Building a Dog Kennel from Beginning to End

A Pet Villa Journal of our Remodel

A Pet Villa was built from the ground up, what follows is a description journal of our construction process.

Plans Approved

In April, 2006, our plans where approved by the city of Santa Clara. Our new facility has been meticulously designed to insure the finest care for your furry friend.

A Pet Villa Dog Kennel Plans

Here is our floor plan design (PDF).

A Pet Villa Remodel Begins with Demolition

Demolish Old Dog KennelAfter many months of waiting we are finally starting our new journey to rebuild the kennel facility. The first step is to demolish the existing structure. See the pictures.

Soil is Brought in and the Property Graded

Paving and Dog Kennel ConstructionIn late August, 2006 we brought in more soil/rock to fill the site as it was still too low. There were at least 7 truckloads of new dirt brought in, plus several truck loads of base rock. The new soil was placed in the kennel area and then leveled off in preparation for the pier hole digging. See the pictures.

Pier Holes are Dug

Pier Holes Dug, Kennel ConstructionIf you were to look at the site today you would think that a giant gopher dug it all up. That is what it looks like. The holes are now dug and will be backfilled with rock, as well as re-bar. See the pictures.

Concrete Piers are Poured

Concrete Piers Poured Kennel ContructionThe cement was poured into all the Pier Holes - 16 to be exact. The identification of the locations had to be exact. The footing of the canopies will be bolted on top of these piers. See the pictures.

Plumbing and Trenches

Plumbing and Trenches Kennel ConstructionThe underground trenches where dug, and the underground plumbing was placed. And one can now see what the building footprint looks like. See the pictures.

Foundation is Being Poured

Foundation Poured Kennel ContructionFoundation is being poured. See the pictures.

Canopy is Put In, Framing Begins

Canopy Put In, Kennel ContructionYesterday the canopy for the kennel cover came. Amazingly the cover fit like a glove. The posts were mounted onto the piers and each post and location fit perfectly. See the pictures.

Framing Walls Put Up

Framing Kennel ConstructionOctober, 2006. The framing walls start going up. A Pet Villa is starting to take shape. See the pictures.

Framing is Complete

Framing Complete Kennel ConstructionThe framing is complete. The building looks very nice now and one can see or imagine what the finished kennel will be like. See the pictures.

Framing and Power Washing

Powerwashing Concrete Kennel ConstructionBy now the dog canopy is on and is fairly visible from this angle. Looks empty without the dog runs underneath it. See the pictures.

PG&E Digging

PG&E Digging Kennel ConstructionAWe got PG&E to come out fairly early in the project to connect the lines. They dug a fairly deep trench, brought the line out to the building and did so efficiently.See the pictures.

Dog Suites Installed

Dog Suites Installed Kennel ConstructionWe Installed the high quality dog suites from the Mason Company. They are very beautiful with very nice FRP sides. See the pictures.

Foam Roof Installed

Foam Roof Installed Kennel ConstructionHere are some photos of the roof. It looks like snow. Very bright and reflective. This roof will keep our place cool in the summer and warm in the winter. See the pictures.

Trash Enclosure

Trash Enclosure Kennel ConstructionThe masonry work for the trash enclosure has begun. I call this the very expensive enclosure as it includes building a cement pad with rebar, masonry work and steel doors that are custom made. See the pictures.

Sheet Rock and More Digging

Sheet Rock Kennel ConstructionThe Sheet rock work has begun. The place is starting to take some form. Digging the water and electrical connections has begun. See the pictures.

Catch Basin

Catch Basin Kennel ConstructionThe catch basin is designed to hold all the water run off from both the building and the kennel canopy. All the water is piped into the catch basin which then sends the water to sump pumps which will pump out of the property area. See the pictures.

Sump Pump, Stucco, and more PG&E

Sump Pump Kennel ConstructionExcess water from the building runoff will be flowing into this basin. A sump pump will be pumping it out. The City wanted a backup sump pump, and so made us put two in there. See the pictures.

Tearing Up Street and Painting

Tearing Up Street Kennel ConstructionThe catch basin is designed to hold all the water run off from both the building and the kennel canopy. All the water is piped into the catch basin which then sends the water to sump pumps which will pump out of the property area. See the pictures.

