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Building a Luxury Home in Beverly Hills? Read This First

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There are plenty of reasons to build a dream home in Beverly Hills. But if you’re planning such a project, you may already know that your path will be fraught with challenges. In this post, we’ll highlight some of the most significant hurdles custom builders face in the city and explain how to overcome them.

Challenges of Building Luxury Homes in Beverly Hills

If you plan to build a mansion in Beverly Hills, California, your most significant challenge will be to satisfy the city’s Building Review Commission. The latter was established to create oversight over the design of single-family residential homes, which, at the time of the commission’s founding, were getting larger, boxier, and out of tune with the character of the neighborhood.

Similar to Los Angeles, the city of Beverly Hills refers to this growing trend as “mansionization” — the practice of constructing a home of the largest possible size. And, like Los Angeles, Beverly Hills adopted a Mansionization Ordinance, which changed the Municipal Code to limit the size, and other architectural features, of single-family homes in the city.

The Design Review Commission was tasked with enforcing the changes brought about by the  Mansionization Ordinance, as well as other design requirements that have made their way into the Municipal Code.

Simply put, the Design Review Commission has full authority to approve or reject single-family home designs based on a whole host of criteria; if you’re planning to build in the city — particularly the central area — you should be familiar with these design requirements. Below, we’ll walk you through some of the most consequential design standards your project will need to meet (or have successfully waived) if you’re building in Beverly Hills.

Building Width and Depth

Ordinance 06-0-2494 introduced changes to the Municipal Code that would combat mansionization. Crucially, the ordinance-imposed restrictions on R1 developments in the city’s central area. Here are the two new design criteria that came about with this ordinance:

  • The maximum width and depth of any single-family residential lot may not exceed the average width and depth of lots on the same block.
  • No new single-family residential development may occupy more than one lot.

Although these regulations may seem limiting, the city is willing to show some flexibility on a case-by-case basis. If a proposed design does not exceed the average lot width and depth by more than 10%, the Design Review Commission may allow the project to proceed by issuing a special, Central R-1 permit. This permit may also waive the single-lot limitation if the project in question involves remodeling an existing home that takes up more than one lot.

Permissible Building Heights Vary by Location and Roof Style

Building height requirements are not unique to the City of Beverly Hills; however, achieving your design intentions within their constraints may be a challenge.

In Beverly Hills, the allowable building heights are determined based on the location within the city and the roof type.

For example, north of Santa Monica Boulevard, homes with a flat roof cannot exceed 28 feet in height, unless the side yard is 10 feet or greater. In the latter case, the owner may compensate for the lost floor area by building ever so slightly higher, to 30 feet. Homes with sloped roofs, understandably, are allowed a greater height.

On the other hand, flat-roofed homes south of Santa Monica Boulevard cannot exceed a total building height of 25 feet, regardless of the side yard setback. Again, homes that have sloped roofs may be a bit higher.

If your project is likely to exceed height limitations, the local director of community development may require you to install temporary height poles that would demonstrate the proposed building’s height and bulk. Any approvals to exceed height limitations will be issued at the director’s discretion.

Location-Specific Requirements In Beverly Hills

There are plenty of other location-specific design requirements in Beverly Hills, all of which attempt to tailor new developments to the aesthetic and character of the neighborhood.

For instance, single-family homes south of Santa Monica Boulevard may not have street-facing windows above the second story (so, no dormer windows if you’ve got a 2-story home with an attic). This requirement may be waived via the Central R-1 permit, but the decision will be made at the discretion of the Design Review Commission.

Likewise, if the proposed home will be situated south of Olympic Boulevard and west of Roxbury Drive, the vehicular entrance of the garage cannot exceed the lesser of 40%, or 24 feet.

Similar requirements exist throughout the entire city and apply to a variety of design aspects, including choice of exterior siding, use of synthetic turf on the yard, and accessory structures.

The Design Commission Takes Its Time

Apart from meeting all of the design criteria — which may not be possible without special approvals — another challenge facing luxury home builders is the time it takes to get the required paperwork in before construction can proceed. The Design Review Commission, along with the Department of Building and Safety and any other commissions that may get involved in the approval process, do take their time. This is especially true for larger, complex projects that may require special permits and entitlements; these can take months or even years to approve.

To streamline the process as much as possible, it’s essential to minimize the number of revision cycles by submitting plans and documents that show compliance with local codes. It’s also important to anticipate when special approvals or permits may be required and prepare a strong case that would sway the city’s Design Review Commission in your favor.

Final advice on building a home in Beverly Hills

There are plenty of obstacles in the path of anyone trying to build a luxury home in Beverly Hills. To preserve its character, the city has implemented a rigorous approval process that evaluates all developments — especially large homes that are meant for the city’s central area.

However, that’s not to say that trying to build your new home in Beverly Hills is a futile endeavor. With the right expertise from a local construction management company, your project can proceed smoothly despite the many hurdles in its path. That said, know that a successful project in the city will require some patience and compromises on the part of the client.

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