Backyard Home Pro Blog

10 years ago I stumbled across a type of housing that would change my life forever. As a partner in a small development company we built our first Granny Unit and it opened my eyes to a product so desperately needed by families throughout the state. Today, Backyard Homes are the main product I design and build and this blog is about bringing that information to you, both good and bad.

Archive for Rants


Let’s get involved

Posted by: backyardhomepro | Comments (0)

Back in 2003 the State approved Assembly Bill AB1866, which reintroduced the secondary living unit into local zoning codes.  We followed this bill through its approval and have since worked with many homeowners across the state to build second units for their families.  Second units are a great way to roll out affordable living units without any negative impact on the community.  No new roads or utility infrastructure, no new subdivisions, no large apartment developments competing with Single Family Residences.  This is a great solution for our state, without promoting urban sprawl.

It was written well and is very clear on the overall intentions of the law and how cities/counties should comply.  Unfortunately some cities have made it next to impossible for homeowners to utilize this law by imposing high impact fees and associated regulations that make it impossible to actually build.  For instance, in Contra Costa County (EBMUD) charges upwards of $46,000 for a “required” 1″ water meter and an additional $11,000 for sewer connection rights.  This is not a new service, but the right to use your existing service for the second unit.  By the time you ad all these fees up, the homeowner is looking at more than $60,000 in permit and impact fees.  If they are only building a small 350sqft 2nd unit for under $100,000, this is greater than 60% taxation and that’s not right!

The city of Burlingame does not even allow second units, period!  Menlo Park limits 2nd units to 5% of the total lot size which would be 350sqft on a 7000sqft lot.  This size will not allow a family to place a senior parent in the unit with assisted care or any ADA functionality. That same lot would allow you to build a 4000sqft primary residence.  Where’s the logic in that? I could go on and on with a laundry list of municipalities finding ways to limit the use of this law.

If we are ever going to see some positive results from this legislation and allow the homeowners to participate in creating affordable housing we need assistance from the state with enforcing the rules set forth in Section 65852.2 of the Government Code.  We need solutions for families who are struggling to make ends meet in today’s economy.  One person at the state level assisting with the effort to enforce the state rules would have an enormously positive effect on many lives.

I encourage you to pass this comment on to your district representatives so we can stop this blatant abuse of the system.  You may not be affected by this today, but sooner or later you may want to consider building a second unit on your property for a family member, yourself or even as a rental unit to supplement your retirement income.  THIS IS YOUR RIGHT!

Categories : Rants
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Noritz tankless w/h enclosure

I’ll assume that most of you have heard about the value of replacing your standard tank style water heater with a tankless.  Most of the pitches have to deal with neverending hot water supply, energy savings. . . In my world where we fight for every square inch of space, the removal of a tank style water heater and the 9sqft it typically occupies is HUGE.

Unfortunately most of the products have been designed for interior use so that means allocating wall space and having leagal clearance in front of the unit.  The other option is an exterior mount unit that costs a bit more and is not that attractive if all angles of the home are visible.  While these solutions are  better than the tank style, they still leave a lot to be desired.

Noritz must of heard me complaining on the last project we did because they came up with a great solution.  A tankless unit that fits in between the exterior wall studs in a nice, neat enclosure.  We just had one installed on the project we’re doing down in Santa Cruz and I gotta tell you “It’s Awesome”.  Not only did we remove it from the interior living space, but it looks great from the exterior as well.  Since it’s a Noritz product, we know it will provide great, trouble-free  service for years to come.

Look for more space saving and energy wise products in the near future.  We test them all!

Noritz tankless water heater

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Backyard Home new blog

Posted by: backyardhomepro | Comments (1)

As we rapidly come to the close of 2010 we finally have a REAL blog setup that I can post information on.  I would like to thank Eli Poblitz for getting me pointed in the right direction.  You would never know I used to own a software company given my poor attempt at a blog  that I set up earlier this year.  I will try and get the older posts moved over in the next few weeks as well as content and images of current projects and ideas.

A lot has happened in the Backyard Home world for us and in other parts of the Nation over the last 12 months and I there’s lots more on the horizon.  As I write this we are working on some great little projects that push the envelope of small structure design, tricks with spacial definitions (to get more living space), green building and of course our specialty, Factory Building solutions.

I hope you check in with us over the next couple months as I post project profiles and ideas that may inspire you too!

Steve Vallejos

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