Introducing STEP Cards

Introducing STEP Cards

This might come as a surprise to you: If you're thinking of using house plans to put up a building of any type, you're a real estate developer.

"Who, me?" you might ask. "I'm no developer. I'm only building a home for myself."

Yes, you, too. Building a single-family home invokes the same questions and hurdles as a large apartment building; the hurdles are just lower.

Whether it's one house or a neighborhood, somebody has to take responsibility for moving the project forward. Somebody has to make the final decisions about financing, hiring, and finishes. If you are the owner, that person will inevitably be you.

With that in mind, let us set you up for success by introducing you to the world of small-scale real estate development. The more you know about it, the better prepared you'll be for the scads of decisions that arise when raising a building from the ground.


Collage of three STEP Cards in a row: Flex shed, semi-detached, and accessory unit.

To begin the journey, we'd like to introduce you to the STEP Cards by Gracen Johnson of Shophouse Studio.

This deck of cards is a helpful tool for understanding the elements of small scale development. R. John Anderson has designed and built hundreds of homes, together with David T. Kim. John describes the STEP Cards this way:

Each of the 50 cards is a concise illustrated summary of the key details you need to know to move an incremental project forward.
Which building code applies?
Will you need to install fire sprinklers?
Can you pay off the construction loan with a 1-4 unit residential mortgage?

In the coming weeks, we will publish a series of posts that illustrate how the STEP Cards relate to the house plans that we offer. If you find the cards helpful, consider investing in a deck of your own. STEP Cards can be a useful way to facilitate conversations with the public officials who will be involved in the approval process for your project. And better conversations are a great step toward a successful build.

Square photo of STEP Cards, with individual cards arrayed around the rest of the deck.
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