Accessory Dwellings

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

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.

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Words of Advice about the ADU Development Process, from Those Who Have Gone Before You

Question: If you completed an ADU or are in the final stages of building one, what advice would you offer to prospective ADU owner-developers?

Below are the 25+ responses to that question from homeowners who actually did it.

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Shelter Solutions ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Design-Builder Profile: Shelter Solutions LLC. For a more in-depth look, read Satish’s ADU: A Backyard Landlord Cottage.   ADU #1 Square Footage: … Continue reading

May 20, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU Design-Builder Profile: Shelter Solutions LLC

Joe Robertson, owner of Shelter Solutions, has been building ADUs in Portland for nearly 2 decades. Approximately 80% of Shelter Solutions work is design-build, but they do also build for clients who come to them with a design. When a client contracts with Joe for a design after the initial consultation, they start out by enlisting Shelter Solutions to compile a Feasibility Study for a fee of $1500.

May 20, 2016 · Leave a comment

Satish’s ADU: A Backyard Landlord Cottage

These days Satish and his partner Jeff have homes in Portland and San Francisco and split their time between the two cities. As Satish did online research and learned more about the housing flexibility created by ADUs, it occurred to them that they could create a landlord suite in the backyard of their Portland home.

May 13, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU class for Portland homeowners, Saturday, June 25th

Kol Peterson, one of the editors here, is hosting a class called “Building An Accessory Dwelling Unit on your property,” on Saturday, June 25th. Please visit Kol’s site for more details.

May 7, 2016 · 1 Comment

Tips for Basement to ADU Conversions

Read on to learn about the benefits of basement ADUs, find links to examples of basement ADUs, and become familiar with what the deal-breakers are if you’re considering converting a basement into an ADU.

May 6, 2016 · Leave a comment

Studio Cropp Architecture ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Designer Profile: Studio Cropp Architecture. For a more in-depth look, read Kristy Lakin’s ADU Community: Woodstock Gardens.  ADU #1 Square Footage: 381 … Continue reading

April 29, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU Designer Profile: Studio Cropp Architecture

For Jill Cropp of Studio Cropp Architecture, finding opportunities to incorporate clever storage is another priority of ADU design. She has two major design tricks. First, she likes to use the attic area as storage since it doesn’t count towards total square footage. Second, inspired by an efficient and well-thought-out 1940s apartment she lived in once, she’s learned that the best solution is to “scatter storage in the spaces it’s needed most.”

April 29, 2016 · Leave a comment

The Second Coming of Detached ADUs in Portland

Readers of this series may have noticed a positive tone change in the dire title of the series. That’s because yesterday, the Oregon Department of Revenue issued a draft rule that steers Multnomah County away from the misguided interpretation that they’d used this year–the interpretation that had caused detached ADUs to trigger a property reassessment– the interpretation which has caused a dramatic ADU development chilling effect in Portland in the last 6 months.

April 27, 2016 · 8 Comments

Lisa Lonstron’s ADU: An Artistic Basement Apartment

Lisa took out a home equity line of credit to fund her basement ADU and supplemented it with a portion of each month’s income from her employment. However, many of the finishing touches were a labor of love. Lisa’s key design consideration was staying on budget while using creative design and décor to make it interesting.

April 22, 2016 · 2 Comments

Tips for Garage to ADU Conversions

Garage to ADU conversions are the second most common way to create additional dwelling space within our existing building stock. Read on to learn about the benefits of garage to ADU conversions, find links to examples of converted garage ADUs, and become familiar with what the deal-breakers are if you’re considering converting a garage into an ADU.

April 15, 2016 · Leave a comment

Portland extends System Development Charge waiver on ADUs by 2 years

Portland’s City Council just extended the waiver of systems development charges on accessory dwelling units for 2 additional years.  Here’s a link to the exact language of the ordinance.  After … Continue reading

April 13, 2016 · 3 Comments

ADU Design-Builder Profile: UDU Design LLC

Katharina and Paz teamed up to create UDU Design, a design-build company devoted to creating accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – or Urban Dwelling Units (UDUs) as Katharina and Paz call their own brand of ADUs. Over the past 3 years UDU Design has created 8 ADUs in Oregon.

