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Sep 30

What is Urban Infill Building?


Posted on: 19 Sep 2013

These days, the way we live is changing.  Rather than moving farther away into distant suburbs over time, more and more homeowners are choosing to live in urban areas, even after they begin families.  This is a trend across the country, and it has important implications for the way we envision new, smarter housing.

That’s where urban infill building comes in.  Urban infill is all about finding underutilized or obsolete buildings, strip malls, and other properties, and adapting them to suit the needs of homeowners who want to remain easily connected to their jobs, families, and urban amenities.

By reinvigorating these spaces, urban infill building is infusing neighborhoods with new life.  A great example of this is our work on the townhome community of Centered on Capitol at 1328 N. Capitol Ave., in San Jose, Calif. For this new home community, we demolished an abandoned building and transformed it into a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.

Urban infill is all about building that is thoughtful and resourceful, taking an area that is not being used to its fullest potential and transforming it into a space that benefits the community.  Contact us to see more examples of our work, and to learn about our fabulous new Northern and Southern California homes.

Sep 24

How to Move Into New Housing


Moving boxesMoving to new housing that you just bought can be an exciting but tiring experience. It can also be highly stressful if you just rush right into it. Slow down, especially if you have a family in tow, and make the transition as smooth as possible by using the following tips.

Start with a plan. When you’re still packing at your old house, label each box with its contents and the name of the room it goes into. Attach a room label to every piece of furniture as well. When you get to your new home but before the movers arrive, label each room with a letter-sized sheet of paper or bigger. When the movers finally arrive, they will know exactly where to take each item that they unload.

Make sure the utilities at your new home come no later than the day you arrive. You’ll need to contact the service providers such as the electrical, water, and cable companies. Don’t forget to have the utilities turned off at your old place after the day you leave. Inform the Postal Service at your old place where to forward mail.

Unpack in this order at your new home. Start with the bathrooms and then unpack the children’s rooms so your kids have a place to be that’s out of the way of the movers and adults. Set up your own bedroom, including makeup and clothes, so you have a safe space to retreat to when the rest of the house is still disorganized. Finally, work on the kitchen, which can take awhile to unpack because of the number of things it contains. Just remember you can eat at restaurants or fast food outlets before your kitchen is set up.

If you need more tips on dealing with a new house, or need help in buying one to begin with, please contact us.


Sep 16

Green Living Tip: Plastic bag fees encourage BYOB

Plastic bag fees and bans encourage shoppers to BYOB

2013-06-17 Plastic Grocery Bags

A growing number of communities want shoppers to BYOB — Bring your own bags. And they’re imposing fees or even bans on plastic bags (and in some places paper bags) to encourage use of reusable cloth bags to carry home purchases from grocery and retail stores.

Environmentalists and other proponents of bag fees or bans say one-time use disposable bags are a major source of pollution, while manufacturers counter that such regulations limit choice and burden lower-income consumers.

As of early March, no state has enacted a statewide ban, fee or tax, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, it reports, Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington “are considering banning single-use plastic bags, with California’s proposed ban including paper and other single-use bags as well.” And according to the NCSL, eight states—Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington—have proposed a “fee or tax on the distribution of bags which a shopper will have to pay, either directly or indirectly.”

There is even a push to go national on bag fees. The Trash Reduction Act of 2013 was introduced in the U.S. House on Earth Day April 22 by Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, a Democrat. The measure would place a five-cent fee on all single-use bags, plastic or paper, at grocery and retail stores. A similar measure introduced by Moran in 2009 failed to make it out of committee, according the website, Plastic Bag Ban Report.

Cities have also joined the movement.  In 2012, Los Angeles became the largest city in the country to ban plastic bags.  A Denver City Council member is considering a bill that would impose a 5-cent fee on plastic or paper bags at checkout, The Denver Post reports. Nearby Boulder is poised to impose a 10-cent fee on both paper and plastic bags on July 1, though there are some exclusions.

Proponents say plastic bags are threat to the environment and wildlife. “From huge floating garbage patches in the ocean, to dead birds found filled with trash that was mistaken for food, using plastic in our daily lives has undeniable consequences,” says the website Earthshare.

