Two generations of the Whitley family found a solution to both their housing dilemmas when Carrie and Sterling were approved as the first residents of Monterey Bay Habitat for Humanity’s My House My Home program. The big idea behind the innovative My House My Home program is to build ADUs to assist low income senior homeowners who might be vulnerable to housing instability because they are living on a fixed income.
In 1995, Evelyn Brown purchased her property in Seattle, WA and immediately imagined building a second house on it. The property was a through-lot, meaning that it spanned the distance between two streets. Her house, at one end of the property, fronted on one street and her garage, on the other end of the property, fronted the other street. Twenty years later the city caught up with Evelyn’s vision and she now lives in an ADU she has plenty of time to dream about.
A few years ago, Diane Owen was sharing a house in Denver, CO with her daughter Mara, and Mara’s partner Andrew. Diane’s one bedroom, one bathroom multi-generational household also included three dogs, so it was a full house! Diane had been living with Mara and Andrew for three years and they got along really well, but there were moments that a little more wiggle room would be nice.
When Scott Drake bought his father Walt’s property in Decatur, GA they struck a deal. They’d build a carriage house for Walt so that he could remain on the property and have Scott and his wife and kids move into Walt’s old house.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.