style of work, but wanted to hear from the community out there and get specific
feedback. Has anyone worked with Rebecca in the past and can you comment
on your experience, both positive and negative? Thanks!
We're in the middle of a project with Amato Architecture --
renovating our 1912 home -- and can report that Rebecca
Amato has been terrific to work with. We hired her after
seeing the excellent work she'd done for friends of ours. In
fact, we liked her work (and her, personally) so much that
we chose not to interview other architects, figuring that if
it didn't work out, we could always do the rounds later.
Happily, that has not been necessary.
Rebecca is skilled at reconfiguring old spaces in ways that
are both creative and efficient, and reflect the way we now
live in houses, while still being faithful to the history of
the house. She's also been a terrific resource for us in
finding sources for various finishes and supplies. For a
variety of reasons, we did run well beyond the hours that
were estimated in her first proposal to us, but Rebecca has
been conscientious in working with us to make sure the
project is completed the right way, without breaking our budget.
She has also forged a great relationship with our
contractor, someone she'd never worked with before.
So, we're not done yet, but so far we're really happy and
don't anticipate ending the project otherwise. I'd be happy
to field more specific questions offline, if you'd like.
Good luck with your project.
Architect with modern sensibility for Piedmont renovation
We're taking the first baby steps toward figuring out if our
half-finished basement in our small home can be converted
into a living space and would like to find an architect to
talk with about the remodel. It would be great to talk to
someone familiar with the planning process in Piedmont as
I've heard this can be somewhat arduous.
Definitely would like to know if this idea is even feasible
and cost-efficient -- the half-finished space is about 6
feet high in addition to sections 1-4 feet in height on the
slight slope the house is on. When we bought the house a
structural engineer inspecting it said it would be really
expensive to dig out the basement...
The house is around a century old with some mid-century-era
(or slightly older) remodeling and we'd like to retain
architectural continuity in the design. But we have a modern
sensibility too and aren't so into the fussiness of some
arts & crafts houses.
If planning allows it, it would be great to add a bedroom in
the basement and interior stairs as well as a live/play
space. There is already a half-bathroom there.
We had a great architect for our recent remodel, Fred Hyer
of Hyer Architecture. We had seen what he did for some
friends of ours, and then saw a remodel he'd done for a
contractor. Both projects reflected creativity and
sensitivity to space. Fred is a good listener and
communicator, as well as conscientious, hard-working and
prompt. His background in carpentry also helps him
understand and translate his designs into a 3-d
product.While he has a great design sense, he's open to
the client's ideas, and can incorporate them into his
work. We loved how he made our small spaces look bigger,
as well as transforming our bland rancher into a unique,
modern and very livable home. We highly recommend Hyer
Architect Needed for 1960's Kitchen & Entryway Remodel
Looking for an architect to help us with a kitchen remodel
that includes eat-in dining room, huge two-sided fireplace
and new entry way. We want to keep the 1960's vibe of the
house intact too.
try dan dunaway 510-435-5344. he did a great job with our house.
I'm posting this message for your question and
the question below:
I was on Piedmont's Planning Commission for seven years
and saw consistently wonderful work done by Greir Graf
Architecture of Emeryville.
I highly recommend Gary Parsons - we recently completed a massive remodel,
and he completely redesigned our house, while at the same time maintaining
the original design and integrity of the house. He was great to work with!
You should give Carlene Anderson a call. She's been a
great designer/architect in the east bay for 20 years. Her
number is 510 339-2530
I would highly recommend my gifted architect, David Yama.
He designed the kitchen/multi-purpose room remodel and
expansion of my mid-century home in the Berkeley Hills. His
experience, knowledge, and professionalism, combined with
his superb sense of aesthetics - devoid of cliches and
gimmicks, but distilled to the essence of architectural
integrity ? made him a joy to work with. Three years after
the completion of the project, I'm still amazed at the
timeless and serene spaces he created. I have referred him
to friends and colleagues, to equally enthusiastic
responses. David can be reached at 510-541-0556 or
Lillian Mitchell of HOM Structures in Berkeley did a
phenomenal job on our remodel, which basically took the
entire interior out of our house and reimagined the whole
thing. She listened and was responsive to our needs, came
up with endless great ideas, and was happy to work through
as many iterations as it took to get where we wanted. She's
done remodels and new builds in virtually every East Bay
city, and understands the processes and codes. I
unequivocally recommend her.
Andus Brandt, Blackbird Designs was wonderful...he really
listened to us and our house is exactly what we wanted. He
advocated for us when our first contractor DOUBLED the
original bid he'd given us after digging a huge hole in our
yard and tearing off the back of our house (no way to
change our minds at that point!). Dan Daigle (Berkeley
Construction), took over the job and was spot on with his
perfect estimate and did great work, he's now remodeling at
my work and doing a great job there too. Andus and Dan
For both this and the following item:
I highly recommend David Avila from Avila Design, an
architectural office located in downtown Berkeley. The
company completed various residential projects throughout
Bay Area from modern custom homes to traditional houses and
additions/remodels. Feel free to look at their website to
see their capabilities and sense of design. The website is
www.aviladesign.com and his phone number is: 510-548-2000.
Recommended for both this and the following request:
Hi! As a card-carrying member of the Berkeley
Architectural Heritage Society, when I needed an architect
to design a garage with 2d floor loft in the rear of my
bungalow I looked for an architect who would respect the
beauty and charm of the original building and the
On my daily runs I took note of projects around town, and
found Andus Brandt of Blackbird Designs(510-601-1150)-
I had noted a ''seamless addition'' he designed, where the
lien of demarcation between the old building and the new
wing was very, very hard to spot.
Andus is a lovely fellow, gentle, and very nice to work
with. Contact me off list if you would like to see my
Architect for remodel and possible addition to 1920s bungalow
Has anyone worked with an architect they'd recommend for a
remodel and possible addition to a 1920s bungalow in
I highly recommend Gary Parsons - we recently completed a massive remodel,
and he completely redesigned our house, while at the same time maintaining
the original design and integrity of the house. He was great to work with!
We recently worked with Rebecca Amato of Amato
Architecture in Oakland (510) 420-0210, for a total
remodel of our 1925 home. My husband and I are not great
at articulating our style, but somehow she was able to get
us what we wanted. Rebecca came into our project after it
had already started and immediately started making
necessary architectural changes that we couldn?t be
happier with today. . She is able to collaborate with
other team players and was incredibly sensitive to our
wishes as well as the needs of our other contractors. She
is extremely responsive, creative and easy to work with.
She also has a lot of 'green building' knowledge, and
makes 'green' suggestions but leaves it up to the client.
Rebecca's pricing is very fair and she was conscious of
our budget. We used Rebecca as a designer as well as. My
husband and I would highly recommend her.
Architect and/or contractor for serious interior work?
I am wondering if anyone has a recommendation for an architect
and/or contractor to look at a house that we are thinking about
purchasing. This estimate would greatly impact our decision to
bid in a couple weeks! The tasks involve a kitchen remodel and
new stairway (probably needs a new location) to the attic. I
greatly appreciate any info!
Highly recommend Archistruct, owner Vit Salvo, 517-7151. They did a major major
renovation on our house, including all the issues you are looking at. Feel free
contact me if you like. 510-421-5888.
My husband and I had great experience with Berkeley architect Joanne Koch .
helped us on our single family home addition that involved five months of major
interior and exterior work. Joanne is a great listener, is knowledgable about
issues, has a wonderful aesthetic, and gave great suggestions. We enjoyed all
interactions with Joanne and her assistants. Her website is
I would highly recommend Gary Parsons as an architect for
your project. Gary Parsons is an outstanding architect -
great listener, creative, very responsive, highly regarded
by contractors, great knowledge of the building code. I
would recommend him without hesitation. He is also a calming
influence on a construction project which is always
We found Gary by speaking to several highly regarded
contractors in the Berkeley area (many of whom we found
through other architects) - all of them rated Gary most
highly and described how they loved working with him.
We worked with Gary on the remodel of our 100 year old
Berkeley Craftsman in late 2008. We conducted an extensive
remodel - new kitchen, 2 bathrooms, powder room, master
bedroom, laundry room and structural changes. Our house has
extensive period details (quarter sawn oak wood panelling,
lots of trim etc) and the final product was consistent with
the house's aesthetic whilst also being fresh and updated.
Everyone who has seen the house since the remodel is very
complimentary (and we love it).
We were under significant time pressure to complete the
project before the arrival of our 2nd baby. Gary and Ariana
turned around the plans in record time and they were
approved with zero changes by the city. This is clearly
One final word - Gary is a lovely guy to have around. He is
not pushy at all and does not have a huge ego. He clearly
defers to the client but lets you know in a subtle way if he
thinks you might be heading down the wrong track.
You can't go wrong.
Architect for craftsman style house
Hi we are looking for an architect to help with our house. We
have had some work done, including preliminary drawings. We are
looking for someone who is available to work (ie fairly
responsive) as well as practical (both cost wise as well as
knowledgeable in terms of what can get done construction
wise). Ideally the architect has experience with craftsman
If you have preliminary drawings you have already gotten the most
important work the architect will offer. Once you have a set of
developed prelims your next step is to launch into working
drawings, engineering, energy compliance, etc.
If you want an architect for this next phase, it is best to use
the same one who developed the prelims.
If you did not have an architect for the prelims but want one
now, that is a little reversed but still workable.
We give the architect, Shawn Smith at Fargo Farnesi Inc, our
highest recommendation for any restoration or renovation
project for a Brown Shingle or Arts and Crafts styled
residence. We have seen Shawn's work for residences of other
periods, including a historic restoration of the oldest house
(1890s or earlier) in a tract in Berkeley on Garber Street, and
it is excellent. Shawn has worked with our family toward a
historic restoration project (Brown Shingle/Art and Craft
historic landmark -- 1908) that has taken some time to work
through the City process, but we are on our way, now. Shawn is
an architect who has both experience in the construction field
and an architect's knowledge to execute a project well. He is
thorough and explains things very well so you can give yourself
an opportunity to make the many informed decisions required to
do a project the ''right way'' as you see fit. Fargo Farnesi Inc
is located in Berkeley on West Street. Shawn's office number is
I highly recommend an architectural office Avila Design from
Berkeley. The firm has completed several custom homes and
residential remodels in the Bay Area as well as in other parts of
Northern California. The firm Principal remodeled his own
craftsman style home in Alameda a few years ago and added a
craftsman inspired dining room to a friend's home in Concord.
Other projects included an addition of master bath to a bedroom
for a family member with Parkinsons as well as full house
remodels for others. You can view their work on the firm's
website: www.aviladesign.com. I am sure that they will gladly
meet with you at the project location to formally introduce them
self and discuss this project in greater detail. Fell free to
contact directly the firm Principal David Avila. His contact
2471 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94704
T: 510-548-2000 F: 510-548-2300
Good Luck with your project.
I recommend Milton Tong, Architect. He's working on design
drawings for my house addition in Albany. We found him from
another recommendation on the Berkeley Parents Network.
We interviewed several architects for our project. Milton
stands out because of his ability to listen to the client's
goals and then tailor his design to fit those goals, whereas
other architects had basically told us that our project would
not be feasible from a cost standpoint (even though our
addition is very modest by most standards) or tried to scare us
with horror stories to justify their services.
Milton listened to us, asked a lot of questions to get a firm
understanding of our goals, and provided great input on space
maximization/utilization for our addition. He also let us know
what we might consider to reduce costs so that the project
could fit our budget.
I have found Milton to be very easy to talk to, responsive, and
thorough in his approach, especially in making sure City and
code requirements are met. His hourly rate is reasonable
because he works from his home office in Richmond.
Although our house is not a Craftsman (it is a Spanish-revival
style house), I know that Milton has worked on many craftsman
houses. His phone number is (510) 234-4088.
Architect for Piedmont Mid-century Modern
We would like recommendations for Architects to expand our mid-century modern home in
Piedmont. We are looking for a very experienced, professional with vision and
inspiration to enhance our unique, small home.
I recently completed a house renovation and used Lindy Small as
my architect (LindySmallArchitecture.com) 510-910-0186. She did
an absolutely fabulous job! She listened to our concerns, our
ideas, and our constraints (budget). She is very talented and
creative, and recommended terrific consultants (contractor,
cabinet maker, etc.).Our project is everything we asked for and
much much more.
We love our new house!