Wiring and Stucco Complete

Stucco Complete Kennel ConstructionAn updated shot of the building after the stucco was complete. The white coloring on the stucco makes the building look very bright. See the pictures.

Painting & Power is On

Painting Kennel ConstructionThe painting began with earnest. First the gold color highlight went on. Then came the light brown. The bright white building now took on the final paint colors.See the pictures.

Paving and Painting the Parking Lot

Paving and Painting Parking Lot Kennel ConstructionToday the parking lot got striped. The parking lot now looks official, with its designated parking slots. I think I will be the first one to try out all the slots available. I haven't allowed anybody to drive on it, even though it has been over 24 hours!!. See the pictures.

On Feb. 12, 2007, we re-opened for business!

Old Construction Update Letters

Letter 1

Dear Customer:

The plans have been finalized and fine-tuned by the City of Santa Clara and we are ready to begin our construction phase for a brand new dog and cat boarding facility.  We will be keeping you informed through our web site and updates will be left on our phone message system.

Please bear with us during our construction, as we understand the difficulties involved in finding alternative care for your pets. We do look forward to seeing you all back for a HUGE open house when we return as - A PET VILLA.

A Pet Villa Begins Remodel

Our new facility has been meticulously designed to insure the finest care for your furry friend. It will feature state-of-the-art runs with resting benches being built by the Mason Company  -  The kennel area will be made of color-coated, stained concrete sloped for easy cleaning and drainage. The foam roof will keep the place cool in the summer and trap heat in the winter. It will feature ceiling fans, skylights, plenty of light and video cameras over each run.  We will also have a separate play yard for our furry friends to romp around and stretch their legs.

We will also feature an inside play room which will be used for communal daycare for those who qualify. The room will be turned into a training facility at night and we will be offering puppy and beginning obedience classes.  This feature will also allow us to do in-house obedience training for those who want a little more for their beloved pets.

For our cats,  we will have state-of-the-art kitty-condos complete with resting shelves and pass-through holes.  We will also have a small area for them to stretch out on climbing posts and scratchers.

For your pet's grooming needs we will have an up-to-date grooming facility complete with a dog shower area as well as bathing tub. With two grooming tables we will be able to accommodate more dogs.

As before, we will have a 24-7 live-in manager on premises.  We fought hard for many months with City officials to get this approval. Our new security camera will allow us to monitor all of the dogs from the front office, without disturbing the others day and night.

While we are closed we will be offering Pet Sitting and grooming services only to current customers if their location is suitable.  Please call for more information and details.  We know you will be as excited as we are when we ready to open our doors.


Malka Nagel

June 22nd Update, 2006

Dear Customers,

It was our hope to be up and running by this time. Unfortunately that is not the case. To get the kennel back up and built has been one of the most difficult tasks we have ever undertaken.

Having worked with the City of Santa Clara for over 1-½ years, PRIOR to ever submitting our building plans, we thought that obtaining our Permit would take 6 weeks. We submitted our full set of Plans in January and only received our Building Permit (with some open items still) at the end of May. While we made some modifications to the plans, the rest of the delays were caused by the City’s inefficient use of time and resources. We were shuffled from one branch to another, from one building official to another. Each official not working in par with the other. In most cases we had to escalate our project to higher management. This happened in both Public Works and in Engineering. One department kicked back our plans saying they were incomplete; which was not the case. We made a few modifications and resubmitted. The plans set in this department alone for over 6 weeks and then came back with some “corrections.” Out of 6 points that were made, only one was of value. It was – adding a ceiling vent in the cattery. The other 5 points were a result of the City Engineer not reading the plans completely.

While we were getting our building permit, we submitted our building plans to three qualified, reputable, local contractors. In the middle of March we got our bids back. Lo and behold the quotes were coming in at 3x our expected budget. Roughly $570 a sq foot to build out (excluding the dog runs). These numbers were unacceptable. We had to revisit our plans and redo the kennel structure, argue with the City re: improvements we felt we did not need, and had to reconfigure our site drainage. This too, caused more delays with architectural revisions, new submissions and new reviews. More money spent. More delays. More frustration.

