Building in a challenging location – Ojai, CA

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Building a home in remote areas ups the ante for challenges and cost. This house located at 2700 feet above sea level on the south range of the mountains of the Ojai Valley has amazing views of the Topa Topa mountains to the North and the mighty Pacific on the South.

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Just getting people to the job is a challenge – Google, smart phones and even maps don’t accurately show the property.  With the 100’s of trade contractors, inspectors, delivery drivers, etc. getting people to the job is a chore itself.

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We had to install our own street sign – which was later mysteriously removed !

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Roadways, grading, drainage, utilities have to travel up a 1700 foot long driveway.  Rules and regulations also get more challenging from the building department, the fire department and all of the other agencies that get involved in the permitting.

 

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But you just can’t beat it!  Views of the Channel Islands of Santa Barbara.

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Bottom Line: Get er Done!

 

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Feel Free to copy, share, or re post this article. Kindly make sure to include this information: Written by Otis Bradley, a Custom Home Builder, in Southern California. Please see OtisBradley.com for more information on Custom Home Building!

An Easy way to Stop Sending All Ojai’s Fresh Water Down the Drain

In the recently published Ojai Valley News – quoted below – Jeff Palmer almost proposed an excellent solution to a big Ojai problem.

KEEP our water in the valley DON’T  send it to the ocean.

Typical methods (and codes) have previously required all concentrated drainage i.e. from roofs to be piped from gutters through pipes and onto City streets. Once on the street – water flow increases – picking up lots of toxic auto waste from the roads and quickly makes its way to the ocean (simplified version but true).  This is exactly what we do not want  !

Drywell Pit – one solution

Drywell pit

The answer is to slow the water down – redirect the flow and encourage water absorption back into the ground recharging the aquifer with fresh, clean water.

According to the article below – Mr. Palmer did a “windshield survey” noting “numerous downspouts emptying directly into the ground …” were “direct connections” to the sewer system. I am not sure how Mr Palmer knows this, however I do know that emptying the water into the street is exactly what we don’t want.  We don’s want it sent through the water treatment plant or down to the ocean.

There are many simple ways to achieve this:

Continue reading “An Easy way to Stop Sending All Ojai’s Fresh Water Down the Drain”

35 Questions to Ask Before Buying Vacant Land ?

Are you interested in buying your own piece of earth?  There’s nothing more fabulous than having a few acres of your own, and building your own place from the ground up.   But, buying land, especially in highly regulated areas like California, can be a lot more risky than buying a home.  These days of real estate disclosure for a home buyer have come a long way from the traditional law of “Caveat Emptor” (meaning buyer beware)!  Land, however, does not have the same rules.  I constantly hear stories like:

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“I thought we were buying 80 acres, it turned out we got 65!”

“We had no idea this area was in an ancient landslide.  Its almost impossible to build here.”

“We thought we got an amazing deal, $1m for 120 acres, but it turns out its going to cost another $1m to get to the pad before we can even think of starting the house.”

“We bought a small lot in town and it turns out we can’t get water service so we can’t build!”

Unfortunately there isn’t one place to get answers.  Many local departments are involved and sometimes have conflicting information.

Here are 35 questions you can ask
Or you can get professional help – call me 310 963 7900.

Planning and Zoning

  1. Is it a legal lot? If not, how do I make it legal?
  2. What is the zoning classification of this lot?
  3. Does the Zoning on the property permit my project?
  4. Does the County General Plan permit what I wish to do?
  5. Are any planning permits required prior to building on the lot?
  6. Are there any zoning violations on the lot?
  7. Are there any special building restrictions in this area?
  8. Are there any cultural heritage sites on the property?
Continue reading “35 Questions to Ask Before Buying Vacant Land ?”

Génoise Detail of a French Provincial Design – New Construction ICF House in Ojai

Project: Ojai, California New Construction – Insulated Concrete Forms
Architecture & Interior Design: Rhett Judice
Builder: Otis Bradley Company, Inc.

Génoise – although the definition of the word is “an Italian sponge cake” known from the area of Genoa in Italy
 
Génoise also defines the architectural treatment under the eaves of the roof – common in Provence France and possibly originating in Italy

It is said that the wealthier you are – the more rows you have !   The roof tiles continue from the eave back to the house in a sort of reverse pattern.  The trend dates back the middle of the 17th century and came originally from Italy.

 This project, built of ICF blocks,  created a challenge because the 8″ thick concrete walls are surrounded in 3″ of insulating foam.  Unlike the solid stone buildings of 17th c Provence, we had to create a system that could attach – be safe – be structurally sound – without being able to build on top of a stone wall.  The answer is foam! and a bad hair day!