We're in the midst of a major remodel our our 1940 Piedmont home
and have been very happy with our architect, Richard Janzen. We
found Richard to be wonderful to work with. He'll be great for a
mid-century modern. He helped us through various issues with the
Piedmont planning department and preparing for the planning
commission meeting, and had a lot of patience with us as we made
a variety of changes. He's creative, honest, and also very
reasonable in what he charges.
I can recommend Steve Rankin Architecture as a professional
with incredibly creative vision, attention to detail, and
responsive to his client's needs. I have viewed a number of
projects he has completed in the Bay Area and spoken with
owners all of whom were very pleased and impressed. Much of
his work is repeat business or word of mouth. He is based in
Oakland and can be contacted at (415) 608-9530 or
Alexandra Odabachian is a wonderful architect who has done
amazing remodel designs for several of my neighbors in Alameda
(these are all midcentury modern homes who've added stories or
bumped out, but she also has a genius with small spaces).
Alexandra's designs are beautiful, livable, and mesh well with
the pre-existing architecture. I think she's also green
certified; if not she's definitely green-oriented! I'd say that
the four families I know who've hired her are 100% satisfied with
Alexandra is listed online. A google-search also reveals a nice
article in Alameda Magazine about her own cottage remodel.
jonesing to keep up
I highly recommend Rebecca Amato for your project. Not only is
she capable and very creative with a great eye, but she is also
very friendly and personable. Her website is
I would highly recommend David Yama for mid-century modern architect. He designed the
kitchen/family room remodel & expansion of my mid-century Berkeley Hills home. His sense of
aesthetics and attention to details, along with professionalism made him a joy to work with.
He is very experienced and knowledgeable. Three years after the completion of the work, I'm
still amazed at what he created. I am happy to show my remodel or talk to you. David can be
reached at 510-541-0556, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I highly recommend Mark Creedon of M2 Studio. His office is in Berkeley
and they also
have an office in St. Helena. A friend of mine had her house designed by
him and it
outstanding. He is totally attentive to details and is amazing at
visions. A mid century remodel is totally his thing I am planning on using
We hired Lindy Small Architecture for an addition/ renovation we
did to our 1950s house in Piedmont a few years ago. We feel
extremely pleased to have found Lindy - her designs are timeless
(we did not want to be stuck in the '50s), she is an excellent
listener, and completely enjoyable to work with. Light, air, and
joy now fill our house - we will never move! I highly encourage
anyone to use her - 510-910-0186. LindySmallArchitecture.com
Architect for El Cerrito house additions/remodel
I would like some recommendations for Architects to help with the
remodel/expansion of our little home in El Cerrito. I know what
I want done, I just need someone to make sure everything meets
permitting requirements, can draw the plans and get them approved
by the City of El Cerrito. Thanks!
I can recommend Milton Tong, who lives in Richmond but has done a project for us in
El Cerrito (and some others as well, I believe) and thus is familiar with the El
Cerrito process and lives close by as well.
I highly recommend Andus Brandt and Blackbird designs...he's a delight to work with
and executed what I wanted and then some...it's always better to add another set of
eyes. email@example.com (510) 601-1150
Please give Jim Wallen, of UnCommon Spaces, a call at 925-209-
6209 (cell phone). His firm is design/build, which means he will design it then
build it! We had our entire house remodeled and added 300 square feet. He presented
several designs and when we settled on one, he pulled the permits and began the
transformation of our home. The construction work is solid and well-built. He is
meticulous, is very attuned to the owner's needs and desires, and came in on budget
and on time. He is very sensitive to what would work for you, and he even offered
thoughtful touches that we would not have even thought of! Our house was stripped
down to the studs and he finished everything in seven short months! My mom's kitchen
remodel took nine months - and it was just for the kitchen! Please call him - you
will like him. He is very easy to work with.
Happy Berkeley hills remodel
Architect for remodel of 1950's house
I am looking for a reasonably priced architect to design plans
for a remodel of a 2-bedroom/1 bath home built in the 1950s. We'd
like to modernize it, including making better use of the space.
We'd also like to explore the possibility of an addition. Thanks
for any suggestions.
We would like to recommend Gary Alan Hill. Gary developed plans
for us for a remodel of our Montclair home. Gary is the perfect
balance of creativity, artistry, and practicality. He really
listened to our needs and made recommendations about what was
realistic given our budget and also the limitations of the
existing house. We loved the final plans. They really retained
the character of the house and gave us a more open floor plan
with more living space. His price was extremely reasonable and he
even came in under budget. He is very down to earth, personable,
and a pleasure to work with. We recommend him without hesitation.
Gary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-681-9096.
I highly recommend Milton Tong, Architect at 234-4088. He does
excellent work and is thoughtful in his dealings with people. He
listens very well and is willing to spend a lot of time with you
to figure out what your needs are. He also has a lot of
experience in the East Bay, so he's not new to the permitting
We just underwent a major home remodel in which we took an old bungalow from
1908 & added on as well as modernizing. I interviewed multiple architects but ended
out choosing to work with Jen Dikeman-(email@example.com) a house
designer that we found to be wonderful and helpful. One of the best decisions we
made. She is knowledgeable about all aspects of home design- helped us to get our
permits through the city of oakland with relative ease. She has also worked with
Berkeley and San Francisco. She has become very knowledgeable about a
contemporary/ ''dwell'' style look that we created in our home, and some friends
have used her for theirs. Beyond all of her abilities, she is kind, caring, and
I'm sure you will get many recommendations for this one as the economic slowdown
has hit most architects, but I would include her in your interviewing process- we
couldn't have done any better. Feel free to contact me with questions. to see our
completed (pending) home: www.85norman.com
I can highly recommend Struthers/Dias Architects for your
remodel. They came up with a beautiful design for our
craftsman, converting from a 2 BDR, 1 bath to a 3 BDR, 2 bath
all within the existing footprint. Our friends can't believe
that we didn't add on, because the new design is so spacious.
We originally were thinking to do an addition, and they had
some lovely ideas for that too- but this solution gave us
maximum bang for the buck and unlocked all of the graciousness
of the original design.
They'll work within your budget and really listen to what you
want out of your space and how you actually use your space.
Definitely, give them a call!
Gary Struthers: 510-205-7535, firstname.lastname@example.org
I'd like to recommend Bill Engelhardt for your project. Bill
was the architect for our kitchen remodel, and he was great to
work with. He provided us with great plans to maximize the
space of our small kitchen. He also listened to what we
wanted, and provided plans that incorporated our ideas and
needs. Give him a call at 415-572-8895 (he is based in Oakland
but has worked all over the Bay Area).
Hi. I am happy to recommend architect Joanne Koch for your
project. She is Berkeley based, a small practice with a lot of
experience. One of her passions is ''mid-century'' homes and
has done many projects of all styles in this area and in the
Napa Valley, where she formerly had a practice. She is
extremely flexible, professional, attentive, creative and a
wonderful person to spend a year or two with (you go on a
journey with your architect - good to like your companion!)
making your home into all you want it to be for you and your
family. Her website: www.kocharchitects.com.
I'd like to HIGHLY recommend Joanne Koch of Koch Architects, 510.558.8280.
Joanne worked with us on our mid-century remodel, including additions. She is
nothing short of brilliant as an architect and especially familiar with mid-century
architecture. But, on top of being incredibly creative and resourceful, (and hard
working), she stands out as a rare exception when it comes to service. Joanne was
committed to creating a well-designed, beautiful final product, but was also deeply
committed to making sure we were happy with the outcome -- following through
all the way and working very well with our contractor. She was curious and
responsive to our needs, enjoying the process of working with us on the project as
much as anything else. She was a pleasure to work with in this way, seeing the task
as a relational undertaking as much as a technical and aesthetic challenge.
Honestly, I can't say enough good things about her. It makes such a difference when
doing a remodel to be working with people you really like! We also had a really
great contractor, James Terrell (510.845.4420) of Terrell Construction.
Oakland architect Jeff Wood helped us remodel our 1949 2br/1ba 2
years ago, and we are so pleased with the results. Jeff did a
great job extending and modernizing our space while still
keeping in the spirit of the house and neighborhood. (In fact
our neighbors were so impressed they're about to start
construction on an addition he designed for them.) He uses a
lot of natural light, is easy to talk to and able to make
intelligent recommendations about budget, permitting, etc. -- I
could go on and on. His phone is 510-531-1624.
I highly recommend talking with Geoff Holton
(email@example.com), especially if you are interested in
being green. He's done a great job modernizing and adding onto
our 1950's ranch-style home. We just moved back in and we love
I had a great experience with Andus Brandt, Blackbird Designs,
phone: 510-601-1150 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
a few years back. He charges a fixed rate, really works to keep
you on budget, and has good skills in communicating with
contractors to be flexible during the construction process.
Karin his colleague is equally wonderful and easy to work with
especially in the back and forth of the design process. We did
almost a full house remodel (kitchen, bath, bigger bedrooms)
and small addition with deck. All of it flows so well and has
dramatically increased the livability of our still small
bungalow. Updated but still in keeping with the 1918 original
build date of our house.
I'd like to recommend Andus Brandt at Blackbird Designs. Andus helped us with a
kitchen project in our 1908 brown shingle a couple of years ago and was fantastic.
We ended up with a design that complements the style of the house and achieved
every single one of our objectives.
We originally hired Andus just on an hourly basis to come over and talk about some
of the ideas we were having. This was a great way to get started, as he was able to
give us some input about the feasibility of our ideas and we got a chance to get to
know Andus and his style.
I generally go out of my way to avoid hiring friends for large projects because I
don't want to have to sacrifice a friendship or a project. But in the case of Andus,
actually went into the project as strangers and came out as friends. That's got to be
Email email@example.com or 510-601-1150.
I highly recommend the architect I worked with after consulting with
several others. Her name is Laura Hamlin, and she did a lovely
remodel of my horrible little kitchen. We explored a few different
ways to go, with varying costs, and also spoke about future plans for
further work. I,too have a 2 bedroom , one bath. She is very bright,
very reasonably priced, and easy to work with. I don't have a very
good ability to visualize possibilities, and she was great at
describing options and providing drawings. She's also worked alot in
the Bay area, so is familiar with many resources and contractors.
Her phone number is: 415-453-5615
Architect/Contractor needed for 2nd floor add-on
We have a 1924 Craftsman bungalow, and with a growing family,
we'd like a little more space. We're very interested in adding a
2nd floor to our current home. Can you recommend an architect
and/or contractor to help us with the design and construction?
Also, if anyone has done this and has advice for us, we'd love to
hear your thoughts. Thank you.
We just finished adding a master bedroom/bathroom suite to our Arts and Crafts
Bungalow and we couldn't be happier. We used Andrew Fischer of Fischer
( 510 204 9250)
His designs are elegant and he is really personable and reliable. In fact, this
is the third
time he has done work for us. He also designed my painting studio and a truly
fence for our home. You can also see some of his work in the April issue of
Metropolitan Home. Gordon Olson ( Olson Brothers contracters 414 468 6719) was
contractor and he is also amazing and reliable.
Kathy Rogers/Sogno Design - she is the BEST!!! We did a remodel
of half of our 1st floor and added a 2nd floor (2 bed rms and 1
bat). I should say she and her wonderful crew and contractors
(Tom Lawrence and Beth Quade) did the remodel while we were
living in Europe - yes we were 5000 miles away and did everything
via email and the web. She ''sees'' things like creating a little
shelf here or there, a little storage area under the staircase
etc. Just very creative and ''practical''.
We recently did a major remodel on our 1920's home in Albany.
Jason & his staff did an amazing job at designing our home and
were all a pleasure to work with. He has a knack for being able
to evolve varying ideas from what my husband & I had in mind and
transforming that into a working model. We both are extremely
pleased with the design. There's a lot of great talent in his
office. We highly recommend working with them. His office is in
Berkeley & can be reached at 510-549-3584
Need architectural drawings for our house remodel
Hello - we are thinking about doing some modification to our
craftsman home and I've gotten a few recommendations for Dorrice Pyle
from friends/co-workers who worked with her in past years. We wonder
if anyone here can give me a recent recommendation for her? We were
told she's creative and fun to work with and can help us imagine how
it will all end up looking once we settle on our plan... thanks for
your help... sm
Dorrice Pyle did the architectural drawings for our
sunroom/addition. We have only just started construction, so
can't speak from 'the other side' of a completed project. Dorrice
was indeed fun and easy to work with, and has a long creative
streak and a can-do attitude. Our budget was stressed from the
start or we would have seen more, I'm sure! We are working with a
design/build firm which was going through some restructuring, and
as we began, we were not too clear on the roles and relationships
of architect/designer/builder/engineers/sub-contractors, etc...
to the firm. Dorrice helped us put the concept to paper and
coordinated with structural and soils engineers who provided
further details, specs and drawings. She also dogged the city for
weeks and worked her way through several recent and major code
modifications which necessitated a few plan revisions.
