By SUE MANNING, Associated Press
(Published in the Valley News: Sunday, July 20, 2014)
Los Angeles — These homes are set apart by their amenities — for dogs. Standard Pacific Homes is building and selling these homes in 27 of its 190 developments from Florida to California and is believed to be the first to offer a pet suite as an option in every one. The most lavish suite is a 170-square-foot pet paradise with a step-in wash station, handheld sprayer and leash lead; tile walls and floors; a designated drying area with a commercial sized pet dryer; a water station; automated feeders; a large bunk-style bed; cabinets for toys, treats and food; a stackable washer and dryer; a French door that opens to a puppy run; and a flat-screen television set.
Standard Pacific, based in Irvine, decided to offer pet suites after conducting livability studies with homeowners. Pets were a constant theme, said Jeffrey Lake, vice president and national director of architecture for Standard Pacific. “Devotion to pets is second-to-none,” he added. “They are family.” The American Pet Products Association reports that 68 percent of Americans own pets and contribute to an industry worth more than $55 billion annually. Real estate officials say building homes designed to cater to pets is a new concept, but that remodels for pet owners have been available for some time.
Adam Cowherd Construction in Ozark, Missouri, installs pet-friendly additions to homes. Cowherd said he recently finished a job where there was an open shelf on the end of a kitchen island to hold pet bowls. “Owners want it uniquely functional, very contemporary and something that catches the eye,” Cowherd said. However, only once in the last 10 years has he been asked to build a whole room for a pet, he added.
Melanie Dean lives with her family near Dallas in a Standard Pacific home with a pet package for their dog, Lola. Lola’s room “makes life much easier,” Dean said. “We don’t have to use the kitchen sink to wash yucky stuff anymore.”
Standard Pacific Homes’ newest community, called Avignon at Blackstone in Brea, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, features homes that start at $1.3 million. The pet spa option adds $35,000 to the price, Lake said. Only the largest suite is available in Brea, but in some of the other communities, there are smaller sizes and prices, starting at 60 square feet for $8,000, he said.
During some of the model grand openings at different communities, several potential buyers brought their dogs to look at the homes, said Danielle Tocco, the company’s director of communications. Around 70 percent of those looking for a home have pets, said Mollie Carmichael, principal at the John Burns Real Estate Consulting firm in Irvine. Pet adoptions were also held at some model grand openings, Tocco said, just in case somebody didn’t have a dog but wanted one. For cat owners, things can be rearranged and swapped out, like a scratching post for the dryer. And if no one is using the bath, it can be used for sporting equipment, like golf clubs.
Those looking to sell their homes may find their pet additions to be a benefit. Laundry rooms and mud rooms toward the back of homes are popular, said Amy Bohutinsky, chief marketing officer at Seattle-based Zillow. Pet washrooms can also be used as multipurpose mud rooms, which may attract buyers.
May 13, 2014 photo provided by A.G. Photography shows a Standard Pacific Home’s interior view of a dog-friendly home. Standard Pacific Homes is building and selling 27 new home communities from Florida to California and billing them as the first to offer pet paradise as an option in every one. Fully loaded, paradise is a 170 square-foot pet suite and spa with a step-in wash station, handheld sprayer and leash lead, tile walls and floors, a designated drying area with a commercial sized pet dryer, a water station, automated feeders, cabinets for toys, treats and food, a stackable washer and dryer, a French door that opens to a puppy run, and a flat-screen television set. (AP Photo/ Standard Pacific Homes, A.G. Photography, Anthony Gomez)
Here’s a photo update on the construction of our Lake Sunapee custom home. Lots of curves and challenging exterior trim work! The Loewen windows and doors are looking very nice and some of the siding is installed. That is one of the most complicated standing seam roofs that we have completed and our Trade Partner did a fantastic job!!
Before the construction can begin, your contractor will prepare a contract. Some remodelers guarantee only the materials costs and bill for their time on an hourly basis, working on a “time and materials” contract. Others prefer to add a fixed percentage to the cost of materials and labor and this is a “cost-plus” contract. The total cost for the project is not fixed with these agreements, but the remodeler should be able to estimate your total cost fairly closely. On larger projects, many contractors work with a “contract sum” agreement. This establishes the total cost of the project and payments are made according to the “schedule of payments” attached to the contract.
All contracts should include:
• A detailed description of the work.
• A list of the specific materials to be used.
• A schedule of progress payments showing how much you pay at the outset and when further payments are due.
• An explanation of the change order which deals with changes or extras not included in the original agreement.
• A procedure for handling disputes between the contractor and the owner.
• It may include a description of what is not included, such as “the homeowner is responsible for carpet installation” or “the homeowner is responsible for removing personal items and furnishings from the work areas”.
• A federally mandated recision clause, enabling you to cancel the agreement within three days of signing it.
The next step is often a pre-construction conference with you, the remodeler, the lead carpenter or foreman, the designer (if any), and perhaps the major subcontractors. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the project schedule and ground rules. This is the time to decide what parts of the house are to be work or material storage areas, and what areas are off limits. Review your remodeler’s policies on crew behavior and let him know what you expect. While most have clear guidelines concerning things like smoking (not allowed inside), radio use (low volume), phone use (local calls only), bathroom use (port-a-potty) and daily cleanup, these may be modified to reflect your needs.
This is also the time to address concerns about safety and security. Construction sites are dangerous, especially to children and pets. Be sure that you are satisfied with measures to separate the work areas from the rest of the house and secure the house during non-work times. Make sure that you remove all personal items and furnishings from the work area. No matter how careful and neat the workmen are, there will be dust, debris and the potential for damaging anything left in the work area. In fact, the constant vibration from the project can cause items outside the work area to shift and fall. Check that valuable items on shelves in the rest of the house are secured or moved.