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“By the time our special needs son may want to live in the ADU, it will be paid for several times! He may never need this, but it gives peace of mind.” -Lissa
Lissa and Matt first learned about ADUs through their architect, John Cava of JM Cava Architect. 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. Lissa liked the idea of having family close by, while providing an independent living arrangement.
“When we thought of our son, we just thought of an apartment that would meet his needs as an adult. Now that our kiddo is a couple years older, I am far more confident that he will not need to stick so close to home. It will be there if he needs it – or if our other son needs it!” -Lissa
Lissa and Matt funded construction of their home, garage, and ADU through a construction loan, which was then converted to a mortgage on the property. As they worked with John to develop the design for an apartment over the new garage, they had two primary considerations. First, they wanted to develop a smart design which would attract – and keep – good tenants. Second, they wanted to give both the ADU and the primary dwelling privacy. Matt and Lissa’s biggest challenge was whether to spend additional funds.
“We included all appliances and a washer and dryer to attract good, stable, long-term tenants who that sort of thing would be a bonus for. I know that I would never want to rent where I could not do laundry and where there was not a functional and clean kitchen. We also include all utilities so that there are no extraneous bills. This makes it simpler.” -Lissa
Lissa and Matt’s ADU features a ductless mini-split heat pump, operable windows with U-values below 0.3, and a high-efficiency electric water heater. The insulation levels are also higher than required by code, with R-23 blown-in fiberglass insulation in the walls and R-38 in the floors and vaulted ceiling.
“Ethan is amazing! I know a lot of people have frustrations with their contractors, but I have nothing but good things to say about Ethan. We’ll be lifelong friends.” -Lissa
For Lissa, the highlight of her ADU build was choosing good materials to make the space open and inviting. She chose light materials like light alder cabinets and white Pergo to enhance the space in the ADU. Lissa selected nice finishes because she determined that the ADU was a smart investment in her family’s financial and housing security.
“I think everyone should have an ADU! We considered how long it would take renting at a certain price point to make back the extra money spent building the ADU and decided it was worth it. I am very happy we made the initial investment and are earning it back with a good tenant.”
Lissa’s favorite aspect of her ADU is that she and her designer John were successful in creating a second home while providing privacy for the residents of both dwellings. The ADU also affords privacy to the neighbors since it is set back on the property. Lissa appreciates that she has additional flexible space on her property and additional income coming in each month.
So what’s Lissa’s advice for homeowners considering developing an ADU on their property?
“Create a nice quality space to ensure a good long-term tenant and be an extra good landlord. Include the utilities to simplify everything.” -Lissa Kaufman