Design Review *Cha-Ching*
Design review of building plans here in Santa Clara County is to show the visual impact of your house from the visible valley floor. They look for the height of the roof, color of the house and what impact the septic makes on the land. We tried to avoid this process, but once you reach a certain square footage then you are required to submit it. It’s a royal pain and I would advise against it. You are socked with fees upon fees and it’s a huge time waster. The county doesn’t even tell you all the fees you will incur to really assess if going over that square footage is worth it. If you want a copy of the “real” costs that you will incur, leave a comment requesting it.
Christmas Eve 2012, we submitted our plans for design review. I met our designer, Scott, at the office and followed him to the county with a huge stack of paperwork. See that paperwork in the photo? All ours to submit. The County office is in downtown San Jose and all the planners were bored at the desk and wondered if anyone would come in on Christmas Eve! We thought this would be a good sign of getting this approved in record time. However, the opposite occured when our planner went on vacation and then the next planner who needed to finish it got a two week flu bug. Three months later, we are still waiting and making changes that the county needs. We hope to have approval after the next hearing where the neighbors are invited to go and complain if they would like.
We have to put up story poles like in the photo, **Cha-ching**, 10 days prior to the hearing. These are wooden poles with orange snow fencing built to show the outline and height of the structure. This allows others to get the idea what it will look like. Then we prepare to submit the plans for Plan Check which is when we can get approved permits to build the house. That will take three more months! Our old house we built in Illinois only took two months for the county to give permits and the house was finished 7 months later. It takes 7 months just to get permits here!
Let’s just hope we will LOVE the extra 700 square feet that threw us into design review! I think I will call that part of the house **Cha-ching**! Maybe I’ll even make a sign, “You are now entering **Cha-ching**, please tell me I was not crazy for keeping this space.”