Month: August 2019

About Earthquake Retrofits in Los Angeles

If you were asked which state experiences the most earthquakes that register at least 3.0 magnitude (M), you might say California. It’s a good guess, but the answer is actually Alaska. In fact, a recent spike in seismic activity in Oklahoma has pushed it, too, ahead of California on the list of states that had the greatest number of earthquakes last year. 

However, among cities with stringent earthquake building codes that allude to performing earthquake retrofits, Los Angeles is often considered the city with the most need for protection. L.A. is in a prime location to receive a strong rumble from what the federal government calls the “world’s greatest earthquake zone”, otherwise known as the circum-Pacific seismic belt. It’s where “81 percent of the world’s largest earthquakes occur.”

Earthquake Magnitude: The San Andreas Fault

In reality, if you want to avoid the destruction of an earthquake that reduces masonry to rubble, a city that experiences plenty of earthquakes isn’t necessarily the worst place to be. The severity of an earthquake is determined by the characteristics of the fault line that produces the event — the larger the total area of the fault, the larger the earthquake tends to be. Some faults produce plenty of quakes, but lack the type of formation to create deadly ones. 

California has over 500 active fault lines, the most infamous of which is the San Andreas Fault. The fault is a giant crack in the earth’s crust that separates two tectonic plates: the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate, which shift against each other to produce earthquakes. Among California’s active faults, the San Andreas has a worrisome combination of characteristics: a large total area and high activity. 

The fault is 800 miles long and roughly 12 miles deep. According to seismologists, this means it can produce earthquakes of up to 8.3M. To get an idea of how strong a quake of that magnitude would be, consider that the most powerful earthquake ever recorded was the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, in Chile, which registered 9.5M. The fault that produced that event is about 1,000 miles long and 150 miles wide.

The San Andreas Fault causes roughly 10,000 earthquakes annually, with only 15-20 of them being 4.0M or greater. For homes and buildings that need an earthquake retrofit in Los Angeles, receiving a retrofit that easily responds to a quakes of 7.0M and above is highly recommended. This tends to be the magnitude at which brick and mortar readily crack and collapse, and the magnitude that easily produces the need for residential foundation repair in Los Angeles

Residential Earthquake Retrofits in Los Angeles

You’ve probably heard the old saying more times than you care to count: “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”. According to the Square Cube Law, which establishes strength to weight ratio, the statement is actually true.  It also helps explain why large buildings can be less likely to collapse under the stress of a strong earthquake than certain types of homes.

L.A. has one of the best earthquake building codes of any city. The code, along with the willingness of many building owners to go above and beyond it, creates a city that isn’t exactly “earthquake proof”, but is well-equipped to withstand a strong shake. Simple technology, such as concrete reinforced with rebar, combined with complex technology, such as base isolation, supports metal superstructures that, as gargantuan as they are, boast impressive strength-to-weight ratios.

Residences in L.A. are another story. Traditionally, residential architecture in the city shows a strong Spanish influence. You see lots of stucco and asymmetrical facades. Behind those facades, more recently built residences often have a wood or metal frame. The masonry may fall away during an earthquake, but the basic structure should remain intact. 

Following a major quake, traditional residences may be the ones that need the most intensive structural and foundation repair in Los Angeles. However, when an earthquake retrofit in Los Angeles is performed by A-List Builders, the goal of the job can go beyond ensuring that public safety concerns and structure survivability are addressed. Depending on the characteristics of the residence, the goal can exceed the expectations of stringent earthquake building codes for the public sector. The residence’s full functionality may be preserved. There may even be the potential to render the home unaffected by the quake. 

Regarding what types of L.A. residences can significantly benefit from retrofits, helpful information can be extrapolated from the Santa Monica Seismic Retrofit program.   

The Next Big Quake ⁠— Is it Really on the Way?

At some point, another momentous earthquake will almost certainly shake Los Angeles. But even the most adroit seismologists in Southern California, who have studied their native tectonic plate for years, can not say precisely when it will arrive — not even within a span of decades or centuries. 

