I run a design-build company in Chatsworth, a neighborhood in greater Los Angeles. We specialize in large-scale remodels and custom luxury homes. In this area, some municipalities allow a new home built as part of a teardown to be permitted as a remodel rather than as new construction, provided it’s built on the existing foundation. This can make a big difference in a project’s cost and scheduling, because the regulatory track for new construction is often cumbersome and costly, involving more layers of site engineering and soil analysis than are required for a remodel.

We were able to take advantage of this distinction with the project discussed in this article. By the time the clients hired us, they had already spent nearly a year in preliminary permitting for the teardown and were understandably ready to get on with the actual work. The design for the new home would increase the existing footprint...

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