.Do I need to hire an architect for additional floor?

Asked by Heidi White, San Francisco, CA Tue Jan 14, 2014

Hi, I am in the process of adding a third floor to my house in San Francisco. The previous owner renovated the main floor as well as the lower floor separate unit, but choose not to add the additional floor. He did, however, have his architect draw up plans for the additional floor but did not go through the permit process. Do i need to hire a full fledged architect to finish the job if i only want to minimallly change his plans or can i just hire a designer? What are some nuances of the permitting process that I should be aware of?

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John Oldfield, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Tue Jan 14, 2014
A lot depends on how complete the existing drawings are as well as how extensive the work will be (there's a big difference between adding rooms in an attic space vs. construction an entirely new level).

There are two ways to proceed. If you're already talking to or working with a contractor, ask the contractor whether you'll be able to get permits using the existing plans without further involvement of an architect. Alternatively, take the plans you have in to the planning department help desk and see what they have to say.

In addition to the technical issues involved in adding a floor to an existing structure, there are other potential hurdles such as the "311" process which involves notifying neighbors if your plans trigger that requirement.

Good luck!

John Oldfield
BRE# 01292184
Prudential California Realty
415-762-9608 office/voicemail/fax
415-816-4742 Mobile
Web- http://www.boldsf.com
Blog- http://www.boldsf.blogspot.com
1 vote
Janice Cheung, Agent, Burlingame, CA
Tue Jan 14, 2014

The best way is hire a architect /engineer even you want to have minimal change from the previous plan. Also the engineer can submit the plan to the city for you, and if you have questions regarding the plan you need a good engineer. I am working with a architect/engineer is pretty good, you can message me if you want to have his contact info.

Thank you!
0 votes
, ,
Tue Jan 14, 2014

You will need a structural engineer at the very least....
0 votes
Gabriel Rojas, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Tue Jan 14, 2014

First, it is very good that you wrote in to ask this question.

The previous owner did not get permits to do this work. I highly advise that you do this if you want to do it "right". Although very common for people to do work without them, when it comes to resale, people will weigh this regarding their decision to buy. If it's not to code, etc., the new owners may have to completely remove it or do work to bring to said codes. Ultimately, knowing the work is done correctly should give you peace of mind.

A good architect is important. They are important not only because of their skill in knowing how to do the job right but also because they have the contacts to get permits quickly. Always hire a qualified professional for any work done to your home.

Good luck and let me know if you need any referrals for architects in the area.


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