Accessory Dwellings

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

ADU class for Portland homeowners, Saturday, February 11th

Kol Peterson, one of the editors here, is hosting a class called “Building An Accessory Dwelling Unit on your property,” on Saturday, February 11th. Please visit Kol’s site for more details.

November 28, 2016 · 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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 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

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 · 3 Comments

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

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 · 4 Comments

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 · 4 Comments

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 · 5 Comments

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

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 · 7 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

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 · 10 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 · 15 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 · 4 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 · 8 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 · 45 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 · 123 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 · 11 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

Follow up to the Spring, 2015 ADU Tour

The spring, 2015 ADU Tour was amazing! Here’s a few snapshots that will provide a sense of what the event was like.

On Friday evening, 349 people attended a 3-hour ADU 101 workshop.

June 2, 2015 · Leave a comment

Save the Date for the 2015 Build Small Live Large Summit: Friday, Nov. 6!

Conference is Sold Out!  The Build Small Live Large Summit is back by popular demand! This unique, one-day event will convene leading small home designers, builders, developers, realtors and policy … Continue reading

June 1, 2015 · 1 Comment

Real estate rage in Portland! Or, ode on a purple shed

Up for rent in Portland, February 2015: a tiny purple structure in someone’s backyard, apparently a converted garden shed. At 165 square feet, it had the same area of 5 … Continue reading

May 27, 2015 · 10 Comments

Spring, 2015 ADU Tour – Final Week Updates

*Update as of 6/3/2015. Read a follow up post about the tour here: https://accessorydwellings.org/2015/06/02/follow-up-to-the-spring-2015-adu-tour/*

May 24, 2015 · 2 Comments

Updates for the Spring, 2015, ADU Tour

The city-wide ADU tour is almost here. There will be 12 ADUs to tour in NE Portland on Saturday, May 30th, and 13 ADUs in Portland SE on Sunday.

The inaugural ADU Tour in the spring of 2014 sold out a week early at 850 tickets, and drew attendees from across the country, showing the surging interest in small housing.

April 1, 2015 · 5 Comments

Ten ADU Aspirations for 2015. Let the countdown begin!

As we all know, New Years is a time to conjure up lofty ideas.  Here are a few great ideas that we, the editors of accessorydwellings.org, probably won’t have the time to … Continue reading

December 31, 2014 · Leave a comment

SAVE THE DATE—Portland’s 2nd Annual Accessory Dwelling Unit Tour – Spring, 2015

SAVE THE DATE: May 29th- May 31st!

I’m very excited to announce Build Small, Live Large: Portland’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Tour – Spring, 2015.

December 23, 2014 · 4 Comments

Innovative “Junior” accessory dwelling unit Zoning Ordinance Passed in Novato, California

Novato, California will allow a simpler, lower-cost style of accessory dwelling unit starting in 2015 — the JADU or “junior accessory dwelling unit.”

December 14, 2014 · 2 Comments

Model Code for Accessory Dwelling Units

Practically every week, we learn of a new US city or county that is adopting or revisiting zoning code language on accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Some are thinking of allowing … Continue reading

November 25, 2014 · 14 Comments

Garage apartments in Houston

Houston, Texas has a long tradition of accessory dwelling units. It also has a unique lack of zoning rules. Could it be the next hotbed of ADU creativity?

November 19, 2014 · 2 Comments

Guide to financing an accessory dwelling unit

Here is nicely formatted summary to the ways ADUs are being financed in Portland today. Even if you don’t live in the area, it should provide some ideas and precedents you can use. Enjoy!

November 3, 2014 · 4 Comments

ADUs and Condos: Separating Ownership

Q. How is it that the accessory dwelling unit pictured below is being sold separately from the primary home on the same lot? A. It’s legally structured as a condominium. … Continue reading

October 7, 2014 · 10 Comments

New ADU Class for Realtors

Following on the heels of the Value it Green tour in early September, Earth Advantage will be offering a new class called All About ADUs – A Primer Course for Brokers. … Continue reading

September 19, 2014 · Leave a comment

Summing up ADU research: are accessory dwelling units as great, or as horrible, as people say?

Collected research about accessory dwelling units (AKA granny flats, laneway houses, in-law units, etc) suggests they have many potential benefits, and two common arguments “against” are unsupported.

September 17, 2014 · 9 Comments

Accessory dwelling units: what further research should be done?

ADUs are especially promising as environmentally sensitive and affordable housing, and this potential should be investigated in detail.

September 3, 2014 · 4 Comments

Value it Green Tour Features ADUs

  Join other REALTORs, appraisers and lenders visiting green homes and ADUs across Portland. Have fun with your peers while you’re escorted by experts on buses to and from the … Continue reading

September 3, 2014 · Leave a comment

What are the barriers to ADU development?

Government rules strongly limit the development of ADUs, but they are not the only factor.

August 21, 2014 · 8 Comments

ADU Tour, Spring 2015

We wanted to update readers about the plan for the next ADU Tour. The last ADU tour was a trememdous success, so we’ve decided to run it again next spring. … Continue reading

August 9, 2014 · 3 Comments