This project retained the structure of the existing Ranch-style home while adding a large basement and rear section

Los Altos Contemporary Remodel/Addition II

Digging out a basement under an existing home poses many construction challenges. Namely, removing the immense volume of dirt created by the basement excavation becomes cumbersome while maneuvering heavy equipment around an existing structure. Also, digging a gigantic hole next to an existing building requires costly shoring and typically compromises the home’s structural integrity. Digging out a basement in a remodel vs. completely new construction is usually more costly for these reasons, and we advise this approach only if the retained structure has significant historic or aesthetic value.

It’s important to know when to remodel and when to tear down; we’ve created a couple of videos on this very topic:


This home had its fair share of challenges for the above reasons. As our developer client insisted on retaining the existing 1950’s ranch home while adding a 2,000 s.f. basement below a massive rear addition; our design fulfilled their mandate.

The front roof gables on either sides of the entry door were part of the existing home. Between these, we added a tall entry space with shed roof above the entry door. We had creative freedom at the rear of the house, and the roof reflects that. The shed roof at the entry helps relate the remodeled front of the house to the new rear half.

We took over the project mid-stream from another firm who was having difficulty getting their design approved through Los Altos Planning for a number of technical and aesthetic reasons; our design had no such issues and was approved without incident.


  • Scope of Work: Remodel of and addition to an existing one-story residence with existing 2,059.0 s.f. living area and 412 s.f. garage area. The proposed addition results in a single-family residence of 3,387.8 s.f. first floor, a remaining garage of 307.7 s.f. and a basement of 1,921.6 s.f. totaling 5 BR, 5 BA, and 2 powder rooms. Portion of the existing foundation to remain, as indicated on the plans.
  • Project Year: 2019
  • Project Cost: More than $2,000,000
  • Location: Los Altos, CA


Photography by Mark Pinkerton, VI360 Photography


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