Architect for addition/remodel
Does anyone have a referral for an Architect who could help
with our addition/remodel? We need someone experienced but
We would also like to explore more than one option - possibly
even raising the house. Thanks for any help.
I have a great architect that I hired to design my master suite
addition in El Sobrante. She is based in Alameda but was great
at researching what was allowed in unincorporated Contra Costa
County. Her ideas for details like toilets, skylights, fixtures,
etc. were always well thought-out and energy efficient. Her name
is Angela Klein (www.akleinarchitect.com) and she can be reached
at 510-205-2594 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A few of my friends in Berkeley and Oakland have used Doug Coe.
He can work with your budget, and he is really good at matching
both your existing house as well as your needs as a family:
Berkeley Home Owner
We used Scott Donahue, RS Donahue & Associates, 510-653-2245,
and he was great. Very helpful, excellent work and great ideas.
I've got the architects for you! We just finished a remodel
that turned out beautifully- thanks to our fabulous architects
We worked w/Struthers/Dias Architects. Gary and Theresa do a
great job at listening to what you want, finding out about how
you use your space, and come up with great design options.
After exploring going up or pushing out back, they actually
came up with a beautiful design within our existing footprint.
Our friends just used them to do plans for an expansion to
their place and they did a lovely job for them as well.
Additionally, they had great communication w/our contractor to
refine the plans so there were no challenges in the building
Call Gary at 510-205-7535 or email :
Then when you're ready to build, use our contractor Tom Judt.
He delivered our project on time and in budget and was a
delight to work with. 510-852-4560
Best of Luck, have fun!
We have used and have continued to use Joanne Koch both for my
house remodel as well as my office remodel. Joanne and her team
are incredible; meticulous and detail-oriented, highly creative,
cost-conscious and most importantly, really great to work with! I
highly recommend her. Contact Joanne: email@example.com.
We can wholeheartedly recommend Andus Brandt at Blackbird Designs.
When we got started with our project, we weren't exactly sure which of
several ideas we had made sense. So we hired Andus for a couple of
hours to come over and talk about our options (attic expansion,
reconfiguration, etc.). He gave us a ton of feedback on the structural
and cost ramifications of each option, then helped us get to an
solution that we really got excited about. We have an older bungalow,
and he introduced some creative touches that allowed us to introduce
some more modern conveniences while maintaining the integrity of our
As an aside, we were simultaneously working on our deck and back yard,
and Andus not only worked effectively with our landscape architect, he
gave several suggestions that ensured we got exactly what we were
looking for out of the combined project.
But perhaps the best endorsement is that we still get together for
coffee or lunch every now and then. I figure any house remodel project
that ends that way is a pretty good one.
Andus' email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his phone number is
510-601- 1150. Feel free to get in touch if you'd like to hear more.
I'd like to recommend James Gwise (510-526-1996,
email@example.com), an architect with many years of
experience working on small and large projects in the Bay Area.
James helped us design a complex deck with a framed canopy,
rather like a lanai addition to our house. The design combines
traditional features such as redwood decking while also extending
the design style of the rest of the house within the canopy,
creating an interior feeling. The design creates a combination
of exterior and interior space, for an inviting and comfortable
place for sitting, talking, and dining.
We had a very good experience working with James. He is smart,
kind, patient, and responsible with very reasonable pricing. He
listens very well and worked hard to reflect our ideas in his
design. He also is a hands-on architect, with several years of
experience as a carpenter, and he expanded his own house, adding
a kitchen and an entire second floor. He noticed a lot of
details in the building process and worked closely with the
builder to stick with the design. We actually went on a
month-long summer vacation, and had James monitor the project.
He is posted the project progress photos on web for us to view
I highly recommend him. If you are interested, you can come to
see our deck/lanai by e-mailing me. James's website is:
www.jamesgwise.com; the site also includes pictures of our project.
We'd enthusiastically recommend Joanne Koch of Koch Architects
in Berkeley (510.558.8280, www.kocharchitects.com). She managed
a major remodel for us that included the addition of a new room
and literally everything in the house from roof to foundation.
She was great at everything from the initial architectural
design to making sure the final paint colors and wood stains
came out just right, and was always a delight to work with and
responsive to our concerns over cost and other factors, and a
great help in negotiating with contractors. She's excellent at
coming up with creative solutions to architectural problems and
attention to detail, and we'll definitely give her a call if we
have more work to do in the future.
We had a similar situation, and a friend recommended Andus Brandt
of Blackbird Designs. He was a pleasure to work with, and he
came over to our house several times to get to know us, our
needs, and our home before he created several different options.
They were MUCH better than what I had envisioned and less
expensive. Then he was very flexible with the details--we wanted
to mix and match a few ''green'' elements of each--and he quickly
drew up alternate plans with estimates very close to what the
contractors provided. He also dealt with the City of Berkeley,
introduced us to potential landscape architects, and knew which
contractors would be best-suited and available for our specific
needs. His experience shows!
Would definitely use him again,
Andus Brandt (Blackbird Designs, 510-601-1150) has done a number
of house raises and teaches a class on this subject. You might
consider calling him and/or enrolling in his class (taught
through the Building Education Center in Berkeley).
Andus Brandt at Blackbird Designs has been great. The house is
almost finished (a three story 4 room addition) and it's lovely,
it looks original to our 100 year old victorian. He was easy to
work with, as was his partner Karen. We had a terrible time
with our first contractor, and had to fire him, and Andus was
very helpful, advocating for us throughout the entire ordeal.
Berkeley Construction took over the project and has been
wonderful... Please feel free to email if you have any questions.
Architect for addition- on the cheap?
Hi. We're looking to do an addition on our house in Lafayette, but
feel like we need the assistance of an architect. We've heard that
this can be quite expensive and more than we can afford, however, we
feel it necessary. We were wondering if there's an alternative out
there. Are there students of architecture out there, or apprentices
that might take us on. If not, are there any reccommendations for an
architect who is not hugely expensive? If we're making a total faux
pas- sorry, we're new to this and have no idea how it works. Thanks.
gettin' a bit bigger
If you feel you need the services of an architect, then you need someone with
experience. A good experienced architect can work within your budget. If you do
the appropriate checking of references you will be able to determine if this is the
case with anyone you are considering. I am an architect and I consider it part of my
professional responsibility to work within a client's budget - as long as they are
realistic about the cost of what they want. If not, I decline the job. I also always
give my clients the option to do any tasks they can to minimize my fees - like
running back and forth to the city offices, etc.
You might consider hiring an architect to do a basic design and then work with the
contractor (if he or she is willing/qualified) to flesh out the details. You might also
seek out a design/build firm. This can be cost effective - if they are good designers
- but you lose the checks and balances of having an architect as your advocate.
You get what you pay for
I am an East Bay father of three young children and licenced
There's lots of ways to approach doing an addition, depending
on the complexity of the project and the kinds of services that
you need. For something very simple you can certainly have a
student or apprentice draft the construction documents for
submittal to Planning and Building departments, as most
contractors don't do these drawings. But you do get what you
pay for, and you can wind up with shoddy construction or not
what you expected should the contractor require very thorough
construction drawings and the student not have the experience.
Your house is a valuable asset, and it makes sense to do some
legwork first. Visit the Planning department and describe the
kind of addition you have in mind. They'll tell you what
setback and other requirements you project needs to follow. If
the project is more complex than a same-day planning review,
you may consider having an architect or contractor who can help
you navigate the process smoothly. Lafayette can be very picky
about having a design that blends well with the neighborhood
You're not required to have a licenced architect, however an
architect brings valuable expertise that can benefit your
project. A good architect will insure the addition, whether
modern or traditional, compliments the existing architecture of
the house, increase resale value, provide the best and most
cost-effective solutions, resolve difficult design issues,
provide energy efficient and sustainable design, and create a
well thought out addition that is custom suited to your
lifestyle and needs.
Talk to both architects and contractors to see if your ideas
and budget are feasible. I'd be happy to talk more about your
project and possible approaches. My rates are very competitive
since I'm a sole practitioner. I started my own practice 3
years ago after a dozen years in other firms. I'm working on a
project in Lafayette currently.
You do have an alternative, a 'Residential Designer', which can
cost much less than a licensed architect. The state of CA allows
non-licensed professionals to design, draft, and obtain permits
for residential design with a few caveats. The residence may
not be more than 2-stories + a basement for both single family
and multi-family (4 units or less in multi-family) and of wood-
frame construction. This also includes garages, ranch
buildings, non-structural, non-seismic storefronts, interior
alterations, cabinetry, and some other minor work.
These residential designers can have five, 10, or even 20 years
of experience in architecture -- so you'll still get quality
design. But because they do not have the same overhead as a
licensed architect, they can charge less. Basically, the
designer takes the place of a licensed architect, and the
licensed contractor takes on the liability of the project.
I would not recommend hiring students because they will not know
codes. These aren't taught in school but are instead learned in
the field, which will make obtaining a permit problematic.
I have been doing residential design for a number of years and
would be happy to discuss your options further with no
All the replies to this topic seemed appropriate. I would just
like to add that I am an East Bay Architect with two children,
recently joining BPN. There seem to be quite a number of
Architects at BPN!
I can provide less expensive services by limiting my time on your
project (all time is billed at an hourly rate). There are various
ways to do this, which we can discuss in an initial consultation
or over the phone.
Architect for Bathroom addition in Albany
We are looking for your recommendation (or warnings) regarding
your experience with an architect doing similar work to a
residential bathroom addition in Albany.
We don't need Frank Lloyd Wright, but we do need someone who
can provide quality, affordable work with experience in Albany.
Pondering Albany Bathroom Addition
David Finn, architect, just helped us re-do our bathroom, and had
previously done an extensive kitchen remodel with us. He really
listened to what we wanted, had great idea about how to best use
space, and does understand costs. He's also a pleasure to work
with. He's in Berkeley, and his number is (510) 649-9299.
When we had our kitchen remodeled a few years ago our architect
was Doug Coe and he was great. I wanted to see a bunch of
different layouts to see what would work best and he was very
creative in his design ideas. He is a good listener and has dealt
with the City of Albany a number of times. He's at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-5029
I highly recommend Kathy Rogers of Sogno Design group in Albany. She
has done some stunning bathrooms among other beautifully done
remodeling projects through out the east bay. Her work is featured in a
Sunset design guide: Bathrooms that came out this spring and a Sunset
Before and After bathroom makeover book. You have to check out her
website www.sognodesigngroup.com to see her work or call her at
510-526-2720. She is a really upbeat architect to work with and is
great at making remodeling FUN! Alex
Architect needed for backyard studio
Hi there - We are demolishing our ancient garage in the backyard,
and would like to build an art studio/office in its place. Can
anyone recommend a good (and affordable) architect or builder for
this kind of project? We're not really sure where to start.
You should definetely all Anne and Erin from TierneyConner
Design Studio @ 510-531-0540. They specialize in residential
architecture & landscape with emphasis on indoor/outdoor spaces,
connecting the house to the garden and maximizing small living
spaces. Their asthetic is amazing, they totaly get their
client's needs and expecatations and are wonderful to work
with. They are creative, resourceful and help you get amazing
results within your budget.
Run to the phone and call Gary Struthers and Theresa Dias for
your project right now! Seriously, these two just did a
beautiful design for our remodel, they were affordable, and
great to work with. After working for a large firm (whom I
encounter through my work, that's how I got hooked up with
them), they've started their own firm specializing in remodels,
additions, and single family homes.
They worked with my very limited budget to remodel my home using
the existing footprint to get a new bath and bedroom. The design
of the house is much nicer than what it was. I originally had
thought to do an addition, but their design solution allowed me
to get much more bang for my buck.
They are great at listening to what you want and presenting
several options. They also respect what is important to you and
how you will use the space, instead of going off on what they
think would be nice design- really crucial in architects.
As a bonus, they introduced me to my contractor who has been an
absolute dream to work with.
This project sounds great for them. I can't recommend them more
Gary's nbr: 510-205-7535 ; Theresa's email: email@example.com
Feel free to contact me if you'd like more info.
