Accessory Dwellings

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

Sunday ADU project profiles- 2017

Quick links to the ADU project profiles


1) Justin Graham and Pam Statz
2) Christopher Wilson
3) Susan Moray 
4) Mark and Terry Lewis
5) Robert and Margaret Spurlock
6) Matthew and Jennifer Reineck 
7)  Maggie Skenderian & John Schuberg
8) Gina Ostby and Seth Gross
9) Tim and Kelly Wright
10) Jesse and Emily
11) Jeneen Bell and Bret Hodgert
12) Jeremy and Kristin Nasta

1) Justin Graham and Pam Statz

Our main house is very small at 704 sq. ft. which didn’t give us much space for friends and family visiting from out of town. We love the neighborhood and didn’t really want to move. Since we had a nice backyard we thought building a little guesthouse ADU was the perfect option!

Type of ADU Detached, new construction
Architect/Designer Bryan Scott, zenboxdesign.com
General Contractor Asa Winant, Living Space LLC
Heating System Ductless minisplit upstairs and radiant heat floor downstairs.
When did you start the design work? 9/2014
When did you submit the plans to the City? 6/2015
When did you start construction 1/2016
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 9/2016
Total Square Footage 446
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $150K
Cost/Square Foot $336
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above) $2.5K
Other special project costs

The land use adjustment ($2k)

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

We built it primarily to have space for family and friends visiting from out of town but we also plan to use it as a short term rental when it is free.

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

We may want to do some extensive work on our main house. In that case we would move into the ADU while the work is being done, or maybe permanently since we like it so much!

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

We did some research on the internet. That’s how we found our designer Bryan Scott. We initially contacted him just to get some info but we hit it off and we loved the work he and his wife Jen had done so it turned into a full project. We also attended the southeast ADU tour in 2015.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

We did have to file for an adjustment since the BDS didn’t feel our plan matched the original house. That surprised us since we designed the ADU to match the roof pitch and materials that were visible from the street. The back of the house with its eco friendly flat green roof and cedar rainscreen did not immediately pass the BDS design standards. That set us back a few months.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

It cost us $150k to build which gave us much more space for less than it would have cost us to buy and move into a larger house, especially considering the state of the Portland housing market. Since it is a separate building it is also easy for us to have short term renters which could help us make the cost back within 10 years.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?

Green roof sourced from greenfeathers.info, radiant heat flooring, on-demand water heater, bamboo flooring from ecofloors.net and cedar rainscreen siding.

What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

We really love the combination of the red cedar rainscreen and the grey hardie board on the outside. On the inside the floating steel and bamboo staircase is a real stand out. We get a lot of compliments on both.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

We are just proud of ourselves for seeing the whole project through! It was an emotional roller coaster but the finished ADU is about as close to our original vision as could possibly be hoped for. We did not have to compromise much and we were able to keep all the design touches like the floating stairs, green roof and radiant heat floor that we wanted.

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

There is not much we are unhappy about. There is not much drawer space in the kitchen so that is something we would need to think about if we ever redo that room.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

We would make sure to get all the approval and permits before preparing the site and signing any contracts. Everybody involved may have been overly optimistic about how quickly the construction could get going. The site was cleared and prepped for construction which inhibited our use of the backyard during the several months it took to get the permits.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

How long everything took! In the end we are lucky that we had the whole thing done in a little over a year from submitting the plans to BDS to getting the certificate of occupancy. The review process with the BDS was intense and we started construction about six months later than expected. What was originally bid at a 5 month build ended up being about 8 months.

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

Keep calm and carry on! When we had to file the land use adjustment I wish I had done more research about what the BDS would allow, but now that it is all completed I’m glad we stuck to our original vision and got the ADU we dreamed of! We would definitely advise talking to as many people as possible before hand just to be be emotionally prepared. The ADU tour was a real help and very informative!

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2) Christopher Wilson

I bought the house back in 2001 and lived there until 2008. I’ve always loved it and that love is one of the reasons I didn’t want to sell it. I’ve rented it for many years and the garage (my former workshop) has just sat and sat. I re-sided it and re-roofed it many years ago and it was just a waste sitting there basically unused. I figured I could accomplish 2 things by converting it into an ADU. First I could hopefully garner some additional income which I really need. Second, I feel it will make the house more valuable and therefore less desirable for a developer to raze should I decide to sell it.

Type of ADU Garage conversion
Architect/Designer Trisha Anderson, Abode Design abodedesign.net/
General Contractor Self General Contracted
Heating System Electric mini split (heat and cool)
When did you start the design work? 7/2016
When did you submit the plans to the City? 7/2016
When did you start construction 10/2016
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 9/2017
Total Square Footage 367
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $40K
Cost/Square Foot $108
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above) $10K
Other special project costs

Honestly there aren’t any huge surprises. I have no idea what things cost to begin with so I kind of went into this blind. That’s probably not the kind of thing I should admit but I read all the on-line info about ADU’s and I have still run into all sorts of things I didn’t know I needed to handle. Also, at the same time I upgraded the plumbing to the main house and the sewer is shared between the 2 so the largest cost thus far wasn’t in the ADU at all.

