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January Brings New Things!

With a new year comes new things! ConsciousBuild, Inc. has been busy building up our Development Division, and we are not only welcoming a new principal in Adam Melhuse, but we are also welcoming a new development in Atascadero, California. We will touch upon the new development in a later Blog, so for now let’s introduce another part to our Team at ConsciousBuild!


ConsciousBuild, Inc. is proud to welcome team member Brandon Silva of BC Silva Construction.  Brandon brings his keen eye, reliability, and 15 years of remodeling experience to complete your next environmentally responsible remodel.  Getting the Design and Construction Team of a Project involved at the very start of your next project is one of our main objectives at ConsciousBuild, Inc.  Using this collaborative project delivery model is a strategy we employ to significantly reduce design-build costs.

Brandon has worked extensively on the Central Coast including numerous repeat customers.  With 15 years of remodeling experience Brandon is aware of the value of patience and understanding that is necessary to make your dream a reality.  He is a great listener and will help to ensure the team makes any project truly yours.  Brandon will provide you with a free estimate that often times comes as close to the end price as possible in this ever changing market.  And with ConsciousBuild being a design-build team, any necessary changes will be made collaboratively.

Creating a strong network of designers and builders is vital to the success of creating an environmentallyeconomically, and socially responsible building.  We are thrilled to collaborate with BC Silva Construction and to partake in their expansion!

ConsciousBuild will be bringing project management, architectural design, interior design, and “green building” consulting to BC Silva Construction’s services – as BC Silva will bring more Construction Management to our team! As a Construction Manager, Brandon will oversee all subcontractors on the site, ensuring punctual and consistent high quality work is performed at all times.

Punctual, consistent high quality work and a pleasure to work with.

Conscientious, funny, intelligent, and a pleasure to work with.

Our team has already begun to bring renovation and remodel project’s to the Central Coast, so get in touch with us today to learn how ConsciousBuild can help redefine your home for your life!

ConsciousBuild, BC Silva Construction, Brandon Silva

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Evolution of Small Spaces

After spending two weeks in Europe, and living the small apartment lifestyle, I have concluded that the recent movement in American cities of small, efficiently-sized apartments is a great progression for the our society. From New York City to San Francisco, American cities are passing laws allowing smaller sized apartments to pass code in urban settings. This movement is allowing the re-urbanization of our many cities to take place at a more sustainable level. Studio apartments and single occupant efficiency units have been creatively designed by today’s architects to reinvent the use of space for things such as storage, sleeping, and entertaining. Convertible built-in furniture sets are also being designed and purchased from coast-to-coast. These are low-cost, affordable, and sustainable options in order to accommodate the growing migration of Americans to cities – which globally is estimated to lead to 7-out-of-10 people living in cities by 2050.

What this ultimately means is that architects need to continue to be thoughtful in their attempt to redesign apartment buildings in cities across the US. ConsciousBuild has been dedicated to this movement for many years now, and more of our clients are asking for these spaces. What is more impressive is that clients that are not in large metropolitan cities are asking for innovative solutions to their spatial problems, too. Homes in San Luis Obispo do not need to sprawl just because there is more land available – and more and more clients understand this! Sustainability means also looking at leaving the undisturbed land alone!

Contact ConsciousBuild today to get a low-cost design done for your existing, new or remodeled home. We can give you the design and set you up with the construction team today.


+ Andrew C. Goodwin

Small Apartments


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No Water, No Wine.

Around here on the Central Coast we absolutely love our wine. Throughout the entire county there are literally hundreds of different wineries to choose from. Some are much larger than others and ship their wines across the world, while others only make a handful of cases per year. Economic reports by MKF Research LLC, claim that the wine industry on the Central Coast is worth around $1.8 Billion consisting of more than 1.2 million visitors per year. All of this equates to $86 Million in state and local taxes, and 8,000 full time jobs.

As important as this industry is to our local area, there is a dirty little secret most people are not aware of. The fact is that there is simply not enough water to sustain the North County if this fast growth continues. Homes, businesses, and farms are all in need of water, however 67% of it goes straight to agriculture-primarily vineyards. The Paso Robles groundwater basin has been suffering from huge declines in water levels, and county officials are considering bringing in water from outside sources; but that is costly and unreliable.