Kathy Rogers, at Sogno Design in Albany, is fantastic. Her
design sense is wonderful, her projects are beautiful, and she's
great to work with.
Here's her website:
Feel free to email me for more info:
Hi- I have two designers for you, either would be great. Rich Soenksen is very
creative and we've built one garage/studio with him and are in the middle of a
second garage/studio project. Really wonderful guy, hard working, will make
project fit with your home and garden. He is also an amazing carpenter, which
great when designing something as he knows how it will be built. His phone
numbers are: 415.828.0570 and 415.584.7384.
The other designer is Jennifer Cooper. I've seen her work and it is really
beautiful. Her phone number is 510.652.5036.
Good luck. We love our studio.
You may want to interview architect Thornton Weiler. He has
experience with accessory dwelling units (ADUs) such as
backyard studios, granny flats, backyard offices and garage
He is a green architect who is working toward his LEED
certification. He is also the fastest bike rider I know.
He is now designing a backyard studio to be built of structural
insulated panels (SIPs) which, compared to stick building, are
stronger (for earthquakes), insulate better (super low energy
bills) and go up quicker.
He can be reached at 510 381 4829 or
Architect-Mid Century Modern meets Post Ranch Inn
Looking for an architect-I know this question has been asked a number of times but
I'm looking for a specific type of architect. We are looking at remodeling our Mid
Century Modern. We want to keep some of the look of it but want the natural look and
feel of The Post Ranch Inn from Big Sur mixed into the look. If we could also add a
twist of fun or unexpected added into the design that would be great. I know certain
architects specialize in certain designs, if anyone could suggest someone who might
specialize in this design look, that would be great. We are in the East Bay.
I would recommend that you talk with Geoffrey Holton and see
his portfolio: 663-9797.
We worked with a *wonderful* architect when we remodeled our home - Hiromi
Ogawa. She totally understood our little packet of inspirations (everything from
Dwell magazine clippings to a bright orange mid-century Dansk pitcher) and
worked with us to hone ideas and stay within our budget. I literally can't say enough
good stuff about Hiromi, every phase of our process was a pleasure and we are
giddy in love with our home. Several of our friends have since worked with her and
everyone is happy. I wish I had something else to remodel so I could hire her again!
You can see some of her work on her website www.hiromiogawa.com. Thanks to
her incredible, creative ideas our bathroom has been featured in two magazines,
including Sunset. I think she'd be a terrific choice to work with you on your mid-
century ranch. Feel free to contact us with any questions.
I would HIGHLY recommend the architect we used for our Berkeley
mid-century modern renovation. She is a brilliant architect
with great vision and an astute understanding of mid-century
architecture. She's also wonderful to work with and I could
not recommend anyone more highly. Her name is Joanne Koch at
Koch Architects. Her number is: 510.558.8280 and email is:
I have a terrific architect to recommend. We are just finishing
a major remodel (adding a family room, office, bath, deck
upstairs). His specialty is modern with putting, as you said, ''a
twist of fun or unexpected'' into things. Our house, however, is
a craftsman bungalow, and while this may not be his ''specialty''
he did a wonderful job of listening to what we wanted and
creatively designing something that fit what we were looking for
in the limited space we had -- plus adding some great elements we
hadn't thought about. It has exceeded our expectations. So I am
totally confident that he could put together whatever combination
of styles you are interested in. He is also a pleasure to work
with and will help you down to all the little details. He also
works really closely with the contractor to make sure everything
is going according to plan. He stopped by our construction
frequently and could answer all the contractor questions that
come up-- which made the whole process as stress free as
possible. (He'll also help you negotiate with/evaluate
contractors - which made that whole process easier too). He is
also very environmentally conscious and is very knowledgeable
about alternative materials, solar etc. His name is Henry
Gutman. web site is ecomodern.net. Office is 547-3972; cell is
205-6592. email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adding a floor - Architect who charges flat rate for design only?
Can anyone recommend a local (Berkeley) architect who will meet with
us, get a feel for the project/design goals, create a design
consistent with the current style of the house (of course we would pay
for revisions) and make drawings, charge their fee and be done with
the project? We are going to add a floor (lift current house, and fill
in a new first floor) to our typically small Berkeley bungalow (built
in early 1900's), and want to find someone with experience doing this
type of project. We are going to do this project on a small budget,
and we don't have the money to pay the typical 20% charge of the
entire project that it seems most architects charge. We would consider
someone just starting out trying to build portfolio.
Everywhere we look in our neighborhood, it seems like many people have
taken on this type of project, so please, Anyone who has done this
type of project please chime in on how your experience went,
especially on timing, and how to get through the maze of city planning
department/permitting issues, is it worth the strain on marriage,
effects on property taxes, anything you learned during the project
that you wished you knew when you were getting started, we would
especially love that type of advice.
bigger digs soon
Hello--we're owners of one of those everywhere-in-the-neighborhood bungalows
that went through a lift the house/rebuild the first floor/add another floor on top
remodels a few years ago. For what you're hoping to do with your home, I doubt
you will find a capable architect who is willing to do this for a flat fee (but I
wrong). And with all the complexity the project demands (city planning/permit
roadblocks, structural design issues, strain on marriage, skyrocketing property
taxes when you're done--all of which we experienced during our remodel), you
don't really want someone who is just starting out trying to build portfolio, believe
me. You want someone who has done this before and is a pro at forseeing
problems, troubleshooting, and navigating the system.
We used Levitch and Associates (in Berkeley) to do the design of our home and get
us through the permit process. They are very good--and are also not cheap, but
you get what you pay for. I'm not a native Chinese speaker so I can't attest to the
validity of this, but in my middle-school Mandarin language class, we learned a
saying: ''Expensive things are not really expensive; and cheap things are not really
BTW, we didn't have a boatload of money to fund our remodel either, but are glad
we paid the money for Levitch and Associates to do the design work for us.
I am in the middle of this type of project on my own house, the
only difference being I am an architect so I didn't have to
find one. My advice is to give yourself lots of time and
patience to get through planning & building. It took us about a
year and a half from start to finish for permits. We had a
couple of special circumstances though - we have a creek on our
property and we are in a landslide zone. It hasn't been a huge
strain on the marriage (yet) and we have 2 children and
are living in the house as it sits on cribs. What has saved us
lots of money is being our own general contractor - probably
about 30% in construction costs. Our neighbors are doing a
large renovation and they wish they had done the same thing so
they could have more control over the project. It was a little
scary at first, but after talking to general contractors, we
felt we knew as much as they did. They seriously charge a huge
amount just for coordinating other contractors. If you want to
save on architects fees, make sure you know exactly what you
want and don't give the architect a lot of room
for ''options'' - all of this will get billed. I know this is
why people hire architects and I love doing it, but it really
is a luxury. It may be a good idea to sketch out what you want,
then a good architect will be able to refine that and make it
work. I could recommend Daniel Morago who can be reached at
email@example.com. We worked at the same office for a
while and now he's on his own doing projects just like yours.
Although you asked for a Berkeley architect, I would like to
highly recommend our San Francisco architect who designed our 8-
month Oakland remodel. Larry Friesen, with Friesen Architects
(415-642-5520), was tremendous in all respects. He is very
creative and designs to match the period/architecture of the
house. We had a challenging project -- we gutted about two-
thirds of the house, moved a staircase, moved our living
quarters to what had been a carved-out basement -- and Larry
developed the design in a very effective iterative process,
taking into account our budget constraints.
You didn't ask for a contractor recommendation, but I'll throw
in a recommendation. We worked with Martin Fink, House to Home
Construction (925-935-3466). Martin and Larry have done many
projects together, so we felt like we had a great team.
We completed our project over a year ago. The project was
relatively pain free, and we love our remodeled house.
Recommendations for an Architect near Piedmont
We are looking for a good, reasonable priced architect,
preferable someone who has worked with the Piedmont city and has
experience in working on garages with in-law units. Also any
advice from those who have built a garage or in-law unit will be
I'd like to recommend Mike Pond and his firm, Berkeley
Design/Build. Mike did both design and building of our house
and we are impressed with the quality of architecture and
workmanship. (He can do both phases or just the design, if you
like.) He and his partner Chris Linville are talented and
dedicated architects and builders, and they have done jobs in
Piedmont. Feel free to email me if you have questions, or give
him a call: 547-7196, berkeleydesignbuild.com.
I suggest you contact Melander Architects. They are located in
San Francisco but do work all over the Bay Area. They just
finished a small remodel in Piedmont for our friends who
couldn't be happier.
Tel: 415 981 7087
Hi everyone, just bought a house in Lafayette and we need to add on a master
bedroom and a study to a cottage that was originally built in the 30's. The place
bit of a Frankenstein monster, has been added onto before, and badly. Am looking
for recommendations for a good architect, one that is creative and flexible and
and can re-envision this place so that it looks like something more than a box
some extra boxes glommed onto it. Preferably someone with expereince in
dealing w/ planners, etc. Thanks for your help.
Rick Kattenburg, in Orinda, did the remodel/addition for our
1950's home, and 10 years later,we are still extremely happy
with his design. My dad said ''He turned a sow's ear into a silk
purse!'' Plus Rick's a very nice guy. He went with us to the
Lafayette Planning Commission when we needed a variance for our
deck and helped us all the way through the project.
I highly recommend Kenny Goodman of Trademark Architecture and
Interiors. I know he has done houses in Lafayette. (His office is
in San Ramon.) We live in Moraga and are in the middle of a
kitchen/family room remodel he designed. He was extremely fast
and good. He got our desires and needs immediately. In some cases
it was like he was reading my mind! It was a very pleasant
experience. My friend worked with him on a complete gut and redo
of her Moraga home and loved working with him. He is truly an
artist and can custom design whatever you want for your home:
cabinets, stained glass, carved fireplace mantels, etc. (Our
project isn't so high-end, but boy I wish it were because his
design skills are off the charts.)
Also, my contractor and cabinet maker keep exclaiming that they
have never seen an architect with such detailed plans and
attention to every little detail. So, that is a nice endorsement
Trademark Architecture and Interiors
2551 San Ramon Valley Blvd., Suite 229
San Ramon CA 94583
Is this a fair price for drawings?
Can anyone out there help with determining whether I've been taken for a ride by an
architect? She charged me 74 hours (almost $6000) for the design phase and all she
had to show for that is a few drawings. Is that normal? I hope someone with
architectural knowledge can help me. Also if you have a good architect, please
recommend. We will definitely terminate with this present one. Just trying to figure
how to proceed and what to do next.
Thanks in advance for any help
anyone can offer
Paying $80+ an hour for a licensed, experienced architect is a
good deal. I think what it sounds like she failed to do was warn
you about how much time it takes to do the work that architects
do and give you a sense of the magnitude of the cost you were
taking on. Good design is not free or cheap and good design can
occur on ''a couple of drawings.'' It sounds like she prepared
schematic elevations and perhaps as floor plan. If so she had to
spend time meeting with you to figure out what you wanted,
perhaps measuring your house?, establishing a base, sketching
through a couple of ideas and then finalizing her schematic
designs to give to you. That should cost $6000. Architects are
highly trained professionals and should be valued.
It sounds to me that you didn't do your homework on hiring an
architect who's style matched yours. Most architects will give
you a proposal for their work so you don't get sticker shock in
the end -- and this proposal should detail exactly what you will
get for your money (for example, 3 diagrammatic concept ideas, 4
schematic elevations, floor plan, etc.... depending on the job.)
Make sure you get this before you hire your next architect. The
AIA website has consumer information on this as well
Architects are NOT cheap. Do homeowners really think they can
hired a licensed architect, licensed landscape architect,
licensed structural engineer, electrical engineer or anyone else
holding a professional degree and certification for next to
This architect you hired is essentially only billing you
$6000/74 hrs = $81/hr. She is cheap! Principle architects
charge $150/hr! Perhaps you should have hired her with lump sum
I cannot attest to the quality of the drawings she gave you, but
most homeowners don't seem to understand the complexities
involved in designing a house.
With the fee includes consultations with other disciplines
including but not limited to: structural engineers, mechanical
engineers, electrical engineers, City planning staff (making
sure she is designing something that will NOT get you into
trouble with the planning department), landscape architects,
HVAC, etc etc etc! Not to mention, sitting down and actually
drawing the drawings.
She will also be signing her name to the drawings and attesting
that she has followed all codes and regulations and that the
building is structurally sound.
