The Rancho Santa Fe Post

CDRC Confidential: Location, Location, Location

Anyone who has been to the Big Island of Hawaii knows the Mauna Kea Hotel has the best beach. The Rockefellers got there first. They got the best site. The same can be said about the Covenant, where many of the best locations already have homes on them. Fortunately, buyers just coming to the Covenant will find that enough time has elapsed since its founding in 1928, that there are lots of older homes for sale suitable for remodel enjoying premium locations.

At the time of writing, there are approximately 100 homes and 11 lots actively for sale in the Covenant. After half a year on the Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC), I notice every session includes recent buyers trying to cram dream homes on lots with small, difficult building pads. I am surprised more applicants don’t save both time and money by buying existing homes, then personalizing them or making additions.

Not only is it easier to finance the purchase of an existing home to remodel than a lot, but it also takes less time to remodel than build from scratch. Changing a bedroom to an office, exercise, or tequila-tasting room, and/or adding a guest casita for the annual migration of family from the East, is easier, cheaper, and less disruptive than finding and buying a lot with a useful building pad and then trying to construct on it. Even better: Realizing the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, a mile away, is best for visitors because the Inn’s room service is faster and less cranky than Glam Ma, I mean, Grandma.

When my late husband and I built our home, we purchased a “mid-century” (the term cracks me up) house to remodel and build in its foot print. That way we could take advantage of an existing Thomas Church garden with mature trees. More importantly, it enjoyed a golf course view uninterrupted by power and telephone wires, from the west side that has lower temperatures and traffic. Potential CDRC applicants might want to consider this approach when they decide to build. In the last six months of doing CDRC site visits, I’ve discovered more areas of the Ranch with beautiful views and quiet locations than I did in the last 20 years.

While the CDRC welcomes all applications to build a dream/trophy house, whether as a remodel or new, I know from personal experience the advantages of buying an existing home. I also have to admit, a side benefit to buyers purchasing older homes with great locations needing remodeling, is lessening the load on the CDRC’s new maintenance enforcement list. Based on the existing RSFA Regulatory Code and Covenant, the CDRC staff has been working to enforce provisions including those concerned with disrepair and clutter of unsightly debris and junk. It’s a win-win: Less properties to be cited and more with the perfect location to build a dream home!

COMMERCIAL PROJECT UPDATES: The Gateway grocery project is now working its way through SD County before it comes back to the CDRC for final review, which includes materials and construction plan. Similarly, the new pharmacy will be coming back to the CDRC for final plan review too. Both projects are being developed by RSFA members who live here. It’s always a good sign when residents want to invest in their community, but especially in the Covenant, where resident members are sensitive to our architectural heritage.