Accessory Dwellings

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

Announcing the 2017 ADU Tour

We are excited to announce the next ADU Tour. This tour has an awesome line up, chock-full with awesome and diverse ADU types and styles.

It’s going to be a full weekend event with 10+ ADUs in NE Portland featured on Saturday, and a different set of 10+ ADUs in SE Portland on Sunday. None of these ADUs have been featured on previous ADU tours before.

Featured · 1 Comment

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.

Featured · 15 Comments

ADU Designer Profile: Propel Studio

As someone who is very interested in urban issues and affordable housing conversations, Lucas Gray of Propel Studio has been familiar with ADUs for a while now and has been engaged with the design and construction of ADUs for around 4 years. Propel’s first ADU project was one of Lucas’ neighbors in NE Portland. Since then they have had a steady stream of new clients.

May 5, 2017 · Leave a comment

PCC ADU Design Class May 6-7, 2017

This spring Lina Menard, Coordinator of the ADU Case Studies Project and owner of Niche Consulting, will be teaching Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Design Course. In this intensive two-day workshop we cover many of the considerations for designing a small space, visit with special guests who have created ADUs, and go through a set of design exercises to help you develop a design of your own.

April 17, 2017 · Leave a comment

ADU class for Portland homeowners, Saturday, June 17th

Kol Peterson, one of the editors here, is hosting a class called “Building An Accessory Dwelling Unit on your property,” on Saturday, June 17th. Please visit Kol’s site for more details.

March 6, 2017 · 2 Comments

The Ascent of ADUs in Portland 

Portland is leading the pack with ADU development nationally. Data provided by the City of Portland shows the rate of ADU permits issued from 2010-2016. In 2016, 615 permits were issued, 20 times the average number of permits issues each year before Portland’s SDC waiver in 2010.

February 27, 2017 · 2 Comments

PCC ADU Design Wraps Up

This past weekend Lina Menard, one of our editors and the coordinator of the ADU Case Studies Project, taught an ADU Design Class through Portland Community College. The fourteen students brought a variety of project ideas, including everything from garage and basement conversions to backyard cottages, additions, and renovation of a workshop.

February 7, 2017 · 3 Comments

Deborah Kelly’s ADU: Mossy Cobbles

This week’s ADU Case Study was written and contributed by Deborah Kelly, the owner of an ADU called Mossy Cobbles. Deborah worked with her son, Justin S. Kelly, who is an architect and engineer, to design the cottage for Deborah’s mother to occupy when she lived in Portland for half the year. It was constructed by the next door neighbor, Tony Kikes with hardscaping by another friend and neighbor, Steve Carruthers. The cottage is now available as a short-term rental.

December 23, 2016 · Leave a comment

Lisa Lonstron’s Other House: A Rooming House

While interviewing more than 60 ADU Homeowners for the ADU Case Studies project, I came across several different ways that people use their ADUs. I heard time and time again that ADUs provide housing flexibility and give their owners additional rental options as their life circumstances change. ADU owners can Rent One, Both, or Neither. But I’d always assumed that when an owner decided to rent out either their house or ADU they’d be renting it to a single household. Then I got to talking to Lisa Lonstron who lives in her basement ADU. Her other house – the one she lived in before she turned her basement into her apartment – is a rooming house.

December 16, 2016 · Leave a comment

Natalie & Justin Strom’s ADU: Two Bathrooms & An Attic

Major design considerations for Natalie and Justin Strom included creating a feeling that their ADU is more like a single family home than an ADU and fitting the ADU into the aesthetic of the traditional neighborhood while bringing in modern elements in the interior. It was also important to Justin and Natalie that the design be flexible enough to allow for multiple use and that they utilize sustainable and energy efficient building materials and techniques.

December 9, 2016 · Leave a comment

Catherine Butler’s ADU: Two Bathrooms, Please

Quick Facts Setting: urban Neighborhood: Rose City Park, Portland, OR Type: stand-alone detached unit (new construction) Use: owner’s residence Square Footage: 800 Year Built: 2015 Owners: Catherine Butler Designer: Dave Spitzer of ADU PDX … Continue reading

November 25, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADUs’ Tiny Relatives (video)

There’s a lot of half-baked information about ‘tiny homes’ on the web, which leads to confusion and misunderstanding about the differences between ADUs and tiny houses on wheels. I find myself explaing the differences between them at least five times a week.