There is currently a misconception that vineyards use large amounts of water to grow wine-grapes, however that is not true. If you single out one vineyard, they are not using much to water their grapevines. The problem lies in the colossal amount of vineyards in the North County area. There are so many vineyards that all use water in that area, that it is sucking the basin dry. There are currently no regulations to what farmers can grow on their land, therefore every year more owners are switching to wine-grapes from other crops.

One solution to realistically maintain this crucial industry is for every winery to be as efficient as possible. Winery design is where architects can play a vital role in saving our precious resources. Harvesting rainwater, implementing grey-water techniques, and using highly efficient fixtures are some ways to make a big difference.

At ConsciousBuild, sustainability is always at the forefront of our design. Last week we completed construction on Giornata Wines’ brand new tasting room and processing facility. By implementing a bio-filtration system for their dirty water into the design, this winery will be able to save money every month on their water bills, while greatly reducing the impact on the local water basin.

“A drop of water is worth more than a sack of gold to a thirsty man”

~Unknown Author

+ M. Farid Shahid

Photo: Tasting room & lobby of Giornata Wines, located in Templeton, CA.
Architect: ConsciousBuild Inc.

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No AC, No Lighting, No Problem!

Every year our energy consumption increases, which puts a larger load on the companies that provide us this energy. Most of this energy is actually lost in unused lighting that stays on in empty rooms, and phantom loads such as toasters, microwaves, televisions, etc. These days in the design industry we are returning to an “old” tradition called passive solar architecture. This method of design dates back thousands of years and was abandoned at some point when energy was cheap and HVAC technology was evolving. We started to design for our wants and not our needs, but for a long time no one seemed to have any problem with it. Passive solar design includes techniques such as natural daylighting, taking advantage of the wind for ventilation, and using thermal mass to store and release heat in a room.

The reason I am writing about this today is because it is one of the few days in San Luis Obispo where it is 90 degrees, however for us at ConciousBuild we are getting by just fine without any air conditioning and lighting. For as long as I can remember we have never used any artificial lighting throughout the day, and for ventilation we simply open up all of our windows. We also try to implement these techniques in our projects. For example, we are currently designing a private residence in San Luis Obispo and are installing polished concrete floors throughout the home. As heat from the south facing windows penetrates into the space, the energy is stored in the thermal mass of the floor during the day, and is slowly dispersed at night.

After reading this I hope you will try using natural daylighting rather than artificial, and if it gets hot try opening your windows and throwing on that tank top you never wear. I promise you will feel better and might even save a few bucks…or your money back! Enjoy this quote from Gandhi below.

“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.”

~Mohandas K. Gandhi

+ M. Farid Shahid


Image Courtesy Of:



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Pay Tuition or Get Paid?

This time of year in San Luis Obispo hundreds of architecture students are preparing for a new semester/quarter in college. Many students have feelings of excitement and fulfillment, while others have feelings of frustration and resentment. I have been in college for three years now and have seen friends graduate with degrees as well as drop out with lots of debt. Too often I talk to students who seem to have no purpose at a college, and are simply there because it’s a natural stepping stone to “figure it out”, whatever “it” may be. I am now going to highlight some pros and cons of studying architecture at a college versus working for an architect and learning the trade. This should be helpful for anyone in college, thinking about studying at college, or knows someone who wants to apply.