After narrowing down our building quotes, we picked one Contractor in March to work with. When we came back to him in May, with our building permit in hand, he made sure to avoid us by not returning phone calls and pretending to be out of town. Instead of telling us beforehand, that he was no longer interested, he played the avoidance game. We frantically looked for new contractors and found that all were now busy with the height of the building season. Through contacts and perseverance we did find a General Contractor who will manage our job for us and we will be doing a Design-Build. Basically, it means that we will be playing a large part in the overall construction.

To move things along, we took care of the demolition on our own. We also have put out to bid the grading aspect of our job. It has taken us 2 weeks to get quotes. We are close to finalizing our grading contractor. We are tying down the other contractors too. We hope to be moving forward soon.

As many of you have called me to find out if we are open yet, I have had to tell you “no, not yet.” I feel awful having to say you must go elsewhere and not being available or open at this time.

We will keep you posted on the development, and will be posting photos on the web site with updates. We hope that all of you will come back when we reopen and appreciate the new facility that we will be offering. It will be bright and cheery. Easy to clean. Safe and Secure. We hope to be able to watch your dogs and cats in a happy and safe environment.

Malka & Michael Nagel

July 27, 2006

We are progressing on our project a little slower than we would have liked. The next task after demolition was Grading. This project was most daunting. While we met with 6 companies to get quotes, only 2 actually gave us quotes. One of them was so ridiculous that it was twice the amount of the company we ended up using.

However, grading was a little complicated. First we had to haul away 1 foot off the existing site. This was to remove all the debris, rocks, old wood etc. that was left behind from the demolition. The next task was bringing in new soil that would build up the pad to its new height. Because our site was so old, and everything had been built around us over the years, we were actually a good 2 feet below our neighbors' lot. We thus had to bring enough dirt to bring us to a level matching the existing neighbors and then even more dirt to build up the building pad. This process involved over 30-truckloads of dirt, the surveyor checking our height levels and soils engineers checking the soil that we brought in, as well as checking the "compaction" of the soil. The process took approximately 2 weeks.

Fortunately for us, we found 2 great contractors who are working with us as "consultants." This has turned out to be a wonderful option. We are heavily involved in picking the subs, double-checking all the quotes and tweaking the plans to better suit our needs. The contractor makes NO EXTRA money if the sub-contractor is paid more. This has helped to keep the budget lower and actually "more honest." The two contractors have been in the business for over 30 years each, and thus are bringing in their skills and expertise besides.

We have most of our sub-contractors picked out now and are ready for our next step which is extremely critical. Because we have a very complicated set of sewer pipes that will be underneath each kennel run and in several rooms, the pipes must be laid down to exacting detail. To accomplish this task, we have had the surveyor plot out the exact locations of the pipes. This is not typical. We have a specialist who will be digging up the trenches. Luckily this fellow has about 30 years experience too. Guided by laser measurements he will trench in detail the sewer lines, and the water lines. While we have a small lot, every bit of the lot is going to be used. There is not much room for error.

Once the trenching is done, we will be ready for the plumber to lay down the pipes which will traverse the entire kennel area. While in most projects this part of the process is quite quick..for us this is the most time-consuming, and labor-intensive aspect. Once we lay down our plumbing lines, water lines, electrical lines, we will be ready for the concrete work.

Our concrete contractor is somebody who is quite skilled. He primarily works on spec. homes in Atherton, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills. He was a referral from an architect we know who designs luxury houses. We knew that the key to a super kennel, would be super concrete work that would allow for easy cleaning and superior drainage.

Malka & Michael Nagel

August 17, 2006 Some utilities in Place

Following the trenching work, the site was surveyed again to carefully mark the sewer lines and storm drains. A lot of attention has gone into detailing both storm run off (water coming off the roofs) and 6 foot sewer lines which are running underneath the kennel runs, as well as in various locations in the building. The drains have been placed and they are quite large!! The Santa Clara building inspector was called out, and we passed one of our first inspections with no problems. The trench holes have now been refilled with new imported material. Dirt that was removed for the trench holes had to be hauled away.

A back wall near the back parking lot is going up to keep in water from the neighbors yard. At the same time, fence "sleeves" have been placed prior to the pouring of the concrete. These are openings going into the cement which insures a nice hole for the fence posts. This is also a very nice way of imbedding the posts and insures nice clean lines. In addition, they will be very secure. We had to get a special permit to build an 8 foot fence. We have ordered a very high grade fence material that is very tight, with a good tight mesh and with a bottom and top rail to insure that there will be no space opening for even the smallest dog to try to fit underneath. Being that the fence posts will be embedded in cement..there will also be no way that a dog could dig underneath the fence. This wall will be cemented soon.