This confusion is largely attributable to media coverage that conflates ADUs and tiny houses on wheels as ‘tiny homes’. I’m a fan of both housing forms, but they are extremely different types of housing products.

November 22, 2016 · Leave a comment

Al & Shannon Elizondo’s ADU: A Houston Carriage House

The key factor that convinced Al and Shannon to build their own garage apartment was increasing their housing flexibility. They built the ADU first with the plan to eventually build a house on the front portion of the lot which would allow them the option of using the ADU as a potential income property. The ADU was constructed in 2013 and the primary dwelling in 2015.

November 18, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU Designer Profile: PATH Architecture, Inc.

Ben Kaiser’s favorite small space design trick is to use built-in cabinetry and multi-functional furniture. In the Laurelhurst ADU he designed, the bed folds into a couch, the dining table disappears into a wall, the chairs all stack, and storage goes into unused space.

November 4, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU Design-Builder Profile: Thordarson Construction

Kristian Thordarson, owner of Thordarson Construction, specializes in high-end full-home remodels, but in 2015 he dipped his toes into the ADU world and now he’s excited to jump in. The opportunity presented itself when Keith Pitt and his wife Stephanie Mix approached Kristian about converting their historic garage in the Irvington neighborhood into an ADU for Keith’s mother.

October 28, 2016 · Leave a comment

I’m semi-retiring! (On a personal note…)

I’m semi-retiring as a co-editor and numbers guy at accessorydwellings.org . But the site is alive and well.

October 24, 2016 · Leave a comment

Sharon Nielson, Keith Pitt, & Stephanie Mix’s ADU: A Miniature Mansion

Because Keith & Stephanie’s home is located in an historic district and their garage was considered a contributing structure, they had a few additional design considerations. They were required to go through a Type II Design Review and retain two walls of the existing garage.The guiding principle for this project is to build a miniature Irvington home with all the features.

October 21, 2016 · 2 Comments

Sylvia Allen & Martha Shelley’s ADU: A Home for A Friend

What convinced Sylvia and her wife Martha to create an ADU on their own double lot was the desire to help Marion, an elderly friend who lived in Florida who needed daily assistance. So the three of them agreed that the most practical plan was for Sylvia and Martha to build an attached apartment so that Marion could live with them.

October 14, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU PDX ADU Profiles

Three profiles of ADUs created by ADU PDX.

October 7, 2016 · 1 Comment

ADU Designer Profile: ADU PDX

After completing his first ADU, Dave was convinced that it was a viable option to create additional housing in Portland neighborhoods, so he built the next one a few years later. Dave has now built more than fifty ADUs in Portland, but he finds that each of them is specific to the lot and the site, so each one needs to properly fit into its context.

October 7, 2016 · 2 Comments

ADU Design-Builder Profile: Rainbow Valley Design & Construction Inc

Rainbow Valley Design & Construction Inc has built five ADUs in Oregon in the past seven years. Here we talk with designer Stephen Williams about the challenges of building ADUs and why we should build them anyhow.

September 30, 2016 · 1 Comment

Rainbow Valley ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out Design-Builder Profile: Rainbow Valley Design & Construction Inc and read Stephen Williams’ ADU: An ADU on the Alley.   ADU #1 – … Continue reading

September 30, 2016 · 1 Comment

Follow Up to the September 2016 ADU Tour

The ADU Tour on September 18th was a great event! Over 700 people registered and attendees had a fabulous experience. We aim to make the tour as educational as possible for attendees. Following the tour, we received many comments in the feedback, like this one.

September 27, 2016 · 3 Comments

Sheila Butler’s ADU: From Shack to Guesthouse

Sheila Butler and her husband Brad first learned about ADUs when they purchased a piece of property that had a half-built shell in the backyard. The previous owners had begun construction of a guesthouse and never finished the project.