As USGS.gov points out, “There are only two large known historic earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault in southern CA, the most recent in 1857, and before that one in 1812. With about 45 years between the historic earthquakes but about 160 years since the last one, it is clear that the fault does not behave like a clock with a regular beat.”

That’s not exactly consoling. However, just as you can’t be certain that another foundation busting quake will shake L.A. in the next century, you can be sure that it won’t. This leaves homeowners with one reasonable option for protecting their residences and loved ones, in the event that a high-intensity quake happens sooner than later: implementing an earthquake retrofit in Los Angeles proactively.

Contact A-List Builders for Your Free Estimate      

Frequent earthquakes are a reality of life in L.A. Thankfully, most of them are minor rumbles that don’t appear to precede bigger ones. However, because no one knows when a quake of great significance will happen, it’s important to be prepared for such an event, day after day. If you need an earthquake retrofit in Los Angeles, please contact us for a free estimate today.

Room Addition Inspiration

You absolutely love everything about your home. Except for its size. Your home is certainly a nice retreat from your crazy days, but it would be nice to have a little more space to move about.

The good news? You can easily enlarge your living space with a few additions. Here’s a glimpse at some room addition ideas for small homes.

Add a Sunroom

Do you embrace the beauty of the outdoors but also enjoy the comfort of being indoors? If so, you can’t go wrong with a sunroom addition—one of the most popular room addition ideas for small homes. These additions provide the best of both worlds.

What’s great about a sunroom is that this room addition can easily enhance your home’s use. For instance, you can entertain friends and family in your new indoor-outdoor space, and unlike being outdoors, you don’t have to swat at annoying mosquitoes. 

Also, a sunroom allows for maximizing the natural light entering your home. A qualified remodeling company will make sure that your sunroom addition effortlessly blends with the remainder of your house for a seamless look from the inside out.

Add a Living Room Addition

Homeowners seeking room addition ideas for small homes will find that living room additions are a great option.

Here’s why.

Your living room is essentially your home’s centerpiece, so if you decide to add to it, you won’t just be adding to the room: You’ll be adding value to your entire home. After all, living room additions are known to dramatically increase homes’ aesthetics, value, livability, and comfort.

Another benefit of living room additions is that they give you the chance to exercise your creative freedom, as you can complete your renovation around your family’s unique lifestyle.

As soon as you’ve decided on the design elements and layout of your addition, make sure that you select the perfect paint color for your addition—one that will match your desired atmosphere. For instance, a red shade may be ideal if you’d like your living room addition to have an exciting and energizing vibe. Meanwhile, a blue shade is ideal for creating a tranquil feel.

Add a Mudroom

Although many houses feature entryways, many lack entire mudrooms. So, if you’re looking for room addition ideas for small homes, a mudroom addition just may be what your home—and your family—needs.

A mudroom addition can come in handy for keeping backpacks, shoes, and coats in one place in your home. You can simply install cubbies, lockers, cabinets, or hooks in your mudroom addition to promote the organization of these items. If you’re like many homeowners with mudrooms, you’ll quickly fall in love with the visual appeal and additional storage that your mudroom offers.

Bring Your Favorite Room Addition Ideas for Small Homes to Life Today!

If you’re desperate to make your small home look and feel bigger, now couldn’t be a better time to start your room addition.

At A-List Builders, we are excited to partner with you to turn any one of the above room addition ideas for small homes into a reality. We’ll first complete a free consultation for you. Then, we’ll sit down with you to choose the materials you’re interested in using for your remodel, as well as create a winning strategy. Then, we’ll take the necessary planning, permit, and building steps to bring your room addition vision to life.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how our room addition services can help you to boost your home’s functionality, beauty, and value in no time.

House Remodeling Ideas for Small Homes

You walk into your home after a busy day at work, and as soon as the children finish bombarding you with hugs and kisses, you collapse onto the couch. 

It’s great to be home.

As much as you enjoy the cozy place you call home, deep down inside, you wish you had a little more room to breathe. Fortunately, even if your home is smaller than you’d like, creating more space isn’t a hard feat to accomplish with the right tips and tricks.

Here’s a rundown on the top five house remodeling ideas for small homes this year.

