FloState LA is a property where one can find their Zen state while being productive. So, how do we liven, lighten, and find our tempo at work? It is about nature, the ability to zone in and find peace in the present surroundings. Before COVID-19, I had a really cool, new, shared office space in Pasadena. Being inside, we still need natural light to enhance our moods. The feeling of being within confined walls can be lifted with the help of windows, walkways, and skylights.
At home during the pandemic, I thought about how I could capture that same atmosphere inside my home and build the ideal home office. As a real estate broker, I have renovated and rehabbed commercial and residential properties, but never my own house and certainly never adding space. When you add space, it goes beyond a facelift and cosmetic enhancements into the structural integrity of the building.
I searched on city websites for ordinances on building an office. Technically, it’s a bedroom, and one can be the main contractor if it is under 500 sq. ft. Let's just say it's hard for a homeowner to find out exactly what is needed on the LA Building and Safety website. I live in El Sereno, covered by the North East Ordinance of Los Angeles. It took me a couple of plan-check submissions to find out everything. I had to jump through a lot of hoops.
Eli Broad had just passed away, and I re-listened to his book, The Art of Being Unreasonable. I love the way he thinks, and his vision helped me push forward. When I began putting the plan together, the budget ballooned shortly after the lockdown. With inflation rising, I thought I could build the office for $150- $200 a sq. ft., but in the end, it costs me around $300 a sq ft. It wasn't the materials, but the cost of labor had skyrocketed.
My rule was talk to people, get quotes, and see who would like working with. I contacted a few general contractors building ADU's, and for my single bedroom, their prices were $500 - $600 a sq. ft. First I engaged a very talented friend, Leonard Wozniak , an industrial designer for Nike Shoes, FAO Schwarz, sporting equipment, and all different kinds of cool gadgets. I had first worked with Leo when he bid on the World of Fruit; and although the ownership group did not go with his services, his concepts were amazing.
From our initial meetings, Leo started to draw up concepts. It was like looking at a car of the future, but it was my house. Leo's strength was to listen intently then bring up what I was thinking. Everyone has some idea of what they want to do; but we need to see it: sitting in the space without anything there.
After Leo and I finished the layout and design, I began to work on the material costs. I started an excel sheet titled Material's List that compiled the prices of what was needed in each phase of the construction from Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, and a few other sites. I also read, watched blogs and YouTube videos about people building additions as novel concepts in their space.
Pinterest became a new hobby as I started looking at rooms people had built from open ceilings to trusses to create light in the space. Google yielded a plethora of images people had posted of rooms they had completed.