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Thank you for visiting my blog. I am a designer providing design, presentation, and documentation services in Southern California. My background is in interior design, and my work is mostly done utilizing CAD and modeling programs. Most of my clients are interior designers and architects. This blog is where I share my personal experience and opinions on work-related topics. This blog covers architecture, interior design, and some landscape design. I also draw inspiration from my life here in Southern California, my trips to Taiwan visiting my family, and Taiwanese and Japanese TV programs I watch. Please make yourself comfortable. Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. Thank you!

[Ask Michelle] Do I Need a Licensed Architect for My Remodeling Project?

In the State of California, not all building projects need to be designed by a licensed architect. According to the chart posted on California Architects Board‘s website, unlicensed persons may design the following:
  • Single-family dwelling of woodframe construction not more than two stories and basement in height.
  • Multiple dwellings containing not more than four dwelling units of woodframe construction not more than two stories and basement in height. No more than four dwelling units per lot.
  • Garages or other structures appurtenant to single-family dwelling, or woodframe construction not more than two stories and basement in height.
  • Agricultural and ranch buildings of woodframe construction, unless the building official having jurisdiction deems that an undue risk to the public health, safety, or welfare is involved.
  • Nonstructural or nonseismic storefronts, interior alterations or additions, fixtures, cabinetwork, furniture, or other appliances or equipment, including nonstructural or nonseismic work necessary to provide for their installation.
If structural design is necessary, the designer (licensed architect or not) will work with an engineer. 
Additional reading:
Consumer’s Guide to Hiring an Architect – California Architects Board

How I Became a LEED Green Associate

As of February 26, 2017, I am a LEED Green Associate.
In September 2016, I came across a Community Green Scholars grant on Facebook. After some consideration, I created an account on USGBC website and managed to submit my application before the November 1, 2016 deadline. Early in November 2016, I was awarded the grant. I was on my way to take the LEED Green Associate exam. the condition was to register for the exam by November 15, 2016, and take the exam before March 1, 2017.
The grant I received included an essential document to read and access to the Eudcation@USGBC. On Christmas Day 2016, I scheduled the exam as close to the deadline as I could.
In January, I attended a webinar held by GBES that helped me understand the exam better. I also bought the book “LEED Green Associate Exam Preparation Guide, LEED v4 Edition” which included online access to flashcards and quizzes.
The day of the exam, I got to the testing center early and review some key points for 20 minutes. During the exam, I read each question throughly. I review my answers 3 times until the time was up. Overall, the exam was straight forward.
I currently don’t have any plan to take the LEED AP exam. My focus now is maintaining the LEED Green Associate credential.

Happy Valentine’s Day

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valentine

What Do I Do For A Living?

I posted a short online survey asking people what I do for a living. I only got 4 (heart-warming) responses:
Maker of fine tea bags, interior designer and space planner, freelance autoCAD or technical drawings for other designers
Designer
Drafting design
Beautiful interior/deco design
I wasn’t too surprised how few people responded. I am glad to see “design” appeared in every answer. (A friend wrote ‘guardian angel’ on my Facebook. That was so sweet! But I can’t do it for a living.)
I had been struggling with explaining my job. “Designer” sounds very vague. I have not perfected my “elevator speech”. After all these years, my name has been going around as this “good CAD drafter”. I am uncomfortable being defined to by the tools I use. I am not just a CAD technician/operator. I am a professional designer skilled and experienced in the art of drafting. CAD programs are tools I use to enhance my presentation and documentation.
My blog article back in 2012 ‘MICHELLE CHIANG’ is A Brand still describes how I feel about what I do. My job titles depend on what I want to “sell”. It’s time to rework my business mission statement and “menu”. It is more about what I want to do, rather than what I can do.

Summer Fruit Bowl

IMAG4608
cooking time: 10 minutes – 60 minutes (depending on the amount of fruit)
Perfect for a BBQ/pool party.
Ingredients:
2 small seedless watermelons – cut to small bite size pieces
3 ripe mangoes – peel and cut to small pieces
1 pound of strawberries – sliced
10 oz of blueberries
2 lemons – zest and juice
Thai basil leaves – tear into small pieces
Agave syrup – to taste (optional)
Directions:
  1. mix all fruits.
  2. add basil leaves and syrup to taste
  3. serve cold.
Notes:
  1. freeze some of the prepared fruits and assemble at the destination.