Reducing regulations for backyard cottages works but isn't enough. Education, better financing tools, breaks on fees are also critical to widespread adoption.Read More
People love backyard cottages. Could they also help solve Seattle's housing shortage?Read More
Clients : Reichert Studio
Heidi and Darin
Structural Engineer: TSE Engineering
Keith Ryan PE
Envelope Engineer: RDH building Science inc
Abridged project team at the awards left to right : Luke, Dave, Stefan, Darin, Heidi and Jeffrey
New projects in construction all over! Here is a juicy preview of projects to come!Read More
Rainier Beach Urban Farm Classroom building is taking shapeRead More
We are hiring again, this time for a Project Architect position. If you want to join our team, here is the job description:
The candidate will work under the direct leadership of a principal/project manager and will assist with all aspects of the design and production of residential, commercial and public architectural works. The candidate will be tasked with collaborative design with a principal through Schematic Design, then be responsible for Design Development, Construction Documents, Permitting and Construction Administration. Additional duties may include some production of marketing materials as needed.
• First and foremost you are an exceptional designer who excels working in a collaborative and creative environment
• A ‘can do’ work attitude on all tasks from the mundane to the extraordinary
• Solid verbal, written, and graphic communication skills in order to evenly manage day to day affairs with clients and contractors
• A well rounded understanding of the technical aspects of materials use, construction techniques and details, especially light wood framing and building envelopes.
• Able to reliably estimate design time required for a project, and meet promised schedules.
• A firm grasp of Seattle’s Land use and building codes, as well as permitting requirements.
• Ability to complete a single family residential construction document set with minimal oversight.
• Ability to successfully navigate Seattle’s DCI with minimal oversight.
• A Bachelors or Master’s degree in architecture from an accredited university is required.
• Architectural license preferred but not required.
• Experience with BuiltGreen, LEED or Passive House would be beneficial.
• 5+ years of experience.
• Highly proficient with architectural drafting software, preferably ArchiCAD (Note – we do not use AutoCAD). We will train if you don’t have ArchiCAD experience but are ready to learn.
• Highly proficient with Sketchup
• Highly proficient with Adobe creative suite, with an emphasis on Photoshop and InDesign
• Familiar with Microsoft Office suite, emphasis on Word and Excel
CAST architecture is a small full service architectural firm specializing in residential design and small scale public and commercial works. Our office is friendly and low-key. We enjoy working collaboratively, have a tradition of Friday afternoon design crits, and actively foster a team approach in all of our endeavors. We pride ourselves in promoting a healthy work/life balance and passions and interests outside the office.
Submit a cover letter, resume and samples of design work digitally to employment@CASTarchitecture.com. We will review and respond to everyone by October 30th at the latest.
No phone calls or hand-delivered applications please.
"Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An' if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know … Should I stay or should I go?" - The Clash
Ahh, the question that keeps re-modelers awake at night. It may seem like an achievable idea but trying to maintain a normal lifestyle in the middle of a construction zone is a test for most families. Before you commit to this restless journey we encourage you to consider the following complications.
A general breakdown of the positives and negatives of remaining in your home.
- Save the cost of renting
- Avoid the hassle of relocating your family and items
- Rise and Shine - Construction days start early
- Construction is Dirty Business - Prepare for dust and debris
- Restricted Area - Limited access to parts of your home
- Black Out - System upgrades will require coordination and may be inconvenient
- Time is Money - Any delays in schedule will increase the project's price tag
- Power Tools are not Subtle - Construction sites are extremely noisy
- Health Concerns - Every remodel comes with a certain amount of risk of exposure to lead and asbestos, especially in older homes
Also of consideration when living in a construction zone is the associated health risks. The severity of this exposure is dependent on several factors including how well the construction area can be sealed and the age of the home being renovated. Homes that pre-date the 1970's are extremely likely to contain lead paint which can pose serious health hazards; especially for young children. If the area of remodel can be completely quarantined then it's worth further consideration, but if your separation plan is a thin plastic sheet, start packing your bags.
The final significant consideration is all about you; well your sanity. You will have an exclusive front row seat to the destruction and chaos occurring in your own home. Yes, you are excited about a transformation but being privy to the raw construction process may result in more stress than intrigue. This again is dependent on the level of compartmentalization achievable and your temperament.
If you are asking our opinion here it is - if you have kids, and are renovating your kitchen plus a few other spaces - GO. If you are not remodeling with children in tow and the area of construction can be sectioned off then consider staying. The potential for monetary savings is limited but the metal taxation is real so take some time to think about the trade-offs.
Still can't decide? Use the diagram below to figure out your situation.
