CC Image courtesy of Ramkumar Menon

The Dreaded Town of Los Gatos is in Fact Dreaded for Permits

I had always heard that they were difficult. My house is in the historical district and its on a hillside and since I made the mistake of not hiring Jeff Guinta I would have some trouble. He saw my project and gave me a flat fee of $6000 – that was far better than what happened in the long run. 

A good designer is very helpful and if you have an even better engineer this is all that you need. 

My plans were practical though and the idea was to preserve the old home as much as possible so that at least was eye to eye with the town of Los Gatos. After all it was only 440 sf. I started in about March of 2015 to make plans and read the town of Los Gatos requirements and it would be June of 2016 before I had permission to embark on the project. That’s actually better than most as I have seen people crying at the counter.

Step one : First you have to start with what you have – that means a topo map and drawings of the structures on the property so set backs are not encrouched upon and the town has an idea of what they are dealing with . Mission engineers are reliable civil engineers – Pete and Daniel are practical and efficient, do what they say they are going to do and keep to the schedule. That is always a god send in working on a home.

Step two : Get the house tested for lead and asbestos. With this age home I am sure there are both substances here. Sure enough my house was slightly positive for paint but mostly in the old door putty around the windows. That contained the most toxic substance.


Step three: Get a good engineer. Now there are many but most would not touch my job at all. It was too complicated and there was no way to demo and then see what you had – you just had to make assumptions and create solutions when the house was exposed. Only Toma Goncenerco who is proudly 81 and absolutely knows his stuff.  The hitch was he is Hungarian and mutters quite a bit which means few can understand him and he assumes they don’t know anything – doesn’t go over well with the contractors. So …


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Ann Kownacki

(Sandy Kay)

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