Accessory Dwellings

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

ADU Rental Income Can Be Used to Qualify Borrowers to Purchase on HomeReady Loans

A HomeReady Mortgage is a Fannie Mae, first-time home buyer loan program, with minimum down payment requirements, and some very particular underwriting characteristics. When a borrower is purchasing a single-unit primary residence with a 3% minimum down payment and there is an ADU present, 75% of the potential rents from the ADU can be used to qualify.

July 6, 2018 · 1 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 · 7 Comments

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 · 10 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 · 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 · 3 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 · 5 Comments

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 · 3 Comments

2019 is the Year of ADU Financing Innovation

Financing ADUs has remained a major challenge. But, in the future, 2019 will always be thought of as the year of ADU financing innovation. On April 29th, Portland State University convened a meeting in Washington, D.C to help flesh out some of the innovative programs that are being developed to finance ADUs. 

May 16, 2019 · 3 Comments

2019 ADU Tour Project Profiles

Quick links to the ADU project profiles 1) Tony Mills 2) 7120 Vancouver LLC 3) Arthur Donaghey and Gena Hutton 4) Anthony and Becca Ayon 5) Darren and Damara Bartlett … Continue reading

Sunday ADU project profiles- 2017

Quick links to the ADU project profiles 1) Justin Graham and Pam Statz 2) Christopher Wilson 3) Susan Moray  4) Mark and Terry Lewis 5) Robert and Margaret Spurlock 6) Matthew and Jennifer … Continue reading

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

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 · 2 Comments

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

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 · 11 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 · 21 Comments

Lay Explanation of Conventional ADU Financing Options

Financing is, by far, the biggest barrier for most homeowners seeking to build an ADU on their property. Recently, I was trying to gain some clarification about three conventional loan products that can be used to help fund the construction of an ADU: First Mortgage Cash Out Refinance- taking out extra money when refinancing your ‘first mortgage’ .

June 27, 2015 · 5 Comments

Joan Grimm & Rita Haberman’s ADU: Carving-Out a Studio

Joan and Rita’s carve-out ADU entailed creating a new entry on the north side of their house, and separating the ADU from the main house by building a wall in the former hallway leading to an existing full bath and the underutilized bedroom. The kitchen-dining-living area is the located in the front of the original house with a large bank of windows offering natural daylight and garden views, and the more private bed and bath areas are located toward the back.

May 25, 2015 · 5 Comments

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

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 · 5 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 · 4 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 · 9 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 · 11 Comments

ADU Permit Trends in Portland in 2017 and 2018

This post details some findings about ADU permit trends in Portland.

First, we’ll start with the big picture. Here’s the latest data on the number of permits issued by the City of Portland for ADUs from 2000-2018. In 2017, 588 permits were issued. In 2018, 660 were issued. This is a total of 1248 ADU permits issued in 2017 and 2018.

January 14, 2019 · 1 Comment

Saturday ADU project profiles- 2017

Quick links to the ADU project profiles 1) Mark Timby and Leighann Franson 2) Carissa Page 3) Megan and Matt Klepp 4) Brian Chodowski 5) Dan Batz and Anne Marie McClaran … Continue reading

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

A research and action agenda for Accessory Dwelling Units and their advocates

I spent a lot of 2011 learning about Accessory Dwelling Units (also known as in-law units, granny flats, backyard cottages, etc).  Beat that in terms of geekiness!  (Okay, I bow … Continue reading

January 10, 2012 · 8 Comments