What to Do When Your Home is Haunted!

As an architect firm that has been designing and remodeling homes in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee region for over 30 years, we always look forward to hearing about clients’ homes, or property, that may be haunted!  And as the area overflows with beautiful old homes in particular along the lake, why wouldn’t some of them still be occupied by residents gone-by?

In addition, many of the shoreline properties were the summer grounds and burial grounds of the Washoe (Native American) tribes.  In fact, history notes that their heritage within the High Sierra dates back over 90,000 years.

With Halloween around the corner, we thought it would certainly be appropriate to lend some insight to our fans about haunted homes – and what to do, or not to do, if your home is indeed ‘occupied’ by spirits unknown.

In a recent article posted by RIS Media, entitled Home Haunted? they shared some interesting insight that we are sending along to you right now.

“Among the more than 2,000 U.S. homeowners that were surveyed by realtor.com®, 13 percent said they believe they live in a haunted house currently and, among them, more than half (56 percent) say they have not considered moving.

“Haunted houses typically draw big crowds this time of year, but we wanted to see how many people actually believe they live in one,” said Lexie Holbert, realtor.com® housing and lifestyle expert. “Although only a small percentage of respondents indicated they believe their home is haunted, it was surprising to see how many are comfortable sharing their space with spirits.”

Another interesting takeaway from the survey is the fact that among the respondents who believe they currently live in a home that’s haunted, Northeasterners were the most comfortable living with spirits (76 percent), followed by those in the West (57 percent), the South (51 percent) and the Midwest (35 percent).”

What to do if your home is haunted?

Click into this link from ISoldMyHouse.com.  It will take you to a page that will tell you all about their partnership with and exorcist who can rid your home of those spirits that share your space!


James P. Borelli
Borelli Architecture
Lake Tahoe / Truckee


What to Do if You Come Across a Downed Power Line?

I recently read an article that was published in a local newspaper in Flathead Lake, MT.  Their weather mirrors ours throughout each season.  Recently they experienced some extremely high winds that downed trees throughout the east side of the Lake.  With so much destruction, the Flathead Lake Electric Cooperative decided they should jump onto to an education program to help locals and visitors alike be better prepared for falling power lines.

With the winter season around the corner, we can certainly expect to see a return of the classic High Sierra winds that are just part of living in the majestic Lake Tahoe and Truckee regions. Right here in our architecture firm in Incline Village, NV, we sit on top of a ridge where we can experience some pretty good gusts this time of the year, and into the winter months as well.

The article included some very good information, complete with visuals, that can be used universally – no matter where you live on the planet.

As we design mountain homes in Truckee, Lake Tahoe, and especially the Carson Valley that gets the brunt of the wind, we always review the electrical lines and carefully position our homes within a safe distance – should any lines go down.

If you have recently purchased a lot on which to build a home, or have plans to remodel or expand your footprint, our team at our architecture firm in Washoe County, NV, would be pleased to come by to review your situation and its existing electrical layout.

In the meantime, feel free to share the following artwork that is courtesy of the Flathead Lake Electric Cooperative.

Stay safe out there!

James P. Borelli
Borelli Architecture
Lake Tahoe / Truckee




When to Purchase A Home and Remodel? Perhaps Now … !

Home remodel in Incline Village, NV
Home remodel in Incline Village, NV by Borelli Architecture

Just this morning I read an article entitled:  We’re Running Out of Homes To Sell” in Lake Tahoe.

With key points in the article noting:

  • Lake Tahoe real estate is getting snapped up at a record pace, as San Francisco tech workers flee the city in search of more space and a healthier lifestyle.
  • Brokers say the inventory of homes for sale has shrunk to about one-fifth to one-tenth of the usual levels.
  • “People are writing all-cash offers for houses, sight unseen,” said Sabrina Belleci, a Lake Tahoe broker with Re/Max.

With more and more families and businesses moving to the state of Nevada to take advantage of its many tax benefits, our architectural firm in Incline Village, NV is fielding a lot of requests for more information about remodeling v/s buying a new home.

Right here in Incline, inventory is as tight as I have ever seen it during my 30 year residency.  With this noted, I thought I’d share some insight about the value of remodeling and some examples of what our architectural firm in Lake Tahoe and Truckee has recreated over our 30+ years of designing and remodeling homes in Washoe County.

Buyers usually want something they can move into – especially during the prime buying season – which is summer in Tahoe.  With the region’s limited inventory, and the demand to live an active life in the High Sierra, we do suggest our clients take a good look at the property’s overall assets.

Up here at 6,000+ elevation, that usually includes the views of the Lake and surrounding forest and mountain views.

If the home is rather new, a fresh coat of paint usually does the trick for a little facelift.

