Accessory Dwellings

A one-stop source about multigenerational homes, laneway houses, ADUs, granny flats, in-law units, accessory dwelling units…

Kristy Lakin’s ADU Community: Woodstock Gardens

There are a handful of developers who are using ADUs as part of their toolkit to create unique housing options. Kristy Lakin is one of these developers. She is currently constructing Woodstock Gardents, a pocket community with three primary dwellings, each with its own ADU. Kristy explains that her interest in developing small housing options like these comes from an interest in creating additional housing without compromising neighborhood character.

Featured · 4 Comments

Summing up ADU research: are accessory dwelling units as great, or as horrible, as people say?

Collected research about accessory dwelling units (AKA granny flats, laneway houses, in-law units, etc) suggests they have many potential benefits, and two common arguments “against” are unsupported.

Featured · 2 Comments

ADU class for Portland homeowners, Saturday, December 13th, 2014

Kol Peterson, one of the editors here, is hosting a class called “Building An Accessory Dwelling Unit on your property,” on Saturday, December 13th, 2014. Please visit Kol’s site for more details.

October 20, 2014

ADUs and Condos: Separating Ownership

Q. How is it that the accessory dwelling unit pictured below is being sold separately from the primary home on the same lot? A. It’s legally structured as a condominium. … Continue reading

October 7, 2014 · 2 Comments

Isabel Johnson & Brad Creel’s ADU: A Backyard Guest Room

She anticipated that once it was complete, the backyard cottage would serve as a guest space for visiting family. However, she decided to go through the process of converting the garage to an ADU officially so that she could keep her options open. She liked the flexibility of being able to rent out the little space.

September 24, 2014 · 4 Comments

New ADU Class for Realtors

Following on the heels of the Value it Green tour in early September, Earth Advantage will be offering a new class called All About ADUs – A Primer Course for Brokers. … Continue reading

September 19, 2014 · Leave a comment

James Michelinie & Kyra Routon’s ADU: A Starter Home

James Michelinie & Kyra Routon first learned about ADUs when they were house hunting as newlyweds. They’d been renting a house in the Alberta Arts District for the past two years and they were looking for a property they could afford in a neighborhood they loved. They ended up purchasing the house they were renting and building an ADU in the backyard, which they now live in.

September 10, 2014 · 1 Comment

Accessory dwelling units: what further research should be done?

ADUs are especially promising as environmentally sensitive and affordable housing, and this potential should be investigated in detail.

September 3, 2014 · 2 Comments

Value it Green Tour Features ADUs

  Join other REALTORs, appraisers and lenders visiting green homes and ADUs across Portland. Have fun with your peers while you’re escorted by experts on buses to and from the … Continue reading

September 3, 2014 · Leave a comment

Kathleen Pequeño’s ADU: La Casita & La Casota

The old woodshop on Kathleen Pequeño’s property had “a sense of being useful.” It took a lot of work, but she turned it into a nice small house.

August 22, 2014 · 1 Comment

What are the barriers to ADU development?

Government rules strongly limit the development of ADUs, but they are not the only factor.

August 21, 2014 · 4 Comments

Francie & Michael Royce’s ADU: A Retirement Plan

Francie and Michael had three primary design criteria for their ADU. First, it had to be easy to maintain. Second, it had to be sustainable – both financially and environmentally. Finally, it had to be a pleasant space to call home.

August 15, 2014 · Leave a comment

ADU Tour, Spring 2015

We wanted to update readers about the plan for the next ADU Tour. The last ADU tour was a trememdous success, so we’ve decided to run it again next spring. … Continue reading

August 9, 2014 · 2 Comments

Do ADUs provide affordable housing?

If the “grassroots” nature of their development is properly understood, ADUs have a lot of potential to address affordable housing needs.

August 7, 2014 · 6 Comments

Katharine Lawrence & Charlie Weiss’ ADU: Third Time’s a Charmer

The economics of a rentable space were appealing to Charlie and his partner Katharine, so when the couple built their own home they designed it to include an apartment. They’ve now included ADUs in two more homes they’ve built and they’re grateful that Portland’s policies now support the creation of ADUs.

August 1, 2014 · 2 Comments

How do ADUs contribute to the local economy? (Or, will building an ADU raise my property taxes?)

Will building an ADU raise your property taxes? Very likely yes. Is that a good thing for the community?

July 30, 2014 · 3 Comments

Robert Albano’s ADU: 2 Units for Aging-In-Place

Accessibility, sociability, rentability, and sustainability were driving factors for their design. The focus of the design was aging-in-place for both dwellings. A secondary goal was energy-efficiency so that the dwellings would be less expensive to heat and cool. They insulated the units with R-40 walls and an R-60 roof. Tight air sealing was also important and they ultimately achieved 2.2 Air Changes per Hour (ACH).

