Hammering Away At It: Building & Remodeling SF
Like everything in San Francisco, doing up your home, tearing down a property or developing a new building or project is complicated and costly. But like everything in the Bay Area, it can become an incredibly valuable endeavor too.
One of the easiest ways to personalize and/or increase the value of your home or to get a deal by is remodeling it. So how much will it all cost? How long will it take? I may be able to give you a ballpark figure as to how much things will cost: $20,000 for a bathroom, $50,000-$80,000 for a kitchen, adding a garage $100,000 and contractors will do the same too. But until you’re actually in the process (and into the walls) everyone is only guessing.
Just Delete That Wall, It’ll Be Nothing! (Until It’s Something)
You’ll probably hear me or someone else say it: “Oh you can change that around after we buy it.” Or, well, that was done ‘without the benefit of permit.’ You’re likely to encounter many questions along the way as you seek to buy a home in City. Chances are that you only be able to find something that is <em>close</em> to what you want and that you’ll want to personalize your home to match your needs and aesthetics. But what does that entail exactly? How does a cosmetic remodel differ from one that is structural? Does “down-to-the-studs” mean it’s better than something that’s been there for 100 years? Why does a pest report matter in some cases and is waived in others? And is new construction really better than that 100+ year old Victorian? What’s the difference between an “over-the-counter” permit and one that needs ‘approval?’ Building and/or remodeling in San Francisco can be incredibly time-consuming and expensive but this even before you pick up a hammer or open a can of paint. What we’re talking about here is the process involved with getting approval to do almost any kind of work to your property.
Why This Matters
Building in San Francisco can be quite rewarding but, as you would imagine, our fair city requires a fair amount of logistical planning, permit work, and bureaucracy. It can be quite costly as well: permits, legal fees, material costs, code provisions, labor, revisions and the unknown X factors can radically alter any budget, good-faith construction bid, or weekend project. by several thousands of dollars and by months, if not years from what you originally intended.
All things being equal, it will take an average of one or two years to do a major remodeling project that expands beyond a structures ‘envelope’ (the 3-D space it presently occupies) or to build a house from scratch in the City on one of the few available vacant lots in San Francisco proper. Most of this time – as you can guess – will be spent in the planning and permitting stage with the actual construction work being relatively quick. You’re bound to encounter a remodeling/renovation/construction issue at one point here in San Francisco even if you’re only maintaining your home rather than just blowing it out and adding a floor. This section attempts to give you an overview of what that remodeling process is like if it’s done according to the book, i.e., with City-issued permits, or if you want to build anew. If you have the wherewithal, patience and resources, then read on…