Sunday, July 29, 2007

Median Price for Homes Sets New Record in June (San Mateo County)

The median price for single-family, re-sale homes rose 4.8% in June from the month before to a new all-time high. It was just $500 shy of $1,000,000. The average price also set a new record, soaring 10.1% from May. Home sales rose 5.8%, month-over-month, but were off 7.3% compared to June 2006. Year-to-date, home sales are off only 5.8%, the best in the Bay Area.

The median price for Condos dropped 2.8% to $605,000, still good enough for an annual gain of 10%. The average price fell 3.7% to $623,918, and was up 5.4% year-over-year. Condo sales rose 29.2% from May, but were off 8.7% year-over-year.

Inventory continued to grow, with single-family homes up 1.2% from May and up 5.3% year-over-year. Condo inventory was up 5.4% month-over-month, and up 2% compared to last May. The sales price to list price ratio fell 1.5 points to 98.5% for homes. The ratio for condos lost 1.4 points to 99.1%. Days of inventory fell five days to 96 for single-family homes. For condos, days of inventory dropped 27 days to 121 for condos.

For buyers, if your credit is a little bit dinged, spend some time improving it. Otherwise, the upper end of the market favors sellers while the lower end favors buyers. For sellers, if you are in the lower end of the market buyers are few and far between. Put your home in mint condition and price it right. If you are in the upper end of the market, it still pays to make your home as presentable as possible, and if you'are in a desirable neighborhood, you will get multiple offers.

The real estate market is very hard to generalize. It is a market made up of many micro markets.

Monday, July 2, 2007

What is Inspiration?

When beginning the process of building design, one first must come up with a concept. A concept can be anything. A piece of furniture, a faucet, a certain way in which spaces must relate, a pool, a prevailing wind, or an optimum view. The concept is the driving force that dictates, to a certain extent, how the building will look and function. It can be seen (sometimes clearly but often not) in every detail and every space as it permeates through the general design of the structure.

Some ask, "why bother?" As designers, we respond that the concept is the soul of the building: its reason for existence. Whether or not it is evident to everyone who uses the building is not important. When we look at a Picasso we see beauty but do not necessarily understand every line, every abstraction, every choice of color. In a building a concept may be understood in a similar manner. We may see that the focus of all the windows is a view of a mountain, or that the house harnesses the summer wind to cool a veranda. But we may not initially understand more subtle choices until we spend an hour or a decade in the building. The concept provides for a level of depth that creates a more interesting structure. Like the Picasso, we may see layers of thought made into physical form. The concept allows the building to communicate with the person, revealing those layers to those who wish to uncover them.

The concept is an important part of design. As designers, we use the concept as a tool and as an organizational principle. As inhabitants, the concept exists in every room, every wall, waiting for us to discover its purpose and thereby further our understanding of the building and ultimately, ourselves.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tip of the Week - 5/27/07

To help prevent slow drains in the kitchen, fill the sink once a month with hot water. Unplug the drain and run the garbage disposal while continuing to run your hot water for one minute.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Architectural Styles Defined: Craftsman Style…

One of the most troubling aspects of architecture and real estate is the misuse of terms as they apply to the architectural style of a building, and how that misuse leads to poor communication between clients and professionals. Here’s an in-depth look at what defines the “American Craftsman:”

The Craftsman, or “Arts and Crafts” style began in Britain as a response to the relentless grandiose nature of the Victorian era which was consumed with all things ornate. Victorian architecture had evolved primarily into applied bays, peaks, and other features onto a basic architectural box, with all of these elements tied together with fanciful detail elements that had little to do with the structure underneath them.

It was a movement based on truth in materials and a construction method that celebrated the designers and craftsmen who built them by exposing their structure as an architectural design element. Craftsmen homes would typically be represented by natural materials such as wood and stone that were not painted over or applied as simple veneers, and intentionally used multiple combinations of materials in order to both break up the design of the building and highlight more expensive materials by using them in targeted areas.

The movement has seen a strong recent revival based on its historical adaptability with local materials and construction methods within any given region. Though current sustainability practices make heavy timbers a less responsible choice, and stone is more likely to be a veneer than a structural system, the style can still be considered truthful to its roots through calculated exposure of materials and by taking advantage of inherent design features such as extended overhangs for solar shading benefits. The style is adaptable in form and materials, low pitch roofs and mission style detailing in the desert west and California, shaker inspired carpentry in the northeast, and heavier use of bricks and screened porches across the Southeast.

At its heart, the American Craftsman is a complete rejection of Victorian ideology. To be truly craftsman, a building must tell the story of how it is built through its design, not merely use vernacular materials.

Tip of the week - 5/20/07

When painting inside your house, use a low sheen paint such as an eggshell or satin finish for most walls, and flat paint for the ceiling. You can then use a semi-gloss for your molding and trim to make it stand out with a richer look.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tip of the week - 4/22/07

When selecting finish lumber for a project, look for quarter sawn lumber. Unlike plain sawn lumber which has a tendency to twist, cup, and wear unevenly; quarter sawn logs are first divided lengthwise into four pie shape wedges, then each piece of lumber is cut perpendicular to the grain to allow better more even wear, as well as more even grain patterns and reduced shrinkage and swelling.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Do I need an Architect?

When building a new house or simply adding on an extra bedroom, you have a couple options. You can hire only a builder (or contractor) to do the work, or you can hire an architect to design and coordinate the entire process. When hiring a builder, you would likely pick details and plans from a prearranged list of options. In many cases this will result in a perfectly fine home. Hiring an architect provides you with a much deeper level of customization geared solely towards you and your family’s needs. Do you need a covered outdoor space to entertain? Do you enjoy waking up with the morning sun? Do you want an extra large bedroom for the twins? An architect’s job is to collaborate with you and translate these needs into a design for your house. He or she then follows through with the design and acts as your representative during construction, ensuring that everything is built to the highest standards. It is true that not everyone needs an architect, but if you dream of a house that will make a statement about yourself or perfectly suits you and your family’s habits and favorite activities, then an architect is the best person to help you accomplish those goals.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Birth of the CONima BLOG

It's a firm!!!

Welcome to the CONima blog, gateway to the CONima universe. As a point of introduction, CONima began as a simple idea; the combination of construction and image, a constructed image, CONima. It was a way to exemplify architecture to the world, and to simply (as well as confusingly) explain what it is that I did as a person in architecture first, and at the present time what this firm does. It is repeated in many places, but CONima is the realization of identity through the built form, a constructed image of how you wish to be perceived.

Architecture separates itself from everyday construction by its ability to express something greater than simple enclosure...and that is enough rambling for a newborn.

Learn the basics at
more to come...