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

As a rental (not a relative and not AirBNB)

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

For now there are no plans for it to be anything but a monthly/yearly rental but it could easily be a place for aging parents or as a short term rental.

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

Honestly not much. I started with a trip to BDS with a few questions and then really just went for it.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

I was actually surprised how easy it was to get this project started. I first went to BDS with some general questions that I just couldn’t really figure out by reading information on-line. I wanted to know if it met city requirements to be an ADU and what the next steps were. I then had a good friend draw up the project by hand and after a few edits (mostly done by me with glue stick and paper) and trips back to the city I had approved plans in the course of about a month. The inspection process has been a learning experience. There were some challenges but fortunately thus far I’m on the right track.

It’s been fairly smooth sailing. I started with a lot of questions since I was going to be using an older existing structure. Questions like “can it be a living space?” Pretty much every question I had they were able to answer. It’s certainly been a learning process at literally every single step of the way because I’ve never done this before.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

I’ve had to put a bit of the project on credit. More than I thought I’d need to honestly. It’ll take at least half a year to pay that off. I think that’s still pretty fast.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?

The building was built in 1958 using the floor joists from the original 1909 carriage house so it had a very early life as a “green” building. In this most recent remodel all of the original studs, ship lap, and siding were reused. The doors and windows are all new to the structure but are either antiques from more than 100 years ago or are relatively new and were purchased at used building material stores.

What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

There’s a queen sized Murphy bed. I thought with such a small space it was important to at least get the largest piece of furniture up and out of the way. Plus you don’t have to make it to flip it up!

I love all the old details. The garage was built in 1958 using parts from the original Victorian carriage house on site so it’s always been a recycled building. Those recycled beams are the most dramatic design element of the structure. I’ve added some other older elements to compliment them.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

I think what I have the most pride in is the amount of work I’ve been able to do myself. I’ve had a steep learning curve but I honestly can’t afford to hire everything done.

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

I wish the hot water heater didn’t have to go in the closet.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

I’d probably never tell a trades person that “I’m in no hurry”.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

That not being allowed to use old windows is a myth and 22-24″ on center studs will pass a structural inspection.

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

Ask lots of questions of anyone you think might have some good answers and bounce design ideas off people. You might go with your idea anyway but you might surprise yourself. Take a lot of photos. My camera phone has saved me from drilling into water pipes on more than one occasion. Keep good records. I didn’t have all my paperwork on site once and I failed an inspection because of it.

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3) Susan Moray

PDX Urban Barn is my second ADU and was built in the back yard of my daughter’s house. Getting to build another, having knowledge that my partner Art and I didn’t have the first time allowed us to use our creativity and insights to create a somewhat larger and more private space, one we fantasize about living in some day. Besides income, as a recent retiree, I wanted to help increase the value and flexibility of this shared property with my daughter.

Type of ADU Detached new construction
Architect/Designer Jack Barnes, jackbarnesarchitect.com
General Contractor Matt Mansfield, Confluence Design Build, buildwithconfluence.com
Heating System Ductless mini split and cadet heater in the bathroom
When did you start the design work? 10/2015
When did you submit the plans to the City? 2/2016
When did you start construction 4/2016
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 11/2016
Total Square Footage 750
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $265K
Cost/Square Foot $353
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above) I spent a good deal of time picking out finishes and putting together the IKEA boxes for the kitchen cabinets so perhaps one would have been paid $5000 for these tasks.
Other special project costs We had to demolish the garage/barn which had 3 layers of built up material, taking longer and costing more than expected. Several large trees had to be removed (and replaced) adding to the initial costs.
Certification & Energy Scores Earth Advantage Platinum and EPS
What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

Multi uses: a guesthouse for visiting family and friends and short term rental.

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

In addition to the uses above, my partner Art and I can see ourselves living there some day.

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

Prior to building our first ADU, we took Kol Peterson’s ADU class and have toured a few of the various ADU tours. I used Pinterest to gather design ideas and found them to be very helpful in communicating with my architect and builders..

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

Architect Jack Barnes has built several ADUs and seems to be pretty dialed in to what will pass for acquiring a permit. We had no issues in getting our plans approved.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

It’s been pretty successful, so far, as a short term rental so I expect to have a return on my investment within 5-6 years.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?