April 8, 2016 · Leave a comment

UDU Design ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Design-Builder Profile: UDU Design LLC. For a more in-depth look, read Paz Pozarycki’s ADU: Taking it Down a Notch.   ADU #1 … Continue reading

April 8, 2016 · Leave a comment

Will short term rentals actually reduce long term housing in granny flats?

It’s not intuitive, but prohibiting short-term rentals in ADUs won’t necessarily lead to a bigger supply of long-term residential housing. This post includes new data about the number of ADUs and short-term rentals in Portland, and the longevity of short-term rental listings.

April 4, 2016 · 2 Comments

Rambo Halpern’s ADU: An New Old-Fashioned Carriage House

As he began designing his old-fashioned new home, Rambo kept a few key design criteria in mind for his carriage house. He knew he wanted it to be detached, to have good sound separation from the garage, and to mimic the architecture of the house.

April 1, 2016 · Leave a comment

How to Buy or Sell a Property with an ADU (or ADU Potential)

When it comes time to buy or sell a property with an ADU (or ADU potential), there are a few important things you should know. I’ve drawn on the expertise of ADU aware Realtors in Portland, OR to identify some key considerations for each step: selecting a realtor, searching for a property, and listing your house with an ADU.

March 25, 2016 · 2 Comments

Jack Barnes Architect ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Designer Profile: Jack Barnes Architect. For a more in-depth look, read Susan Moray’s ADU: Updating History in Ladd’s, Barbara Gundle’s ADU: A 2-Story … Continue reading

March 18, 2016 · 2 Comments

ADU Designer Profile: Jack Barnes Architect

Jack’s first ADU was Susan Moray’s ADU: Updating History in Ladd’s. The project was a garage to guesthouse conversion. The garage was a contributing structure in a historic district, so it involved a whole suite of challenges. Nevertheless, Jack decided to continue working on ADUs because this first one was such a success.

March 18, 2016 · Leave a comment

The Build Small Lecture Series: Educating and Connecting the Small Home Community

This is an announcement for a new presentation series being offered in Portland by Portland Alternative Dwellings, which will cover a range of small house related topics, including ADUs. -Editor April-June, 2016 … Continue reading

March 15, 2016 · Leave a comment

Tatiana & Rafael Xenelis-Medoza’s ADU: A Hidden Gem

As Tatiana and her husband Rafael looked for a new home, accommodating an ADU was a key criterion. As Tatiana and her husband Rafael looked for a new home, accommodating an ADU was a key criterion. For Tatiana’s expert tips check out How to Find a Property with ADU Potential.

Xenelis-Mendoza ADU from Street
Xenelis-Mendoza ADU from Street
“We were looking for a house with the potential for an ADU. This particular property is a corner lot and it has a backyard that was accessible from the side street. The house sat and faced forward on one street and the new door from the ADU is accessible from the corner street.” – Tatiana Xenelis-Mendoza
The house they purchased in Portland’s Portsmouth neighborhood had potential for a basement ADU, with one major caveat: they didn’t have the code-required ceiling height of 6’-8” for a basement ADU.

March 11, 2016 · Leave a comment

How Portland Became ADU-Friendly (And How Your City Can, Too)

Portland is probably America’s most ADU-friendly city. Portland has eliminated many of the Barriers to ADU Development in two big ways: by relaxing regulation and by offering generous financial incentives.

March 4, 2016 · 5 Comments

Birdsmouth Construction ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check outDesign-Builder Profile: Birdsmouth Construction. For a more in-depth look, check out Barbara Gundle’s ADU: A 2-Story Garage Conversion.    ADU #1 – Melrose ADU … Continue reading

February 26, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU Design-Builder Profile: Birdsmouth Construction

Josh Salinger, owner of Birdsmouth Construction, had his first experience building an ADU when his company converted an unfinished basement into an apartment in 2011. Josh and his team pay careful attention to energy efficiency, wall assemblies, insulation, and heating and cooling systems.

