Winning Renovation Project in North Berkeley

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Berkeley-based McDunn Construction, Inc., received the 2020 Bay Area National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Remmy Award for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) remodeling project in North Berkeley. The architect on the project was Steve Swearengen of The Architect's Office.
 
The project’s backyard was dominated by an old garage and garden shed, which had been unused for some time and had quite a bit of deferred maintenance. Renovating the entire structure into an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) would allow the client to downsize her lifestyle in her retirement. Meanwhile, she could refinance her main home, rent that out and use the extra income to improve her cash flow situation.
 
One of the design challenges of the project was that Swearengen was stuck with the rough size and shape of the existing structures — about 439 square feet, the size of a comfortable studio. The owner, however, wanted to be able to continue to host small parties and offer music lessons from her living room. She was going to use this as a home base while traveling in her retirement. It had to feel like a home, not just an efficiency rental unit.
 
The existing buildings were both a blessing and a curse. The owner was allowed to keep the building right on the property lines, providing as much square footage as possible in an already small backyard. But with lot coverage constraints, and a desire by the owner to keep the backyard friendly and usable, the envelope of the building couldn’t change at all. Additionally, due to setback issues, no windows would be allowed on three of the walls.
 
In addition to the design challenges presented by the site and the old buildings, the construction process required more skill and attention to detail when working with out-of-date structures. In order to comply with zoning regulations, the existing framed walls had to be maintained while pouring the new foundation and incorporated into the new structure.
 
Countless hours were spent by the property owner and design team working with the municipality to ensure the existing structures could be replaced with an essentially new building. The final product was possible only due to the administrative efforts that went into the project by everyone involved.
 
The client was thrilled with the results. The space was improved to its maximum potential, meeting all of the client’s desires. With about a 4-month construction timeline, the project was finished on-time and on-budget. And now the project is an award-winner!
 
McDunn Construction is a Berkeley-based general contractor that specializes in accessory dwelling units, decks and outdoor projects. Principal Dan McDunn has been operating as a licensed GC since 2000 in multiple markets, and since 2010 in Berkeley. For contact information and project photos, go to mcdunnconstruction.com.

The Architects Office is an architecture firm led by Steve Swearengen based in Berkeley that specializes in creating solutions that improve the way people live and work throughout Northern California. Their award-winning projects have helped families and businesses accomplish the bigger things life has to offer by making the spaces in which they occur more pleasant, easier to maintain and affordable. For more information and contact info go to www.thearchitectsoffice.com.

Project Photos: 
McDunn Project Aerial Photo
Interior of Kitchen with Skylight
Kitchen with Sliding Door
Exterior of ADU
ADU with swinging door

Project Photos

McDunn Project Aerial Photo
Interior of Kitchen with Skylight
Kitchen with Sliding Door
Exterior of ADU
ADU with swinging door