Architect for street-level storage shed


We have no street level storage and getting anything into our house requires going up many, many stairs. We're sick of schlepping our (very heavy) electric bike, trash cans, and strollers up the stairs and want to add street level storage.

We're looking to build a simple, good size shed/ garage like structure (we don't need car storage), with a roof, into the hillside, into the retaining wall, that is. It needs to be functional, aesthetic and feasible. We also see this an opportunity to upgrade our landscaping and replace the retaining walls, which have seen better days. 

I would love recommendations for architects, landscape architects, or design/build firms to design and construct the shed/garage. We're not sure if this a project for a landscape architect or more in the wheelhouse of an architect or design/build firm. 

Appreciate the advice! Thank you! 

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You need a licensed landscape architect for this, not a regular architect.  We are doing a similar project where we're excavating out the lower part of our driveway, which is on a hill, and replacing two crumbling retaining walls.  We initially consulted with the architect we had worked with on a house renovation a few years ago.  He was not interested in earth-moving and excavation projects - he would have contracted it out to a landscape architect firm. We ended up going with Lazar Landscape We worked with them in the past on a fence/walkway project that we are still very happy with.  Lazar has a lot of experience with landscaping projects involving excavation and retaining walls.  Their work is solid and professional. They do all the construction work in-house and they have wonderful designers.

Just be aware that when there is excavation involved, it's likely to be an expensive project. The planning and permitting process may be long. Your city may have setback requirements that prevent you from building anything close to the street, or at best you may have to apply for a special variance. You'll probably need to get a structural engineering firm involved for the retaining wall, and there may be many iterations on the design before the city will approve your plans. We live in Berkeley and it's taken nearly 2 years to get through all the permitting - multiple permits each with its own hefty fee, as well as neighbor review and appeal periods, specialized drawings and reports, cement testing, earthquake resilience, fire resistance, etc. etc. etc. Lazar has handled all this for us, thank goodness, and we are just about ready to break ground.

Hi Arielle,

This is a perfect fit for Studio M Merge! They combine landscape and residential architecture. We have been using them for our house/property and have LOVED their work, their attention to detail, and how brilliantly they took our desires and created a master plan that really works for us. I'd recommend at least doing a consultation with them. You can reach Andrea Sessa, the studio lead, at 510-698-4863 or asessa [at] Good luck!

The cheapest thing you can do is a Tuff Shed.