Kephart Living


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Newly Published! Building for Boomers: Guide to design and construction

The day has finally arrived; our book is now officially published. Judy Schriener and I have had our heads immersed in the details for the last several months, capping off more than two years of research and writing, and now it’s time to step back and review our work. Although there have been radical changes in the housing market recently, those changes must be viewed in the context of the powerful changes the Baby Boomers have been responsible for over the last 64 years since they began to come upon the scene. And they aren’t done yet!

We reviewed our work late in 2009 to see what had changed in the marketplace that we needed to include in the book and found only the obvious; the market for housing was dangerously depressed. The dreams and wishes of Boomers hadn’t changed. Yes, new home purchases are being delayed and smaller homes may be considered, but the housing preferences of Boomers have not fundamentally changed. We acknowledged the extraordinary market conditions but felt our book was solid in its reporting on the lifestyle choices of Boomers.

You can find the book on and other national retailers. You can also go directly to the publisher, McGraw-Hill Construction. We hope this book will find its way to reference shelves in Architectural offices, in Development Companies, in Schools and on your shelf as well. As the subtitle says, “it’s a guide to design and construction”.

Mike Kephart AIA

posted by Custom Blogs @ 5:59 PM 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Between the Sea and the Land

In a couple of weeks I plan to return to Andros Island in the Bahamas for a week of fishing with a few friends, as I try to do every year. We fish in pairs with a guide to help locate our primary prey, the bonefish. The following is something I wrote two years ago on my way home from our annual trip to either the Bahamas, The Turniff Islands off the coast of Belize, or Ascension Bay on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Saltwater flats are neither sea nor land. Life there includes water creatures from sharks to shellfish, plus diving pelicans and other flying predators, who compete with the barracuda and sharks for fish, especially the bonefish. Sting Rays occasionally shake loose the sand covering their bodies, move away from our approaching feet, and again nose into the bottom to hide from the sharks. Seemingly unafraid, a larger Manta Ray drifts slowly by. The rising tide draws dark schools of bonefish from the depths onto the flats in search of crabs no longer protected by the shallow water. Bonefish appear from nowhere pushing a nervous mound of water in front of their advance, or pause, tails in the air, to search for crustaceans in the sand. They sense danger from everywhere and, at the least provocation, disappear as quickly as they appeared. A lone dark fin above the water traveling quickly in a straight line traces the passage of a single permit, the elusive fish’s mirror-like body invisible, except for that fin. A loud splash means death for something and a meal for a barracuda. The ever-present wind, a friend at my back and a foe in my face, conspires with the low angling sun to render my target either invisible or impossible to reach with a weightless fly. With luck, a fly placed in front of the moving fish and retrieved in slow jerks will catch the attention of one in the school. A bump on the line is answered with a solid pull, a slow rising of the rod tip, and line screams from the reel. Sharks gather and the barracuda wait to see how tired the soon to be released fish may be. Time passes quickly, and all too soon the fish follow the falling tide, and I am left alone with the crabs, the setting sun, and the wind, finally at my back.

posted by Custom Blogs @ 6:02 PM 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Get Ordinized! Your City and Accessory Dwelling Units

Accessory dwelling unit legislation can be in your city and your neighborhood, but it will take some time and energy on your part to deliver the message to your neighbors and city officials. The city of Arvada, Colorado introduced new legislation a year ago and had their ordinance in place within a year with little to no fuss. The following is a six (6)-point process we recommend that you follow to ensure your best chances of success.

1- Build your story. You should read everything you can on the pros and cons of backyard cottages. We believe you will find that the idea is very family friendly. It’s where family meets neighborhood that needs care in crafting. If opposition develops they will become students of the history of ADUs as well and it’s best to be able to address all real problems.
2- Find an advocate on the city staff. Young planners are often the ones who write these ordinances for consideration of their superiors and politicians.
3- Find an advocate on the City Council or Board of Commissioners who will be willing to carry the legislation to the rest of their peers for consideration.
4- Talk to neighborhood leaders. Actually this should be done before anything is written or submitted for review to the city. Your neighbors are your friends and you should engage them in the drafting of the details of the ordinance. If you fail to take this step you risk making enemies of the very people who will benefit from this legislation.
5- Start with a good model code. Use the AARP model which is on their website, or use a local one from a neighboring city if their experience was positive.
6- Don’t rush it and be certain that everyone is heard. Misunderstandings on the subject are common and should be clarified.

posted by Custom Blogs @ 1:36 PM 

Monday, February 1, 2010


Imprints are strong emotional experiences in our lives that have “imprinted” themselves on our brain to become part of the tapestry of memories that shape our responses to ideas in our living environment such as: comfort, safety, social status, happiness, fun and connections with others. These “imprints” come into play when we think of the home, of our childhood neighborhood or when we first experience a space new to us, such as a renovated Loft in an urban setting or a new model home in suburbia. Our reactions, influenced by our imprints are gut level or instinctual rather than the reasoned analysis of: location, home size, and/or cost. Imprints can be either positive or negative.

If our imprints from the past were largely positive ones from an experience of rural living, we might have a difficult time seeing that contemporary downtown loft as an attractive place to live and the suburban neighborhood, full of tightly spaced homes, could be as unappealing to us as well. Changing our current imprints is difficult, so our reactions to experiences will not easily change, but new imprints are being formed every day as we learn and grow and these replace those old imprints over time.

You can see why people often choose lifestyles similar to their parents and are slow to turn to new ideas and forms of living, like lofts, or in the case of someone who grew up in a city apartment and couldn’t imagine living in a single family home much less a small town. It takes time to learn to accept change and imprints, or the lack of them. Imprints may cause us to design our homes ever so slowly, and new ideas are greeted more with suspicion than acceptance. That’s how it’s been with my neighbors and their suspicion of accessory dwellings. They say they are concerned about parking, the potential shading of a neighbor’s garden, or the design compatibility of the new additions to the neighborhood architectural fabric. That’s what they say, but they may be reacting instinctively to old imprints they still harbor within themselves. Part of our job is to give people a reason to develop new positive imprints with beautiful efficient non-intrusive backyard cottages that they can point to with pride.

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posted by Custom Blogs @ 3:49 PM 

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