$81/hr is a small price to pay to be guaranteed that you are
getting a set of drawings that are up to code and will not fall
on your head.
Now, if you don't like HOW she designed the house, then you
should be negotiating changes and costs.
And, when you signed the contract to hire her, you should have
(if you did not), discuss design fees, design changes, and
expectations! If you had done all of this, I am surprised you
are surprised with her bill! Unless you had discussed a ''not to
exceed'' cost, of course her design fees will change, especially
if paid by the hour, with changes you request.
We are looking to expand our 1000 sq. ft. Walnut Creek home and
I'd like to collect some architects' names to speak to. We are
looking for someone who can artfully expand a small home on a
small lot so that it doesn't look like a blatant addition (i.e.
no rectangular box stuck on) and which maximizes our lot so that
it is not 'all house'. Someone with a Rockridge/Berkeley design
sensibility would be ideal, not a modernist. The
architect should also be strong in structural expertise since we
may want to add a second story but don't know how that will work
with our foundation.
Also, has anyone done work with Bill Mastin recently? There is
one very old recommendation for him. I saw a house in Fine
Homebuilding that he designed that is exactly what I'm looking
For a very knowledgeable architect who is very easy to talk to,
give Sunny Grewal a call at (510) 548-7448. E-mail:
You might want to try Scott McGlashan with McGlashan
Architecture. He is in Berkeley.
Scott[at]mcglashanarchitecture.com or 510-549-2102.
Try Levitch and Associates in Berkeley. Ask for Maurice.
I highly recommend Ron Bogley in Berkeley who has carried out
three jobs on our house over the last eight years. The last was a
full second-storey addition that we're very pleased with. Ron is
a great person - very friendly, good-natured, reliable and
honest. His crew is excellent and I would recommend going with
his suggestions for subs as much as possible. (I'll post
seperately on each of these.)
We find ourselves in the situation of perhaps needing to remodel one bathroom (leaking
problem) and realize that in order to feel we've spent wisely and are happy with the
outcome, we need a master plan for remodeling other aspects of our house. We cannot afford
right now to do all of the work we'd eventually like to do but don't want to have to redo
in 2 or 5 or 10 years things we do now.
You recommendations would be greatly appreciated! drl
We also wanted a thorough master plan before tackling a remodel of our mid-century
modern home in Orinda. We had a lot of repairs to make (HVAC, electrical, roof, rats,
oh my) but wanted to make sure all changes were made with the eventual goal in mind.
We also wanted creative and rigorous design ideas to improve the house -- it had
potential, but had been thoughtlessly remodeled for 40 years.
We hired Envelope Architecture + Design in Oakland in 2003 and they drew up an
amazing, thoughtful, stylish master plan. We've been working with them on and off as
we implement it in phases. They are great young guys with an incredible eye for
design, creative solutions for problems, and kindness and patience (important with the
inevitable stress of remodeling). If you admire modernism, I highly recommend them.
Envelope Architecture + Design 510-839-0140
-- Nicole R.
We recently had architectural drawings prepared for an addition to our Colonial
Revival home in Berkeley. We used Milton Tong (510) 435-2303. Milton was extremely
responsive to our requests and accurately matched the existing architecture. Milton
explained everything that was necessary for the project, asked questions that we would
not have thought of and was very timely in completing the project. Milton worked well
with our contractor as well as the structural engineer that we needed for the project.
Milton is also very conscious of costs related to the project.
Milton is very professional and very client orientated and I think is an excellent
architect. I would highly recommend him for other for work. If we have another project
or a friend were in need of an architect we would definitely use/refer Milton.
We would highly recommend Milton for architectural needs.
I own a 4 unit apartment building in Berkeley's Elmwood District
that burned down in August. The exterior walls will remain, but
the entire interior must be rebuilt. The property was built in
1921. Can anyone recommend a builder or architect who has
experience with this architectural era and knows how to deal
with fire restoration?
I know an excellent architect and builder who work together and
can help you with your restoration. The architect's name is
Sunny Grewal (510) 548-7448 and the builder is Frank Silver
(510) 547-6111. They are very professional and will be able to
take care of it for you. Larry L.
Sunny Grewal in Berkeley is an excellent architect and easy to
talk with. 510.548.7448 or sunny[at]studiogsarch.com
Scott McGlashan of McGlashan Architecture does great work. He did
a lot of the work, both design and construction, on the building
at MLK and Dwight. (The building that has the sign for Hugh
Groman Catering.) You can reach him at: 510 549-2102 or
Hi we are doing a large addition to our house in el cerrito. I
would like to have any recommendations for an architect. We
already have our design and my husband who is a mechanical
engineer has and can draft on autocad and solidworks. But we may
need an architect to do the final drafting with all the details
etc or better yet someone who we can pay to consult with us as
to what details need to be included and my husband can do the
actual drafting work. Any recommendations would be greatly
We used Jarvis Architect. They are located at 5278 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618. 510-654-6755 tel. There website is info[at]jarviarchitect.com.
They were great, staff wonderful...but not inexpensive. Our neighbors also recently
used them for a job and were very happy. good luck
Does anybody have a great architect
recommendation? This would be for new home construction. We'd
like a house style that is traditional with some Craftsman and
maybe some Asian influence, so experience in these styles would
be a plus!
Thank you in advance!
Try Jarvis Architects located at 5278 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618. 510-654-6755 tel
Nick Noyes Architecture is a small firm located in San Francisco. He's been published
numerous times in Sunset Magazine, Architectural Record, House Beautiful etc. From a
beautiful addition he did for my mom on the eats coast to his most recent projects,
(two new ocean-view houses up at Sea Ranch), his work is exquisite.
Check out the website.
I just wanted BPN members to be aware of Doug Wolff AIBC. I have a remodeling project in Berkeley that I need
plans drawn for. I called Doug Wolff based on his craigslist.org ad and briefly explained my project. After
barely a minute of conversation, he said "I'm not going to get involved in this type of project." click.
I would not recommend using someone with such poor business skills.
Richard Worthy, Worthy Designs, 665-4573 is a licensed architect
with a lot of experience with home remodeling (among other things),
and the local planning offices here in the East Bay. He's helped
several people on the Parent's Network in previous years and is now
available again. He's a friend of mine. Very reliable, friendly,
We are currently working with a start-up architecture firm called
Arcsine. They are based out of Oakland. There are only two
architects in the firm. We needed to remodel a home we purchased:
remodel entire kitchen, effectively add a whole story to our home,
remodel master bedroom, etc. Arcsine has been good with the
planning and design ideas. Our contractors have liked working with
Arcsine, too (big plus!). Arcsine's number is 510-444-2410.
I would recommend Sunny Grewal of G&S Architects. He will help you
navigate through the whole process of design, permits and building.
He has a real passion for his work. 510-548-7448
To the member looking for a current recommendation for an
architect: my vote goes to Mahmoud Poursand (510-333-3524)
I've recently retired from 27 years as a contractor and he's the
best I've ever worked with. Talented and extremely honest and
We used Chet Zebroski of Erickson Zebroski Design group for a
remodel several years ago, and highly recommend him and his
partner, Laurie Erickson. We interviewed a number of architects
after our home burned in the Oakland Hills firestorm, and
ultimately chose to buy an existing house and remodel it. Chet had
been the project architect for a neighborms reconstruction and got
high praise from their very experienced and respected local
contractor. This recommendation carried a lot of weight with us,
because we wanted an architect who was realistic about construction
costs and issues and easy for both us and our contractor to work
with. Chet was all of these and more. Not only did he help me to
articulate my ideas and translate them into wonderful living space,
but I also consider him one of the most ethical professionals Imve
ever met. I hope to have the opportunity to work with him again.
Although EZDGms office is in San Francisco, they have considerable
East Bay experience. You can contact them at 415-487-8660, via email at
ezdg[at]pacbell.net or check out their web site
Scott McGlashan, McGlashan Architecture, 510 549-2102. Check out
his work on the web: http://www.mcglashanarchitecture.com
I can wholeheartedly recommend Geoff Holton as an architect to
consider. He designed a new home for us and has been a real
pleasure to work with. He is a good communicator and a good
listener, very reliable. He's interested and knowledgeable about
"green" construction, if that's something you want. He works well
with contractors, has lots of good ideas, and is a genuinely nice
He can be reached at 663-9797. His office is in Oakland.
We have used Peter Brock in Berkeley with his partner, Marina
Rubina, to design the Berkeley house we expect to begin in July.
Previously, we had a difficult experience with an architectural
team, wasting a year of precious time and were both discouraged and
disillusioned. A neighbor who is the president of a contracting
firm recommended Peter and Marina, who stepped in and we began
anew. In a short time, they recognized our needs, our lifestyle and
our architectural taste, working to produce what we wanted and
needed for our large extended family. With three grandchildren we
take care of for two days a week, we wanted someone who understood
the dynamics of childcare and an entraining schedule that included
11 of us on a regular basis. As we're seniors (I have a site,
seniorwomen.com), we also wanted a house that incorporated 'aging
in place' features. Peter and Marina were sensitive and responsive
to our needs. We couldn't recommend them more highly:
We recently did a major remodel that included knocking down walls, building a staircase to the basement and creating an entire floor with three bedrooms and a bath in the basement. Our contractor recommended an architect who had recently moved to Oakland from the East Coast where he had been doing a combination of commercial and residential.
His name is Bill Engelhardt. We instantly hit it off with him. He was thoroughly professional but has a great sense of humor and a very clear and easy way of explaining what he thinks should be done and why.
Our first clue that he was the right guy was that he instantly saw where we could build the staircase after several other people had been confounded by the problem, considering our relatively compact floorplan. His idea was bold and surprising - and it totally works. He is a fast and reliable worker and his rates seem completely in line with local standards. Most important, we really liked working with him and found his ideas to be tasteful and intelligent.
HIs email is: bill[at]billengelhardt.com
I highly recommend Hiromi Ogawa as an architect. We had her design the remodel of our small Albany house and couldn't be happier with her creative and thoughtful design for us. 510 205 8683
Re: Great Architect in Albany
You should check out Robert A. Wolf in Albany. He does a great job adding on to older homes while maintaining the original character. He has a website: rawconcepts.net
Re: Architect Needed
I would like to recommend Antonio Robles, who is very thoughtful, creative, reasonable, and takes the time to really understand what you're trying to accomplish. He's got nearly 20 years of extensive residential experience of all kinds. He has a fairly full schedule, but always makes time for his clients. Give him a call at 510-717-2796-- you'll be glad you did.
RE: Architect recommendation for front decks
To the person needing an architect to design a set of decks on the front of their house: I could recommend the architect we used: Lori Bockholdt. She designed a beautiful major remodel for us, including a deck, and handled the permits for our project. She also worked with a structural engineer for our project. We are very happy with her work. Her e-mail address is lbockholt[at]sbcglobal.net.
We're doing a small remodel of our garage and would like to work with a contractor/builder (and perhaps architect) that has experience and knowledge of "green" building methods and materials (e.g., cellulose insulation, cork flooring, low VOC paints, energy efficiency, etc.) It's also a pretty small and simple job, so we'd like someone who's reasonably (low) priced and prompt. thanks!
A great eco/green architect in Berkeley is Todd Jersey. His web site is www.toddjerseyarchitecture.com or phone is 510.524.5666.
We are looking for an architect for a major remodel including adding square footage to the existing foundation footprint, reworking interior space and adding a garage in the Oakland hills. We first need to decide if this is feasible with our slope and underground culvert. An architect with experience building in the hills is essential.
I would like to recommend Orjala Architects for a major remodel in the Oakland hills. Jim Orjala is a very creative architect and has done many major remodels and complete house projects in the steep areas of Oakland . One of his houses, which was recently featured in the Chronicle, was built on the edge of a cliff. For our house addition, he was very respectful to the original design of the house and very creative in incorporating his own ideas. In the past he has been a mediator for the City of Oakland regarding building problems, as he also is a very diplomatic person and was a pleasure to work with.
To Nancy who was looking for an architect w/ hills experience. I highly recommend Rebecca Schnier, an architect we've been working with for a few months. She has experience with hills and in fact, her home was built on culvert so she knows all about those issues. She's professional, friendly, very detailed oriented, has helped us through our major remodel and. Good luck!
Try Joanne Koch at 558-8280. She can provide a number of references in the Bay Area for large remodeling projects. I only know Joanne personally but can recommend her wholeheartedly as a person who would be a pleasure to work with and who goes above and beyond for her clients.
