Prefab dwellings seem like a great way to create ADUs — but they’re not as common as you might think. One Portland resident shows how it can work.
The author is quarantined in his own accessory dwelling unit, during the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
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.
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.
Asmund and Jenny had been considering building an ADU for quite a while and finally decided to take the plunge at the end of 2016. They were drawn by the potential for passive income, the need for more space for their growing family and guests, and they wanted to lock in the SDC fee waiver benefit before its scheduled expiration. They were particularly drawn to the short–term rental model to maintain the most flexibility.
Over the course of a recent Saturday afternoon open house, more than 40 neighbors, friends and family stopped in to see a new apartment on Sherburne Avenue in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood and congratulate the owners, Eric and Chrissi Larsen, on its completion. This wasn’t just any apartment — it was the first accessory-dwelling unit to be built under St. Paul’s 2016 accessory-dwelling-unit ordinance.
BuildinganADU.com is a website geared to homeowners who want to build an ADU on their property, featuring posts and tips that delve into great detail about explaining how much ADUs cost to build using actual costs from recent projects,
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Our guest correspondent created a “detached bedroom” to help her dad age in place. It’s simpler and less expensive than a full-blown ADU, but her thoughtful approach is something everyone can learn from.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Editor’s note: this ADU is featured on the upcoming ADU Tour…. 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.
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
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.
To learn more about this company, check out Design-Builder Profile: Birdsmouth Design | Build. For a more in-depth look, check out Barbara Gundle’s ADU: A 2-Story Garage Conversion. ADU #1 – … Continue reading
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.
To learn more about this company, check out ADU Designer Profile: Zenbox Design. ADU #1 – House Divided ADU Square Footage: 240 Year Built: 2015 Architect/Designer: zenbox design Builder: zenbox … Continue reading
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