1. Embrace an Open Floor Plan

If you’re serious about expanding your interior living space, note that embracing the open floor plan concept is one of the best house remodeling ideas for small homes.

Why? Because a small house’s interior walls end up breaking up your home’s space. As a result, the home’s rooms may appear tight and thus not functional. 

This problem is especially common in kitchen and dining room areas; for example, a wall may separate your dining room and kitchen, or perhaps a wall is separating your dining room and living room. In these situations, it may behoove you to simply remove the walls to create the extra functional space your home needs. This move will additionally make your house seem brighter—an added bonus.

As you create a more open space in your home, you may also want to unify the space by installing uniform flooring. This flooring may range from tile to vinyl flooring and carpeting.

2. Consider Adding Crown Molding and Painting Your Trim

If you’re looking for house remodeling ideas for small homes, consider adding crown molding to your walls, as this will immediately make your rooms seem bigger. How? Because crown molding has a way of elongating a wall’s line and thus making your walls look taller.

In addition, you may want to paint your trim and moldings in every room if a natural wood look isn’t a major architectural element of your home. White paint is a smart choice because it works well with many wall colors due to being bright and neutral. As a result, it’s great for unifying your home’s rooms.

3. Limit Your Home’s Wall Colors

While we’re on the topic of painting, you may want to stick with white or other neutral colors for your home’s walls as well. That’s because neutral colors on your walls can make your small home look bigger. 

However, you don’t have to make all of your walls the same color. Instead, stick with a certain color and then use varying values of this hue in your home’s different rooms. For example, use a light gray in your hallways, and use a darker gray in your kitchen or dining room, where you wish to highlight the home’s architecture. Meanwhile, a mid-tone can be useful in bedrooms and bathrooms.

4. Add Skylights

Still looking for winning house remodeling ideas for small homes? Why not add a skylight to your home?

A skylight is excellent at bringing sunlight and warmth into your home. Custom skylights are an enjoyable way to make your home look larger while simultaneously adding an air of sophistication to your space.

5. Create Storage

Using cabinetry and shelving for storage in your home is another excellent way of maximizing your small home’s functional storage.

For instance, you can add recessed shelving to your walls to make every inch of your home count when it comes to having adequate storage. Recessed shelving is also great for conserving floor space.

Meanwhile, cabinets help with containing contents and keeping your home looking uncluttered. Likewise, a buffet can prove to be especially handy in your dining room, as it can provide essential storage for your linens, dishes, and glasses.

Start Implementing Today’s Top House Remodeling Ideas for Small Homes!

Outside of work, your home is likely the place where you spend the most time. For this reason, if your house is on the small side, it’s a wise idea to implement the above house remodeling ideas for small homes.

The good news? You don’t have to navigate this process alone. A-List Builders can guide you through it, from start to finish, helping you to determine which renovations will best add functionality to your living space.

Contact us today to learn more about all of your house remodeling options and get started on your first—or next—project today.

Buying a House to Renovate: What You Need to Know

Most people renovate a house for one of two reasons: to turn the property into a place where they can live comfortably, or to increase the value of the home, and then sell it for a profit. In either situation, there are certain things about home renovation that you need to know beforehand to ensure that you invest wisely and the project goes smoothly. Here are seven important things that you should know before buying a house to renovate:

1. Renovations that are Required by Law

Before they can be inhabited again, some homes need renovations that are required by law. For example, if a home has been judged to be structurally unsound, or if it was used in a way that created a chemically toxic interior, you’ll almost certainly need to factor renovations for these things into your plans. Before investing in fixer uppers, it’s important to know of any renovations the law would require you to make, as they would become inevitable cost factors.     

2. The Legality of Planned Renovations

In addition to knowing about renovations that the law would require you to make, it’s essential to learn of any renovations that federal, state, or municipal law would prohibit. If you’re buying a house to renovate in a community that’s governed by a homeowners association (HOA), you would also need to know whether the planned fixes are permissible under community bylaws. Knowing these things upfront helps you decide whether a property is ideal for your plans. 

3. Realistic Time and Cost for Renovations

Whether you’re buying a house to renovate for your next residence, or you hope to profit by selling the residence when the work is done, your plans depend on how long the renovations will take, and how much they will cost. 

