Accessory Dwellings

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

Lisa Lonstron’s Other House: A Rooming House

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.

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December 16, 2016 · Leave a comment

Sharon Nielson, Keith Pitt, & Stephanie Mix’s ADU: A Miniature Mansion

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.

October 21, 2016 · 2 Comments

ADU PDX ADU Profiles

Three profiles of ADUs created by ADU PDX.

October 7, 2016 · 1 Comment

Sheila Butler’s ADU: From Shack to Guesthouse

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.

September 23, 2016 · 1 Comment

environs llc ADU Profiles

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

July 1, 2016 · 1 Comment

Shelter Solutions ADU Profiles

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

May 20, 2016 · Leave a comment

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

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

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 · 7 Comments

UDU Design ADU Profiles

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

April 8, 2016 · 1 Comment

Tatiana & Rafael Xenelis-Medoza’s ADU: A Hidden Gem

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.

March 11, 2016 · 1 Comment

Barbara Gundle’s ADU: A 2-Story Garage Conversion

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.

February 19, 2016 · 12 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

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

John & Stephani Hayden’s ADU: An Expertly Executed Basement Conversion

John and his wife Stephani decided to use their savings to purchase a house with potential for a basement ADU. This investment would provide flexibility in terms of both their finances and their housing options.

May 22, 2015 · 12 Comments

Amanda Punton & Das Chapin’s ADU: Starting in the ADU

Quick Facts Setting: urban Neighborhood: Buckman, Portland, OR Type: daylight walk-out basement Use: long-term rental Square Footage: 700 Year Built: 1899 Year Basement Converted to ADU: 2013 Owners: Amanda Punton Designer-Builder: Das Chapin & Amanda … Continue reading

January 7, 2015 · 3 Comments

Billy Hines’ ADU: Modernizing the Carriage House

The first time Billy Hines saw his three bedroom house in Portland’s Alberta Arts District, he decided that someday he’d make the old carriage house into an apartment. In 2006 he went through the process of converting the existing accessory structure into a permitted ADU.

December 17, 2014 · 5 Comments

Blake Clark & Sabina Chen’s ADU: A Basement Remodel

Blake and Sabina’s decided to convert their basement into an ADU in case their family members wanted to move in. But with an out-of-state job offer on the table, they ended up remodeling both the house and the ADU to be rentals.

November 30, 2014 · 6 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

Francie & Michael Royce’s ADU: A Retirement Plan

Francie and Michael had three primary design criteria for their ADU. First, it had to be easy to maintain. Second, it had to be sustainable – both financially and environmentally. Finally, it had to be a pleasant space to call home.

August 15, 2014 · 1 Comment

Bonnie & Larry Dalton’s ADU: Two Kitchens, Please

When Bonnie Dalton was younger, her grandma lived in a family owned ADU. So when Bonnie was older and her husband’s parents needed a little extra support, Bonnie naturally thought of creating an ADU at her own house.

July 11, 2014 · 4 Comments

Caleb & Tori Bruce’s ADU: Existing Home Becomes Secondary Dwelling

As a builder, contractor, and cabinet maker, Caleb Bruce builds boxes for a living, but he has also developed a knack for out-of-the-box thinking. Here’s the story of how Caleb turned an existing house into a secondary dwelling (or an accessory dwelling as we call them in Portland, OR).

April 25, 2014 · 1 Comment

Garage Sweet Home

7 years ago we were living in a 5+ bedroom house with garage, attic and basement- all packed to the gills. We couldn’t imagine ever living anywhere else…. but somewhere along the lines our ideals started shifting.

April 11, 2014 · 12 Comments

Joe Wachunas & Naomi Cole’s ADU: Reworking the Garage

“I was surprised how easy it is to increase density on a single-family lot and still feel like there’s plenty of space,” says Naomi. “The entire process was one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had.”

April 4, 2014 · 3 Comments

Derin & Andra William’s ADU: An Energy-Efficient Basement Apartment

Derin and Andra realized that if they were going to a do a full basement remodel, including a full seismic upgrade and new bedrooms, a bathroom, and recreation space, it would make sense to add a kitchen as well to create a fully self-contained unit. As they researched ADUs they were convinced to create one in their basement because it would create housing flexibility, enable them to have family close by, create community, and provide income potential.

March 28, 2014 · 12 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

Wally & Lara Jones’ ADU: Keeping Good Neighbors

When Wally and Lara decided to get married, start a family, and start their own business, they decided they wanted a space of their own. However, they didn’t want their friends to have to have to move out, so Wally and Lara decided to convert the basement into a separate affordable living space.

February 7, 2014 · 10 Comments

Jill’s ADU: A Home of Her Own

Jill’s little home includes salvaged materials, low-flow fixtures, three salvaged doors, no dryer, solar panels, a ductless heat pump, a Rheem water heater, rain garden, skylights, and Marmoleum floors. She also installed grid-tied solar panels on the ADU which cover electricity for her lights, appliances, and heating.

January 24, 2014 · 3 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

La Cabina Urbana

Inconspicuous as any other garage, this ADU is an inspiration to me. While it was built as an unpermitted ADU, like 2/3rds to 3/4ths of Portland’s ADUs, it functions like … Continue reading

December 23, 2013 · 2 Comments

Sabin Green – A community of 2 ADUs and 2 modest homes

Back in 2005, I was trying to figure out how to create affordable home ownership opportunities without public subsidies in a strong housing market. With a background in affordable housing … Continue reading

December 23, 2013 · Leave a comment

My tiny house after 5 years: things I would have done differently

I’ve written here about how well my tiny house is working out — I converted my detached 1.5-car garage to a little “accessory dwelling unit” and have mostly rented it … Continue reading

February 27, 2012 · 7 Comments

My garage apartment — a place that redefines family

I’m pretty much an obsessive planner when it comes to big projects.  I researched and penciled out a lot of scenarios before I developed my garage into a little apartment, … Continue reading

October 29, 2011 · 11 Comments