Working for many years all over Santa Barbara, I am aware of the immaculate architecture in this town. When I was able to get to the storm-damaged homes my heart sank. The damage was so tremendous that you are truly left speechless. My responsibilities have been to assess the damage, strategize with my team to create a great game plan, and to execute that plan, while at the same time being that person the clients can count on through this difficult process.
What sort of difficulties or challenges have you experienced? When we began work on the storm-damaged properties, we were having difficulty finding areas where we could take the mud and dirt.
Many areas were, only taking clean dirt, and most of what came down the mountain has lots of debris and boulders in it. We have been having to sift though the dirt to separate debris and leave clean dirt to move out.
Another challenge we are facing is trying not to haul things away too quickly, since the boulders and dirt on the properties could possibly be used for future storm protection. Have you seen an upside to working in the disaster area? It can be difficult to find anything positive through these hard times. One thing I have noticed, however, is that subcontracting companies are able to put differences aside and work together on the same projects to help out this community.
I believe we all understand that we are all in this together. As authorities started lifting evacuation orders, we accompanied homeowners fortunate enough to have homes to return to.
All of us were entering new territory, and it was difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the mudflow and the wreckage left in its wake. While some of our clients had just a few inches of mud in the driveway, others found their properties buried four feet deep across multiple acres.
Either way, it was time to get to work. All of us together, learning as we go. The first order of business, in come cases, was to call in heavy machinery to clear access paths from the street to the garage, front door, and around the home.
This made way for licensed professionals to access the systems, such as power, water, gas, and sewer. Shovelful by shovelful, truckload by truckload, greater Montecito is slowly returning to some sense of normalcy. Just getting started was a huge step psychologically. Every little bit of progress is progress. Sure helps that the people of Montecito and beyond are banding together below to take on the heavy lifting, in all its forms.
The destruction was catastrophic — dozens of homes were destroyed, hundreds were damaged, and 21 people were fatally injured. To everybody in the wake of the devastation, we extend our deepest condolences and all of our strength and patience in the months and years of rebuilding to come.
And to every first responder: We say thank you. The majority of our clients live in Montecito, and in the immediate aftermath of the storm, we worried about their safety and whereabouts. With great relief, we soon learned that all of them survived the flooding. A handful, however, lost their homes.
As custom homebuilders, we understand that very house and its surrounding property is a very personal, one-of-kind extension of the families who brought us aboard to help build their dreams. And here in Santa Barbara and Montecito, many homeowners, especially those in the rugged foothills, opt for yet another layer of protection — private fire-protection services.
For nearly a decade, insurance firm AIG has been collaborating with Montecito Fire Protection District to pretreat high-traffic roadside areas, such as trailheads and turnouts, with a nontoxic, biodegradable fire-retardant spray called Phos-Chek.
The company is one of many that also provide specialized protection of private property, responding to wind-driven events, such as the Thomas Fire, on a variety of levels. During a fire, for example, private teams stay abreast of the blaze by tuning into radio chatter and attending daily briefings lead by incident commanders; then they report back to homeowners.
Adams Wildfire, whose workers coated structures with white foam pictured above as safeguard against drifting embers. As long as private teams are properly trained, says Santa Barbara County Fire Department Captain Dave Zaniboni, extra boots on the ground can be helpful. Wildfire, Building Code, and the Astute Homeowner December 17, Throughout much of the West, a yearlong fire season is the new normal, unfortunately.
As of this writing, incident commanders are projecting full containment sometime early next year. As the occasional and intense has become more common and destructive, homebuilding has had to adapt. For some backstory on evolving building codes and some tips on home protection, we called a representative with Montecito Fire Protection District. Montecito Fire Protection District: The Office of the State Fire Marshal comes up with the fire code and sends it out every three years to various agencies and they are able to amend it as it pertains to their particular district.
Well, the state says all new homes in California —since — shall be sprinklered. What other features must a new home have in a wildfire region?
A home needs to breathe, so it has vents beneath the home and in the attic. But embers would come in through the vents, and homes have burned from the inside. Above and beyond the building code, what can a homeowners do to protect their residences?
There are certain plants that are more fire resistant. Some plants are really oily and can be highly combustible. But a certain succulent or cactus that has a high moisture content less susceptible to fire. Fireproof landscaping is a really common theme in California. So they can kind of take that extra step by planting the right vegetation? Maintain defensible space because the reality is if I go to a fire as part of a strike team to do structural protection on a home, I evaluate the home to find out if we can properly defend it.
I have to determine whether or not we are going to engage on this home. Or maybe the property is maintained in such great shape that we are not concerned about it.
For more information visit montecitofire. In , they jumped on an opportunity to purchase a small vacation home in the San Roque neighborhood off Upper State Street. They called Bruce Giffin very early on, remembers Toni, and started working with him and his crews right away.
In addition to that big fix — reinforcing the foundation to lift and secure one corner of the home that had started to sink slightly — crews on the inside restored the Douglas fir beams and gables in the living room. They also repaired the original brick fireplace, refinished hardwood flooring, and replaced contemporary lighting fixtures with traditional counterparts, among other upgrades.
Off the guest bedroom, they installed matching French doors to the garden. All said, the project took about six months. All along, the Herens, who were living in the Bay Area, stayed tuned-in via weekly updates from Bruce, detailing what had been completed, what his crews were in the middle of, and what would come next. However, it needed work. What about Jane Snyder and Mosaic Architects? Jane actually did a home for me in Vail, Colorado, and also the project [I mentioned above].
When my remodel came up, I reached out again. Geoff Crane is a reliable and talented person to work with. I am very specific with my input — sometimes to a fault!
The team and I were very successful in completing a project we all can be proud of. There were structural issues with this home, and resolving them was a difficult task to overcome. But we were quite successful. How would you describe the extent of the remodel? What I thought was going to be a somewhat simple remodel turned into a full-blown redo from top to bottom. What was it that made you decide it needed work, and what was the basic to-do list?
It was a one-level dwelling with north- and south-facing windows — perfect light for me. But it needed to be updated. The house was dated and basic maintenance had been somewhat neglected. We found foundation issues not meeting code, drainage was an issue, utility lines needed to be brought up to code. Along with all the design ideas I had in mind, the challenges became significant.
But I had immediately seen the potential to turn this home into a little jewel. The timeframe must have gotten pushed out a bit. The timeframe changed as the [amount of required] work changed.
This takes time to accomplish, and had we not had the structural issues, I do think we would have had this project completed on time. Their workmanship is impeccable. I originally planned to make this a part-time residence. I can honestly say it has become more and more difficult to leave the comfort of this home. It is a joy to live here. Collaboration is the Key October 17, The design standards that make Santa Barbara such a pleasure to the eye are some of the most formidable in the state.
Just ask any locally based builder or designer, such as architect Chris Dentzel. Where do you get new clients, and what sort of discussions do you have with them initially? I try to encourage that. Most, but not all, clients already know that Santa Barbara is a more difficult environment to design and build in.
Other times they know nothing. As far as Santa Barbara goes, building permits are pretty much nuts and bolts — you follow the code, you get the permit. Lastly, what kind of characteristics do you see in the most successful design-build teams?
I believe in the collaborative process.