Before you finalize plans for moving from your current home into one that you’re renovating, or before you make financial plans based on the sale of a soon to be renovated home, contact A-List Builders. We’ll present you with a realistic timeline and cost analysis for the renovations you need.   

4. Home Value Vs. Cost of Renovations

When you’re buying a house to renovate, you naturally want to make a sound financial investment. To do so, you need to know three things: how much the house is worth now, how much it would be worth after renovations were made, and the cost of renovations. If the home will become your place of residence, spending more than the numbers say you should is more sensible than it would be if you planned to quickly “flip” the property for a profit.   

5. Which Tasks are Suitable for DIY Work

When they invest in fixer uppers to renovate the homes, and then “flip” them to earn a profit, many investors perform do-it-yourself (DIY) renovations to cut costs and maximize profit. While this is a good financial strategy, it’s important to stick to DIY projects that you have the skills to master. 

This is especially true for the renovating of essential systems in a home, such as plumbing and electrical. If you lack the requisite expertise, performing DIY renovations to these systems could be dangerous. It could also result in costly rework that lowers your profit margin.   

6. How Many Contractors will be Required

Prior to buying a house to renovate, some home buyers assume that a single contractor can perform all of the wanted and needed changes to the residence. In many cases, it’s true that only one contractor is required. However, it’s also common to need more than one contractor. 

For example, if the grounds of the property you buy need to be relandscaped, you’ll likely end up hiring a landscaping contractor, in addition to retaining a contractor to renovate the house itself. Knowing how many contractors are required helps you estimate renovation cost based on the cost of contractor services. It also helps you envision what managing the project will be like, as you dialogue with contractors.   

7. Qualifications of Prospective Contractors

The quality of your renovations depends partly on the contractors you hire. You should only consider contractors that have at least three essential qualifications: they hold a general building contractor license in the state of California, offer a guarantee of quality workmanship, and carry insurance that would pay for damage to your property that occurred during renovation work.

In addition, focus on hiring contractors that have demonstrated experience in renovating the type of residence you are fixing up. For example, if you’re buying a century home, with plans to restore its original condition, choose a contractor that has experience with this type of project.   

Contact A-List Builders for Renovations

Serving the greater Los Angeles area, A-List Builders is a leading home remodeling company that completes residential remodeling projects of all scopes and sizes, from installing new window treatments to fully redesigning interiors and exteriors. If you’re thinking about investing in fixer uppers and buying a house to renovate, contact us before you make a move. We’ll help you assess how much you would pay for renovations and how long the project would take.

Making the Most of Your Side Yard

In some parts of Los Angeles, there’s plenty of room along the side of your home either in the form of a side lawn or a walkway. It’s easy to forget that you can also make this space just as beautiful as your front or back yard.  You can increase the visual appeal, overall value, and aesthetic of your home by optimizing this space better. 

Our expert landscaping and hardscaping services can help! Read on how to make the most of your side yard this year with our favorite side yard landscaping ideas.

Your Side Yard Design Options

If you’re looking for low-maintenance side yard ideas, you have a few alluring options. First, you could choose to install a pathway or walkway without planting any flower beds on the side of your yard.

Your second option? You could install both a walkway and plants on the side of your home if there’s enough room for both. Ideally, you should border your walkway with plants on both sides.

If you’re seeking side yard landscaping ideas, your third option is not to include pavers but still include plants on the side of the yard. In this situation, you’ll simply need to leave enough room for yourself to move relatively freely among the plants.

Walkway and Plants

If you plan to use the side of your yard rather frequently, installing a walkway is a wise move. Ideally, you should install one with a surface that won’t pose a tripping hazard for you. As an example, flagstone walkways provide nice, even surfaces. 

Let’s take a look at a couple of low-maintenance side yard ideas involving pavers and plants.

Symmetrical Appearance 

For a nice effect with pavers, consider installing two straight lines of pavers side by side for a head-turning symmetrical style. Then, you can line your pavers with flowers to make your side yard even more aesthetically pleasing.

