Remodeling and Renovating in Orange County


“If you’re loving living in Orange County, we cannot say we are surprised. While the “OC Crush” sometimes refers to rush hour near the border with Los Angeles, residents here end up having a real “crush” on the area and the lifestyle it brings. In a word, people simply fall in love with the OC! And why not? Here, one gets to enjoy all of the perks of places like Los Angeles County, without so many of the drawbacks. Great weather, great beaches, great arts and entertainment, sports teams, high-paying jobs — all that the neighboring counties share. But what the OC doesn’t have is the crowds, the congestion, the spotty school districts, and the noise. This is a part of SoCal that still has benefits like great hiking and farmers markets, but with a whole lot more elbow room. And that goes not only for getting around the cities and towns, but how you live in your own home.

Properties in Orange county tend to trend on the larger side. Communities plan ample lots for families to install pools and give the kids some room to run around. Urban centers aren’t quite so overwhelming, yet retain all of the cultural access that enhances lifestyles. So very often, when it comes time to set upon a remodeling project in this corner of Cali, that can mean dreaming big is a lot more realistic than perhaps in some areas nearby. Anything one can think of from additional structures to remodeling the master bathroom can often have the room needed to make it come true. Nevertheless, best to go into the process with a little bit of knowledge in hand. Here are a few facts and ideas to help get you pointed in the right direction.”

One County, Many Cities

Before you get going on your Orange County renovation project, be sure to take a look at codes in the city you are living in as there can be a great variation in what they look like and how they can affect you. For example, noise ordinances are going to be very different in a party town like Newport Beach than they will be in quieter suburbs like Mission Viejo. And because you will be looking at entirely different terrains, especially when comparing the coast to inland areas, building requirements will be dictated by very different environmental concerns. Long Beach may not require the same amount of greenway space for wildlife as El Toro does. And then there is the preponderance of gated communities. The benefits of living in one can include everything from safe streets to incorporated top-level school districts. But owners associations may have additional bylaws to follow, so look before you leap. A good rule of thumb is to contact your local planning department before getting started.

Tax Facts

Another thing to think about when renovating is how any changes to their property can affect their taxes. In most parts of the country, adding a room or a guest house or a pool can mean some sticker shock when it’s time to pay the taxman. And while it is true that taxes will go up in Orange County as well, we have a very pleasant surprise for you. Rates do not go up in this part of the world due to home renovations as they do in most places. Remodeling actually doesn’t make a difference at all, even if it brings the value of the home up, so long as it doesn’t add square footage. And state incentives for adding solar panels means that type of project is not only beneficial and green, it’s also painless and rewarding in more ways than one. Adding new rooms or structures will mean higher taxes, but again, far lower than you will find not only in neighboring counties but in many parts of the country.

Local Aesthetics

If you’re looking to renovate the exterior of your home in Orange County, it’s best to get a little bit of the lay of the land in your neighborhood. As is the case with many communities in Southern California, Spanish tile roofs and adobe finishes are fairly common. But there’s also a huge accent on more modern designs including huge windows, dramatic cantilevers and high ceilings — especially for great views alongside canyons or on the waterfront. Again, let your eyes read the city or block you’re living in. And as mentioned earlier, if you’re in one of the OC’s outstanding gated communities, you will definitely be looking at some pretty well-defined design regulations. Anything dealing with exteriors will require you do your homework and a little bit of fun recon!

A Look at Repurposing

Just because you’re looking at some remodeling in your Orange County home doesn’t mean you need to throw out the bathtub with the bathwater! There’s a lot of historic homes in this part of the world. Salvaging certain architectural features or original materials can retain a bit of authentic class while still achieving your dreams of expanding or reconfiguring your space. Find smart architects with a track record of repurposing what already exists and successfully incorporating it into the new design you are envisioning. It’s like the old saying for weddings: something new, something old, something borrowed, something blue. It’ll be like falling in love with your old house all over again!

California Living

One last note about remodeling in Orange County: you’re in California! That means warm weather, lots of sun and often, fantastic open space. Plan for letting in sunshine and keeping the place bright. Work with contractors and architects to allow for a cooler home without relying on the air conditioning so much. Go big on windows and don’t skimp on using the larger lots this area has. You’re going to want to make sure loads of that awesome fresh air outside makes its way in with proper ventilation. And take advantage of landscaping that allows for year-round growing.

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