Optimizing Your Building Permit Application

Guide to Optimizinget Your Building Permit Application

This new publication “Guide to Optimizing Your Building Permit Application” by William Edward Summers will help you to expedite your building permit application.



6 Tips for Planning a Secure Remote Cabin

Creekside cabin site

6 Tips for Planning a Remote Cabin

Many like the idea of having a cabin tucked away in the woods where they can go to enjoy nature and get away from it all. How to keep the cabin safe from intruders and large animals when you are not there and how to afford it in the first place are two major questions
“Sitting in front of a crackling campfire at a cabin is one of the great joys in life “ says William Edward Summers, principal of California and British Columbia based design firm William Edward Summers Creative Projects
1) Find a cabin solution that will not strain your budget. It can be a financially difficult to build a cabin or a remote retreat, yet many view having such a location as a necessity. Many more just want to have a place to get away to enjoy the wilderness. Making these desires a reality requires an affordable feasible solution that will be small and simple
2) Consider how you can achieve reasonable security for your cabin. When you finally build a cabin how will you keep it secure from intruders or large animals? The truth is that no matter where your cabin is located some boys or young men will come across it and want to get inside. Preventing your cabin from being obvious by using stealthy design strategies to reduce it’s profile will reduce access by the curious passersby.
3) Make your remote cabin solution easy to construct. With an unlimited budget it is possible to build the cabin of your dreams in any location however one real challenge is being able to realistically build in a remote location with your budget. You will want a structure that is rugged but simple enough that it will not require a large crew and major equipment.
4) Make sure that you have planned a cabin that can be built from a pick up truck so materials can be easily brought to the remote site
5) Build at least as large as a large tent. It makes sense to build large enough for several people. More than one small discreet cabin might be a good strategy if additional space is needed. That way you can at least get a minimum shelter in place sooner and expand your site if necessary.
6) Plan for long term use in the event that a place is needed in which to ride out a natural disaster, survive a bout with homelessness or just to get away from the madness. Consider installing a small wood burning stove and other basics for long term use at your cabin site.

Please use the form to order a free report entitled

The “Keep it Simple Guide to Building  a Secure Remote Cabin” by William Edward Summers

The new design project titled “The Remote Stealth Cabin” by William Edward Summers can be examined at :

Mountain cabin site

For more information about the designer, William Edward Summers, please visit:
Official Site:
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The San Francisco Monster Micro House

The San Francisco Monster Micro House

The “San Francisco Monster Micro House” is a new, self liquidating positive cash flow design concept that could possibly allow someone to build new and live in San Francisco without paying much in the way of a mortgage. It is the concept of architect/designer William Edward Summers who has completed over a thousand projects in the nine county Bay Area but now lives part time out of the country.

The building footprint is 20’ x 60’ so it will fit within the allowable building envelope on a standard small San Francisco lot The Monster Micro House is configured to allow several different options; One option is twelve micro apartments or condominiums. Another option is a 1200 square foot penthouse with a roof deck of about 1000 square feet, and eight micro apartments. The luxury solution is a 2600 square foot penthouse and roof deck with four micro apartments. There are two enclosed parking spaces, or four tandem spaces and two potentially uncovered parking spaces.

This “San Francisco Monster Micro House” is designed to allow maximum flexibility in space planning, permitting and the construction phases. If the zoning is changed then with some configurations it is possible to reconfigure to easily increase the number of units without any additions.

The radical innovations are with the design and space planning. The house itself is an easily engineered simple structure. The curb esthetic will allow the house to fit into a San Francisco streetscape without a ripple

To learn more about the concept a plan prospectus is being offered for free until the end of summer at:


More information about William Edward Summers

Official site:
Mobile friendly:

Other articles:

Nob Hill Gazette
Page 16, May 2000

Metropolis Magazine
New York, November 1995

Nob Hill Gazette
Page 30, February 2000

San Francisco Chronicle
August 2006

Other publications:

Micro Apartment Building Plans

3d micro apt building2

The ready-to-use plans for two micro apartment buildings are just being completed. One building has eight units that are around three hundred sixty square feet and the other building has ten smaller units that are around 260 square feet.

