This contemporary redesign features large expanses of glass and a spacious butterfly-roofed great room

Los Altos Contemporary Ranch Remodel/Addition III

Occasionally, a new client will bring us a site with an old structure that predates current zoning law and could not be built the same way today. This one story ranch on a corner lot in Los Altos was just such a structure, with a large portion of the house being in what would be considered the required rear yard, or “no-build” setback area.

To complicate matters further, an earlier remodel/addition had legally defined the street-facing front yards to the client’s disadvantage, in effect rendering the actual “buildable” area smaller than it needed to be and virtually precluding the ability to do a much-needed front addition.

Using our experience with the Los Altos Planning code and relationships with senior staff, we were able to persuade the Planning Department to commit to undoing the front/side street definitions established by the earlier permit, creating more buildable area for the lot and providing five feet more breathing room for a front addition.

By carefully designing the addition and new rooflines to retain a contiguous 50% portion of the existing structure, we were able to retain the “grandfathered” portion of the house while utilizing the site to its maximum potential with a significant new addition and relocated garage.

The clients are fans of contemporary design, and the architecture reflects their taste with a butterfly-roofed great room, large expanses of glass, indoor-outdoor flow, and a contemporary exterior materials palette.


  • Scope of Work: Remodel of and addition to an existing 4 BR, 2 BA single-family residence with 1,888 existing living s.f. and 477.7 s.f. existing garage on a 11,700 s.f. lot. 617 s.f. of new living area and 465 s.f. of existing garage converted to living area, 457.5 s.f. of new garage area and 11.2 s.f. of existing garage, 1.5 s.f. of garage area to be demolished, and 38.4 s.f. of existing porch area converted to new living area will result in a 5 BR and 3.5 BA residence with 3,008.4 living s.f. and a 468.7 s.f. garage, totaling 3,477.1 s.f.
  • Project Year: 2016
  • Project Cost: $750,001 – $1,000,000
  • Location: Los Altos, CA


Photography by Mark Pinkerton, VI360 Photography


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