Project Update: Franklin Avenue by keith messick

3D Image: Proposed.

3D Image: Proposed.

As viewed from below.

Zoom: As veiwed from below.

This project is a remodel and addition to an existing two story hillside residence located on a tight lot in the Hollywood hills.  The house was originally construction In the 60's.  There was a recent upper level addition that was constructed structurally separate from the existing house. 

Overall, this project involves putting this house back together as one structure; adding the new level below, rebuilding the existing main level, and structurally joining the upper level with the main level.

As well, Franklin Avenue is being built by its owner, making it an unusual project.  While KMA designed the project, the owner is acting as general contractor by pulling the permits "Owner-Builder".  The Planning and Building Department will only issue building permits to a licensed contractor or the owner of a residence.  Thus, the construction on this project is moving much slower than it might normally.

Lower Level.  Glass door system will sit about one foot in front of steel columns. Note the zero edge, infinity pool.

Lower Level.  Note the floating stairs.  The stairs cantilever from the wall.  Ceilings are 14'-0" in height.

The construction on this residence is complicated.  It is a hillside home.  The site is steeply sloped and neighboring houses are located quite close.  To date, the foundation, including the pool, is complete.  The new foundation, which completely replaced the existing, will create the new lower level, support the existing main level, and support and reconnect the upper lever that was a recent addition, but supported by a separate foundation.  The work involved replacing the existing retaining wall that was holding up all of the existing structure. 

Main Level.  All framing is new and replaces all existing framing.

The framing is currently well underway.  The entire structure has been reframed.  There is very little left of the original Main Level structure.  (Remember that the Upper Level was new and structurally separate from the main level).   Most of the new partitions in this house will be glass.

Cantilevered stairs-Between Lower Level and Main Level.

Cantilevered stairs.  Stair treads float from wall.  Stairs will have a tile finish.

Upper Level Deck: View towards the ocean.

Upper Level Deck: View towards down town Los Angeles.

While the square footage will remain unchanged on the Upper Level, the deck will increase in size from 268 square feet to 1,122 square feet.  The views from the Upper Deck are incredible.

Shade Structure by keith messick

Modern Details

On our Ruby Place Project, we have designed a shade structure for one of the exterior decks.  The deck is on the north west corner of the site and provides shelter from the sun during the middle to late hours of the day.  The sun's rays are quite strong as it sets into the Pacific.  While it does not completely eliminate the glare from the setting sun, it greatly prolongs the views of the sunset. 

Original Design

From Outside

From Inside

Hollow extruded aluminum, in an anodized black finish,  was used for construction. 

This shade structure is part of a larger scope remodeling project that will involve replacing all of the windows, replacing all of the railings, and re-skinning the entire house with smooth stucco.  Stone veneer will also be added to select locations.

The Cost of Construction vs The Value of Construction - 2018 by keith messick

A great reference for project cost.

Remodeling Magazine has released their "Remodeling 2018 Cost vs. Value Report" (  This report compares the cost versus the value of projects between markets across the United States. 

The point of the study is to show how the value of a completed project compares to the cost of its construction.  The study uses a given project structure, same hours and materials, and uses that model to compare the differences across the country.

The cost of the project(s) is generated from RemodelMAX, a company that produces estimating tools.  The value of the respective project(s) comes from a survey of real estate professionals.

I find the greatest value (no pun intended) of this report to be the cost data.  This report is an excellent reference for the cost of construction, by project, by geographic location.  And the fact that the data is further broken down into mid-range and upscale projects is even better.   The data on the value of a project is interesting but extremely subjective.  It is derived from polling real estate professionals.  Real estate professionals speak in terms of cost per square foot.  When they evaluate and compare two properties, the conversation always revolves around what their respective cost per square foot is.  The details are always secondary.  If a property is going to be sold at a premium, the real estate professional must understand the details of the updates and properly promote those features.     

 Remodeling 2018 Cost vs. Value Report -

Remodeling 2018 Cost vs. Value Report -

 Remodeling 2018 Cost vs. Value Report -

Remodeling 2018 Cost vs. Value Report -

Project Descriptions/Definitions

 Remodeling 2018 Cost vs. Value Report -

Remodeling 2018 Cost vs. Value Report -

 Remodeling 2018 Cost vs. Value Report -

Remodeling 2018 Cost vs. Value Report -

Architects Design Buildings by keith messick

I would like to dispel a myth that architects don’t do design:  Architects design buildings.

While obvious to some, not so for others.

I was recently having a conversation with several other architects about the name of their firm.  There are countless ways to name an architecture firm.  Listed here are common forms or templates (using my name as an example).

  • Messick and Associates
  • Messick Architects
  • KM Studio
  • Messick Architecture
  • Messick Architecture and Design

The last template, that includes “Design”, is most often used to imply that the firm is also involved in various other types of design such as graphic, furniture, industrial, or one of many other types of design.