July 25, 2014 · 1 Comment

Do accessory dwelling units serve older persons? (Or, who lives in, and owns, ADUs?)

Older persons are expected to benefit from ADUs. Is this happening now, and will it happen more in the future?

July 23, 2014 · 3 Comments

Jane Doe’s ADU: A Second Home on a Tight Budget

Jane says her greatest inspiration was to have a flexible place which she could live in herself or rent out to family or tenants. In order to fund construction of the ADU, Jane refinanced her car, sold stock, worked, and scraped money together.

July 18, 2014 · 1 Comment

Do ADUs cause neighborhood parking problems?

The single biggest and most specific fear mentioned by ADU opponents is loss of street parking. Is there any evidence on this?

July 16, 2014 · 5 Comments

Repost of Housing Solution: Backyard Cottages Could Add One-Third More Homes to San Francisco

Many cities may claim to allow ADUs in their code, but in fact, their regulations prevent citizens from actually building them. In San Francisco’s case, there are ‘discretionary reviews’ and other … Continue reading

July 14, 2014 · Leave a comment

Bonnie & Larry Dalton’s ADU: Two Kitchens, Please

When Bonnie Dalton was younger, her grandma lived in a family owned ADU. So when Bonnie was older and her husband’s parents needed a little extra support, Bonnie naturally thought of creating an ADU at her own house.

July 11, 2014 · 1 Comment

Are ADUs green housing?

New evidence shows that ADUs have serious potential as environmentally sensitive housing.

July 9, 2014 · 6 Comments

Cheryl & Jim Levie: Recreating a Period Piece

Cheryl and Jim Levie of Ashland, Oregon transformed an old chicken coop into a nice little guest house. But the fact that their home was in a historic district caused some complications along the way.

July 4, 2014 · 1 Comment

How do ADUs affect property values?

Opponents of ADUs frequently charge they will bring down property values for the whole neighborhood. What is the evidence?

July 2, 2014 · 7 Comments

Joe Hermanson’s ADU: A Daylight Basement Rental

Joe wanted to provide a private entrance for his tenants. The ADU has its own walkway and stairs on the side of the house, so it looks and feels separate from the rest of the house. There were a few challenges in designing and building the ADU; however, they were fairly easy to overcome.

June 27, 2014 · Leave a comment

How much do ADUs cost to build?

Some survey results about ADU costs… and some thoughts about why ADU developers aren’t usually real estate “pros.”

June 25, 2014 · 7 Comments

Bob & Jenny Harris’ ADU: A Mother-In-Law Wing

Bob & Jenny Harris had to jump through a lot of hoops to add a wing with a unit for Jenny’s mom, but it’s worked out. The family stays connected, but Jenny’s mom enjoys some independence too.

June 20, 2014 · Leave a comment

Do ADUs actually provide housing?

It may seem odd to ask whether a housing form actually provides housing, but it’s a key premise in civic debates about accessory dwelling units.

June 18, 2014 · 3 Comments

A Practitioner’s Guide to Appraising ADUs

Appraisals for ADUs have always been tricky. Here is a new guide to help appraisers, real estate agents, and finance professionals understand current “best practices” for appraising ADUs.

June 16, 2014 · Leave a comment

Dan Gray’s ADU: A Retreat Above the Garage

Dan Gray was used to living in the mountains with lots of room around, so when he built his Ashland ADU, he put it above the crowd.

June 13, 2014 · Leave a comment

Why ADUs are hard to study, and confuse nearly everyone

ADUs are a really unusual form of development. This post goes over their special qualities, and explains why a lot of “debate” about ADUs is so repetitive.

June 11, 2014 · 11 Comments

Dennis & Stephanie Martin’s SDU: Trading Places with Our Daughter

Dennis & Stephanie Martin’s ADU has helped their extended family stay together through life changes.

June 6, 2014 · 3 Comments

Research and policy about accessory dwelling units: introducing a 13-part series

Which hopes and fears about ADUs are most likely to be true? Explore claims and controversies with new evidence, in this 13-part series, beginning today.

June 4, 2014 · 17 Comments

Follow up on the June 1st ADU Tour

On Sunday, we hosted Build Small, Live Large: Portland’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Tour. Over 500 people signed up for the early bird registration, and by the time 800 people registered five … Continue reading

June 2, 2014 · 1 Comment

Don Golden & Edith Casterline’s ADU: A Front Yard Cottage

Don Golden and his wife Edith Casterline built an ADU an unusually public place: their front yard. The new structure serves three main functions: generating rental income, giving Don the woodshop he wants, and bringing activity back to the street.

