For Property Owners

Thinking about remodeling your home?
Have property and want to build a new house?
Need to clear up a code violation or “red tag”?
Need a retaining wall?
Worried about your home in an earthquake?
Need plans for your project?
Permit questions?
Construction phase questions?
Whatever your need, here are some things to consider…

Where do I start?

All Projects!

Today’s projects often involve multiple professionals to put it all together. You may need an architect, an engineer, and of course a contractor. In the simplest terms, the architect helps you plan what you want, the engineer makes sure that the plan will stand up, and the contractor builds it, based on the plans. To get started, you can talk to any one of these professionals, keeping in mind that you will likely have all three on your team.

Building a NEW home? Consider a Pre-Development Site Review (PDSR)

The PDSR is a service provided by the County of Santa Cruz Planning Department for people who are considering constructing a new single-family home. A PDSR will provide you with definitive information about the zoning and environmental requirements for permitting your specific project. Read more: Pre-Development Site Review

What about engineering?

When should I work with an Engineer?

On some occasions, for instance a code violation, or “red tag” on something already built, you may only need an engineer, who can evaluate the structure and help you clear the violation. For some projects, such as retaining walls, decks, or small changes to your house, you may want to start with an engineer or contractor. For larger projects, such as a new house or large remodel, you may start with an architect. If you choose to start with a contractor or architect, then an engineer will most likely be added to the team, since most projects will require some level of engineering.

When is engineering required?

• Retaining walls which retain more than 4 feet of material.
• New, repair, or replacement of decks over 12feet high.
• Bridges
• Construction other than conventional, wood framing, per UBC 2320.
• Buildings of other non-standard construction, including split-level buildings and buildings of unusual shape, per UBC 2326.
• Non-standard foundations, including pier and grade beams.
• Trusses.
• Large load-bearing beams, including glu-lams.
• Large or high strength timber connections.
• Water storage tanks over 5,000 gallons (to include foundation and anchorage to foundation).
• Grading more than 2,000 cubic yards
• Swimming pools.
• Special Inspection and testing schedule.
• Contour mapping when required per building height

What are the benefits to working with an Engineer?

Save time, money, and resources!!! It is a good idea to get the engineer involved at an early stage, as the engineer is often able to find ways within the project to be more economical with your resources, time and money.

o As a simple example, the engineer can appropriately size the beams you need, so the contractor can use resources more efficiently.

o Another example: your architectural design might require a costly steel frame, but the engineer may be able to make a slight adjustment to the design early on, and eliminate the need for that type of framing, thereby saving you money.

o Worried about earthquakes? Consider a seismic evaluation of your home. Your engineer can tell you which things will make the best use of the dollars you have, to help your house better withstand an earthquake.

Codes are constantly evolving!!! Another important reason you want to work with an engineer is that codes are constantly evolving and it is the engineer’s job to stay current, ensuring your project will not only stand up, but will meet the most current building codes and standards.

Working with Mills Young Engineering:

We, at Mills Young Engineering, take the time to really hear you and understand what you want and need, creating a good match for you and your project. In addition to engineering, we have a strong background in construction practices. With our knowledge and experience, we can help you through your project from start to finish, ensuring that your project is completed to your satisfaction.

Hiring other licensed professionals?

When you need to hire additional professionals for your team, start by making sure you are hiring a licensed professional. You can look up their license information here:

Preparation of Construction Documents

The drawings and plans needed for your project are called the construction documents. Your engineer may be able to prepare all your construction documents. Other times, the architect or designer prepares architectural drawings and specifications, while the engineer prepares detailed site and/or structural plans and calculations. The architect and engineer will work closely together to be sure the design will work. Any time a significant change is made, both the architect and engineer will be involved. This is also a situation where it may be more beneficial to have your engineer prepare all of the construction documents. These construction documents are necessary to apply for a building permit. Ultimately, these documents will be used by the contractor to prepare cost estimates and to actually build your project.


Why are permits required?

City and County building and zoning enforcement programs are designed to protect public health and safety, to maintain sound property values for all, and to improve the visual image of the community.

Do I need a permit?

• Mills Young Engineering can help determine whether you need a permit and if so, help you through the, at times complicated, permit process.
• A building permit is required unless the work is specifically exempted by the Uniform Building Code and any local or county codes. However, other laws, codes, and ordinances may override these exemptions.
• Obtaining a permit will insure that your project is reviewed by planning department personnel and inspected by building department personnel. They will verify that your project is built to current building codes – this is for YOUR safety and protection.
• Before you erect, construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, improve, remove, convert, or demolish any building or structure, you need to check with your county planning department to find out if you need a permit for the type of project you are considering. Santa Cruz County Frequently Asked Questions
• Sounds too complicated? Contact us, Mills Young Engineering can help!

What happens if I already built without a permit?

• If you’ve received a notice of code violation or a “red tag,” Mills Young Engineering can help you resolve the situation.
• The City/County is interested in voluntary compliance to resolve all building and zoning code violations and will attempt to work out a solution with you through on-site meetings, office conferences, or correspondence.
• A citation may be issued
• Your case may be scheduled for an abatement hearing before a Hearing Officer or other decision-making individual or body.
• You may receive a written decision that the illegal use be abated within a certain time. In addition, all costs incurred by the City/County for this process may become a lien against your property and also assessed against the property in the same manner as taxes. Once the violation has been abated (corrected) and the costs paid, the abatement lien will be released.
Santa Cruz County Code Compliance
• Need help? Contact us at Mills Young Engineering.

Construction Phase

Typically your engineer will be involved with your project from the beginning and on through the construction phase. Your contractor will likely have questions and the engineer will help them correctly interpret the design. During this time, the engineer should also visit the project site to review or observe certain pieces of the construction, such as reinforcing and anchor bolt locations prior to pouring concrete. Your engineer should also observe shear walls and framing connections. In many situations, these observations are also required by the building code. These site visits by your engineer are extremely valuable, because they often help avoid costly mistakes.