Casita / Guest House

Casita / Guest House

There are so many benefits to adding a casita, sometimes called a guest house, pool house, or granny flat, to your property. We like casitas because they are a great way to add valuable space while not negatively affecting your current home or disrupting your current living situation. Hiring an Architect early in the process is ideal as these buildings often have different zoning and code regulations than your typical single-family home. A well designed casita should compliment your existing home while adding something new, fun, and hopefully shaping your backyard in a way that creates more privacy, better shade, and ideal indoor outdoor living opportunities.

casita example

Casita / Guest House Timeline and Process


Design and Documentation: 2 months – 4 months

This timeframe includes our 4 phases of design and documentation, as well as the time necessary for engineers to complete their work on your project. Our 4 phases of design and documentation are Existing Conditions, Schematic Design, Design Development, and Construction Documents. Below is a summary of those phases.

Existing Conditions

Existing Conditions is the foundation for the rest of the design and documentation process. It primarily includes information gathering and documentation of the site and existing home. Information gathering includes studying the context of the neighborhood, researching the zoning requirements, and photo documenting the property and existing home.  We spend a considerable amount of time investigating and discovering what makes the home unique, what gives it character, and what is historically, culturally, and economically valuable. Existing Conditions is when we require a site survey to be produced by a site surveyor if one is not already available. With the site survey, we measure the areas of the property that will be affected by the design to create a digital set of as-built plans that are used as the base drawings for the rest of the project.

Schematic Design

Schematic Design focuses on the experience of the guest or pool house, the location and relationship between different functional areas, how the new structure affects the existing site, passive sustainable design strategies, and ultimately, the overall design concept of the home. In this phase we design primarily from an aerial view, or the floor plan. We incorporate the information gathered during the Existing Conditions with your project scope to create potential floor plan layouts. We meet with you to discuss these layouts and refine them until we create the best floor plan solution. This is generally done in 2-3 meetings. A 3D model will be created of this floor plan solution to help visualize the overall concept and ideas explored in Schematic Design.

Design Development

Design Development is where the “look” or “style” of the home comes into the process. During this phase, materials including siding, roofing, doors, windows, lighting, cabinetry, counters, hardware, fixtures, tile, flooring, color schemes, and all other finishing details are discussed, often with a visit to multiple showrooms to select major items in person. 3-D renderings are used during this phase to paint the picture of what the spaces will look like. Design Development is also where consultants such as Structural and MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) engineers are involved.

Construction Documents

Construction Documents are the final deliverable you receive from us. In this phase we specify and draw highly detailed plans to be used by General Contractors to price the design, and as needed to obtain the Building Permits. Once the project is underway, we are available by phone and email to troubleshoot any questions that arise during the construction process. We typically make site visits every other week to ensure that the design intent of the drawings is being upheld.

Building Permitting: 2 months

A building permit is required for all accessory buildings over 120 square feet in most jurisdictions. The time necessary for permitting is completely dependent on the the local jurisdiction and varies greatly on how well they are staffed and how many projects they are reviewing. The permit is issued when structures are designed in accordance with the building codes and all other applicable codes and ordinances, to ensure the safety of the structure. Time to secure a permit can range from 4 weeks to 2+ months, but again, depends on your local jurisdiction. For this reason, we suggest you estimate 2 months. If your project is in a historic district, the timeline may extend as it also has to be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Office.

Construction: 3-5 months

Construction typically takes 3-5 months for a guest house, but can take more time based on the size and complexity of the project. The general contractor that you hire to build your project is responsible for the schedule and timeline of your project, but estimating 3-5 months for construction is a good start.