February 26, 2016 · Leave a comment

Barbara Gundle’s ADU: A 2-Story Garage Conversion

As Barbara worked with Jack Barnes to begin noodling through the design considerations for her guest house, they decided to work with the existing conditions whenever possible. Working within the existing shell was both an efficient use of materials and a way to avoid possible complications from the historic design review process.

February 19, 2016 · 12 Comments

Creative ADU Types

I didn’t realize that there were so many creative ways to make an ADU. Here are the 10 most interesting examples of Creative ADU Types I’ve encountered.

February 12, 2016 · 3 Comments

zenbox design ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Designer Profile: Zenbox Design. For a more in-depth look, read Garage Sweet Home.  ADU #1 – House Divided ADU Square Footage: 240 … Continue reading

February 5, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADU Designer Profile: Zenbox Design

After living in a small space on the road, Jen and Bryan of zenbox design transformed their own garage into an ADU. Even before they completed their Garage Sweet Home, they were bombarded with compliments and questions. People wanted to know how they could do it, too, and whether Jen and Bryan could help.

February 5, 2016 · Leave a comment

Nancy Abens’ ADU: A Cluster & A Courtyard

Quick Facts Setting: urban Neighborhood: Grant Park, Portland, OR Type: detached new construction Use: owner’s mother’s primary residence Square Footage: 450 Year Built: 2015 Owners: Nancy Abens, Maggie Abens, Scott Bailey Designer: Confluence … Continue reading

January 29, 2016 · Leave a comment

ADUs Work for Multigenerational Families: The Hidden Value of ADUs

The hidden value of ADUs is particularly evident in the conversations I’ve had with multigenerational families who use an ADU to create greater housing flexibility and security. There are so many tangible and intangible benefits of creating a multi-generational housing situation that I can’t possibly catalog them all here. But I’d like to give you a sense of how ADUs are working for multigenerational families.

January 22, 2016 · 7 Comments

To DADU or Not To DADU–Seattle’s ADU Debates

There’s some lively discussion in Seattle these days about relaxing restrictions for Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs). There doesn’t appear to be strong opposition to DADUs, but some are expressing … Continue reading

January 19, 2016 · 1 Comment

Hammer & Hand ADU Profiles

To learn more about this company, check out ADU Builder Profile: Hammer & Hand and read Regan Gray & George Okulitch’s ADU: A Super-Efficient ADU.   ADU #1: Sellwood ADU Square Footage: 460 … Continue reading

January 15, 2016 · 3 Comments

ADU Builder Profile: Hammer & Hand

Sam Hagerman is one of the owners of Hammer & Hand, a construction and remodeling company with locations in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. As one of the early promoters of the ADU concept in Portland, Sam worked hard to bring it to fruition and he and his company now help their clients create energy-efficient ADUs.

January 15, 2016 · 3 Comments

Susan Eliot’s ADU: Two Stories & A Mezzanine Office

Susan was looking to create financial freedom for herself as a single, retired woman. The idea of going into retirement with no mortgage payment – by having the rent from the main house cover the mortgage on both the main house and ADU – was very appealing.

January 8, 2016 · 15 Comments

Options for ADU Owners: Rent One, Both, or Neither

ADU owners appreciate that having two dwelling units on their property provides a lot of options. In places where there are not owner occupancy requirements – such as Portland, OR – ADU owners can use their properties in any of the following ways…

January 1, 2016 · 8 Comments

ADU Case Studies 2016 Preview

Here’s what you can expect in 2016:

We’ll be sharing 20 brand new case studies of real projects. We’ll also be bringing you a set of profiles of Designers, Design-Builders, and Builders. Finally, I’ll be sharing a set of posts that address some themes I noticed as I talked with more than 80 people about their experiences creating ADUs.