1. Attending college will allow you to surround yourself with hundreds of diverse minds and will allow you to learn many abstract ideas that are hard to develop individually or in the workplace . (PRO)

2. Most colleges require you to spend more than half your time in general education courses. Although those courses provide a solid foundation for you to be a well rounded person, students who know exactly where they want to be feel like it’s a waste of their time . (CON)


1. Unfortunately design is a very small percentage of the business of architecture, but a large percentage of architecture school. Working in an office allows you to quickly familiarize yourself with industry specific vocabulary and real-world practices that are relevant to an architect’s day-to-day responsibilities.  It also allows you to see the bigger picture of how the various trades work together to complete a project. (PRO)

2. Unless you are constantly developing your creative & abstract talents, not attending architecture school might stifle the creative maturation, which is present through college programs. It is very common for someone to start working in an office as a full time drafter while others work on the design. This might make it harder for you to learn the fundamentals of design, while a college student can immediately participate in it for four to five years. (CON)


Both career routes are an excellent choice and one shouldn’t be looked down upon over the other. The best way to decide is to make a list of Pro’s and Con’s for your specific situation and consult with architecture students, professors – as well as architects in the field. I strongly believe a hybrid system is the best way to approach this career. This can be accomplished by regularly meeting with a mentor who is currently working in the field. This should also be combined with summer internships at an office. The combination of school and practical experience will give you a remarkable edge over your peers!

+ M. Farid Shahid
High school graduates throwing their mortarboards in the air
Image Courtesy Of:
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Can I Say Grandpa Unit?

Yesterday we had a meeting in our office with a new client who needs some work done on his house as well as a smaller new building. What he needs is an “accessory dwelling unit”, but normally people call it “granny unit”. When he said granny unit, I thought to myself, “Why aren’t they ever called grandpa units?”. This afternoon I looked it up on Yahoo Answers, and the reason for that term is because women tend to live longer than men, therefore in most situations your grandmother or mother would need a dwelling unit. Pretty funny how that one came about!

If you are in need of more space whether it is for an extra person or for your favorite activities, an accessory dwelling unit may be right for you! Many people own large enough lots where an additional building would make sense. Usually they are around 450 square feet in size, but that could change depending on your lot. To cut down the cost, many companies these days have designs for pre-fabricated buildings that they can quickly build and deliver to your site. This would be a much more cost effective solution than purchasing a larger home, and it would also add value to your property.

As you consider adding something like this to your property, always consult with an architect or planning professional to check your local zoning regulations. This would determine what is allowed and what is not for your lot. Anyone in the San Luis Obispo area is always more than welcome to drop by our office (1239 Garden Street) to discuss this further. We are usually stocked with lots of delicious fruits and candies.

+ M. Farid Shahid

Screen shot 2013-07-25 at 3.35.42 PM

Photo: Nancy Creek Guest House 

Architect:Philip Babb Architect, Atlanta, GA
Image Courtesy Of: Houzz
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Reduce, Reuse, and REAPPRAISAL!

ConsciousBuild has long been proud of our dedication to thinking outside of the box for our clients. We believe in the CB-3: environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable projects. Many of our clients ask about the economic side of this principle, and one of our recent residential remodels is a great example of how our design-build team is looking out for our clients’ economic sustainability.

Late last year my business partner Matthew called with an interesting project that came across his boards. A couple on the peninsula in Long Beach was looking to remodel their three-story home. After a quick analysis of the home and how the couple wanted to live their life our team found a few things to maximize their remodel.

1) We moved the kitchen from the first floor to the third to maximize the views.

2) The kitchen area on the first floor was turned into an additional room next to the existing first floor bathroom.

3) A Jack-and-Jill bathroom was added between two of the three bedrooms on the second floor.

4) The laundry was moved from the garage to the second floor next to the master bedroom.

These seemed to be the most logical choices to not only help improve our client’s lives, but also to improve the re-sale value of the home. And sure enough (??) – the client reappraised the home a few weeks ago and found that their remodel improved the value of their home by almost double! This comes in one of the biggest increases in the real estate market in California since the crash in 2008. According to the California Association of Realtors the median price of a previously owned house soared 33.5 percent last month across the state from a year ago.

So maybe it is time to reconsider a remodel?

