I was reading the Los Angeles Times a few months back and there was an article “L.A. takes a step toward tighter rules to curb Mansionization.” and it brought back so many memories for me. Each of the 2,500 projects I have been the architect on needed an area calculation. How big can we build? How can I take advantage of the spatial configuration and still meet all the programming issues? Which codes will govern? How will the plan checker respond to the design?
The answers to these questions are getting tougher especially when the building codes are always in flux. Now it seems the building codes change at each plan check appointment, even on the same type of projects. Each plan checker is using different parts of the code, or not, and that is what sets your parameters on design. If you take the most restrictive interpretations of the governing restrictions your client probably will not be very happy. The reason is they see other architects getting to do what you or your plan checker say the code says you can’t.
Here at JHAI, we look at all the code restrictions. We even ask what changes are coming up while at the plan check counters. We read and stay up to speed on as many issues as we can because of the great variety of projects we handle. Our volunteering also helps keep us apprised of the changes in the wind. Being in contact with so many people in the development world gives us great access to changing knowledge.
We have always used the codes to maximize our client’s opportunities. As the rules change, finding exceptions within the code, new interpretations, filing appeals and going to hearings is becoming more prevalent. We use all our combined knowledge and experience to understand and work with project site conditions. Each site has their own limitations and opportunities. Our job is to open up portals into these opportunities. Using definitions, engineering documentation, our contacts within each city, we have been able to receive building permits knowing we have “given it our all”. We are proud that we fight for our clients! We are persistent. Our designs keep all the neighboring properties in mind so we can enrich the community while keeping our client’s goals in mind. We are willing to take it through hearings or appeals to reach what we believe should be acceptable within the governing restrictions on any project.