December 23, 2015 · 3 Comments

The Death of Detached ADUs in Portland and What To Do About (Part IV)

Over Thanksgiving weekend in late November, more than thirty Portland homeowners emailed the Administrator Humphrey of the Oregon Department of Revenue with a formal request to return to the common improvement tax … Continue reading

December 23, 2015 · 23 Comments

AccessoryDwellings.org Wants Your Contributions

Do you love ADUs as much as we do? Got an ADU story or insight to share? Then contribute an ADU post to the readership of this blog (over 50,000 … Continue reading

December 15, 2015 · Leave a comment

Tangible Ways You Can Support Space-Efficient Housing

At the Build Small, Live Large Summit on Friday, November 6th, the five panelists in the Space-Efficient Housing Policy Round Table and left the audience with tangible ways they could support space-efficient housing. A member of the audience asked us to make the list available online and we thought that was a great idea, so we’ve obliged. Read on and pick an action item to help us promote small housing choices!

December 11, 2015 · 4 Comments

The Accessory Structures Zoning Code Update Passed

Good News for Detached ADUs It is great to see incremental improvements being made to regulatory ADU codes across the country. Austin, TX recently made some improvements to their ADU … Continue reading

December 2, 2015 · 7 Comments

The Death of Detached ADUs in Portland and What To Do About (Part III)

Commissioner Loretta Smith from Multnomah County, District 2 stepped up last week as the first of Multnomah County Commissioners to speak out against the unfair tax re-MAV issue that has been … Continue reading

November 23, 2015 · 39 Comments

The Accessory Structures Zoning Code Update- The Vote

What seemed to be a ‘slam-dunk’ set of great, proposed code updates for detached ADUs and other accessory structures have experienced yet another potential setback, so to speak. The day before the vote … Continue reading

November 18, 2015 · 6 Comments

The Death of Detached ADUs in Portland and What To Do About (Part II)

(This is Part II of The Death of Detached ADUs in Portland and What To Do About It. Part I, Part III, Part IV, and Part V are also available.) Action Items … Continue reading

November 2, 2015 · 35 Comments

Preview of Some of the ADUs Featured on the Fall, 2015 ADU Tour

The City-wide ADU Tour is just two weeks away.The ADUs on this tour are beautiful and we can’t wait for you see them in person. Here’s a preview of some of the ADUs you’ll be seeing.

October 25, 2015 · 4 Comments

The Death of Detached ADUs in Portland and What To Do About It

(Update: Part II , Part III , Part IV and Part V are also available.) This post is complicated, thick, and heavy – it’s about property taxes. Ick! For the purposes of retaining readers’ interest, I … Continue reading

October 22, 2015 · 122 Comments

Fall 2015 ADU Tour Information

Registration for the November 7th ADU Tour is now live; early bird sales end on October 24th. For those seeking design inspiration for small houses, the ADUs on this upcoming tour are exceptionally beautiful. Here’s a sneak preview of a few of some of them.

September 17, 2015 · 6 Comments

Alan Durning Keynote Speaker at the Fall Build Small Live Large Summit

Conference is Sold Out!  Alan Durning, a long-time sustainability leader in the Northwest, is newly fired up—and for good reason. Since founding Sightline Institute in 1993, he has written more … Continue reading

August 21, 2015 · Leave a comment

Berkeley ADUs and Perceptions of Density

by Alberto Benejam, Based on a report by Sonia-Lynn Abenojar, Alberto Benejam, and Tamar Nativ Throughout the past year, the city of Berkeley, CA has been considering changes to the city’s … Continue reading

August 3, 2015

Accessory Structures Zoning Code Amendments – An Overview and Assessment

Introduction The City of Portland (Bureau of Planning and Sustainability) regularly reviews and updates planning and zoning codes through a process called RICAP (Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Project). Part of … Continue reading

July 27, 2015 · 10 Comments