+ Andrew Goodwin

First photo of the Long Beach Remodel!
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Technology & Murphys

Last Friday night I inadvertently stumbled into a short but very insightful conversation with an older gentleman named Steve. He was standing outside one of the local downtown pubs as they were quickly closing for the day. Steve wasn’t exactly the type of guy most people would dive into small talk with. He was a heavy set fellow in his late sixties with long white hair that came down to his shoulders. His face was painted with decades of wrinkles and markings, along with a distinct white goatee. His appearance didn’t bother me at all though; the real reason I spoke to him was because of his fancy white cowboy hat decorated with half a dozen intricate pins. He was flattered by my compliment and began explaining each and every pin to me. After a short while of fascinating stories, I asked him where he was from. He told me he was from a small town by the name of Murphys. I didn’t have a clue where that was so I told him that I would “Google” it when I got home. His short and wise response immediately afterwards got me thinking for the whole night. All he had to say was, “Well you don’t have to Google it, why don’t you just go there?” I smiled and told him I would surely visit sometime soon. I bid him farewell, we shared a firm handshake, and I continued walking down Higuera.

I think our generation has some serious issues that we never think about during our day to day lives. It’s so remarkable how we can “visit” any corner of the world using readily available online tools, but at the same time we are giving up a lot of learning and adventure that comes along with it. Before all this technology existed, learning was much more of a tangible thing. To learn about Murphys I would have had to spend an entire weekend visiting the town, meeting the people, and experiencing the culture. Not bad right?

Technology is a wonderful resource (that is even helping me right now!), but let’s not forget to explore the world and find the other Murphys that are out there. Thank you Murphys, California for getting my head out of my iPhone.

+ M. Farid Shahid

Photograph Courtesy of
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Importance Of Philanthropy

REMINDER: Arch After Dark is in two days! Free food, wine, and music provided!

What: Arch After Dark | Fundraising Event For Orphanage In Haiti.

Where: 1239 Garden Street, San Luis Obispo, Ca 93401

When: Friday July 5th, 2013 from 6 pm to 10 pm. Join us anytime!



Philanthropy can be defined as, “the desire to promote the welfare of others”. Usually it is done through the generous donation of money, goods  and/or time. Being actively involved in some sort of philanthropic organization is good for society and the soul.

ConsciousBuild’s company culture was formed with a dedication to donate 10% of our time, resources, and profits to non-profit clients and humanitarian projects. Most of the time we stay true to this principle. It is part of our motto to provide socially responsible architecture; currently we are providing construction documents for an orphanage in Haiti.

Last year Cal poly student David Gibbs began his senior thesis to complete his bachelor’s degree in architecture. He was tired of designing conceptual projects that didn’t relate to the “real world”, therefore he began his search for a project to make a change in the world. Soon afterwards, David found his client, Child Hope, which is a charity organization in Haiti looking to expand their network of orphanages. He approached our sister organization, Journeyman International (which runs the RED Studio) for help designing it. After David graduated he began collaborating with ConsciousBuild and we are now helping him make his dream a reality.

We are very glad to partner up with someone like David because his passion for humanitarian architecture is tremendous. He says, “There is no better call for architecture then to provide a sense of place to those who have been completely deprived of one, both physically and emotionally”.

+ M. Farid Shahid

East Elevation


Rendering of the orphanage in Haiti designed by David Gibbs.
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Biking To Work

How do you feel when you walk into work every morning? If you answered sluggish and grouchy, consider commuting to work via bicycle. I personally have been doing this about 3 to 5 days per week and it has made a significant impact on my day. My typical round trip commute to work is about four miles with many steep hills. By the time I arrive to work my blood is pumping and my sweat glands are crying.

The journey is so much more meaningful than being boxed inside a metal caged automobile. The slower pace and openness allows me to appreciate the city and its architecture while enjoying the cool morning breeze. I get to wave hello to gardeners, runners (& their dogs), and other fellow bicyclists. You can never end a bike ride with a frown on your face, unless you had fallen or gotten a flat tire.

Lastly, I want to share with you the huge financial benefits of biking to work. Since I made the switch I have only been using my car on the weekends. I found a great online tool that calculates how much money you can save by biking. Here are my numbers – they may be similar to yours!

Monthly Savings: $106.20

Annual Savings: $1274.40

Annual Greenhouse Gases NOT emitted: 295 lbs

+ M. Farid Shahid
Photo Courtesy Of:
Bike Savings Calculator:


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