September 23, 2016 · 1 Comment

ADU Designer Profile: Holah Design + Architecture

For Greg and Libby Holah, the same challenge of maximizing a small space is also the highlight of designing an ADU: “The best part is taking the footprint we’re given and maximizing it so it doesn’t feel like a small space. We like challenging the perspective of what can be achieved in 800 square feet.” –Greg Holah

September 16, 2016 · 1 Comment

The ADU Tour is Less Than One Week Away

The weather looks like it will be awesome for next week’s city wide ADU Tour. The ADU Tour hosts are excited to open their doors for the tour. In addition to … Continue reading

September 12, 2016 · Leave a comment

Steve Snyder & Jackie Ellenz’s ADU: An Energy-Efficient Guest House

For Jackie and Steve, there were lots of good reasons to build an ADU. They like the idea of supporting density and infill and they’re also committed to energy-efficiency. Greg is especially interested in how building technology can help us ameliorate climate change.

September 9, 2016 · 2 Comments

ADU Builder Profile: RS Wallace Construction Co.

Although he’d built many practical ADUs over the nearly forty years he’s been doing remodels, his first permitted ADU was inspired by a friend. Joan asked him to help her convert an under-used bedroom and bathroom into a studio apartment. He got such great feedback he decided to create an ADU of his own.

September 2, 2016 · Leave a comment

Tom Hudson’s ADU: The Newest House on the Block

Tom Hudson worked with Willie Dean of Ground Up Design Works to design an ADU in his backyard. His has served as his own general contractor for the project, doing most of the work himself and hiring out projects to local subcontractors.

August 26, 2016 · Leave a comment

Endpoint Design ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Designer Profile: Endpoint Design.  ADU #1 Square Footage: 283 Year Built: 2015 Architect: Designer: Endpoint Design Builder: Mosaik Design & Remodeling … Continue reading

August 19, 2016 · 1 Comment

ADU Designer Profile: Endpoint Design

Ed Spencer, owner of Endpoint Design Inc, has been designing custom homes, whole house renovations, and additions for the past 24 years. Along the way he’s designed a couple of permitted ADUs and many more practical ADUs.

August 19, 2016 · 1 Comment

Victor & Kendra Duong’s ADU: Doubling Rental Opportunities

Editor’s note: this ADU is featured on the upcoming ADU Tour

Kendra and Victor Duong, a wife and husband architecture team, have always dreamed of one day designing their own ADU. In 2015 they built an ADU in the backyard of their existing rental property.

August 12, 2016 · 2 Comments

It’s Time to Register for the September 2016 ADU Tour

The City-wide ADU Tour is less than six weeks away, and early bird ticket sales end on September 2nd. On the tour, you’ll meet homeowners who have recently completed their ADUs, who … Continue reading

August 10, 2016 · Leave a comment

AK Builders’ ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Builder Profile: AK Builders. For a more in-depth look, read Ray Chirgwin’s ADU: Carlton Street ADU.  ADU #1 – 72nd Street … Continue reading

August 5, 2016 · 1 Comment

ADU Builder Profile: AK Builders

When Kevin and his wife Amy created their own construction company seven years ago, Kevin’s inspiration to offer ADUs came from a brainstorm about their own family’s housing situation. They were trying to figure out how to move Amy’s father to Portland from upstate New York. Property values are much higher in Portland, so Kevin and Amy investigated building an affordable home for Dad on their lot by constructing an ADU in their backyard.

August 5, 2016 · 1 Comment

Ray Chirgwin’s ADU: Carlton Street ADU

Ray Chirgwin first learned about accessory dwellings through his work as a licensed architect. He had familiarized himself with Portland’s zoning code, so he knew that ADUs are allowed by right in Portland and was familiar with their requirements. As Ray and Natalie explored design criteria for their ADU, they landed on a design that allowed them to have a living space above and a shop below.

July 29, 2016 · 1 Comment

Looking ahead, how might Portland continue to support ADUs? Learn more and get involved!

Will Portland start allowing two ADUs on residentially zoned lots (like Vancouver, BC)? Will it relax size limits on internal ADUs, so long as the entire volume of the structure is no larger than a typical home?

Join Portland for Everyone on Wed., July 27th at the SE Lucky Lab to learn more.

It’s a free event, but space is limited. Please follow this link to register. Read this full blog post for additional details.