 A sample is prepared for the color coat.

 Once installed – the color stucco will complete the illusion

 
Génoise also defines the architectural treatment under the eaves of the roof – common in Provence France and possibly originating in Italy

Rhett’s detail !!! – click on plan for larger image

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Feel free to copy, share or re post this article
Kindly make sure to include this information
Written by Otis Bradley, a Custom Home Builder, in Southern California
Please see OtisBradley.com for more information on Custom Home Building


Custom Steel and Wood Furniture

Custom steel frames, designed to fit with heavy duty caster wheels, and topped with 8/4 (one and a half inch thick) walnut tops with spruce splines

The dining table seats 8

Walnut, custom steel frame, caster wheels, dining table

Dining table frame

Walnut, custom steel frame, caster wheels, dining table

The “X” Bar !
Bar height, walnut top with spruce splines

Walnut, custom steel X frame, caster wheels, bar top, with spruce splines

Game Table – this one is one and a half inch thick maple with walnut “butterfly” joints

Kitchen bar – maple with walnut

Supported with custom steel curved braces

Bar, Dining Table and Coffee Table

Bar, Dining Table and Coffee Table - custom steel and wood

Get your Permit !

Permit Checklist

Permit requirements vary widely in different locations.  Develop a list for your project – start by checking in with your local building department. 

Remember the Building Department may only tell you part of the story.  Research the following items and try to start putting a schedule together.  My Builder 20 group often discusses permit issues.  Jim in Wisconsin tells me he can get a permit in 5 days, while others of us suffer with months even years in the permitting process.  In my local area building departments in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Malibu, Ojai, Ventura County, City of Ventura, Santa Barbara and County of Santa Barbara all treat building codes and zoning regulations in different ways.

Access

Air Rights

Archaeologists

Bridges

CC&R’s (Private Restrictions)

Cell Phone Access

City Planning

City Zoning

Civil Engineers

Coastal Commissions

Continue reading “Get your Permit !”

Ventana Magazine Features Ojai Custom Home Builder – Green Home

Contemporary Cool

The Ojai abode of green builder Otis Bradley.

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The exposed structural steel and beams are painted in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Cherokee Red.


By Andrea Kitay—Photography by Gaszton Gal

Casa Verde, the two-acre Ojai spread that Otis Bradley and his family call home, is more than a play on words. Its name is a nod to the custom homebuilder’s passion for efficiency. The 3400-square-foot contemporary completed in 2008 is a result of Bradley’s determination to build an ecologically sound home, in keeping with his family’s laidback lifestyle.

Continue reading “Ventana Magazine Features Ojai Custom Home Builder – Green Home”

Building a New House in Ojai and Ventura County

Building in the City of Ojai is a fairly straightforward process.  The town itself is quite small, only 4.4 miles, beyond those boundaries you are in the unincorporated area of  Ventura County – a bit more challenging building process.  Call us to help you navigate the building process.

Geography

City of Ojai California

Ojai is located at 34°26′57″N 119°14′48″W

The city is generally at 745 feet (227 m) above sea level.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11 km2), of which only 0.35% is water, and the rest is land.

Ojai is situated in a small east-west valley, north of Ventura and east of Santa Barbara. It is approximately 15 miles (24 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean coast.

Since Ojai is lined up with an east-west mountain range, it is one of few towns in the world to have a “Pink Moment” occur as the sun is setting. The fading sunlight creates a brilliant shade of pink for several minutes on the Topatopa Bluffs, over 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above sea level at the east end of the Ojai Valley. Nordhoff Ridge, the western extension of the Topatopa Mountains, towers over the north side of the town and valley at more than 5,000 feet (1,500 m). Sulphur Mountain creates the southern ranges bounding the Ojai Valley, a little under 3,000 feet (910 m) in elevation. The Sulphur and Topatopa Mountains are part of the Transverse Ranges system.

The Ventura River flows through the Ventura River Valley, draining the mountains surrounding Ojai to the north and east and emptying into the Pacific Ocean at the city of Ventura. The Ventura River was once known for its steelhead fishing before Matilija Dam and Lake Casitas were constructed, eliminating habitat for this trout species.

The climate of Ojai is Mediterranean, characterized by hot, dry summers, sometimes exceeding 100 °F (38 °C), and mild winters, with lows at night sometimes below freezing. As is typical for much of coastal southern California, most precipitation falls in the form of rain between the months of October and April, with intervening dry summers.