When Amy Magyar and her partner parted ways, her house felt too big. So she took out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) and transformed her carriage house into an ADU, doing most of the design and building herself, while preserving the building’s historic character. Amy’s friend from Baltimore, a self-declared “Covid refugee,” moved into the primary house, providing rental income for Amy.
When we saw this fixer-upper on a half-acre plot of land, I knew right there and then: we were going to buy it. That was back in 2018, and my father started plotting the renovation strategy while exploring the property. One of its best features was the enormous unoccupied front yard, which seemed like a good spot for a second house. We were about to discover the secret world of ADUs and embark on an exciting journey of building one.
As CEO of Backyard ADUs, a company that builds small homes and ADUs, I think about living in small spaces a lot. There are tons of cool and clever 200SF … Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Susan was looking to create financial freedom for herself as a single, retired woman. The idea of going into retirement with no mortgage payment – by having the rent from the main house cover the mortgage on both the main house and ADU – was very appealing.
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.
Nan Haemer’s neighbor convinced her to build an ADU on her property and she spent the next several months salvaging materials at the nearby ReBuilding Center.
Regan Gray and her husband George Okulitch were looking for a way to increase the value of their rental property and landed on building an ADU on the alley in the backyard. Regan likes that with the ADU they created more housing without changing the look and character of the neighborhood.
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.
There are a handful of developers who are using ADUs as part of their toolkit to create unique housing options. Kristy Lakin is one of these developers. She is currently constructing Woodstock Gardents, a pocket community with three primary dwellings, each with its own ADU. Kristy explains that her interest in developing small housing options like these comes from an interest in creating additional housing without compromising neighborhood character.
She anticipated that once it was complete, the backyard cottage would serve as a guest space for visiting family. However, she decided to go through the process of converting the garage to an ADU officially so that she could keep her options open. She liked the flexibility of being able to rent out the little space.
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.
Cheryl and Jim Levie of Ashland, Oregon transformed an old chicken coop into a nice little guest house. But the fact that their home was in a historic district caused some complications along the way.
Some survey results about ADU costs… and some thoughts about why ADU developers aren’t usually real estate “pros.”
Dan Gray was used to living in the mountains with lots of room around, so when he built his Ashland ADU, he put it above the crowd.
Dennis & Stephanie Martin’s ADU has helped their extended family stay together through life changes.
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.
Rex and Lydia owned a house with a garage that was falling apart. They decided that rather than rebuilding “a home for a car,” they would create an ADU in their backyard.