Micro floor planapartmments4-Model

The units are around the size of a small hotel room with a kitchen. The sleeping accommodations are provided by a Murphy bed that folds down from the wall. There is a very small balcony  for a small BBQ grill or a couple of chairs and a table.

This size dwelling is not for everyone but is a perfect solution for others. It also offers a way for people to live in the central areas of expensive cities.

The micro apartment plans may be assembled in numerous different ways by picking and configuring the floor plans from our selection of micro plans. It is possible to build one unit as a single family dwelling or assemble the plans into a multi-story building. There is total flexibility with these plans.

Better rear view of micro apt building{3D}3

Square footage micro apartmments4-Mode2l

Stealth Housing

stealth housing

Stealth Housing

by William Edward Summers

There is always a need for housing, however during hard times, such as are currently affecting  many countries, obtaining a roof overhead is becoming increasingly challenging. The alarming inflation in house prices not only creates difficulties for those seeking to buy, but is also a budget buster for renters. In this situation, as in so many others, creative thinking will help those in need of adequate shelter to find viable solutions. A place to live can be many types of places, and situations.

Stealth, or brown bag housing, is a situation where an existing non-residential building is re-purposed into shelter, without substantially modifying the exterior. Often the main requirement is a full bathroom, and at least an ad hoc kitchenette for sheds, garages, or offices to be useful as homes. In fact, one way to obtain immediate rental income is to add a full bath to any structure.

In climates with cold winters, insulation and a good heat source, such as a wood burning stove, is essential. There are small wood stoves that that give off adequate heat for a tiny space, and if they have a flat top, the stove will have the added benefit of being a place for a tea kettle.

In a converted shed, or garage, insulation and a little work will be needed. However insulation comes in rolls, pre-sized to fit between the standard 16″ on center studs, and can be easily installed with a heavy duty staple gun. Minor electrical work, and a carpet to cover the concrete floor will help finish off the space.

Personally, I like sheds, and fondly remember the shed we had in our rear yard, back home. We had inherited our house from my great Aunt who lived there around the turn of the last century, before the days of indoor plumbing. We still had her old, long unused, outhouse, chicken coop, hand pump, and the old shed that once been a single car garage, and shop. That shed was the place I would go to think and daydream. It was a wonderful place. Perhaps, because of those memories, I think that sheds offer an easy, and romantic, solution to a need for shelter.

tiny green house

Another unconventional space is a converted shipping container. This could offer the ultimate solution for international portability, all that is needed is a place to park it. The website, escapeartist.com has an excellent article about how to convert a shipping container for residential use:


Finally, another type of “brown bag” solution is the conversion of commercial space into residential. Years ago, after the divorce from my first wife, I lived for a year in a converted store front near “People’s Park” in Berkeley, California. Outside it looked like a store, with the windows obscured. I used a large sheet of raw, painter’s canvas, to cover the window, which created a soothing quality of light, when the sun shone through. It had a full bathroom, and kitchen, high ceilings and was very quiet, and convenient. All this for a fraction of what apartments so near the campus would have cost.

What can be used as a home is limited only by the imagination. Such places as service station shops, school buses, and retail loft storage areas, are among the many places that have been converted to homes. During hard times, creatively thinking about where you can live, will help keep a roof overhead.

Whole House Renovation

Whole House Renovation

Because of the location or for financial reasons, the choice to renovate an existing building is the only practical option for many people. In the case of the Joffre Street project, located on the South Barnaby/Vancouver, B.C. border, the owner liked the neighborhood but wanted a larger and newer house. In this case, tearing down and rebuilding was not feasible.

Tang house no title block

The existing house was a typical post World War II building, of which there are tens of thousands in Canada. Our proposal was to add a new second floor, which would capture a sweeping view over the Fraser River and an extension to the rear with basement. This solution, by luxury residential designer, William Edward Summers, would completely fill out the allowable building envelope and floor area ratio, doubling the size of the house. We also proposed to completely transform the house so that it would look and feel new inside and out.

Because of careful planning,, the desired results were achieved for an amount which was under the allotted budget – a very good thing for the client. In the end he was able to buy all new furniture for his house. The story of his project was featured in the Vancouver Sun, and in a Japanese newspaper.