The Urban Barn was built with Passive House principles, achieving my goals of maximizing comfort, air quality, durability, and energy efficiency. The following green building methods in the design and construction and earning Earth Advantage’s “Platinum” certification:

  • Advanced framing with dense-packed cellulose walls & roof
  • Triple-pane doors and fiberglass windows, strategically placed
  • Metal roof and vented rain screen for durability
  • Continuous layer of exterior rigid wall and slab insulation to minimize thermal bridging
  • Designed for air-tightness and a continuous air barrier. Preliminary blower-door test results exceed requirements for PHIUS+ certification
  • Balanced ventilation for filtered fresh air with a ducted HRV
What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

I love the dual levels of the main floor and the high ceilings which add a sense that it’s much larger than it actually is. Playing with finishes to create a design that I think of as rustic elegance or Urban Barn, as we call it, allowed it to turn out as envisioned. We incorporated stain into the concrete before pouring the floors and they came out almost like marble, which I love.  (Our first ADU had stain applied on top and it hasn’t held up well.)  Lastly, I designed the fence and landscaping and I love how it ties the original house to the barn with clean lines and privacy for both.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

I used to walk my dogs by the property and marveled that, despite its major lean west and hole in the roof, the barn was still standing. Thanks to the generosity of the previous owners who didn’t want the house and barn leveled, they accepted $50,000 less from me than the developer who would, undoubtedly put up three wretched McMansions.  Because of that I vowed to pay homage to barn in the design.   I’ve gotten some lovely feedback from neighbors who also were fond of the original barn and are pleased to see it honored in this way.

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

The electric conduit and box on the front side (though my builders said “everyone needs a belly button”). I didn’t expect it but since we painted it to match the siding it somewhat disappears.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

If possible, more closets. I am trying to fathom how we would live there without giving most of our clothes away.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

This one cost considerably more than my first, not just because of the size increase, but because the first was built during the recession when prices were lower

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

I highly recommend that you see the work of builders you’re considering AND talk to homeowners about their experience working with them. We didn’t do that the first time and it didn’t go too well. I would think ahead about landscaping and privacy fencing. They can add a considerable expense and need to be factored into the design.

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4) Mark and Terry Lewis

I have taken up white water rafting and the one car detached garage was not big enough for the rafts and car so we decided to build a big garage with and ADU on top to help pay for the project.
Type of ADU Detached, new construction above a garage
Architect/Designer R&B Design Studio LLC; www.rnbdesign.org
General Contractor EcoPower NW, LLC; www.ecopowernw.com
Heating System Ductless minisplit is the primary, with radiant electric in the bathroom floor
When did you start the design work? 10/2015
When did you submit the plans to the City? 1/2016
When did you start construction 3/2016
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 5/2017
Total Square Footage 799 sq ft, above a 845 sq ft garage
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $440k
Cost/Square Foot $267 (including the garage)
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above) $5k
Other special project costs demolition of old garage and foundation; single-piece engineered shower wall panels
Certification & Energy Scores Earth Advantage Platinum and EPS
What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

Short term rental

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

Aging in place

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

Toured prior ADU event. Read up on ADUs on the internet. Talked to some homeowners that have built one.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

A tree protection plan for a tree that was already protected by existing retaining walls was required with the garage demolition permit.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

Our return comes in the form of joy of have space in the new garage, the prospect of meeting people from around the world and having a place for friends and relatives to stay when visiting.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?

Advanced framing, R60+ insulation in the roof, max U-0.30 for windows and triple-glazed folding door, old garage rafters milled and reused expressively in new ADU, all-LED lighting, zero-VOC interior paint; Earth Advantage/Energy Star/EPS certifications.

What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

We love the way it looks like it has always been a part of the property

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

Utilizing the rafters from the demolished garage as a focal point in the vaulted ceiling.

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

The utility area where the washer / drier are located is really small, but that was a choice we made.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

I would personally talk with each sub before they started their work on the project to verify that my expectations matched their intentions.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

How easily the schedule can get way behind.

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

Work really hard to get firm bids and matching expectations before starting.

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5) Robert and Margaret Spurlock

My wife and I had more space than we needed in our backyard and figured we might as well build an ADU to try to generate a little extra income.

Type of ADU Detached, new construction
Architect/Designer Amanda Petretti, studiopetretti.com
General Contractor Taylorsmith Sustainable Construction, taylorsmithsc.com
Heating System Ductless minisplit
When did you start the design work? 7/2015
When did you submit the plans to the City 2/2016
When did you start construction 12/2016
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 8/2017
Total Square Footage 586 sq. ft. plus 80 sq. ft. workshop
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $205K
Cost/Square Foot 312
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above)  $2k sweat equity for landscape labor
Other special project costs
What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

Short term rental & guest house

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

Rental, short term rental, and guest house; possibly primary dwelling further down the road.

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

Our first step was to attend an ADU workshop and tour. Then we started interviewing architects. After we selected the architect we wanted to work with, the next step was to line up our financing, which was pretty straightforward. We opted for a Home Equity Line of Credit through our credit union.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

The process was very slow.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

The ‘return on investment’ may be what we’re most excited about. We haven’t actually rented it yet, so we are trying to temper our expectations, but we are expecting to make back the $200K project cost in about 6 years. In the meantime, we like knowing that if there is a large earthquake that destroys our main house, our ADU will be resilient and will provide a place to live. At some point in the future we expect to live full time in the ADU while renting out the main house.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?
  • FCS certified lumber
  • Above code rock wool insulation
  • Slab on grade construction
  • Heat pump heating/cooling system
What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

Our favorite part of our ADU is the large, open kitchen/living room on the second story. We love the big windows, natural light and pine finishes.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

I’m proud that we maintained such a positive, successful relationship with our designer and contractor throughout the whole process. There were several hiccups along the way, as are expected with projects like this, but everyone on our team was always professional and we got through the hard parts together.