May 30, 2014 · 7 Comments

Rex Burkholder & Lydia Rich’s ADU: Own Two, Rent Both

Rex and Lydia owned a house with a garage that was falling apart. They decided that rather than rebuilding “a home for a car,” they would create an ADU in their backyard.

May 23, 2014 · 3 Comments

Attend Portland’s Inaugural Accessory Dwelling Unit Tour

Update 5/28/14: There’s been a huge amount of interest in attending this tour, which is fantastic. Over 800 people have registered to attend. The tour is sold out, but you can add your … Continue reading

May 18, 2014 · 2 Comments

Heidi Rose’s ADU: A Home for My Sister

Heidi Rose first learned about ADUs because she was determined to figure out how she could build a home for her sister. Her twin sister was living in Seattle with her two kids and going through a divorce, so Heidi went to the City of Portland’s permitting office to explore alternative housing options. Heidi discovered that in the city of Portland an accessory dwelling unit up to 800 square feet is allowed by right on a single-family lot in most neighborhoods.

May 15, 2014 · 3 Comments

Repost of Little Pink Houses: Debate Regarding Zoning Laws and Accessory Dwelling Units Getting More and More Relevant

We thought this National Law Review article was interesting because it deals with the legal issues that ADUs confront in municipalities around the US. You can read more about how … Continue reading

May 12, 2014 · Leave a comment

Tom Hudson’s ADU: A Sneak Peek at an ADU Under Construction

Tom Hudson broke ground on his backyard cottage in March 2014. The concrete slab is finished and the underground plumbing has been stubbed out for connection once the framing is complete. Tom anticipates that his wee home will be move-in-ready by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, his under-construction ADU will be included on the ADU Tour on June 1 so that people interested in creating an ADU on their own property can see one in progress.

May 9, 2014 · Leave a comment

Paz Pozarycki’s ADU: Taking It Down a Notch

Paz and his business partner, Katharina Grad Steinmeyer, have recently completed three UDUs (a twist on the ADU acronym which stands for Urban Dwelling Unit). Their new design firm UDU Design LLC has been inspired by the small housing movement and the need for aging-in-place design.

May 2, 2014 · Leave a comment

Stradivarius violins and cigar box guitars (Making sense of ADU construction costs)

An experienced developer explains why ADUs have such a wide range of costs, and how to estimate costs for your own project.

May 1, 2014 · 4 Comments

Caleb & Tori Bruce’s ADU: Existing Home Becomes Secondary Dwelling

As a builder, contractor, and cabinet maker, Caleb Bruce builds boxes for a living, but he has also developed a knack for out-of-the-box thinking. Here’s the story of how Caleb turned an existing house into a secondary dwelling (or an accessory dwelling as we call them in Portland, OR).

April 25, 2014 · Leave a comment

Stephanie & Sam Dyer’s ADU: A Guest Cottage Off Mississippi Ave

Although their parents would have “first dibs,” the couple realized that they could also rent out the space through VRBO when neither set of parents were in town. Stephanie and Sam were interested in this additional income potential and both sets of parents liked the investment potential of the property.

April 18, 2014 · 2 Comments

Garage Sweet Home

7 years ago we were living in a 5+ bedroom house with garage, attic and basement- all packed to the gills. We couldn’t imagine ever living anywhere else…. but somewhere along the lines our ideals started shifting.

April 11, 2014 · 4 Comments

Joe Wachunas & Naomi Cole’s ADU: Reworking the Garage

“I was surprised how easy it is to increase density on a single-family lot and still feel like there’s plenty of space,” says Naomi. “The entire process was one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had.”

April 4, 2014 · 3 Comments

Derin & Andra William’s ADU: An Energy-Efficient Basement Apartment

Derin and Andra realized that if they were going to a do a full basement remodel, including a full seismic upgrade and new bedrooms, a bathroom, and recreation space, it would make sense to add a kitchen as well to create a fully self-contained unit. As they researched ADUs they were convinced to create one in their basement because it would create housing flexibility, enable them to have family close by, create community, and provide income potential.

March 28, 2014 · 9 Comments

Lesa Dixon-Gray’s ADU: Putting Mom in a Home, Sweet Home

Lesa Dixon-Gray stumbled across ADUs as she was researching multigenerational housing options for herself and her aging mother. Lesa’s mom, Shirley, was having a difficult time deciding where she wanted to live, but knew she didn’t want to live in the same house as her children. Lesa realized she might be able to entice her mother to move to Portland by giving her a place of her own. As Lesa began searching for duplexes, she discovered ADUs and accessory structures.

March 21, 2014 · 1 Comment

Heard rumors about an ADU Tour?

Well, they’re true. On Sunday, June 1st, in partnership with the City of Portland, Metro, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Caravan- The Tiny House Hotel, is running Portland’s … Continue reading

March 16, 2014 · Leave a comment
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