In the case of another project at West Point Grey Road and Collingwood, the exact opposite happened. The 4,000-square-foot house had a heritage “A” designation, which meant that the structural aspects of the exterior could not be changed. In this project the goal was to bring modern luxury into the interior and capitalize on the multimillion view of downtown Vancouver English Bay and the North Shore. Summers’ proposal was to completely gut the house down to bare studs and start over.

The second floor became an unforgettable entertainment area with kitchen, living and dining. The ceilings were raised to ten feet and the walls were removed, which gave the entire floor a New York loft-type feeling. The bedrooms were placed on the first floor and the basement was converted into a very nice two-bedroom apartment.

Often a building offers everything from a location or cost standpoint. However, architectural redesign is needed to completely realize it’s potential. Such properties are plentiful in British Columbia. Careful design often can often make an old building better than new

Disaster Resistant Construction

The Disaster Resistant Small Building

The traditional North American single-family house is not designed to withstand disasters. Ideally a house should offer good protection from floods, fires, earthquakes, storms, civil unrest and financial difficulties. Most houses today are designed with substantial input from building contractors who have the primary goal of selling for the highest price; other concerns are not even a remote consideration.

Residential and mixed-use buildings that can be constructed for both low-income and middle income occupants can assist inner city builders with developing on infill lots. High security can be an important consideration in urban environments, so the disaster resistant project examines ways to enhance security.

Primary Concepts

The basic principals, beginning with the foundation, include designing the entire first floor to withstand hurricanes, water damage and fire damage. This means introducing the use of concrete or concrete blocks at least for this area if not for the entire building. Build at least one full story above the one hundred year flood plain. If you are in earthquake country, insist on more than minimum allowable seismic design.

It is important to lift the entire primary dwelling areas along with the utilities to the second level, or higher. The ground floor is best used for parking and for a secondary dwelling unit.
Use attics or half stories, building with rafters rather than roof trusses, to add substantial, usable square footage to your building for very little additional cost.

Build with a floor plan that allows for flexibility of use, so that the space can be modified as your needs evolve. Allow room for a potential future rental unit even if you never intend to have tenants. If not used to create cash flow, it still might come in handy for use by friends or family members, or as quarters for a live in nurse or domestic assistant. If planned in advance, the secondary unit can be made operational without any structural remodeling.

Finally, the use of fireproof roofing is recommended.

In addition to these general principles there are numerous features that are added to the design to further enhance the disaster–resistant quality of new construction such as; Sturdy, and operable shutters, access to the roof and roof decks, enclosed outdoor play areas for young children, and the ability to easily divide the house into apartments without remodeling.

Making Your House Disaster Resistant.

To Protect From Earthquakes:

  • Brace cripple walls.
  • Use steel framing connections.
  • Bolt sill plates to the foundation.
  • Use flexible connections on gas and water lines.
  • Ensure that there are adequate shear walls.

To Protect From Floods or Hurricanes:

  • Avoid building in a floodplain or in an area that could experience wave action.
  • Elevate the primary dwelling areas above the base flood elevation “b.f.e.”.
  • Locate the furnace, water heater, and electrical panel above the “b.f.e.”.
  • Seal walls in the basement with waterproofing materials.
  • Install a foundation drainage system.
  • Install a sump pump for floors that are below grade.
  • Install back flow valves in sanitary and storm lines.
  • Strengthen walls to withstand floodwater pressures.
  • Anchor the building to the foundation so that it will resist flotation.
  • All hardware below the b.f.e should be stainless or galvanized steel.
  • Build with flood resistant materials below the b.f.e.

 To Protect From High Winds:

  • Install shutters at all windows.
  • In areas prone to hurricanes, have doors facing potential high winds open out rather than in.
  • Reinforce garage doors.
  • Secure siding and roofing.
  • Brace gable end framing.
  • Use steel framing connections.

To Protect From Fires:

  • Enclose eaves and overhangs.
  • Cover house vents with ¼”, or smaller, corrosive resistant wire mesh.
  • Install chimney and stovepipe spark arrestors.
  • Use fire resistant siding.
  • Use safety glass and non-combustible shutters at windows.
  • Install non-combustible roofing.
  • Create an external water storage supply.

To Protect From a Landslide:

  • Install ground cover on slopes.
  • Build retaining walls at slopes.
  • Build deflection walls or channels in potential mudflow areas.
  • Install flexible pipe fittings for gas and water lines.