If the home is established, we like to look at the entire structure – evaluating its windows to ensure they are Low E, HVAC capabilities, and overall design.  The latter of which is very important when it comes to snow load – and where the snow UNLOADS when the spring thaw arrives; this past winter we’ve seen our share of broken porch railings and buried driveways due to poor design.

One also wants to review the home’s ‘new owners’ and how the design may or may not be ideal for either a large family moving in or a large home that now belongs to empty-nesters.  Our team at Borelli Architecture enjoys the opportunity to review our clients’ new purchase and offer solutions to best fit their lifestyle.  Some of the options may include the expansion of the kitchen, combining two guest rooms into an en-suite Master, refining the layout to move a downstairs bedroom to the main floor, or removing a pony wall to gain more space for a Great Room or brand new office.

In addition to the most urgent need to remodel a room into an office (see my recent post), another remodeling idea for mountain homes is to recreate the existing patio into an outdoor kitchen and dining environment.

And that is just the beginning of what one could or could not do to remodel a mountain home in Truckee or Lake Tahoe.

Another option of course, is to build a brand-new home.  There’s a beautiful golf course community in Carson City – which is just over the hill from the Lake – which also offers access to a private facility on the edge of Lake Tahoe. You can check it out at ClearCreekTahoe.com.  If you’d like a personal tour, I’ll be more than happy to show you some of the ideas for mountain golf course home designs.

Please never hesitate to give us a call to discuss your ideas for designing a home in Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Truckee, or right here in our hometown of Incline Village, NV.

James P. Borelli
Borelli Architecture
Lake Tahoe / Truckee


Tips on How to Remodel a Room into the Perfect Office Space

With most of the USA working at home these days, our architectural firm in Lake Tahoe, NV has received quite a few calls about our remodeling services in Incline Village, Truckee, and throughout the Lake.   What is enjoyable for us, is the opportunity to seize the moment to help our clients live a more well-balanced life – at home.

As this is a hot topic, we are taking this time to give you some tips on how to remodel a room or unused space in your home into a comfortable environment in which to continue your career.

Take an inventory of your home’s ‘space’.   Do you have a room that is used just for clutter-keeping?  What about a spot just off the porch?  Maybe you have become empty-nesters and have a room or two that would be ideal for your new office?

Get Professional Advice.  Once you have established the options, give us a call at Borelli Architecture.  We are happy to offer a complimentary visit to discuss the ideal use, and remodeling, of your home to accommodate your new world.  And, as a bonus, we offer interior design services as well through Kelly Borelli Interiors.

Establish The Best Option.  Working as a team, we will review the options with you and provide our advice according to the preferred room’s location.  In many instances, our clients need space for not just one office, yet two or more.  Take a look at the photo above; it’s a prime example of how adding a wall, or removing a few walls, can achieve many objectives.

Assess the structural design.  Sometimes what seems to be the best option is not the best at all.  Within the decision-making process, we will review the room’s structure, HVAC and electrical capabilities, window opportunities (to enjoy that fresh Sierra air), and safe egress and access.

Review Other Opportunities.  In addition to remodeling a room for an office, what about taking the opportunity to add additional features that you have always wanted in your home.  How about a library or large shelving to display some of your favorite memories or awards?  Maybe it would be nice to have a kitchenette with room for a coffee pot,  mini-fridge, or sink?  Some of our clients have also requested our office remodel design to include space for a Murphy bed – to accommodate guests.

Ready. Set. Go.  Once you have confirmed your desires, you can move forward with confidence to confirm the costs, timeline, and estimated “Grand Opening” of your new office!

Please never hesitate to give us a call to discuss your ideas for remodeling your home. We’d be happy to help design a new and inspirational setting for your new office space in your home.

James P. Borelli
Borelli Architecture
Lake Tahoe / Truckee


TRPA To Finalize Vote on New Lake Tahoe Shoreline Plan

For those of you who are looking for a Lake Tahoe architect to help you build a home on Lake Tahoe, commence on an extensive home remodel, or are involved in a redevelopment project, I encourage you to read this blog to the end.

This past week, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency provided us with an update to their two-year process of developing a new Shoreline Plan.

Noted by the TRPA as “milestones,” this initiatives will come to a close – estimated for final approval October 24th – with the final unveiling of what property owners and commercial developers will need to know before anyone puts their pen to the paper to design, or redesign, any property along the Lake’s well-protected shoreline.

What is the TRPA Shoreline Plan and Why Is It Important to You?

Two years ago, the TRPA joined forces with a variety of stakeholders and embarked on a highly-collaborative planning process focused on fighting aquatic invasive species, improving the health of our forests, upgrading the region’s transportation system and developing a basin-wide wildfire preparedness program.