RE: Oakland Remodel Request from Nancy
Mark Hajjar has done extensive residential design and remodels in the Oakland/Berkeley hills. He is well versed in the inherent problems of hillside remodels with difficult site conditions as well as working with building dept issues. His solutions are well designed and always sensitive to light and comfortable living styles. His number is 925 683-7645. I'd definitely recommend him.
We just wanted to take a moment to recommend the architect
we've been working with on our remodel. His name is Eric
Dumican (415.828.9037, ericdumican[at]yahoo.com). We're
doing fairly extensive work with a complete kitchen,
master suite, master bath, stair well, attic remodel and a
deck addition. All in we're adding about 500 SF of living
space. We are on a tight budget and want to get a lot
done but Eric was very attentive to our needs throughout
the whole process. He's a great listener and very easy to
work with, not one of these big ego types. He was
creative in minimzing costs and also from a design
perspective. The final design is really fantastic and
we're very pleased with it. Give him a ring or drop him a
line if you're looking for an architect! See his website
at www.dumicanstudios.com Jean
We are planning a staged remodel of our house in Berkeley and would
appreciate recommendations for an architect/designer with modern/
contemporary projects in their portfolio.
I highly recommend Kathy Rogers of Sogno Design. I've seen
2 of her remodels and this year 1 of her kitchen remodels
was featured in the Rockridge Kitchen Tour. Plus she's got
a great attitude and is fun and easy to work with.
Kathy Rogers, Sogno Design
I'd like to recommend my brother, Jacek Ostoya, as a
terrific architect with a modern/contemporary sensibility.
He recently completed a total remodel (interior and
exterior) of his Edwardian in the inner Richmond, which
serves as a wonderful example of his work that you can see.
He was able to seemlessly update a classic house/style with
contemporary updates and remodeling. He was able to retain
the integrity of the home as it was originally intended but
absolutely ended up with an exciting and beautiful home. As
background, he has worked for the past 13 years at H.O.K.,
Studios, and Gensler before venturing out on his own. You
can reach him at 415.379.8689. Feel free to contact me
also, if you'd like some more info.
Good luck with your project.
I highly recommend Richard Parker who is the co-founder of
450 Architects in San Francisco. Richard helped us with a
major re-build of our Berkeley home. Richard can design a
space that would exceed your expectations of a
modern/contemporary space. He can forsee and avoid
problems with construction, material procurement and
design. And he's such a diplomatic and helpful person in
any situation -- he always looks out for the client first
and foremost which can be such a relief to you when
working with contractors and vendors. His number is (415)
546-0450 and his web site is www.450architects.com. If you
would like to ask me more about working with Richard, feel
free to call me.
I want to recommend a wonderful, modern innovative and
talented architect named Douglas Burnham. He lives in
Berkeley and has an office in Oakland. He owns his own
firm, is quite brilliant and has won many awards for his
work, and is the hardest working person I know. He was
featured in a SF Chronicle Examiner magazine profile of
hot young architects in the past year. He's also a warm,
smart and reliable person. He can be reached at 510 839-
1040. Good luck.
I would strongly recommend Joanne Koch, who
oversaw an extensive remodel of our 1970s-modernist
house in the Berkeley hills. She has an intuitive feel for
contemporary aesthetics, excellent training and
extensive work experience. She was able to imagine
the spirit our exciting home had had when it was built
nearly 40 years ago and help us bring it back to life.
Joanne is an honest, sensible, flexible person who is
a pleasure to work with. Her phone number is (510)
Jim Orjala, with an office in Oakland, is a brilliant
architect who can do any genre of architecture but has a
special flair/interest for the modern. His stuff is sensual
and singular, and he is one of the few architects who knows
about function and engineering, as well. A few weeks ago, a
very modern home that he cleaved to the side of a mountain
in Oakland was featured on the cover of the Sunday
Chronicle's real estate section.
Jim is not only gifted but also personable, so the act of
creation is a pleasurable experience.
I would like to recommend Jacek Ostoya, of Ostoya A+D who
is a wonderful modern architect. After extensive
experience working at large firms, including HOK, Studios
and Gensler, he has opened his own practice in S.F. His
own home, an Edwardian in the Inner Richmond is the best
calling card, as it where he lives and work. This was a
total remodel of the home and his assimilating of a modern
esthetic into a classic style was seamless and exciting.
Even better is that he is an amiable guy who is easy to
work with and opening to discussing your ideas and goals,
guiding you through the process. You can reach him at
Re: Designer/architect, San Francisco
My husband and I are working with Richard Parker of 450 Architects right
now on a pretty major remodel of our house. We haven't even gotten our
building permits yet, so I can't tell you how the project will wind up, but the
drawings he's produced for us are terrific, and he's already proven himself to
be very responsive, budget-minded, ''green,'' etc. You should definitely give
him a call.
Re: Looking for Architect in 925 area code
I've seen a nice remodel of a ranch style house ''across
the hill'' by Gary Samonsky of Samonsky, Pometta Architects.
Maybe they could help you?
I do know of two good architects, Robert Wolf and Andre
Rothblatt. They both have a lot of experience. Andre has
a more contemporary style and Robertms style is more
traditional. Robert does a great job in making homes with
additions look like they have always been a part of the
home. I have worked with Robert and he was great in
helping us understand the costs of the project. My
suggestions to you are: know what you want to do, make
decisions in a timely manner and stick to them, be
realistic, and patient.
Robert Wolf 510-525-0211
Andre Rothblatt 415-626-5112
I live in the Oakland Hills and had two houses remodeled by
now. Looking back on the experience, I would greatly
recommend Peter Soldat Architecture (510)655-1608. Peter's
approach helped us to get what we wanted, stay within our
budget and timeframe and end up with a house we love now.
His design is beautiful and his ability to understand what
is important to you and implement it in the design is
wonderful. He is very direct, has integrity and he is great
to work with. Also because of his architecture and
engineering background he is able to make suggestions and
work closely with the contractors to avoid many potential
problems that other architects just were not able to do.
His approach is to spend more time upfront to ensure that
the plans are very clear and include the contractor in the
overall plan early. Because we did this the process was
much smoother and the outcome was fantastic. He was also
excellent at helping us to come up with compromises as
needed to keep our budget and still have us get the looks
we wanted. We had done complete reconfiguration of the
layout of the house, full kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms
remodel with some small addition. If you wish you can come
to see our house. He has also completed other houses in the
Oakland Hills. Good luck.
Robert Alan Wolf of R.A.W. Concepts is a very creative
Architect who has completed many projects in Albany. He is
very familiar with all the planning, zoning and permit
requirements in Albany, which can be very strict. Albany
planning and zoning has even been known to recommend him!
My advice is to be patient and flexible. In the long run
you will be happy with your transformed home.
This is in reply to an inquiry by Mary for an architecture
I live in the Oakland Hills and had my whole house
remodeled (most of it was completely gutted out and some of
the rooms were enlarged, etc.) I used Peter Soldat
Peter Soldat ( the architect) was excellent. His approach,
his advice, his design and implementation were exceptional.
His advice and approach helped me to keep my original
budget without compromising the desing and quality of
remodel. He has done other homes in the Oakland Hills and
Alamo. If you wish to contact me or see my house, please
feel free to do so.
This is in response to a request for Architect. I used
Robert Wolf for my architect for a second story addition in
Berkeley. Robert is extremely knowledgeable about
structural requirements and excellent working knowledge of
all the planning and zoning requirements. He is also very
creative. He did a great job in helping us find a
contractor and make decisions that keeped our costs down. His phone number is 510-525-0211. Anon
My wife and I have met Glen Jarvis through fund raising house tours featuring the homes he has worked with. While we have not actually worked with him, we find him a very personable and responsible person who would appear to be easy to work with. The homes he has remodeled, often of the time period you mention, never show signs of the remodel, seamlessly moving from old space to new. But is it also clear that he has created remarkably comfortable and easy to live in modern spaces that cater to our current lifestyles. The clients we have met over the years always seemed very pleased with Glen and were still friendly.
If we were in your position, we'd certainly consider Glen Jarvis for our project. Sean
My husband and I were planning on a project that would
create a playroom. I posted my request for an architect
on the ADPSR listserv and got back over 20 responses. I
meet with two people with whom I was very impressed.
Rinna Flohr - she was on time, very informative, listened
well and was very easy to talk to. She listened to my
ideas and my budget and was quickly able to see a few
problems...she made some good suggestions of how to make
the project much smaller and less costly...AND told me
that I did not need to hire her for such a small job. So,
she actually helped me plan a new project - much better
bang for the buck - and talked her way out of a job. She
was great about it all - when we do a larger project, and
I actually get to hire someone, I will contact
Gregory Proefrock - he was on time, very informative,
listened well, took excellent notes and was generally very
pleasant. By the end of our meeting, it was obvious that
what we wanted was not going to happen for the budget we
had in mind. We discussed a smaller, less involved, much
cheaper alternative and he too suggested that was the
better route and said for such a small project, I did not
need plans other that my own. He seemed to understand
permits and their implicationsVvery helpful. Again, in
the future, I hope I get to call him for a projectV
Both of them had a free first meeting (I do not know if
that is always true)and neither acted at all put out that
the result of the meeting was that we would not be able to
do the project. I would recommend both of them for a
project - just from what I experienced, both would be the
type of person I would want to work with on an addition. As a side note, if I had done the project, both had very
reasonable per hour rates!
We have a 1927 home designed in the Julia Morgan studio. The
original kitchen was remodeled long ago, and we need to remodel
the entire, very large kitchen. We are looking for an architect
who can help return the kitchen design to the original
craftsmanship in the house. Does any have a recommendation on
someone for this?
We have a 1921 Julia Morgan house. We used architect
David Finn to remodel our kitchen. I wouldn't say we
returned it to the orignal (There was a coal stove, etc.),
the redesign looks like part of the house. You are
welcome to come see it if you like. David Finn is in
Berkeley at (510) 649-9299.
My good friend is an excellent architect. You can reach her at
510.527.5470 or alexandravon AT pacbell.net. She's done a
wonderful job remodelling rooms.
A husband/wife team of architects who are friendly,
creative, and PRACTICAL with your budget (work well with a
range of styles)--are Ivor Brown and Alison Keene 652-2184.
They're experienced in remodels and ground up work. They can
do a complete suite of construction drawings and assist with
on site decisions, or get you on the way to your permits and
make contractor suggestions. Designed our art studios and
house addition. I find with architects, someone who really
listens to YOUR style and especially budget is essential.
A great architect for a craftsman kitchen remodel is
2622 Lincoln Ave.
Alameda, Ca. 94501
She's experienced, has a great eye and high integrity...
Carlene Anderson has done a lot of work in the area and
has had some of her work in magazines like Sunset. We used
her to assist in the design of our kitchen and bathrooms
and were really happy. She is very efficient, has
practical ideas, knows the products that are out there,
listens to your preferences, and can work either in a
limited capacity or do it all. Vera
I can recommend Joe Farrell. Before moving back to the
east bay, we owned a home in San Carlos that was built in
the 1920's and was on the list of historical sites of that
city because it was designed by a famous architect. It
had a very unusual roof line and we needed to make an
addition to the home. Mr. Farrell was able to add a
bedroom and bath to the home that seemed as if it should
have been there all along. He has a tremendous
appreciation for honoring the authenticity of a home. He
works mostly in Marin and San Francisco on remodels, but
has come to the east bay, as far as Lafayette, in the
past. His email is jfarrell AT farrellarc.com and his
website is farrellarc.com. Good luck.
We are happy with a major remodel of our 1905 house,
completed a year ago. We used the Emeryville-based
architect Bob Remiker (510-644-8099) for all phases of the
project, from conceptualizing the design to choosing the
materials to ensuring a fine finished product. Bob has good
judgement, pays a lot of attention to detail, and works with
the architecture of the house and the owner's wishes. His
assistant helped and we were less pleased with her, even
though he supervised her work.
Bennett Christopherson is well known in this area for
excellent remodels, working with older houses to preserve
their original character. We enjoyed working with them.
Help! We need to supersize our old, tiny Albany home.
Should we add on a new second floor, or raise the house
and build a new first? Do we hire an architect or a
contractor? Help! Any/all advice gratefully accepted.