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

I wish the workshop/garage space could have been a little bit bigger, but that would have required increasing the footprint of the whole structure.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

If I had it to do over again, I definitely would have used the same architect, same contractor and used the same design, but I wouldn’t have tried to get adjustments from the City during the permitting phase. Pursuing adjustments took months of additional time as well as significant additional effort by the architect, but in the end the City denied our requests.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

I was surprised to learn how many opportunities for delay there are during construction. Weather (either extreme heat, extreme cold, or extreme rain) can create major delays. It’s good to lower your expectations but to also apply gentle pressure to your contractor.

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

I would advise prospective ADU developers to start looking for good contractors right away. We spent several months trying to find contractors to bid on the project. Contractors are very busy these days, so don’t assume that they are necessarily “looking for work.” You will need to be very proactive.

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6) Matthew and Jennifer Reineck 

We wanted to build an ADU to provide a secondary source of income as well as to provide flexibility on our property for family and friend visits. We have a small house, so rather than expanding our home, we felt that an ADU was a much better choice. Also our garage was falling down so we had to do something!

Type of ADU ADU attached to a garage
Architect/Designer Willie Dean at Ground Up Design Works, www.groundupdesignworks.com
General Contractor Structure PDX
Heating System Mini-split Heat Pump
When did you start the design work? 6/2016
When did you submit the plans to the City? 1/2017
When did you start construction 3/2017
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 5/2017
Total Square Footage 790 sq ft, and a 350 sq ft garage
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $195K
Cost/Square Foot $171
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above) $30K
Other special project costs Custom made steel railings, custom made cabinetry and hand made light fixtures.
What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

We have moved into the ADU and are renting our home on a short term basis as well as using our home for family and friend visits.

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

If our family expands we may move back into our home and use the ADU for family to live in. We may also rent the ADU and move back into our home. We’re happy to have the flexibility of these spaces.

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

We talked with a few ADU owners, we attended a 3 hour ADU class and also went on the ADU tour in the spring of 2016. After that we found our architect and began the planning stages. We then secured a home equity loan and were able to interview and hire our general contractor.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

There were some potential challenges with keeping all of the trees on our property and making sure that we maintained the health of trees of our neighbor. We were fortunate to not damage any roots during excavation and were able to keep all of our trees.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

The return on investment for us is all about providing more flexibility in life. We now have rental income in the event that one of us is no longer working full time. We also have space for friends and family. The return on investment for is more about an enhancement in our quality of life, to have the people we love around us more often and to be able to have more free time with them.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?

None

What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

We’re most happy with the high ceilings, open design, liveability and general feel of comfort in our ADU. Working hand in hand with our architect we were able to solve a lot of issues, keep under the 800 sq. ft. maximum and make a space we love.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

We tried to have as many local artisans as possible create the accents that make our space one of a kind. Our railing fabricator, Neil Hinton, is a family friend from Seattle, our cabinets were designed and built by a good friend, Thomas Prather of Lake Woodworking in Lake Oswego and all of the light fixtures were made by Lynn Read at Vitreluxe in Sellwood. In conclusion, making certain that the skills and beautiful creations of our friends were showcased is what we’re most proud of.

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

One thing we miss about living in our house is being able to see our neighbors more often. Now that we’re at the back of the property we feel a bit shutoff, but it’s also secluded which is nice.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

We would have been more specific with line items in our contract. I would suggest going into as much detail as possible with specifying materials, fixtures and dates of completion. It’s a daunting task to try and plan the entire project of building a home, so don’t sweat it all, but try to get everything in writing.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

Things always take longer that you would expect. Be these causes unforeseen circumstances, weather, or personnel. We’ve met some great people that we’d be happy to work with in the future and have also made quite a few friends during this process. The community that has blossomed around the ADU movement is quite wonderful.

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

Use the terrain to your advantage. Our back yard slopes so we were able to get more height out of our main living area by designing for that at the back of our lot. If you can, don’t just build over your garage, but build behind it if you have the space. Building to the square footage limit was a good decision for us. We still have a very usable backyard and an extremely usable ADU!

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7) Maggie Skenderian & John Schuberg

We built our ADU to give ourselves options for housing as we age. We may downsize to it once we are both retired so we can travel without having much maintenance to worry about. In later years, we can live in the ADU and use rental income from our house to fund assistance or care, or offer the ADU to a care giver if we need 24/7 assistance.