Why is this important to you?  According to the TRPA’s recent newsletter:

“The proposed Shoreline Plan creates development caps and regulations for a limited number of new shoreline structures such as piers, buoys, and public boat ramps, as well as a framework for marinas to expand or reconfigure if they incorporate environmental improvements.”

The update from TRPA continued to explain  … “The programs include better boater education and enforcement of the 600-foot no-wake zone, an expansion of the no-wake zone to include all Emerald Bay, and new no-wake buffer zones for swimmers, paddlers, and shoreline structures; all aimed at reducing boating noise impacts and improving recreation safety on the lake.

“… the new programs also include better monitoring for noise and scenic impacts, additional projects to control harmful aquatic invasive species, enforcement of unauthorized moorings on the lake, and new provisions to keep loud boats with aftermarket exhaust systems that exceed noise standards from operating on the lake.

In short … as a property owner, with a home within in the Lake Tahoe basin and on the lake, in particular, you will be held to requirements if you choose to alter your land, remodel your boathouse, our replace or install a buoy.

Have no fear!  The Borelli Team is here …

For over 30 years, Borelli Architecture in Lake Tahoe and Truckee have been offering a variety of architectural design services to help our clients get through the numerous TRPA policies and county ordinances that one must adhere to when one wants to change the lay of the land.  Some of the services key to this subject include:

  • Site Planning
  • Space Planning
  • Permit Processing Assistance
  • TRPA Feasibility Studies

If you believe you might be impacted by the new regulations of the TRPA Shoreline Plan, please do reach out.  We’ve been around the Lake region for a long time and have the appropriate connections and local insight that only a local Lake Tahoe architectural firm can offer.

James P. Borelli
Borelli Architecture
Truckee / Lake Tahoe



With the start of the spring season, it’s often a time to commence on the annual spring clean-up.  In my business, it’s also when the phone starts to ring from clients seeking my opinion as to whether remodeling a home can be a good investment. With that in mind, I thought I would use this blog to provide some of my personal insight, and few good reasons for you to ponder, about the subject at hand.

1) Remolding a home is an adventure that can be very rewarding. 

Be it big or small, investing in a remodel of your home in Truckee or Lake Tahoe, or just a few rooms, can not only improve the value of your residence yet can result in many benefits that you will enjoy for years to come.  Always wanted a bigger kitchen?  How about a great room?  Or maybe the kids have flown the coop, and it’s time for a real Master Bedroom – complete with spa and lots of closets.  These are the first things you will want to think about long before you start the remodeling process.

2) Creature comforts can add value – and security – especially to older homes.

Here in the Lake Tahoe region, there are many homes that were built over 30 years ago.  Many still have single pane windows, drafty sliding doors, small rooms and dark walls.  No matter what the size of the remodel, we always suggest installing windows and doors that are not only up to code, yet are energy efficient, sturdier, and larger to let in the light and open up to welcome in that fresh, crisp, High Sierra air.

3)  “Face Lifts” for the exterior are always suggested. And your neighbors will appreciate your efforts.

There’s no question that your home is a direct reflection of you and your family.  Certainly,a paint job could be in order, and a new roof is common in our mountain region…yet we advise our clients to look deeper into the future.  Does your home fit the neighborhood? Does it have a ‘welcoming’ appeal?  At some point you probably are going to sell your home so take the time to do your research as to the best options for an exterior home remodel.  With our architectural consultation services in Lake Tahoe and Truckee, we always suggest switching to low maintenance exterior products as part of the process.

 4) Make it fit YOUR lifestyle. 

An “ideal” home should fit your lifestyle – and if you have owned your home for a while, that may have changed.  Here in the High Sierra, some of the most popular items that we include in our architectural designs of mountain homes in Truckee and Lake Tahoe are mud rooms, great rooms, spa and fitness centers, expanded patios complete with outdoor kitchens, and expansive windows that open into the great outdoors.

5) Expand your home’s footprint, if you can.

Ah, the ol’ ‘impervious coverage’ question.  Development at Lake Tahoe includes a very sophisticated review by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.  Within their rules and regulations, there is always an evaluation of how much coverage your property is allowed – which is determined either through a TRPA Site Assessment or an Individual Parcel Evaluation System score (IPES).  Not sure about your coverage allowance?  Let us help you out.  Borelli Architecture offers a variety of other planning and permitting services outside of our design capabilities that include the following:

  • Site Planning
  • Space Planning
  • Permit Processing Assistance
  • TRPA Feasibility Studies
  • Contractor Selection
  • Bidding Assistance

BONUS POINT:  Act now, not later.

With all the important regulation that comes with building and remodeling homes in our environmentally-sensitive region, there is a tremendous amount of planning and permitting that needs to be addressed long before we embark on a remodel of your home.

Now is the time to take action.  And we’d be happy to help you sort out the best options for you and your family.  Want to see some examples of remodeled homes in Tahoe? Take a look at my website and then feel free to contact me sooner than later  as remodeling a home can be both enjoyable and fruitful when it’s all said and done.