However, during this discussion about firm names, I learned that many architects use the last template (the one with “Design” in it) to let potential clients know that their firm, indeed, does design buildings.  There appears to be a misconception among potential clients and contractors that architects don’t do design.  So much so that architects are placing “Design” in their firm’s name to reinforce this.

You can hire an architect to design your project.

Architects do many things.  They create, process, coordinate, and document all the information necessary for a public or private agency, such as a Planning and Building Department, to issue a Building Permit (required prior to commencement of construction).  They then observe the construction of that building to verify that the original design intent is met.  They are also often involved in much of the administration of the construction process.

Most architects go to school (see my previous post regarding Licensed Architect), in either an undergraduate or graduate program or both, to study architecture.  While in school, they learn about structural requirements, environmental sciences, construction materials and methods, psychology, and design.  They are usually involved every semester with a design studio.  These studios revolve around specific topics in architecture such as civic buildings, schools, places of worship, medical facilities, housing (public and private), as well as office spaces.  Studios may also involve esoteric topics such as grave yards or outdoor spaces such as rivers and parks.  This diverse course of study equips architects for any design challenge that they may encounter.

If you are thinking about design or construction, I would strongly encourage you to discuss your project with an architect. 


Green-Certified Homes Sell For More by keith messick

Build It Green’s appraiser-driven study, the first of its kind in California, highlights price premium of green homes—and evidence that ROI could be much higher

Proper Promotion of Green Features is Key

 Click here for full report

Click here for full report


A rigorous study, released today by Build It Green and funded by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), shows that green-certified homes in California bring a higher sales price, even though market barriers often prevent the full value of the home’s green features from being recognized. The study results add to a growing body of similar findings across the country that show green home improvements provide a financial return on investment (ROI). However, the study also finds significant market barriers to valuing green homes and describes how the price premium could be much higher if key barriers were eliminated.

“We already know that consumers prefer greener homes because they save money, conserve resources, and provide greater comfort and health benefits,” says Karin Burns, Executive Director of the nonprofit Build It Green, which commissioned the study. “Now we can add one more benefit to that list—greater resale value. We also believe that this ROI could be much higher if key market barriers were removed.” For example, while countless homes have extensive green features, relatively few are properly documented, scored, or certified, and green home features are often not listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

The study revealed several challenges in the proper promotion and sale of green homes:

Challenge #1: The MLS listing of each green sale used in this analysis rarely included more than a comment in the narrative description that showed the property was certified.

Challenge #2: Few real estate professionals can recognize and communicate green home features.

Challenge #3: It is difficult to find homes with energy scores and/or green certifications.



The Eichler Attraction by keith messick

Joseph Eichler hired architects to design the tract homes he built.  The result was homes that still look fresh and unique today.   

Joseph Eichler built homes that have a following.  Many people have fallen in love with the style and livability of these homes.  Owners covet their homes.

Why such patronage?  

Eichler had two things going for him.  The first was location.  He built his homes in California.  The weather in California is temperate; very forgiving.  It does not have the extremes that other locations across the country have.  His homes took full advantage of their location. 

The second was design.  While Joseph Eichler was a production builder (he built tract homes), he hired architects to design the homes he built.  This approach yielded designs that were simple, clean, and elegant. 

The homes were modest in size, but took full advantage of the California climate.  The designs almost always included big expanses of glass, which created a strong visual and physical connection to the exterior.  The spaces flowed seamlessly from inside to out. The result was homes that did not look or live like other tract homes.  The outdoor connection, often through the use of atriums, made the homes feel much larger than they actually were.  And while many of his homes date back to the 1940's, Eichler homes still look fresh and unique today.

The key here is that Eichler hired architects to design the homes he built.  There are thousands of tract homes across the United States.  People live in them.  They serve the purpose of providing shelter and a place to call home.  However, none of them have a following like the Eichler's.  

While I have a biased view on and a vested interest in this topic, I would recommend hiring an architect for your project.  At the very least, I would suggest discussing your project with an architect.  Their designs can create lasting, tangible equity.


Project Update-Ruby Place by keith messick

Design Review approval.

We have received Design Review Approval for our Ruby Place Project.

This 6 level residence is getting re-skinned with smooth stucco as well as some stone veneer.

All of the doors and windows will be changed out.  On the third level, the entire front wall will be removed and replaced with an operable wall of glass.  The northwest corner of this wall will also be removed.  Both, the large front wall of glass and the adjoining window will fold back open.  This folding door/window combination will open completely, extending the Living Room onto the deck.

The pictures above show the rear of the residence with the final stucco color selection.  The window frames and trim will be a dark bronze.