Type of ADU Detached, new construction
Architect/Designer Wall Design Build, http://www.walldesignbuild.com/
General Contractor Wall Design Build, http://www.walldesignbuild.com/
Heating System Minisplit
When did you start the design work? 1/2016
When did you submit the plans to the City? 6/2016
When did you start construction 8/2016
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 1/2017
Total Square Footage 379
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $168K
Cost/Square Foot $443
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above) Maggie helped with the variance process and assisted some with details during design and construction. Approx. value of $1000.
Other special project costs

We spent over $2K on the variance

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

Initially as a short-term rental so we can cover some of the debt.

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

The impetus for the ADU was to give ourselves options to ‘age in place’. We love our neighborhood and would prefer not to move to senior housing. With the ADU, we can offer housing to caregivers or live in it ourselves (it is designed so a you can take a wheelchair or walker from the curb to the bedroom, bathroom and shower) and rent our house to cover nursing care. Hopefully that’s decades away.

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

Maggie attended one of Kol’s workshops to get some initial insight into building an ADU. Maggie had a friend at the City who had worked for BDS and was a great deal of help in applying for a varience. Otherwise, Corey and Mark at Wall Design Build did the rest for us and we were oblivious to what ever challenges they may have had.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

We got several different perspectives about our variance, including one person telling us we could not build. I believe there were a few other issues. Thankfully our contractors did the bulk of work with BDS.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

It ended up costing a bit more than we expected but there were a few factors at play, e.g. the market and demand for contractors went pretty crazy just as Wall Design Build was lining up subs, so everyone was charging top-dollar. We also spent more furnishing the place than we thought we would – Ikea just didn’t seem like the way to go for us. We’d do it all again just the same and feel its a great investment. Using it has a short-term rental for about a year helps take down a chunk of the costs and renting it as a furnished month-to-month should get us back all the costs in less than 10 years. We have lots of options for the future because of it, our property values (which have gone through the roof in our neighborhood in general) have increased and SE Portland has one more unit of housing that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?
  • R49 insulation in the ceiling
  • Tankless Water heater
  • Ductless mini split system
What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

We love how nicely the structure fits within our lot and in the neighborhood. While some of the newer development going on is ‘interesting’ architecturally – it seems incongruous in terms of scale and style. I’m all for increasing density, but we don’t have to lose the old Portland charm to accomplish it. The Pearl, South Waterfront where development is starting from scratch are great places to bring in new and diverse styles. Our little guest house looks like it was meant to be there.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

We’re glad we were able to build the structure so that we’d be happy living there ourselves – so it’s really the overall quality of the design and construction we’re proud of. The floorplan really maximizes all 379 sq ft. very well – we have a roomy bathroom, ample bedrooom and very workable kitchen which also houses a washer dryer. The materials (windows, doors, cabinetry) are all high quality so they make the place look and feel solid. The high ceilings, skylights and fabulous bathroom all make for a place that feels pretty special.

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

We probably will wish we had more storage space once we are living there ourselves, but the easy solution to that is to get rid of some of the stuff we have that we really don’t need.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

We were happy with the process and the outcome. We’ve had some issues with the on-demand hot water system taxing PGE’s system in a way it wasn’t built for – PGE’s system that is (the lights flicker in the ADU and in our house when the shower or washer is running in the ADU). We contacted PGE and although it took some time they are due to put in a new power pole and transformer any day now.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

Initially we were surprised that we couldn’t re-purpose our garage. The ADU needed a better foundation and space under it for plumbing etc. Otherwise, it was probably a bit smoother than we expected based on other projects we’ve done. There’s A LOT of stuff to decide on and purchase, especially if you’re going to offer it as a furnished short-term rental. I also was surprised to be so sad to see our contractors finish up because it was so nice to have them around!

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

Using a Design-Build contractor was great. We didn’t have to do any coordination between the two processes and there wasn’t any question about who did what. We spent money on the things that seem to really show – e.g windows, doors, cabintry and found very inexpensive but great looking bathroom tile and flooring everywhere else. Be sure you know what you want, participate in the process and make sure you hire a great contractor you trust and like having around because you’re going to see alot of them!

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8) Gina Ostby and Seth Gross

We built an ADU to simplify our lives and for increased financial flexibility. After living in a 3+ bedroom house for several years, we found that we really didn’t need all of the space and all of the furniture and things that go along with that. We wanted to downsize and lower our expenses to have more financial freedom in the future. When we moved into our ADU it was satisfying to take load after load of things we hadn’t used in years to the Goodwill. We also knew that with Portland’s housing market we couldn’t go wrong building an ADU. Renting out the main house would immediately cover the entire cost of our mortgage – even after refinancing to build the ADU!

