Accessory Dwellings

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

Bob & Adrienne Stacey’s Future ADU: Well-Planned Beforehand

Adrienne and Bob developed a creative multi-generational housing solution that will allow them to share space with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids, while operating a home-based business. They knew they couldn’t have an official fully self-contained accessory dwelling unit as long as Adrienne is operating her pottery studio. However, when Adrienne retires from teaching, the plan is to renovate the addition to make it officially an ADU by adding a kitchen. In the meantime, they knew that as long as they were sharing the house with their family members, it would be no problem to have the addition dependent upon the kitchen in the primary dwelling.

May 21, 2015 · 4 Comments

Nan Haemer’s ADU: Crepe Myrtle Cottage

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.

February 4, 2015 · 12 Comments

Regan Gray & George Okulitch’s ADU: A Super-Efficient ADU

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.

January 21, 2015 · 4 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

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 · 4 Comments

Kristy Lakin’s ADU Community: Woodstock Gardens

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.

October 22, 2014 · 14 Comments

Isabel Johnson & Brad Creel’s ADU: A Backyard Guest Room

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.

September 24, 2014 · 7 Comments

James Michelinie & Kyra Routon’s ADU: A Starter Home

James Michelinie & Kyra Routon first learned about ADUs when they were house hunting as newlyweds. They’d been renting a house in the Alberta Arts District for the past two years and they were looking for a property they could afford in a neighborhood they loved. They ended up purchasing the house they were renting and building an ADU in the backyard, which they now live in.

September 10, 2014 · 7 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

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

Katharine Lawrence & Charlie Weiss’ ADU: Third Time’s a Charmer

The economics of a rentable space were appealing to Charlie and his partner Katharine, so when the couple built their own home they designed it to include an apartment. They’ve now included ADUs in two more homes they’ve built and they’re grateful that Portland’s policies now support the creation of ADUs.

August 1, 2014 · 2 Comments

Robert Albano’s ADU: 2 Units for Aging-In-Place

Accessibility, sociability, rentability, and sustainability were driving factors for their design. The focus of the design was aging-in-place for both dwellings. A secondary goal was energy-efficiency so that the dwellings would be less expensive to heat and cool. They insulated the units with R-40 walls and an R-60 roof. Tight air sealing was also important and they ultimately achieved 2.2 Air Changes per Hour (ACH).

July 25, 2014 · 1 Comment

Jane Doe’s ADU: A Second Home on a Tight Budget

Jane says her greatest inspiration was to have a flexible place which she could live in herself or rent out to family or tenants. In order to fund construction of the ADU, Jane refinanced her car, sold stock, worked, and scraped money together.

July 18, 2014 · 5 Comments

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

Cheryl & Jim Levie: Recreating a Period Piece

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.

July 4, 2014 · 2 Comments

Joe Hermanson’s ADU: A Daylight Basement Rental

Joe wanted to provide a private entrance for his tenants. The ADU has its own walkway and stairs on the side of the house, so it looks and feels separate from the rest of the house. There were a few challenges in designing and building the ADU; however, they were fairly easy to overcome.

June 27, 2014 · 1 Comment

How much do ADUs cost to build?

Some survey results about ADU costs… and some thoughts about why ADU developers aren’t usually real estate “pros.”

June 25, 2014 · 8 Comments

Bob & Jenny Harris’ ADU: A Mother-In-Law Wing

Bob & Jenny Harris had to jump through a lot of hoops to add a wing with a unit for Jenny’s mom, but it’s worked out. The family stays connected, but Jenny’s mom enjoys some independence too.

June 20, 2014 · 3 Comments

Dan Gray’s ADU: A Retreat Above the Garage

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.

June 13, 2014 · Leave a comment

Dennis & Stephanie Martin’s SDU: Trading Places with Our Daughter

Dennis & Stephanie Martin’s ADU has helped their extended family stay together through life changes.

June 6, 2014 · 5 Comments

Don Golden & Edith Casterline’s ADU: A Front Yard Cottage

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.

May 30, 2014 · 10 Comments

Rex Burkholder & Lydia Rich’s ADU: Own Two, Rent Both

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.

May 23, 2014 · 8 Comments

Heidi Rose’s ADU: A Home for My Sister

Heidi Rose first learned about ADUs because she was determined to figure out how she could build a home for her sister. Her twin sister was living in Seattle with her two kids and going through a divorce, so Heidi went to the City of Portland’s permitting office to explore alternative housing options. Heidi discovered that in the city of Portland an accessory dwelling unit up to 800 square feet is allowed by right on a single-family lot in most neighborhoods.

May 15, 2014 · 7 Comments

Tom Hudson’s ADU: A Sneak Peek at an ADU Under Construction

Tom Hudson broke ground on his backyard cottage in March 2014. The concrete slab is finished and the underground plumbing has been stubbed out for connection once the framing is complete. Tom anticipates that his wee home will be move-in-ready by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, his under-construction ADU will be included on the ADU Tour on June 1 so that people interested in creating an ADU on their own property can see one in progress.