Organic Shape

Another walkway option for those looking for side yard landscaping ideas is to create a path with an organic, original shape. This will immediately add character to your side yard. If you flank it with grasses or trees, this will offer your visitors a welcome sense of procession and grandeur.

Then, if you place a waterfall or pond at the end of the path, this will make the yard feel even more like the ultra nature lover’s getaway. Feel free to also place a bench or a small table along the path if you have enough space to do so as well.

These are excellent small side yard patio ideas that will give you a spot in your yard where you can hide out, enjoy quiet moments, and take in the beautiful sights from one season to the next.

Implement the Top Side Yard Landscaping Ideas Today!

If you’re interested in giving your home curb appeal, it only makes sense to pay just as much attention to the side of your yard as you do the front. Fortunately, with the above side yard landscaping ideas, you can easily transform the side of your yard into a retreat area you’ll never forget.

Get in touch with us at A-List Builders to learn how we can bring your small side yard patio ideas to fruition.

Our clients believe in us.

Here is what a few of them say.

  • Kobi R.

    It’s been years since I’ve done any work to my home so I was nervous about the whole project. Thankfully, I found a company that not only provided me with a patient ( I am very particular) and punctual contractor, Rani, but the job came out better than I expected. After doing such an amazing job on the kitchen, I expressed to Rani that I would like to do some more work with him but money, unfortunately, doesn’t grow on trees. Fortunately, Rani found an affordable way for me to redo all the bathrooms and flooring throughout the house.

  • Beverly S.

    Our initial meeting with Rani was excellent due to him giving us information and ideas we hadn’t thought of. He returned a week later with a presentation for our kitchen. Again, we were surprised at his additional ideals and his presentation. We had previously had two of the big-box stores come out so we had an idea of cost. Rani was more reasonable and offered us better and more creative ideas. Our kitchen is completed and we feel we qualify for Better Homes & Gardens. We would recommend our experience and job to everyone.

  • Warren M.

    After about a year and a half after we remodeled our bathroom, we had some minor electrical issues and reached out to A-List Builders. Ben followed up consistently and in a timely manner until my needed repair work was done.

  • Debbie W.

    Everyone was professional, nice and knowledgeable. I am so happy with their work and I will be using them again for my next project. In addition, I will be referring them (which I don't do unless I completely trust a job well done) to my family and friends. Thank you, again, for such a positive experience.

  • Deborah B.

    I hired A-List for a large restoration project. The project involved wall replacement with framing & drywall, stucco, exterior & interior painting, foundation reinforcement, a new exterior gate, fence repair, brick & tile walkways. Ben was the only contractor I interviewed who recommended that an engineer inspect the foundation as part of the evaluation process. Megan cheerfully worked through the process with my insurance company. All of the on-site workers were a pleasure to work with. They arrived early, were professional, & kept the work-site clean & organized...even the city inspector commented positively about A-List's knowledge & organization. A-List Builders did a great job & their follow-up was excellent.

  • Lou D.

    Like so many people in LA we bought a fixer upper. Over the last 5 years we have searched intently for a contractor we could trust. Never has a contractor come on our property that affected us the way Ben and Megan from A-List Builders have. They immediately understood our needs and made brilliant suggestions. They answered every question, every call, and it was such a difference dealing with them than any company we've ever hired before. They did not waste a minute of our time, nor did they try to get us to do more than we wanted. Their pricing is more than fair. They are so good at what they do and completely trustworthy and make hard things much easier. There actually IS a really good General Contractor out there and a company that does all that it promises and more.

  • Anonymous

    I used A-List Builders for my Bathroom Remodel and my bathroom is more beautiful now than I could have ever imagined...I met with Ben who gave me a free estimate for the job and knew right away that A-List Builders was the company I was going to use for the job. Their estimate was fair, and their communication throughout the entire process was fantastic. I always knew there was going to be someone else on the other line if I needed to get a hold of them for any reason. Their workers were true pros that did an immaculate job, excellent craftmanship and very good at keeping the renovation area very clean. I absolutely love my new bathroom and have already recommended them to two of my friends. Truly a great experience!

So, what do you think?

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pick up the phone and give us a call at


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