The plastics industry is fighting back.

Mark Daniels is chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, part of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington. In a commentary published in February by Plastics News, he writes, “the case against our industry is often made by environmentalists who either have a poor understanding of the science or are just ignoring the facts.”

Consumers who object to disposable bags must keep one thing in mind: Remember to bring reusable bags into the store when you shop.  Otherwise you may have to answer this question:

Do you want paper or plastic?

Sep 09

Meet the Team: Veronica Vargas, Project Manager

Before Veronica Vargas was Project Manager in Danville, she was a cashier at a grocery store. Learn about a perfect day in her world, her secret talent, and what inspires her the most.

Name: Veronica Vargas
Title/Position: Project Manager
Office Name/Location: Danville

Fantasy career: hosting a traveling show

Favorite ethnic cuisine: Argentinian / Italian… favorite dish empanadas de carne con chimichurri, YUM!

Most exotic travel experience: Maroma Bay, Mexico

Starbucks order: shaken black ice tea, “sweet”

Most played song on iPod: “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers

A perfect day in would be: Oh goodness, there are so many possibilities … Wake up to a sunshine, go for a run along the beach. After a shower I would go for a long coffee and brunch to my favorite restaurant with my husband. Once I got home the weather would turn and it would start raining and I would cozy up on the couch and read or a play with my son while having what he calls juice from the machine (fresh squeeze juice). Then later I would cook a dinner or bake something while listening to the radio, with a glass of wine in hand. In the evening I would watch a nice feel good movie while enjoying my dinner together with my husband and son. Bliss

Best advice you ever received: “Figure out what you love to do, and then figure out how to get someone to pay you to do it.”

Your secret talent: Bird hunting

What you like most about your work: Everything

Favorite weekend activity: Cooking or baking

Worst subject in high school: calculus

What inspires you? Remembering when I came to America how lucky I felt and trying to accomplished all I dreamed of doing.

Most productive time of day: Early morning usually 5 to 10 am

Reality show you’re embarrassed to admit you watch: big brother

Person you’d like to have dinner with: The Pope

Your first job: Cashier at a grocery store

What you’re most proud of: I will have to say the one thing I feel most fulfilled with is my children; they are a delightfully group of loving, caring, hardworking and happy kids.

A business tool you can’t live without: Microsoft excel

Next travel destination: Disneyland

What’s next for you: I have plans… smile

A bad habit: Planning and over analyzing everything

Favorite possession: Wedding ring and my cooking supplies

What book is on your nightstand now? The Bible and Fire Proof

A job you’d want if you weren’t doing this job: can’t think of anything better

Words you live by: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” … “People ask the difference between a leader and a manager. The leader leads, and the manager manages, be a leader of people and a manger of things”

First thing you do when you get to the office: open Pandora

Last thing you do before you leave your office: check e-mails

Your favorite guilty pleasure: Sugar

Sep 02

Common Mistakes When Looking for Homes for Sale

With the housing market finally picking up, you’ve finally decided to buy one of those homes for sale that you keep seeing advertised. But before you jump into the biggest investment you’ll make in your life, follow a few tips so you don’t drown in unfamiliar waters.

Find out how much house you can afford. Don’t fall in love with the house of your dreams only to discover that there’s no way you can buy it. Visit a banker or mortgage broker before you start the house hunt so he can figure out what type of house will fit your financing. Then you can spend all of your time looking at models that are totally within your price range.

Budget for all the costs of owning a home. One advantage of owning a new home instead of an old one is that you don’t have to spend any money making repairs. However, that doesn’t mean that all you spend per month is the mortgage. You need to account for property taxes, insurances, utilities, and homeowner association dues that may have been folded into your previous monthly rental fee. You must also set aside money for maintenance if you want your home to stay as good as new.

Focusing on the details. Model homes contain decorative touches that are meant to impress potential buyers but may not be part of the final price. Don’t fall in love with a home because it has the right paint, wallpaper, and furniture, because this won’t be in the house you buy. Instead, look for total square footage, the flow of rooms, and how your family can make use of any rooms and amenities. You can always define your own details after you move in.

If you want to get your househunt started, contact us first so we can discuss the options available to you.