Type of ADU Detached, new construction
Architect/Designer Schuyler Smith, polyphon.com
General Contractor Owen Gabbert, owengabbertllc.com
Heating System Ductless mini split, cadet heater in bathroom
When did you start the design work? 2/2015
When did you submit the plans to the City? 2/2016
When did you start construction 8/2016
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 1/2017
Total Square Footage 754
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $208K
Cost/Square Foot 276
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above) None
Other special project costs Tree removal ($3k)

replacing old fence that was knocked down during construction ($5k)

changing stair/shelving design mid-way through construction ($2k)

upgrading and relocating electrical panel in main house to allow for ADU connection ($4k)

time spent by contractor completing extensive loan paper work ($2,600)

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

We are currently using the ADU as our primary residence.

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

We plan to live in the ADU as our primary residence over the next several years. Down the road, we intend to use it as a long term or short term rental.

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

After initially learning about ADUs, we attended Kol’s class, which we found to be invaluable in helping us navigate the entire process. The accessorydwellings.org website provided helpful information on costs, etc. We also participated in multiple ADU tours. Seeing a variety of ADUs in person and talking with owners/designers/contractors during the tour gave us insights as to how we might like to design our own ADU. Once we selected an architect (who we met during our first ADU tour), we went through several design iterations before landing on the final design (including changes that were inspired after another ADU tour!). Our architect then made some recommendations on contractors who would be a good fit for our project. Once we selected the contractor, he worked with us and our architect to develop a budget and timeline. Our mortgage broker helped us navigate financing options.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

Working with BDS went smoothly for us thanks to the work of our architect and contractor. We had to have our property surveyed for an additional cost, but discovered that our fence was actually two feet in from our property line. This allowed us to push the ADU back further from the house. Our architect also helped us navigate the City of Portland’s tree removal policy. We had to take out two mature trees to build the ADU, but did not end up having to pay a significant fee due to the number of other trees on our property.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

Refinancing meant starting over at 30 years on the mortgage. However due to low rates and dropping PMI our mortgage only went up a few hundred dollars a month (though our taxes have yet to be reassessed). By renting our main house, we will cover the increased mortgage and more. This gives us tremendous financial flexibility if we decide to make major life changes. We also see this as a long term investment. We should recoup our total costs in less than 10 years and then also have a source of income if we want to retire early and/or relocate.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?

We didn’t explicitly include green features in our design, but using the structural materials as the finishes at the slab on grade (concrete flooring on ground level), and then the exposed decking/beams at the flooring and ceiling is an efficiency of materials.

What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

We love all of the wood! The open wood shelving, flooring, sills, front door and exposed beams give the space a warm feeling that compliments the more modern/industrial design and natural lighting from the many windows. We are also very happy with the stained cedar siding on the exterior – it gives the house a bit of a Scandinavian look and blends nicely into the yard.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

We’re proud that we were able to create a space that feels like a home. We love the efficient layout, open floor plan and vaulted ceiling. The two levels allow for separation of space that feels very natural. The design incorporates all of our requirements – private bedroom, plenty of storage, an office and a large living room – all in 750 square feet! We’ve been living in the ADU for several months now and it feels very comfortable and homey.

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

The vaulted ceiling brings a large temperature gradient. It can be warm upstairs and cold downstairs. We do have a large fan in the vaulted ceiling that helps circulate the heat from the mini-split, but radiant heat in the concrete floors (which we opted not to do) would probably have solved this issue. Even though we designed the ADU with significant storage for such a small space, we could always use more, particularly in the laundry room.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

We financed through a combination of cash and a rehab mortgage. This style of loan turned out to be extremely difficult and not designed for new construction of a detached ADU – so much so that our mortgage broker has decided not to use them for ADUs any longer. The rehab mortgage process added significant time (like 6 months), cost (we had to pay our contractor for spending hours filling out extensive paperwork as well as a consultant to approve progress and submit paperwork to the lender) and stress (dealing with all of the hoops). We would definitely explore other financing options if we were to start over or wait until we had enough equity in our main home to cover the construction costs (by the time we finally we approved for the loan, we just might have had enough equity!).

Additionally, we would have explored radiant floor heating further. When the budget was coming together it started to look very expensive. We decided to save some costs by going with the ductless mini-splits instead. In the end, I think we would have been much happier and warmer during cold winter of 2017 with radiant heat in the concrete floors.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

How many decisions you have to make – from design to finishes to where do you want the outlets. Selecting finishes, appliances, paint colors, etc. in advance could help alleviate decision fatigue and stress during the construction process.

Cost was another surprise. People always say it will cost much more than anticipated and this turned out to be very true! Between the unexpected construction costs (upgrading and relocating electrical panel in main house to allow for ADU connection), additional costs for upgrading finishes, and significant costs not included in the construction budget (light fixtures, appliances, replacing the fence, taking out trees, removing a shed, landscaping, etc.) the total cost really starts to add up fast.

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

Definitely attend an ADU tour. These tours were the most informative thing we did – connecting us to other owners, architects and builders, giving us ideas of what we wanted in our ADU and most importantly providing detailed, realistic information about costs and potential obstacles encountered during the process.

I would also recommend adding up non-budgeted costs (appliances, light fixtures, landscaping, demolition, etc.) from the start to give you a better sense of the true cost before construction begins. And expect additional costs to come up during the building process.