July 24, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU Designer Profile: Departure Architecture

As an architect, Daniel Lajoie, owner of Departure Architecture, has always followed infill housing within great cities. Creating ADUs as a way to make cities, neighborhoods, and private properties more livable is a driving force for him.

July 22, 2016 · Leave a comment

Lisa Florentino & Patrick Kernan’s ADU: An Asian-Mexican-Pineapple Chalet

To create their ADU, Lisa and Patrick tore their 2-car garage down completely and built from the ground up with a brand new foundation. But, of course, this happened in typical Brad Bloom style, meaning that as he deconstructed the garage, he salvaged everything he possibility could for reuse in the new space.

July 15, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU Design-Builder Profile: Design-Build Portland

Before the Great Recession, Stephen Smith was an architect working in downtown Portland, OR. When he got laid off, he decided to get his contractor’s license and start building. His first ADU project was Kol Peterson’s ADU: A Backyard Home, which has become “tiny house famous” here in Portland, especially after Kol began teaching his ADU Class for Homeowners and coordinating the ADU Tours.

July 8, 2016 · Leave a comment

Design-Build Portland ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Design-Builder Profile: Design-Build Portland. For a more in-depth look, read Kol Peterson’s ADU: A Backyard Home or Susan Moray’s ADU: Updating History in Ladd’s. … Continue reading

July 8, 2016 · 1 Comment

environs llc ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out Design-Builder Profile: environs llc. For a more in-depth look at their work, check out Marenda Chamberlin & Heidi Lohman’s ADU: A Bright, Modern Loft.  … Continue reading

July 1, 2016 · 1 Comment

ADU Design-Builder Profile: environs, llc

Holly Huntley, owner of environs llc, needed no convincing that ADUs were a good addition to her design-build company’s offerings. In fact, ADUs have been part of her business plan from the start. environs, llc works with homeowners throughout the entire process of envisioning, budgeting, and constructing their ADU.

July 1, 2016 · 2 Comments

Marenda Chamberlin & Heidi Lohman’s ADU: A Bright, Modern Loft

As Marenda and Heidi made plans for their ADU, they decided they wanted to do most of the finish work themselves. They contracted with Dan Lajoie of Departure Design – the designer of the Wine Lovers’ ADU they liked so much. They also brought Holly Huntley of environs on board to build the shell of the ADU.

June 24, 2016 · 2 Comments

Save the Date: ADU Tour–September 17th & 18th

The ADU Tour is on for September 17th & 18th, 2016. Learn more and register here. This will be the fourth city wide tour of ADUs. 10+ ADUs will be … Continue reading

June 20, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU Design-Builder Profile: Hardline Design and Construction Inc

Adam Lucas of Hardline Design and Construction Inc. first began building in the 1970s with his father. Over the years, he and his dad built several mother-in-law suites before Portland changed the regulations to allow ADUs by right on single family lots.

June 17, 2016 · Leave a comment

An economical detached bedroom for Dad

Our guest correspondent created a “detached bedroom” to help her dad age in place. It’s simpler and less expensive than a full-blown ADU, but her thoughtful approach is something everyone can learn from.

June 14, 2016 · Leave a comment

Ground Up Design Works ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Designer Profile: Ground Up Design Works. For a more in-depth look, read Stew & Lisa Hulick’s ADU: Thinking Outside (& Inside) … Continue reading

June 10, 2016 · 1 Comment

ADU Designer Profile: Ground Up Design Works

Willie’s first ADU was Tom Hudson’s ADU. It wasn’t hard for Willie to decide that ADUs were worth continuing to offer as one of his services.

June 10, 2016 · 1 Comment

Stew & Lisa Hulick’s ADU: Thinking Outside (& Inside) the Box

Lisa and Stew Hulick live in the primary dwelling and they currently rent their ADU out as a short-term rental, which wasn’t their original plan. While they were designing their ADU they anticipated that it would be a long-term rental.

June 3, 2016 · 3 Comments

ADU Storage Solutions

I’ve picked up lots of small space storage solutions over the past couple years as I interviewed ADU homeowners and designers for the ADU Case Studies Project. You may just have to read through the whole set of case studies to see ALL the clever ideas, but here I’ll pick out my top 10 favorites.

May 27, 2016 · 10 Comments
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