We have always been very happy with a local architect:
Ann Maria Celona 510-420-1128
She's smart, competent, reliable, good design sense, and works
well with the contractor we have used: Jesse Young 510-527-
I don't know if she knows Albany as well as Berkeley, but she was
excellent at handling the city permit office.
My husband is a painter and we would like to convert our
detached 2-car garage into a suitable painting studio. We
would like to hire an architect or someone who does
design/build. We are specifically looking for someone who
is sensitive to the craftsman style of our house and can
make the studio coherent with that design but also include
some of the more modern accountrements you would expect in a
studio such as high quality lighting. We want someone to do
a top notch job and aren't necessarily looking for the cheapest.
I'd like to recommend Rob Stiles for the project. He has
a great aesthetic and is a pleasure to work with. You can
view his website for more info and contact information
Good luck with your project!
Can anyone recommend
an architect that you think might work well with
the bungalow style (a 1920's house built in the Crocker
Highlands area of Oakland). We are looking to possibly add
on to our house, and want to find someone whose style might
work well with the period of our house. And who of course,
is great to work with! Thanks.
I would like to recommend Andrew Fecskes. He has done
a large variety of work, but included are residential
projects. He is nice, easy to work with and does great
work. He has not worked on an historic bungalow
per se, but did a house in Woodside several years ago
which was based on bungalow design and used a lot of
bungalow details. You do not need someone who specializes
in only bungalows to get a great job done. A good
architect can understand that style and keep within it.
More important is someone who listens to you and is good to
Andrew's work number: 415 499 0661
Why not give Barry Wagner a call? Though I have no personal
experience with him as an architect, I have taken the class
Barry teach on bungalows at the Building Education Center
and the Piedmont Adult School, and he really seems to know
his stuff. He's a licensed architect, contractor, and
bungalow owner. Good luck.
We met a local architect who specializes in bunglows at a
course he teaches on the subject (through Piedmont Adult
School and the Building Education Center--has a class
coming up there on Aug 24). He seemed knowledgeable and the
slides of his work looked good. We just bought our first
house and he's been really helpful with referrals, even
though we haven't worked with him yet. We haven't talked
with anyone who's hired him, though. His name is Barry
Wagner and his number is: 841-4040.
I am working on mostly residential remodel projects in Berkeley and Oakland.
Although I am not
Bungalow style, I work with clients who want to stay within the style of their
house. I usually work on
hourly basis and guide through Schematic Design, Pricing, Permit drawings and if
desired also Working
drawings and Construction Administration. With small projects, the contractor often
takes it from the
completion of the permit set and I only get invovled if there are specific
questions or special areas that
I came to the Bay Area from Stuttgart, Germany five years ago and worked for
several offices in San
(residential and commercial projects) and started my own practice one year ago
after my son was born.
now I used to work from home, but will be moving into an office in Oakland downtown
as my home
started to take over too much space.
Please e-mail me if you are interested in meeting and discussing your ideas.
anne-catrin schultz acschultz at earthlink.net
My husband and I want to add a second story to our one-story
Craftsman bungalow (built in the 1910's) in North Oakland. Any
recommendations for an architect/designer/builder who is able to:
1) work within the Craftsman style and Oakland building codes;
and 2) provide budget estimates that turn out to be feasible? The
latter seems to be the tough criterion; we keep hearing things like
''So and so gave us wonderful designs, but everything cost 4 times
what he/she predicted!'' Thanks for any suggestions.
Typically any residential remodel will cost $200-$250/per
square foot. I work for a firm in Emeryville and am not
sure that I am supposed to use UCB network to tout my
employer, but I wanted to write in to let both the bungalow
remodel and the kitchen renovation queries know the
basics. Costs go up depending on finishes chosen and the
contractor you select. Check out our firm: www.hayashida-architects.com We don't force a pre-determined style on to
our clients and only design for within your reach. Good
Madeline in north Oakland asked about a architect that
was good with Bungalow style houses for an addition
she was planning. I have worked with an architect
Morgan Smith who work out of his Berkeley office but
does projects all around the bay .He has considerable
experience with residences of this kind and does
projects anywhere from a kitchen remodel to a new
building. He is reliable and easy to work with. If you
cannot find him listed I'd be happy to give you his
In response to several different people looking for a
architect/contract firm; I would highly recommend the
design/build firm of Levitch Associates. We were very
pleased with a remodel they did for our Berkeley House in
the summer of 2001. It was such an advantage to have
Levitch Assoc. handle both the design and build phase.
Working with Ed and Maurice Levitch, there were absolutely
no hassles negotiating with subcontractors and other firms;
they handled it all for us! They gave us frequent updates
about the project and they were always available. While
their bid was slightly higher than others, their attention
to detail and reliability were well worth the expense. Plus
there were no surprises and we wound up paying exactly what
we had negotiated for in our budget. (It seems I keep
hearing stories about contractors with lower rates who wind
up being more expensive in the end and take way longer than
stated.) Not so with Levitch Associates: They finished on
time and in budget. They do beautiful work. The phone
number for Levitch is 510-845-6941
This is in response to posting from Madeline:
I am very happy with my architect who remodeled my whole
house in the Oakland Hills. He was very pragmatic and at
the same time was able to come up with a beautiful design.
He helped me to establish realistic budget before I
started. From the beginning he was very clear about the
process and also pointed out to me the areas which
potentially could increase the overall cost or cause
potential problems in my house. It was very helpful to me
because my budget did not include items like ''discovering
dry rot'', ''structural upgrades'', or ''design review fees''.
Also I was unrealistic about the various costs associated
with my project (permits, measuring and drafting existing
space, etc.) when I was doing my budget. He suggested
involving the contractor early in the process, before final
design and final drawings were finished to obtain an
accurate estimate of the cost. I was very happy that I
followed his process because I was able to keep my final
design and control my costs better. I managed to stay
within my final (more realistic) budget. He was excellent
at coming up with different trade offs to ensure that we
stayed within the budget before we finalized everything.
It was a long process but it was definitly worth doing it
correctly. I love my house now. If you wish to contact my
architect, his name is Peter Soldat, 510-886-4241. I know
that he has done various home remodels in the Oakland
Hills. He has also done a 1929 bungalow in Oakland.
We are doing a kitchen remodel on a limited budget, and
need recommendations/advice on having plans drawn. Because
we will be moving a bearing wall, we probably need to have
professional plans. Given our budget, however, we do not
want to pay $5000+ for an architect who will give us lots
of great ideas that we will then have to eliminate one by
one because we cannot afford them. Also, the architects we
met so far have been primarily focused on design, and not
so verse in structural issues. Any recommendations on how,
and from whom (structural engineer? architect?
contractor?), to get a good set of plans from someone with
expertise in structural and spacial issues, and with
sensitivity to those on a limited budget? (If I have to
talk to another architect who tells me that the average
kitchen remodel costs $60-$100k, I think I will cry.)
We are working with architect Gary Parsons on a seismic
upgrade that includes tearing out a couple of walls in our
kitchen, so we'll be doing some kitchen work too. Gary is an
experienced and talented architect and we've been very happy
working with him and his company. One of the great things
about working with him is the structural engineer he works
with, Juri Komendant. Juri is a very knowledgeable engineer
who has done a lot of work in the Berkeley area, but he's also
sensitive to design issues. Our old house has so many windows
that there are not many continuous walls to hold the house
stiff during shaking. Juri has been able to figure out how to
strengthen the walls without messing with the wood paneling
and old leaded glass windows. If you need a great architect
who works with a great structural engineer then I can highly
recommend Gary Parsons in Berkeley.
I cannot give you a recco on an architect well versed in
structural issues, but I can tell you that some
contractors can do drawings, mine did for my
foundation. So maybe you can ask your contractor if he
or an engineer that he knows can do it.
Also, please be aware that with a kitchen remodel in
Berkeley/Oakland area (houses that are old) that once
you start removing plaster and the like, you are bound
to find problems (dry rot, structural issues, etc.) that
have to be addressed and can drive your costs through
the roof. I started out with a 50,000 dollar kitchen
remodel and ended up with a 20,000 dollar foundation
and a 70,000 dollar kitchen. They basically had to
remove the whole south side of my house! The wood
underneath was so rotten, it was like a corn husk. And
the previous owner had done some shoddy work, and
there were no wood support beams supporting the roof
in my dining room!
recommend 1) an architect, and/or 2) a design/build firm, for a
remodel/addition to a small Berkeley craftsman home. This will
be minimally re-doing the current kitchen and bath plus adding
a laundry/storage room and a 2nd bath, to maximally (ideally)
all of the above plus an ''extra room'' addition. (Then, of
course, there's the deck building for the backyard but that
might wait...) Can you recommend someone for this type of
work? How recently was your remodel or addition done? How did
your budget for the job end up covering things? Looking
forward to recent recommendations, tips, advice, etc. etc.!
Needing a little more space
In response to a posting looking for an architect, I can
very confidently recommend Joanne Koch of Koch Architects.
She's based out of Emeryville, 510-601-8156. We worked
with Joanne on our kitchen remodel and we are so thrilled
with the results. She comes with a lot of experience
working on very high-end homes in Napa/Sonoma, but she also
has a great sensibility for working with older, more modest
homes (like our little 2bd bungalow in Westbrae). I think
it was that versatility that really made the difference on
our kitchen. I appreciate the time she spent making sure
the layout was functional and her great suggestions for
little details that really make the space special. She
made sure the new space integrates well with the older
parts of the house and she was great with the contractor,
especially when it came to solving all those little issues
that inevitably come up. Best of all, she was great to work
with. Good luck!
There is a book out there on remodeling bungalow kitchens.
The title is something obvious like Bungalow Kitchens, and
you can pick it up at Builders' Booksource down on 4th
Street in Berkeley. It's by a woman, I think her name is
Jane Powell. Gives great advice for bungalow purists and
Web forum: A few people were asking for resources regarding
flooring/kitchen remodels. I've been doing research on a
kitchen remodel and have found the following web forums to
be terrific resources:
We are thinking about putting an addition (bedroom and
bathroom) on our home in the Glenview neighborhood of
Oakland. We would very much welcome recommendations for
architects and/or contractors with a strong design
background. Looking for someone who is efficient,
reliable, honest, and talented.
Any leads would be appreciated.
Unsolicited recommendation for an artist/ designer/ builder
based in North Oakland. Brian Canevari, owner of BC FRaME
Functional Research and Mechanical Experimentation is a
friend from college who has owned and operated a
professional studio for the past 5 years. He has completed
following projects for me: Programs and Sculptures for our
wedding; watercolors for our home, design conultation for
remodeling-including CADD drawings). He has a Bachelor of
architecture degree, yet is not yet licensed as an
architect. Brian also does really interesting custom
tables: His tables range from small to large, for the
entry, kitchen, dining room, or conference area. He uses a
mixture of wood, metal, glass and leather. For more info.
call Brian D. Canevari B. C. FRaME 1-877-223-7263
bcsculptor AT earthlink.net
We are looking for an architect to design a kitchen and
master bedroom remodel.
I am currently working with Gary Parson's on a
kitchen/bath remodel. I have found him to be very
creative, patient and pleasant to work with. He is
probably not the least expensive architect around but so
far I think that he is worth it. He can be reached at
510.527.9272. He has a web site - www.garyearlparsons.com
We LOVED working with Gary Parsons in Berkeley. We
know of others who had good experiences too.
Hi - We are ready to remodel our 1920 bungalow kitchen and
we need help! We have no idea where to start. We're
hoping a budget of $15k is reasonable for a small, eat in
kitchen. We will have a friend do the actual construction
work for us so we can save on labor costs.
Since we are total novices, we had thought of hiring a
designer/architect to help us with ideas and draw up a
plan. Any recommendations? Is $1000 a reasonable cost for
The only showrooms we know about are Ikea and Home Depot.
Any suggestions on books, magazines or showrooms we can
look at to get ideas? Also, any tips from other kitchen
remodel survivors? Such as what to do first, how to
proceed from there, things you learned, things you
overlooked or would do differently next time or ???
Thanks in advance with this overwhelming project!
For an architect/home remodel designer - I recommend my
friend Richard Worthy again (MArch/MCP from Cal). He's
honest, reliable, accurate, reasonably priced and has done at
least a hundred plans for home
remodels (and other stuff from luxury homes to grocery
stores). He can tell you whether $1000 will work for the
plans of your project. He can also shepherd your
plans through any permits required by the city or explain
what needs doing to you. He can be a
project manager and/or put you in touch with some crafts
people/engineers/laborers/contractors to make sure the job's
done right. His number is 510/665-4573, or you can call me
for a reference 549-8790. Someone on this list did get in
touch, so you could ask around on their experience.