Most of the contractors have already been selected. Plumbing, Electrical, Cement, HVAC & Framers. The final kennel configuration has been ordered and kennels will be arriving in October. The kennel canopy should arrive in September.

We are also finalizing our pole sign. It should stand approx. 20 feet tall. This, too, needs a separate permit, as well as a final approval from the City. We have the sign company picked out, just have to finalize the final layout for the sign.

I have taken photos of the progress..and will post shortly.

Malka & Michael Nagel

August 22, 2006 update

Trusses, Retaining Walls & Inspectors

Our contractor chose to put a retaining wall in the back section and side of the lot to insure that our water does not run into the neighboring lot.  This was an added feature not on our original design.  You would think that the City would be happy?  Instead, the inspector asks for a "new drawing."  Our Civil Engineer was out of town, so he could not draw anything up. After a few days, I decided that the Contractor should put a sketch together. Today he called the City for an inspection using their automated system.  However, no inspector showed up.  I guess their automated system doesn't work that well.  As a consequence we now have lost 6 days for no reason. Hopefully the inspector will show up tomorrow. 


We also have decided to build the trusses using a vendor who only builds trusses.  (This is less expensive than having it built on site and actually quicker)  Our truss design had to get approved by our Structural Engineer who designed the truss system approved by the City.  The Truss company used this design to come up with a compatible one. This now required our Structural Engineer to review it again and put his Stamp of Approval on it.  It wasn't good enough that the Truss company had a Structural Engineer approve the drawings. So the drawings went back to our Structural Engineer who stamped some copies for us.  Then it went back to the City for their stamp of approval. wonder why cities are always broke?  With this type of red tape you can wonder how anything actually gets done. 

More dirt has been brought into the site which will be added once the retaining wall can get poured.  After the dirt is placed we can trench for the lateral underground pipes.  Once the lateral pipes are placed we can begin our foundation work.

September 10, 2006

Trenches and Piers:

If you were to look at the site today you would think that a giant gopher dug it all up. That is what it looks like.  Many holes, 24 to be precise, and many trenches are traversing the entire lot.  The holes dug (approx. 7 feet deep and 3 feet wide) are for the piers which will be supporting a canopy that will cover the dog runs.  In addition, we have 2 smaller canopies for the outdoor play area.  The holes are now dug and will be backfilled with rock, as well as re-bar.  Cement will be poured into the holes.   On top of these piers, metal plates will be drilled  which will be supporting the posts for the canopies.  This way, the posts won't be popping out of the ground in the event of a large wind.  The tricky part about digging the holes is that they had to be in precise locations.  In order to do that, we had to have the Surveyor pinpoint the exact location of the holes. A lot of dirt has been dug out of the holes, and so again we have large piles of dirt all over the lot.

Around the piers there are underground trenches for both the sewer as well as the storm drains.  In a few days the cement will be poured for the piers. Once that is completed than base rock will be applied and the underground pipes will be laid.  We are hoping that all the pipes will be placed by the end of this week.

All the subs have now been selected, outside of a stucco finisher and a painter.  Luckily, these are later on in the process.  Apparently, there is still plenty of work for contractors out there, and so to find one who wants to do this small project is difficult.

9/14/06 - Piers Poured

The cement was poured into all the Pier Holes - 16 to be exact. The identification of the locations had to be exact and one can see the forms and string lines crisscrossing the piers. The footing of the canopies will be bolted on top of these piers. For sure the cement won't be going anywhere with the holes dug so deep and so wide - above and beyond what was called for by the manufacturer of the canopies.

October 3, 2006

Today the plumber finished up all of his underground plumbing. It looks like a web as there are pipes everywhere. Storm drains. Sewer drains. Clean out areas - one in each room. This will allow us to actually hose out rooms, if need be. There are so many trenches around that is practically impossible to walk the site. I told the contractor today, that he should have just had a hole and it would have been easier to work around everything!!

In addition, the electrician pretty much finished up his underground pipes. He figured this would be easier to do, then to come back later and run pipes throughout the ceilings, which is more typical.