James P. Borelli

Borelli Architecture
Truckee / Lake Tahoe
775 831 3060



They Have Been Named Two of the “Top 10” Mountain Towns in America!

While searching the web for information about one of my favorite mountain towns I found a great article about the community where I have designed numerous homes for year-round residents and vacation home owners.  And to my delight, Truckee, CA, has taken a top prize as one of the Top Mountain Towns in America as rated by Trillist.com.

The article noted that Thrillist goes through quite the process to pick its Top Ten every year.  Here’s what they said:

“It’s about exceptional towns that just happen to be located on or around the hills. And while, sure, narrowing down an endless number of mountain towns in a country with myriad mountain ranges was no easy task, we took into account scenery, activities, mountain “feel,” and the bar/restaurant scene to determine the nine spots that clearly tower above the rest.”

Although the Top 10 included mountain towns that I am very familiar with, I was intrigued by a few of the others that were listed that are now a ‘must visit’ whenever time may allow in the not so distant future:  Homer, AK is at the top!

We’ll send along our congratulations now to all who made the list!  And hey, maybe they need an architect that specializes in designing custom mountain homes  within their own cool town.

  • Taos, NM
  • Homer AK
  • Lake Placid, NY
  • Telluride, CO
  • Bend OR
  • Truckee, CA
  • Coeur d’Alene, ID
  • Eureka Springs, AR
  • Asheville, NC

Got your own favorite mountain town that I should visit?  Let me know!

James P. Borelli
Call 775 831 3060 or visit our Contact page, right here



(Pictured above: Reindeer Lodge suffered massive distruction during the 2017 winter at Lake Tahoe)

Top Structural Tips for Mountain Home Architectural Design

When a property is improperly designed for its environment, lots of things can go wrong.  Just one look at the photo above of the old Reindeer Lodge on the east slopes of the Sierra near Lake Tahoe is a testament to the power of Mother Nature.

When done right, lots of things can go right.

For those who live in and around the Lake Tahoe and Truckee region, we are well aware of the impact that Mother Nature had on our lives this past winter.  The good news is that the record snowfall completely erased the 10-year drought and brought Lake Tahoe back up to its natural rim.  The not so good news is that as the snow continues to melt, we are continuing to see the structural damages to homes and businesses throughout the region.

With this in mind, I thought I’d share some insights within this news report about some of the key features you’ll want to incorporate into your mountain home’s design or incorporate into a mountain home remodel before winter returns.

The ideal roof design for mountain homes.

Let’s start with the roof.  When Borelli Architecture begins to design our clients’ homes in the Lake Tahoe/Truckee area, we like to design a home with a roof that is ideal for the snow loads, changing temperatures and weather, as well as neighborhood appeal – and of course, our clients’ desires.

Key to the design process is to identify the home’s setting – where there is sun, and where there is not.  From that point, we start to develop a structural design which complements the location’s potential snow “impacts.”  What we want to be sure to do is avoid a design that would cause significant snow slides that can destroy porches and cars, block doorways … you get the idea.

In a cold climate, the ideal roof is a simple gable.  In general, the distinguishing feature of the gable is its triangular shape.  This design allows for water and snowmelt to flow naturally to the base of the home … and not into valley and crevasses that may “dam up” and cause water and ice damage.

Another option for those who prepare something more modern is what the industry calls an “avalanche shed” design.  A simple visual for you is a roof that has only one tilted slope which is slanted toward a section of the home where there will be no residual impact.

No matter what the final design may be, we look for a good roof plane has a consistent slope from the ridge to the eave.

Where to place vents when designing mountain homes?

This past year unveiled many mistakes in rooftop plumbing placements that are now under full repair.  Plumbing vents that were installed and placed lower on the eaves and not on the home’s ridges were torn and twisted by the significant snow pack; some even ended up on the ground after the snow finally slid.

Simply said:  we always plan for the vents to be near the ridges, not the eaves.  Why? Ridges are dryer than the eaves that see much more water and snowpack over the course of the year.

What about gutter placement for high elevation home design?

With the weather patterns of the Sierra we can always expect rain and snow throughout the seasons. To keep the precipitation off the driveway and entrances, we suggest our owners have gutters installed below the plane of the roofing and drain away from popular outdoor areas of the home.

Want some free advice about mountain home design?

Borelli Architecture team has been designing and remodeling homes throughout the Truckee and Lake Tahoe area for over 25 years.  We’ve learned a lot and always welcome the opportunity to share our insight.

If you’d like a free consultation, reach out at any time.  I think we’ve seen it all – yet you might surprise us.

James P. Borelli
Call me at 775 831 3060 or send a note by visiting our Contact page, right here.