He's currently advising me on changes in a new house I bought
with my boyfriend.
We are currently working with architect Bill Mastin. Our
project is in its final phases (we hope!!); we too own a
small Berkeley bungalow, which Bill enlarged somewhat with
us: we extended the back of of house a bit, remodeled the
kitchen and added a partial second story. We are incredibly
happy with Bill, in fact, we nearly revere him. We have
worked with him on this project for about 2 years now,
though the construction phase has only been the past 8
months. He is extremely thorough, attentive to detail and
knowledgeable about bungalow style. He has listened to us
deeply and respectfully, and created a design for our house
that incorporated all of our individual needs and
personalities, but at the same time is respectful of the
original house and its integrity. Regarding reliability, we
see Bill as reliable to a fault--he is meticulous and
determined to communicate clearly and to make decisions
collaboratively (at the same time, he has opinions and
makes them clear). We were recommended to him by friends
whose small bungalow remodel was one of Bill's first
projects, and it has held up beautifully--it's a lovely
space. And we've seen other houses he's worked on,
including his own, and found them each unique and full of
wonderful, intimate details and light. For us, Bill has
worked as both architect and project manager, and has been
excellent, organized and responsible. We have found him to
be respectful of our budget, and able to help us to make
choices which kept our project from escalating beyond what
we could afford. In short, we cannot recommend him highly
enough. Working with him has been a delightful, educational
and harmonious experience. We have the highest respect for
his ideas, and we love our improved home.
I would like to recommend an unusually gifted and creative architect who, for the past 10 years, has focused on
straw bale construction. Bob Theis is
currently in private practice, with an emphasis on helping people create rich, deeply satisfying environments for
themselves, especially ones that
integrate outdoor areas into everyday living-- perfect for our climate! If you are considering renovations,
additions, or even new construction, he would
be a good person with whom to confer.
Bob Theis can be reached at 510-235-0616 or bob AT bobtheis.net.
My husband and I are planning on adding a second story to
our small house in Albany - but need advice on how to
proceed. He is planning on doing much of the work himself
(along with our contractor friend). We have a good idea of
the floor plan we want.
Do we hire an architect to draw up the design - if so -
does anyone have an inexpensive recommendation?
then do we get an engineer to check it out and go get
Any help or advice appreciated.
I'm an architect and here is some general info in response
to the request from the family in Albany who were looking
to add a second floor to their house.
You need the services of a structural engineer to design
your second floor addition as well as checkout your
foundations and first floor walls to ensure they can
support a second floor (they probably can't). You don't
necessarily need an architect, but either an architect or
designer (an individual who is not licensed as an
architect) may be helpful to you in developing your ideas
and making sure the work is complete and well coordinated.
Having a good set of drawings also helps smooth the design
review and building permit process, as well as providing
the basis for contractor pricing/bidding.
As an aside, I recently attended a seminar by a contractor
who suggested that it is far less expensive and disruptive
to raise an existing house and add a new floor underneath
rather than adding a second floor.
Feel free to email me if you have further questions about
Lori, KlumbArcht AT aol.com
I'd like to recommend my favorite architect - my husband,
Robert Akiyama, AIA. Bob has been an architect for over 20
years. He has worked at several large firms in the East
Bay and San Francisco. His work has included residential,
commercial, restaurant, and university projects. He is
currently working as a sole practitioner specializing in
home additions/remodels and commercial projects. Bob has
also worked for the Cities of Berkeley and Piedmont
building departments and is very experienced in helping
clients successfully navigate the permit process.
If you would like to know more about his services, please
contact him at (510)527-0110.
After having had a baby in november last year I started
my own office working on small remodels and
residential additions in the East Bay. I am a trained
architect and worked for several well known firms in the
East Bay during the last four years. I am currently
collaborating with a contractor who does design built
work in the East Bay. I have done projects in Berkeley
and Oakland but don't know the building department in
Albany - I am sure it is not that different though. E-mail
me if you are interested and we can set up a date and
time to meet, look at it and discuss what you would like
to do. After that I can give you an idea about cost
involved for as-built drawings, schematic design and
permit drawings as well as supervising construction.
anne-catrin, acschultz AT earthlink.net
Hi, I am responding to a person who was looking for an
architect... We are working with Christopher Nutter to
redesign our front steps. His rates are very reasonable,
and we found him through my husband's office, who works
with Chris professionally. He is very responsive and on
the ball (especially about permits and the like). He can
be reached at:
Christopher L. Nutter
nutter AT alum.mit.edu
This is to respond to the inquiry about stairs to large
attic and seeking contractor and architect--We hopefully
will start a second story addition and kitchen remodel next
spring and we've made mistakes along the way and maybe
others could avoid them. The current building codes
require alot of structural work for second story(we
replaced our entire foundation approx 9 years to meet the
standard for second story--thinking we'd eventually add on-
and the work we need to do now costs TWICE what we paid
before --not including the engineer fees)The architect's
estimate of the engineer's fees were also much lower than
I wish we'd been more insistent on what we wanted AND why
it couldn't be done. 2 1/2 years later we are back to what
we originally asked for after several less satisfactory
plans and thousands of dollars of architect fees. Also,
the architect owns the plans so if you have a disagreement,
you need to start all over with a new person and more money.
My husband is a general contractor who also specializes in
stairbuilding. He works with Tom Lawerence and Associates,
a Berkeley based company. They are wonderful people to work
with, and I highly recommend them. They will let you know
if they can do the job within your specified budget.
They can be reached at 237-3421 or 237-3567. Good luck
I'm looking for both an architect, and a contractor, for
an addition to a small ( 1000 SF) Berkeley home built in the
1910's. I want to keep as much of the ''Craftsman'' feel as
possible, but need probably 500 additional square feet, as I
have a school-age daughter. Does anyone have recent
recommendations? Tips or advice? People (situations) to
avoid? Any and all recommendations are welcome. Also, if you
have had recent work done, would you comment on the approximate
Dreaming, in a small space
We just bought a huge old house in Berkeley and are planning a major
rehabilitation (new kitchen, tear down some walls, new master bedroom,
etc.). We're having a very hard time finding an available Architect- Does
anyone know of a good, available Architect?
I would recommend Berkeley architect Cathy Roha. She designed an addition
for our 1920s Berkeley bungalow three years ago and we were very happy
working with her. She is creative, flexible and good at listening to your
ideas. She's professional and good at working with contractors (and
grumbling neighbors). She has a love of old houses and can ensure that the
new work you do is in keeping with the original architecture. And she's
reasonably priced. I don't know how booked up she is, but give her a call:
Hi, I wanted to pass on a recommendation to the person looking for an
architect. My husband, Ivan Terry and his brother Alex have a
small architecture firm in Berkeley and have lots of residential
experience. Of course I'm biased, but they are very talented. As they are
building a house themselves in the Berkeley hills they are very familiar
with the Berkeley codes, etc. and have a great deal of first hand
construction experience, which can be helpful in interacting with
contractors. If you want to contact them they can be reached at
510-525-0504 or at terryandt AT aol.com.
I have a recommendation Kerna Trottier. Kerna did the remodel design work
for our Monclair home. She has been great. We explained what we wanted and
she drew up several, very rough variations on our ideas. Asked us to
review, choose, and comment so she could refine for us. She knows we are on
a budget so she made several suggestions to save money, create more storage,
and better esthetics. I can not recommend her highly enough. Our project
will be constructed this spring. Kerna also did an extensive remodel
(actually re-design) on my uncles home in Sunol. She designed it in a way
that he could implement the plan over time. The finished home is absolutely
stunning, perfect for the setting. Now that he is finding his family
growing larger than planned he is considering adding on and he will ask
Kerna to do the design again.
Kerna is a Berkeley native, designed her own home in the hills, but
unfortunately lost it in the fire. She really likes to do remodels in the
Berkeley, Oakland area, is very responsive, and takes the time to double
check everything. Because of our lot we had permiting issues and she took
care of everything flawlessly.
I can not say enough great things about Kerna.
Re: Seeking kitchen designer
Angela Klein is a close personal friend of mine and a
Here is Angela's information:
Angela Klein is a licensed architect with over 18 years
experience in various commercial and residential projects.
She is currently the principal of her own practice in
Alameda, specializing in small commercial interior and
residential projects. Small remodels including kitchen and
bath remodels are her specialty. Current projects are
various residential remodels in Alameda and Piedmont,
College Avenue Presbyterian Church, Borel Middle School and
Action Technologies.. Angela has worked for the firms
including John Malick and Associates, Stephen Sooter
Architect, Brayton and Hughes, The Woods Group and in the
As an architect with interior architecture experience,
Angela is unique, in that she can provide complete design
and execution services for your project from planning and
construction detailing to inte
I just posted a recommendation a few weeks ago for the
architect we used on our kitchen remodel. Her name is
Joanne Koch at Koch Architects, 510-601-8156. She has an
amazing design sense and also helped tremendously with
getting contractor lined-up, making sure they kept to the
plans, schedule, budget etc.
We used Jamie Carlen as contractor (510-970-7977) and were
more than pleased with their work.
Good luck on your project.
We are seeking a recommendation for an architect to help us with a small
remodeling design. We are interested in architecture students as well.
Can anyone recommend someone (price?)?
You may try DVA interior design group. They are interior designers, but did
a plan drawing for our small residential remodel. They told us they have
access to architects for drawings that require a stamp, but we didn't need
one. They have done good work for us, and worked with our ideas (not pushing
theirs on us or making us feel like we had no taste). DVA's phone number is
You may want to contact ADPSR (Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility).
can send an announcement explaining what you're looking for to the organization's e-mail
listserv: ADPSR at aol.com. Your message will reach architecture and design professionals and
students. You can also call or visit ADPSR's Green Resource Center (845-0472; 2000 Center
Street, Suite 120, Berkeley) for a referral. The center also has a publications and building
materials library, and volunteers to answer questions.
David Moffat at 841-1902 is terrific with maximizing space and making an
simple elegant space out of limited space. His office is on 9th st.
I can recommend patrick kelly sheahan. He designed a house for us and we
found him to be creative, receptive, and very generous with his time. His
number is 510/849-3934.
We are in the midst of a MAJOR remodel of our house (gutting the kitchen,
three new bathrooms, work on the dining room, garage, laundry room and
hallways). Our architect, Regan Bice, had been described to me as "a
prince of a man" when I was checking references on the architects we
considered. That description was absolutely on target. Regan has made a
very stressful (and expensive) experience much less so. He is
tremendously talented, but does not have a huge ego. He listens and
suggests rather than imposing his "vision". He has been able to come up
with elegant solutions to our problems while trying to keep some sort of
budget in mind. He has remained calm and accessible and caring during
difficult periods (such as last week as we fell apart over the stress of
moving out...walls come down tomorrow!)
Regan has built several firestorm area houses; (one was recently
mentioned in a four page spread in the San Francisco Focus) in a variety
of styles, but most tending toward what I suppose would be called
minimalist. At the same time he is at home working in other vernaculars
- our house is a "Bay Tradition" which is post-Craftsman, and I've seen a
wonderful territorial style house he designed in New Mexico. I cannot
say enough about him. He is not as expensive as Christofferson and
Graff, and in fact I've been feeling guilty about how underpaid he is for
the job he is doing for us. His associates, Chris and Andrew, are also
superb. I feel very fortunate to be working with the office of Regan Bice
Architects, and unreservedly recommend him to anyone contemplating new
construction or major remodeling. Feel free to contact me with any
questions. His office number is (510) 549-1499.
Congratulations! I can highly recommend Bennett Christopherson
from Christopherson and Graff (653-4500). He is amazing -- technically
talented and very nice to work with. He designed a major remodel of
our downstairs recently and has designed several post-fire houses.
If you do call him, tell him I said hello!
p.s. I recently saw a house for sale and their ad bragged
"kitchen designed by Bennett Christopherson". He has an
outstanding reputation in this community. Sharon
We had one note about Bennett Christopherson. We really liked him when we
hired him for a small job but didn't like him as much when the bill totaled
more than three times the estimate he gave us. I would ask him to put his
estimates in writing and maybe ask for a "total bill will not exceed this
amount" type of estimate. Otherwise, he's lovely and his work is great.
this page was last updated: Feb 5, 2013
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network