We called out the inspector. He approved all of the piping. However, he was concerned that some of the pipes did not have any dirt under them. He almost did not sign off on the permit. What is interesting is that any cement contractor knows that he has to put dirt under the pipes, so this was a very needless comment. Even though the electrician completed his work, and the inspector was still there, he would not sign off on the electrical. His comment "oh, it wasn't called in." So, while he was standing there, I called in for an inspection. Needless to say, what a waste of city time and resources. Why have somebody else come out to a job site, when he is already there? In addition, we can't cover anything, until we get signed off on the underground. We don't think very highly of this inspector who will be named when this project is over.


For the dogs, the dog suites have arrived. They are very beautiful with very nice FRP sides (hard plastics) that will be easy to keep clean.  The cat condos have arrived also, but are awaiting their home in the CATTERY.

The insulation went in 2 weeks ago.  It really quieted the place down.  We have the entire building insulated and between the rooms.  Even though, we are sitting near the freeway, inside it is relatively quiet.  The extra insulation, along with the foam roof will allow us to keep the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The inside structure is taking form and the sheet rock is in.  It has it two coats of "mud" which at this time of the year takes several days to dry before the next step of sanding it down.  Following the sanding, which will take place next week, we will be ready for a primer coat.  

The doors have arrived and are awaiting to be hung.  Several of the doors have glass in them, so we will be able to see what is on the other side of the room.  Other doors are split doors, which will allow air to travel between the rooms and yet hold back a dog in the appropriate room.

We are now wired for sound as well as several video/security cameras which will allow us to monitor what is going on inside the building, as well as outside.  In the big inside "exercise room" which will be for day boarders we will have 2 cameras which will allow customers to view their dogs from their computers.  We also plan to institute a "see your dog via phone" program whereby we will take photos of your dog during its stay and send it to you. 

Outside there is digging and more trenching.  We have passed inspection for the trash enclosure and the base for our pole sign.  We also passed partial underground electrical as well as underground plumbing.  We are now adding more underground for all of the lights, pumps, signs outside that are required by the city for this project.  It is one giant gopher hole in the front of the property again. We hope to be wired in the next week or so.  We still do not have telephone nor cable connection.  These companies wanted us to attach an ugly post outside our building.  Instead, we have dug trenches to the existing electrical light pole from which we received service in the past.  Hopefully there are no problems in this regard.

Stucco facing should start next week.  These guys couldn't do any work until the sheet rock moved forward.


Inside finish work has started. Yesterday the doors and baseboards were installed. Most of our doors are 1/2 glass doors so that we can see what is going on the other side. This includes the cattery, isolation room, the feeding room and grooming room. This also adds to the openness of the facility and allows the natural light to flow through from room to room.

The sheet rock and texturing was completed last week. The place is now quite bright as are no longer staring at dark framing walls. The facility has 6 skylights which bring in a lot of natural light. The doggy exercise room has 2 very large ones - 4' x 4' and on a sunny day we do not need to use any of the overhead lights.

Painting has just started. We are using over 8 colors inside. This is driving the painter crazy but he is being paid accordingly. I wanted a very happy looking facility, and the colors will add a lot to the inviting atmosphere. The inside paint should take about 4 days.

Outside we are actually now connected to water. This has been one of the most effortless aspects of the entire project. We are still not connected to the power, even though all the pipes have been laid in the ground. Every day the electrician says he is coming to connect. Our runoff water system has been built, as well as the sump pump area. (collection of runoff water to be pumped out off the grounds). The curbs around the building have again been reset and grading is complete for the front parking lot. Next week, the sidewalk to nowhere will be put in as well as the asphalt in front of the building. (the City made us put in the sidewalk, even though our neighbors to the North don't have one) The building now sports two coats of stucco and is awaiting the last and final coat. We can't wait for the stucco guy to finish, as his scaffolding has been in the way of finishing the front driveway for the last 2 months.