May 9, 2014 · 2 Comments

Paz Pozarycki’s ADU: Taking It Down a Notch

Paz and his business partner, Katharina Grad Steinmeyer, have recently completed three UDUs (a twist on the ADU acronym which stands for Urban Dwelling Unit). Their new design firm UDU Design LLC has been inspired by the small housing movement and the need for aging-in-place design.

May 2, 2014 · Leave a comment

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

Stephanie & Sam Dyer’s ADU: A Guest Cottage Off Mississippi Ave

Although their parents would have “first dibs,” the couple realized that they could also rent out the space through VRBO when neither set of parents were in town. Stephanie and Sam were interested in this additional income potential and both sets of parents liked the investment potential of the property.

April 18, 2014 · 7 Comments

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 · 13 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

Lesa Dixon-Gray’s ADU: Putting Mom in a Home, Sweet Home

Lesa Dixon-Gray stumbled across ADUs as she was researching multigenerational housing options for herself and her aging mother. Lesa’s mom, Shirley, was having a difficult time deciding where she wanted to live, but knew she didn’t want to live in the same house as her children. Lesa realized she might be able to entice her mother to move to Portland by giving her a place of her own. As Lesa began searching for duplexes, she discovered ADUs and accessory structures.

March 21, 2014 · 3 Comments

Carolyn Matthews & Bruce Nelson’s ADU: Granny’s Garden Cottage

Bruce and Carolyn were interested in universal design elements that would enable them to age-in-place. Their design includes a wide hallway, a roll-in shower, and a countertop with a top that raises and lowers to accommodate wheelchair users.

March 14, 2014 · 5 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

Martha Metzger’s ADU: Rent Now, Move in Someday

Although they initially conceived of the ADU as a rental property, Martha soon decided it was the sort of place she might like to live someday, so they designed the small home accordingly. They were committed to incorporating green building components, including well-insulated walls, Energy Star appliances, on-demand hot water, radiant heat, and plumbing for a grey water option.

February 28, 2014 · 3 Comments

Michael Klepinger’s ADU: Ellen’s Garden Cottage

When Ellen’s new university professorship required relocation to Virginia, they had to make big decisions about their SE Portland property. They knew they wanted to ultimately return to their home in Portland and for the time-being they planned to return during academic breaks. It didn’t make sense to leave their beloved home vacant while they were gone. However, if they leased their property they would have no place to call home when they returned to Portland for the holidays. A little ADU solved the problem.

February 21, 2014 · 4 Comments

Jeff McCaffrey & Beth Bonness’s ADU: Hawthorne Guesthouse

Jeff and Beth knew there was demand for accommodations in this desirable area, since they built a duplex next door in 2004. But the idea of a guesthouse didn’t come to them until they were halfway through the project.

February 14, 2014 · 4 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

Lissa & Matt’s ADU: Planning for Our Sons’ Future

Matt and Lissa were building a new home and realized that creating an apartment over the garage was a good opportunity to add extra living space. The ADU could generate rental income and create flexibility as their housing needs changed. For now the ADU serves as a rental, but it could eventually be a home for their special needs son if needed.

January 31, 2014 · 12 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

Stephen Williams’ ADU: An ADU on the Alley

Stephen has always enjoyed the challenge of making a small space functional and comfortable. He had already built two ADUs, so it made sense that he would build an ADU on his own property when the opportunity arose. In 1998, Stephen purchased a lot in the Foster-Powell neighborhood with an existing house, which had been condemned. He remodeled the 1908 home and rented it out. He then designed an ADU for the back half of the lot, abutting the alley.

January 17, 2014 · 9 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

Scott Powers’ ADU: 3 Generations at Home

As his father’s 80th birthday approached, Scott Powers began considering next steps that would allow his parents to remain in the Rose City Park neighborhood and retain their independence.

December 31, 2013 · 7 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

Kol Peterson’s ADU: A Backyard Home

After living in shared housing for several years, Kol Peterson was ready for a place of his own. As he researched various options, Kol discovered ADUs and learned they could provide the kind of financially sustainable living arrangement he was seeking.

December 20, 2013 · 9 Comments

Tiny Dwellings in Portlandia? (video)

The IFC show Portlandia has garned lots of attention in Portland. It even inspired a fan contest in which Portland residents submitted their own ‘Portlandia’ inspired videos. This hilarious video … Continue reading

August 28, 2012 · 2 Comments

Little is Large on Portland’s 2012 Build It Green! Home Tour

The City of Portland’s Build It Green! Home Tour and Info Fair (BIG!) turns eleven this year. BIG! is a self-guided tour of 16 green remodels and new homes around … Continue reading

August 17, 2012 · 3 Comments
ADU Summit