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9) Tim and Kelly Wright 

It was first mentioned by our real estate agent when we purchased the house, as the back yard was a little larger than most (6000 sqft) and the double garage was almost in ruins. I didn’t know what an ADU was and was curious. It sounded like a great way of investing in the future, both as a potential home for our parents in their later years, and as an income stream and capital asset for the short and long term.

Type of ADU Detached new construction
Architect/Designer Design Build Portland, www.designbuildportland.com
General Contractor Design Build Portland, www.designbuildportland.com
Heating System ductless mini-split
When did you start the design work? 11/2015
When did you submit the plans to the City? 2/2016
When did you start construction 8/2016
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 3/2017
Total Square Footage 607
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $202K
Cost/Square Foot $332
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above) None
Other special project costs We had to rebuild the garage as it was in ruins and we wanted a working garage. We also had to demo and rebuild the garage as a single rather than double, so the total accessory building coverage (i.e. garage plus ADU) was less than the required 15% of the total lot size (per code). The garage rebuild cost approx $15K (not included in the total ADU costs above).
Certification & Energy Scores Earth Advantage Platinum and EPS
What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

Family, friends, short-term rental

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

family, friends, short-term rental and long-term rental

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

researched on the internet; read through Kol’s blog; spoke with a couple of architects; met with two companies onsite; went on the ADU tour in Sept 2015; developed a forecasting budget/revenue spreadsheet; spoke with banks; chose Design Build Portland, signed a contract and started sketching out some basic designs.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

Design Build Porland took the lead with BDS for the ADU, so it was relatively pain-less for that project. Ian (the architect) responded to the queries during the design phase. It got complicated with BDS on the related project of re-building the garage, which we had to do for a variety of reasons, not least to prevent us going over the 15% rule.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

we’re one month in to renting the space (May 1st today) and thus far our bookings look good. i’m sure there will be ups and downs, but hopefully in 5-10 years we recoup the capital outlay, and in the meantime significantly improve the value of the property and have a long-term income stream.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?
  • Insulated Ceiling: R-38 Efficient Windows: U-0.27 Space Heating: 10.7 HSFP Heat Pump
  • Insulated Walls: R-27 Efficient Lighting: 100.0 % Envelope Tightness: 2.8 ACH @ 50Pa
  • Insulated Floors: R-15 Water Heater: Tankless 0.99 EF
  • Energy Performance Score of 32
What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

we love the openness of the living space, with the high vaulted ceilings, lots of windows and the way the kitchen peninsula connects the space. the bedroom also worked really well as a cosy space, in contrast with the openness of the living space, tucked into the back corner of the property, under a tree, and with warm colors and simply soft furnishings.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

at risk of sounding corny, we’ve loved the whole journey, and to be honest, are amazed at how well it’s come together. from the design, to the construction, to the many, many, many decisions about which we had next to no baseline knowledge (lighting, finishes, paint colors, landscaping, tiling etc), all the way through to furnishings and learning how to host on AirBnB. it’s been a hellava learning curve and with a few exceptions, we’ve loved it. especially as we hear how much the folks that stay there love it too!

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

likely if we’d known more, we may have done something different with the concrete flooring. at the time when options were explored, the extra expense did not seem worth it. that said, i’m still open to seeing how the post-industrial look develops over time. it may be good.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

i would have got a survey done at the outset to reduce uncertainty with the design process. and as soon as we knew the tree was going to be a factor in the design, i would have paid for a arborist to come out and give us the option of using the performance path for tree protection, rather than spending many (many) weeks trying to design something around the tree so we could save money (i.e. not pay an arborist) and stay within the prescriptive path. we ended up going the performance path… and it cost $400.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

Two things, Portland really protects its trees and detached ADUs cost a lot of money. Honestly, we had more surprises and headaches from rebuilding the garage than anything to do with the ADU.

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

as highlighted above, I’d encourage anyone to consult an arborist early in the design phase of the project if there is a large tree on the property. there may be more options/flexibility than the building code suggests.

i’d definitely encourage folks to use a design build company for a detached ADU, and would happily recommend working with Ian and Stephen. They are good people. They took responsibility for the whole process, brought the design to life, and made it relatively stress free. Admittedly, I’m no handy person, but I’m not convinced from our experience and what I researched, heard and saw, that investing a lot of “sweat equity” and/or trying to manage subs yourself saves much money. Unless, of course, you love the work, have some mad contractor skills and don’t have a day job. More likely, it seems to risk increasing the stress and if rental is your goal, a delayed timeline and lost income.

All this said, having gone through the process and while we are super-happy with the finished product, i’m not sure i’d choose to build another detached ADU (for our purposes). the costs are significantly higher than remodeling existing space, where you can use the existing systems and foundation, and if you can get enough light and space, you can design a wonderful resource for family and friends, as well as a potentially lucrative income stream, with less capital investment/debt.