1/18/07 - Stucco complete and the sidewalk is in

Due to the fact that we have had little rain, the project moved forward in the last week. The stucco is now complete and is awaiting it's final finish paint coat. The stucco company did a very nice job. The front sidewalk is also complete. It will take 7 days to "cure" which means no heavy equipment can go over it. The holes for the pole lights have been dug and just passed inspection. Concrete for those will be poured in the next few days. The electrical lines have been pulled underground by the electrician and the electric company has made their connection to the transformer down the street. We still have to wait for the electrician to mount all of his fixtures before the city will allow us to have power. The phone company has brought in their lines to the pole and connected it to our underground lines. So we now have both water and phone connections to the building. Our contact at PG&E quit. She had a very difficult job "lying" to customers about when they could hook up power to their buildings. Who could stand a job where everybody is always screaming at you - (including us). Once the plumber hooks up all of his gas lines inside the building then we can call them back out to bring gas into the building.

What is left to do? Finish electrical and finish plumbing.


Today the parking lot got striped. The parking lot now looks official, with its designated parking slots. I think I will be the first one to try out all the slots available. I haven't allowed anybody to drive on it, even though it has been over 24 hours!! The finishing touches left for the front of the building include: awnings over the windows, our sign, lamp posts, and landscaping!! The awnings got delayed because I had to go back to the Planning department to get approval for one additional awning. It took me 3 weeks to get a small rendering from the architect, who really didn't want me to add one in front of the entryway. While visually speaking, the windows are very nice, they are not very practical, as the sun shines into the lobby and practically blinding anybody who would be sitting at the front desk. It was an argument I had with him at the beginning of the project. Now I have to cover very expensive windows. I had trouble getting the sign approved for the second time. First, the size of the sign was approved over 1 year ago. But when the sign company went to get approval, the planning department told them that they had to reduce the sign by half and include the building numbers. So back, I had to march into city hall, and show them the plans that they had SIGNED off on over 1 year ago. I was able to keep the sign size as was approved, however they made the sign company put the number of the building on the sign post. I will be the only one on the street with such a designation. We do plan to have a number on the building itself. Once planning approved the sign, then the sign company had trouble with the building department. They told the company that they had to get new testing done, and get new structural drawings. Back to city hall again, marching in with the APPROVED set of structural drawings in hand. Having shown the Plan Checker the APPROVED plans that he had signed on, he rechecked what he had checked before. After looking over the plans for 5 minutes, he agreed that what he had approved in the past was okay now, too. So..all of this delayed the sign company. The pole lights were to be set already, however the electrician did not order them on time. "Who knew that they would take 6 weeks to come he argued?" Well, I think any electrician should know that special order items are now taking about 6-8 weeks to arrive. He is now delaying our project and blaming everybody else in the process. Hopefully we can get the rest of the dirt moved by this coming week, so we can get the landscaping down.


Today the building project is 95% complete. The electrical is all finished outside of receiving the 2 light poles in the parking lot area. The plumbing is complete. The AC and Heating units are working. In fact, they are working so well, that we just have to leave them on for a few minutes. Painting is complete, however we are ready now for some touch-up. The counter is coming in tomorrow. Three of the six video cameras are up and operating. The computer is in and the phone is ringing.

We have finished the floors in the cattery and are almost ready to finally position the beautiful cat condos. It is a very nice room. We need to put the final touches on our grooming and day care room. These rooms have been heavily used by contractors going in and out and so we haven't found a quiet day to stain and seal them yet.

The outside looks nice with the new bright paint. The parking lot is wonderful. Today there were 6 trucks parked on it instead of far away. The property gate got tweaked so as to be "dog proof." The dirt has been placed so we can now landscape. And the outside lights are in.

We are going for a final inspection tomorrow. Who knows what surprises may await us. We have NOT found the City of Santa Clara a pleasant city to work with in regards to their building department. Instead of inspecting to the plans, sometimes it seems that the inspectors come out to find what they can "change" which was not on the original plans approved by them. The best complaint was made by an inspector telling me that the building was placed in the wrong spot and at the wrong height. I had assured him that the Civil Engineer designed it this way, but this inspector (who is NOT a civil engineer) was too busy trying to point out how he was right by definition.


A Pet Villa

The Only New Dog and Cat Boarding Facility in Santa Clara, CA


1205 Laurelwood Rd
Santa Clara, CA
(408) 988-3118

Business Hours

Monday - Friday, 7-7
Saturday - Sunday, 8-5

Extended Hours By Appointment


Dog Boarding

Cat Boarding

Dog Day Care

Dog Grooming