Accessory Dwellings

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

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).

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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?

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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 · 2 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 · 3 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 · 3 Comments

ADU class for Portland homeowners, July 26th, 2014

Kol Peterson, one of the editors here, is hosting a class called “Building An Accessory Dwelling Unit on your property,” on July 26th 2014.  Please visit Kol’s site for more details.

July 1, 2014

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 · 3 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 · 2 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 · 10 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 · 8 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 · 2 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 · 7 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

Carolyn Matthews & Bruce Nelson’s ADU: Granny’s Garden Cottage

Bruce and Carolyn were interested in universal design elements that would enable them to age-in-place. Their design includes a wide hallway, a roll-in shower, and a countertop with a top that raises and lowers to accommodate wheelchair users.

March 14, 2014 · 5 Comments

City of Portland ADU Permit Trends

The City of Portland continues to grow its ADU housing stock.  In 2013, there were almost 200 ADU permit applications received, which is about 25% of all single-dwelling permits in Portland.  … Continue reading

March 12, 2014 · 1 Comment

John Baker’s ADU: Renting the Basement for 37 Years

John used a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and credit cards to turn his basement apartment into a permitted ADU. His primary design consideration was that he wanted the apartment to be a fully self-contained residence.

March 7, 2014 · 2 Comments

Are Tiny Houses and ADUs the same thing? Not always, but they’re really good friends

Boy, you know it’s been a great day for the website when Carpet Carl tweet-checks it! A few days ago, a post about ADUs by Michael Andersen on bikeportland.org got … Continue reading

March 1, 2014 · 4 Comments

Martha Metzger’s ADU: Rent Now, Move in Someday

Although they initially conceived of the ADU as a rental property, Martha soon decided it was the sort of place she might like to live someday, so they designed the small home accordingly. They were committed to incorporating green building components, including well-insulated walls, Energy Star appliances, on-demand hot water, radiant heat, and plumbing for a grey water option.

February 28, 2014 · 3 Comments

Michael Klepinger’s ADU: Ellen’s Garden Cottage

When Ellen’s new university professorship required relocation to Virginia, they had to make big decisions about their SE Portland property. They knew they wanted to ultimately return to their home in Portland and for the time-being they planned to return during academic breaks. It didn’t make sense to leave their beloved home vacant while they were gone. However, if they leased their property they would have no place to call home when they returned to Portland for the holidays. A little ADU solved the problem.

February 21, 2014 · 2 Comments

Jeff McCaffrey & Beth Bonness’s ADU: Hawthorne Guesthouse

Jeff and Beth knew there was demand for accommodations in this desirable area, since they built a duplex next door in 2004. But the idea of a guesthouse didn’t come to them until they were halfway through the project.

February 14, 2014 · 3 Comments

Wally & Lara Jones’ ADU: Keeping Good Neighbors

When Wally and Lara decided to get married, start a family, and start their own business, they decided they wanted a space of their own. However, they didn’t want their friends to have to have to move out, so Wally and Lara decided to convert the basement into a separate affordable living space.

February 7, 2014 · 9 Comments

Lissa & Matt’s ADU: Planning for Our Sons’ Future

Matt and Lissa were building a new home and realized that creating an apartment over the garage was a good opportunity to add extra living space. The ADU could generate rental income and create flexibility as their housing needs changed. For now the ADU serves as a rental, but it could eventually be a home for their special needs son if needed.

January 31, 2014 · 10 Comments

Jill’s ADU: A Home of Her Own

Jill’s little home includes salvaged materials, low-flow fixtures, three salvaged doors, no dryer, solar panels, a ductless heat pump, a Rheem water heater, rain garden, skylights, and Marmoleum floors. She also installed grid-tied solar panels on the ADU which cover electricity for her lights, appliances, and heating.

January 24, 2014 · 2 Comments

Stephen Williams’ ADU: An ADU on the Alley

Stephen has always enjoyed the challenge of making a small space functional and comfortable. He had already built two ADUs, so it made sense that he would build an ADU on his own property when the opportunity arose. In 1998, Stephen purchased a lot in the Foster-Powell neighborhood with an existing house, which had been condemned. He remodeled the 1908 home and rented it out. He then designed an ADU for the back half of the lot, abutting the alley.

January 17, 2014 · 6 Comments

Susan Moray’s ADU: Updating History in Ladd’s

As she worked with Jack, Susan’s primary design consideration became maximizing the size of the ADU while adhering to Historic Neighborhood requirements. Prior to applying for her permits, Susan paid for a design consultation meeting with the city of Portland and Jack brought preliminary sketches to explore various possibilities.

My architect, Jack, did his homework on what could be built, given these limitations and nailed down a design that was accepted on the first try with no changes. That was impressive. We were told by everyone we would never get what he wanted past city permit without going through design review but he did. -Susan Moray

January 10, 2014 · 4 Comments

Scott Powers’ ADU: 3 Generations at Home

As his father’s 80th birthday approached, Scott Powers began considering next steps that would allow his parents to remain in the Rose City Park neighborhood and retain their independence.

December 31, 2013 · 5 Comments

ADU Case Studies Project Launch

In the summer of 2013 Oregon DEQ conducted a survey of Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) owners. We received an excellent response from across the state and have published the ADU … Continue reading

December 28, 2013 · 2 Comments

La Cabina Urbana

Inconspicuous as any other garage, this ADU is an inspiration to me. While it was built as an unpermitted ADU, like 2/3rds to 3/4ths of Portland’s ADUs, it functions like … Continue reading

December 23, 2013 · 2 Comments
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