Our recent Fremont Townhomes have shown up in another industry publication, Builder Magazine! They highlighted Unit 5, which is built on a narrow sliver of commercially zoned land–only 10′ feet wide. Â The lot is just 400 sf, and we were able to get a 950 sf 2br/2ba (that is an FAR of 2.375 for you density geeks out there).
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The Planning, Land-Use and Neighborhood Committee is planning on voting on the Backyard Cottages on October 8th. Â Last chance to make yourself heard on this issue!
It will be a packed agenda, with discussions of the Multi-family code revision as well as the design review process (which will be mandatory in Multi-family).
The 10x10x10 is an event put on by the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild annually to highlight regional sustainably oriented projects each year. Â The name derives from the fact that they showcase 10 projects, and give each presenter 10 minutes to talk about 10 slides. Â This year CAST was selected to be one of the presenters for our work on in-fremont, a series of 5 town homes designed for 5 star BuiltGreen certification. The event was held at the Gates auditorium, at the Seattle Public Library last Friday. There were some great projects discussed – I especially enjoyed Christina Bollo’s talk from SMR on Kenyon House a LEED platinum affordable housing project. Â Since I have all the material handy I thought I would post the slides from my talk, as well as a quick transcript, which steps through some of the concepts, and techniques we were working on with the in-fremont project.
In the last month, the City Council paid 3 groups to study the new MF code and flesh out some likely outcomes (good and bad) and propose revisions to the code.Â It is a complex issue–the code revision itself is about 277 pages–and no doubt the Council were daunted by the prospect of interpreting the impact.Â It took me two evenings just to get through the entire code and I am still not sure I’ve got a handle on all the ins and outs.
The three groups were the Masterbuilders Association, the Congress of Residential Architects, and Group Three (composed of unaffiliated concerned citizens).Â Each group were paid 5k for their work (our fee went to CORA–not to theÂ 8 individual participants). Â Here are my impressions from the three groups: Read the rest of this entry »
Cheers to Stefan for his excellent presentation at the NW Ecobuilding Guild’s annual celebration of innovation in sustainability!
CAST has been involved in reworking the Multi-family code for the City of Seattle–this byzantine, arcane legacy that seems to produce the dreaded Four Pack/Six Pack around a shared auto court.
The proposed code is evolutionary, and at this point, has been watered to down to the point that the impact will not affect the majority of lowrise multifamily that goes up in Seattle. Â It is pretty disappointing in general, but a couple of highlights:
1. The move to FAR rather than density limits for number of unit will create more demand for smaller units in the L3 zone
2. Â The setbacks are reduced–good for the urban sidewalk edge, and allow raised stoops in the front yard.
3. Height bonuses for workforce housing, and green building are going to get used–an example of incentivizing good construction.
And a couple of lowlights:
1. Â Green Factor’s heart in is the right place, but the high baseline is going to force some heavy gaming of the rules, such as fences become ‘vegetated walls’, and green roofs are going to go in then be abandoned. Â The city would be better off lowering the baseline and focusing it on green factors that are going to be maintained and become beneficial for the environment and the city.
2. Â Density limits in L1 remain, and thus there is zero impetus to alter the 4 pack in any meaningful way.
3. Â Partially below grade parking doesn’t count toward FAR (that’s good), but doesn’t give you additional height–meaning no one is going to pay to bury the parking if they are then also not able to offset the cost with a third story of marketable square footage.
I’ll post more info later….
Here at CAST we have been watching the Seattle City Council very closely over the past few months as they contemplate passing an ordinance that would allow homeowners to construct backyard cottages, or DADUs (detached accessory dwelling units), on their property… The measure is of particular interest to me as I’m a proponent of multigenerational living. If passed, the ordinance would provide greater flexibility for Seattle homeowners who wish to bring their families closer together.
Curious what the ordinance would mean for my own property I spent a little time putting together some plans…
We have been working hard to get the City of Seattle to agree to allow Backyard Cottages, or DADUs (detached accessory dwelling units).
It gives owners opportunity and choice to provide additional housing for rental or a studio, will increase property values and does so in a measured way that is conscientious of neighbors and the single family neighborhood fabric. The current legislation will allow fifty per year–so it will have a minimal effect on neighborhood character. Â If anything, I’d like to see more of them.
I find it amazing that this is at all controversial, considering you can put an detached accessory building or garage on your lot which may not be as tall, but can take up to 1000 square feet of your back yard! Â The argument that this proposal will lead to less trees and green space in Seattle is a red herring.
And since attached accessory dwellings are already allowed outright, it also doesn’t make sense that this proposal will lead to more density. Â More likely, it will lead to more people choosing to build a small cottage than expanding their existing house to provide for the mother-in-law. Â Two smaller structures are better for the scale of the city than more larger houses.
Carriage houses are successful component of many cities’ neighborhood fabric and we’d like to see them allowed in Seattle too! Â If they were, I’d build one–my neighborhood and site would be perfect for a little cottage–so here is my first pass….
I need a shop space, my wife needs an home office, and both of us need a place for our parents when they are in town for extended visits.
The building’s footprint is roughly 40 x 14 with an airy studio (or 1 car garage with ample storage), and a guest bedroom and bath on the first floor. Â Stairs lead up to a loft office overlooking the garden. Â The design has some additional flexibility built in–the garage can be built with the rough in for a kitchen, so with minor changes, we’d have a 2br/1ba cottage.
We have been talking to an excellent local contractor with experience in prefab about teaming up to deliver a few prototypical designs for a fixed price (including ground work) somewhere around $210 a square foot, but one-off custom stick built cottages will be competitive in price, and adapt to the unique conditions of each site–existing lot coverage, location of existing buildings, solar orientation, parking, matching materials etc.
Before we do any real development, the City Council needs to green light the ordinance. Â So you support the legislation, email the council!
We’ll be posting info on what we’re working on, what is exciting in the realms of technology, sustainability and design, and tracking issues that affect the vitality of Â the Seattle environment, such as density, multi-family housing, backyard cottages, transit, and community parks.
This blog will be a grab bag of architectural research, development, and a library of cool source information.