How You Can Help to Keep Tahoe, Blue, Within Your Home Design & Remodel

Throughout the summer our team at our architecture firm at Lake Tahoe has been receiving calls from across the USA about moving to Lake Tahoe. And with good reason.  There is no doubt we live in one of the most spectacular places on Earth.

As more people in the West are choosing to permanently move into their ‘vacation’ home at the Lake, we are continually sharing our local insight about how home designs can play a vital part in protecting the environment that surrounds their investment.

The following information provides highlights of a more significant article that you can read in full on the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) website.

Within each section, we have added some of our own insight our about the many services that we provide our clients throughout Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Incline Village, and the Carson Valley.  These include:

  • Personal Architectural Design Services
  • Custom Interior Design
  • Site Planning
  • Space Planning
  • Permit Processing Assistance
  • TRPA Feasibility Studies
  • Contractor Selection and Bidding Assistance
  • Construction Administration Services

10 Ways to Save Lake Tahoe –

(Article courtesy of the TRPA)

1. Implement Fire Defensible Space and Erosion Control Measures.Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Defensible Space work together and whenever possible, wise homeowners choose to combine the work of both to help their properties become a working part of the ecosystem. Impervious surfaces like homes, driveways, and roads abound and many homeowners clear their land to bare soil causing harmful sediment and nutrients to flow into Lake Tahoe each time it rains. BMPs are proven methods of capturing stormwater and are required on all properties in the Region.

For more local insight about how to design a home to meet the regional BMPs, call us at Borelli Architecture or see our “Services” page on our website now.

2. Use Native and Adapted Plants When Landscaping.

It’s important to make the right decisions about landscaping and gardening—don’t disturb native vegetation any more than you have to. Instead, strive for landscaping that is dominated by native or adapted plants as they require considerably less irrigation and fertilizer or pesticides than non-native species. The goal is to have healthy plants with roots that hold topsoil in place. Good planning will result in landscaping that’s useful, attractive, and good for the environment.

When designing a mountain home, we give great care and consideration of the property that will surround your home. For some visual examples of our mountain and lakefront home designs at Lake Tahoe, click into our Projects page, now.

3. Pave Your Driveway

Paving doesn’t always create a negative impact. Sediments from even the most compacted dirt driveway wash into the nearest storm drain, and then into Lake Tahoe during rainfall or snowmelt. Paving your driveway also reduces the amount of dust in the air during the summer months.

When we design homes within the Lake Tahoe Basin, we are keenly aware of the strict regulations about ‘impervious coverage.” Feel free to contact us at any time to learn more about TRPA our County regulations at Lake Tahoe.

4. Replace Old Woodstoves

Wood smoke contributes to air quality problems at Lake Tahoe. If you have an old wood stove, look into purchasing a newer, EPA-certified stove or fireplace insert. These typically use half the wood to generate the same amount of heat as an old stove, so you’ll save money and help the environment.

Our clients throughout the region often call us for estimates on remodeling homes in Lake Tahoe.  You can too at any time. We’d be happy to share our insight about the Lake’s EPA requirements, and then some.

5. Protect Wetlands

Many residential areas have stream environment zones (SEZs) meandering through them. An SEZ is a beautiful, delicate, irreplaceable stream environment that requires care and respect. While SEZs don’t necessarily incorporate a stream or creek, they are highly fragile areas that are extremely important in preserving water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. SEZs are typically located in low-lying areas with spongy soil and support deciduous trees.

Please do your best to help protect our piece of paradise.  And 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


Hows Creative Minds Help Solve Housing Shortage in Truckee, CA

(Photo courtesy of Nancy Holliday)

It never ceases to amaze me to read about new innovations and the incredible amount of professional talent that continues to choose the Truckee and Lake Tahoe region as their home sweet home – and this story will show that this is no exception.

For many years, the region has struggled with housing for all the Lake Tahoe ski resort employees that dream of ‘living the dream’ and working at a ski resort.  The jobs are certainly available and pay well – in addition to offering food, rentals, lessons at greatly reduced costs or free, what doesn’t come with the job offer is an affordable home in which to live out that dream.

New “Building Blocks” Bring Affordable Housing to Truckee, CA

In a recent story Moonshine Ink, one of my favorite local independent newspapers, I saw a story that I just had to share in my news section to you today.

Long story short, a group of local businesses “couldn’t take it anymore” and decided to reach out to resources across the country to help lessen the burden on its resort employees and do something about the housing shortage.

As the story goes …

“This December  an initial wave of 12-by-60-foot flatbed trucks carrying Truckee housing will roll into town. The homes, stacked like 20-ton Lego blocks, will be bound for the community’s newest housing development, Coburn Crossing, bringing 137 much needed rentals to the market. Closely following will be a second round of homes on wheels headed for the 90-unit affordable housing Artist Lofts project at the Truckee Railyard.”

What’s fascinating about all of this is that this whole idea of doing something ‘outside of the box” started with a grassroots effort by local business men and women.

Today, three hours from Truckee, the affordable housing units are being built inside – not a box – yet an old converted submarine manufacturing site (in Vallejo, CA) from the middle of the last century!  And they are being built at a rate of “a unit a day!”

Wrapping this up to keep things short and sweet, here’s another snip-it from the story that tells the rest of the story …

A good fit for Truckee/Tahoe

“Here in Truckee/Tahoe the benefits of modular have the potential to count double. According to Pat Davison, governmental affairs director at the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe, the local building industry is strong, but the workforce never fully bounced back from the last recession. She said an influx of modular building, as long as providers savvy to our regional codes and practices, would be “welcomed with open arms.” She also echoed Bradshaw’s sentiments about the changing industry.

“It’s about … being open-minded, being able to evolve, and grow as an industry and that means embracing some of these new ideas and new ways of doing things,” said Davison.

Gotta love living in a place where creative minds work together for all the right reasons!

If you ever want to know what’s going on within the home design and building business in Truckee or Lake Tahoe, feel free to reach out.  I’ve been watching the market for over 30 years and would love to share the history that is apparently being made every day!

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