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Second Units for Stronger Communities: B the Change New Avenue

Posted on the 12 August 2011 by Blab

Written by Kevin Casey, New Avenue Homes

New Avenue Homes of Berkeley, CA is taking a small approach to solving a big problem. Most of us live in more space than we need, and sink more time and money than we would like into maintaining these large spaces. A practical approach to solving that problem is putting more people within big spaces or otherwise put – increasing the density of our living environment. This doesn’t mean packing too many people into one house, it means getting more utility out of the space that we have.

Building a second unit on a single family property makes sense in several ways. First, property becomes more useful and less expensive. Adding a second living space gives families flexibility to accommodate older parents, young adult children, live-in care takers and nannies, or the option to take an entrepreneurial route and become a landlord in their community. Each of these actions minimize the cost and maximize the benefits of owning property.

Second, increasing the density of our living environments is beneficial to our communities. The landscape and lifestyle of the American suburb will be more attractive if we live smaller. By doing so we increase the availability of affordably priced housing, foster tightly knit community relationships, renew the dream of homeownership for younger generations, make public transportation investments easily justified decisions, and above all, help families increase equity in their property.

So why doesn’t every single-family home property owner have a second unit? As we see it, the largest impediment is that the contracting and construction industry today is not designed for customer service. Building a second unit is no simple purchasing decision. For a typical homeowner, the education and execution process of designing, permitting, financing and sourcing labor is a year long, unpaid, part-time job.

In response, New Avenue Homes developed a service platform that makes the decision to buy a cottage as painless and fun as simply imagining your perfect kitchen remodel over a glass of wine with scratch paper. We built the platform by combining innovative architecture, intelligent project management, transparent pricing, competitive financing and a delivery model designed for customer service.

Looking at the larger picture, our goal is to make it very easy to build family assets that create community value. Building homes creates jobs and New Avenue Homes sources locally. Employing local suppliers and professionals makes both philosophical and practical sense. It keeps the flow of money in the community and helps us achieve high quality customer service. Local businesses and professionals have strong incentive to do their jobs well because their community relationships and reputations are in play. An electrician or roofer might see a client in the grocery store, at the next PTA meeting, or at soccer practice later that same afternoon.

High quality work is delivered between people who share a common sense of obligation to one another. Sourcing locally is a strategy to achieve it. New Avenue Homes is striving to create local jobs and community economic wealth by living small and living comfortably. Check out how New Avenue is proposing how you can live at

Second Units for Stronger Communities: B the Change New Avenue
Kevin Casey is the CEO of New Avenue Homes. He grew up in one of the original Sears factory homes built in 1908 and leads the planning and vision for New Avenue.

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