After a 4 year process, we've finally started construction! We can't wait to see it take shape--it fits right into the trees perfectly!
Will Seattle’s move to make more Backyard Cottages lead to a more sustainable city or just amplify environmental impacts?
You might think that more DADUs would lead to more environmental impacts—after all, construction takes fantastic amounts of resources (including capital). Being in the backyard, DADUs should increase of impervious area, lead to the loss of tree canopy, compound parking conflicts, and stretch City services even thinner, right? Isn’t the shadow of neighbor’s potential cottage going to forever keep me from growing the perfect heirloom tomato?
Last month, Marty Kaplan, under the aegis of the Queen Anne Community Council QACC, appealed a SEPA Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) with regard to changing certain characteristics of the Accessory Dwelling code.
Right off the bat, it is important to clarify that a DNS doesn’t state that there will be zero environmental impact, but as city wide code, it is impossible to evaluate impact on each individual lot without a real project associated with the lot. This is a ‘Non-Project Action.” While you may be affected by something built next door, until there is a project conceived there, the City has no method to evaluate its environmental impact. In fact, the original backyard cottage ordinance was given a DNS, an inconvenient fact not lost on the Kaplan, since he helped craft it while on the Planning Commission.
Today I finished testifying on behalf of the City on the Appeal, to establish a plain truth: Even if the City could evaluate the site by site impacts, they would show the City allows any single house to be much larger than any combination of house + DADU. Additional DADUs or larger DADUs are a reduction of environmental impact in comparison.
Furthermore, the number of people allowed to live there stays the same (8 people per lot), although more of them would be new renters much to QACC’s dismay. Energy code, tree protections, stormwater code, etc all stay the same under the new code. The impervious area actually goes down--by eliminating the parking requirement. How can there be significant environmental impacts, if the rest of the code is identical and the only difference is the number of families (not people allowed) per lot?
The SF zone is a zero sum environment—there is only so much buildable area, and if you choose to build a cottage, its lot coverage must deduct from the maximum size of the main house. And because it can’t be as tall, there is less available volume. It is a prima facia case, and in my mind, underlines the DNS.
As a proxy for all the land use regulations, we created a schematic diagram to illustrate the potential buildable envelop as a single family house, house with an accessory structure, and a house with a DADU. We repeated the diagram under the new ordinance. In all cases, the biggest volume was the solitary single family McMansion allowed by right today.
You only need to walk by a tear down house replacement and a backyard cottage to understand how the argument about which is better per QACC’s concern about neighborhood character is inverted. The QACC’s exhibits inadvertently made this exact point by showing an entire street of adorable bungalows replaced en masse with windowless 35’ blocks, completely obscuring whatever cottages in the backyard.
Which is where the tomatoes come in the picture. One witness testified that if the ordinance goes through, and cottages were built on all sides of his small lot (possible, but very, very improbable), there wouldn’t be any sunlight left for his tomatoes. He should be all for the new code—every new cottage built is a hedge against a speculative developer tearing down the old bungalow and putting up a maxed out single family house. And that which would really put his garden in the shade.
Over the past year the Seattle City Mayor and City Council have been working on changes to portions of Seattle's zoning codes that deal with back yard cottages and mother in law units in single family neighborhoods. The changes are hoped to encourage greater density and a wider variety of housing options, including more units for lower income families.
In response to the proposed changes the Queen Anne Community Council (QACC) filed an appeal in an attempt to block the legislation. The appeal is set to be heard on this coming Wed. 8/31/2016 at 9:00am.
It is hard to guess how the appeal will go and how the timeline for the changes will play out but here are our thoughts...
- The Appeal succeeds -
- If the QACC's appeal is successful it will most likely have a significant drag on the timeline for the changes. We believe that some change will still likely occur however, it appears that the mayor and city council has the will to push the proposed changes regardless of the outcome of Wednesday's hearing.
- The Appeal Fails -
- If QACC's appeal fails it will help clear the path and speed up the proposed changes. That said there seems a good chance that the QACC (or someone else) may try another tactic to stall or block the changes if this one fails. Because of this is hard to know how long any changes will be delayed.
Of the proposed changes on the table, if we were placing bets, here's what we expect to pass council vote whenever that may be -
- Highly Likely -
- Increased max gross floor area for cottages
- Increased max height limit for cottages
- More flexibility for entry locations
- Reduction of parking requirements
- Easing of lot size requirements
- Easing of rear yard coverage requirements
- Possible -
- Total elimination of parking requirements
- Garage area does not count toward total max gross floor area
- A sunset clause for Owner Occupancy (we expect 3or more years on this one)
- Unlikely -
- ADU + DADU on same lot
- Complete removal of Owner Occupancy Agreement