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10) Jesse and Emily 

We planned on starting a family and wanted to make a space for our out-of-town parents and siblings to comfortably visit us (and to help out with childcare). We also were daunted by taking on our first mortgage and believed that having a rentable space could provide some economic security.

Type of ADU Garage conversion
Architect/Designer Self-designed
General Contractor Alexander Mills, Samara Craft LLC. http://samaracraft.com/
Heating System The ductless mini split is the primary heat source; there is also a cadet heater in the bedroom and a heating fan in the bathroom.
When did you start the design work? 8/2015
When did you submit the plans to the City? 4/2016
When did you start construction 4/2016
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 10/2016
Total Square Footage 576
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $80K
Cost/Square Foot $138
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above) $5K
Other special project costs Land use review ($2K)
What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

Initially, we’ll use the ADU as a guest house for family members

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

Possibly as short-term rental and longer-term rental.

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

We attended an ADU class, attended an ADU tour, consulted with friends and family on the design, drew lots of floor plans and moved furniture cutouts around to simulate rooms and spaces, consulted with a friend who was building an ADU to see how the budget broke down, took bids from three contractors, and secured loans and gifts from family members.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

We had a slow and somewhat frustrating process of land use review with BDS to get an adjustment on the parking requirements for our property. After consulting with BDS, we applied for one kind of adjustment and BDS immediately notified our neighbors for the comment period. More than a month later, after the comment period was over, someone at BDS finally got around to reading our application and suggested that it might be better applying for a different kind of adjustment — but we’d have to go to the back of the line, start over, re-notify all the neighbors, wait out the comment period, etc. The adjustment we applied for was simple and straightforward. The process took four months to complete.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

We really don’t know yet. It would probably take 8 – 10 years to make back our investment in rent. However, we’ve already benefited from having a comfortable place for family to stay and help with childcare, and that’s harder to quantify. If we decide at some point to sell our property and move, we think the value we’ve added in creating this structure and the potential for generating income that it represents will exceed what we spent on the project. But given that we’re not in a rush to move, it will take some time for what we spent to come back to us.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?

Extra thick walls.

What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

We are very happy with the place. It manages to feel fairly spacious despite the relatively small space being divided into multiple rooms. We also think the clerestory windows helped us maintain the privacy of our house and of the ADU while providing enough natural light and nice views of foliage.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

The privacy, the balance of coziness and roominess, the simplicity of the design, the ways in which we were able to cut costs without sacrificing the look and feel of the interior. (For example, we made multiple trips to a local tile store until we found a set of imperfect tiles—rejected for minor color inconsistencies that nonetheless work very well in our space—and were able to tile the kitchen backsplash and the bathroom for probably 20% of what tiles of this quality would otherwise have cost.) We think the basic approach of clean, straightforward design paired with a few unique accent pieces (hand-crafted light fixtures; deep, fir windowsills and floating shelves) has made for a nice combination.

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

We don’t have many complaints yet! Ultimately, we may need to put a floor down on top of the garage’s original concrete pour. We’re still in a honeymoon period with the ADU and are quite pleased.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

Start the engagement with BDS sooner and talk to multiple people there. There were times when we talked to someone who knew less about our particular situation than we did, and who did not alert us to specific parts of the city’s code relevant to our property that made an adjustment necessary. If an adjustment is necessary, ask for a full menu of possible land use adjustments that would remedy your problem. We were not advised of all the possible ways we could fix our issue until the process was well underway and shifting gears would have caused a large delay. Expect the adjustment review process to take longer than promised by the City’s guidelines. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised, instead of annoyed and agitated.

If you have the time, become an expert on the city’s ADU design guidelines that apply to your specific project.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

We didn’t think we’d have to apply for a land use review – we thought our garage was a perfect candidate for a conversion to an ADU, not realizing that special setback rules apply to through-lots like ours.

A smaller thing: to keep costs low, we purposefully didn’t change the envelope of our garage. However, we added windows to each wall. We didn’t realize that this would require consultation with a structural engineer, removing some of the siding, reinforcing the walls, and replacing the siding—all of which added to the expense.

Also: tree protection rules can seem arbitrary and ridiculous on projects like this. We hired an arborist to come up with a plan for tree protection to give to the city. The city ended up rejecting the plan, and we were required to put fence protection around a tree that was 50 feet from the construction (virtually all of which was in the interior of the building, anyway). In the end, this made the work easier, because if we’d had to fence off the tree closer to the building it would have hampered our contractor’s movement.

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

First, know that many garages aren’t as suitable for conversions as you’d hope. When looking for a home to buy, we specifically looked for places with convertible garages, and soon learned that most garages would have to be torn down in order to create a structure that met current building code.

We did not work with an architect both because we wanted to save money and because we ultimately felt confident we could design a space—working with our contractor, who had a strong design sense, too—to maximize the qualities we were looking for in an ADU. It took us a while to land on the final design—an architect probably would have been faster. But we’re happy with the result. Large to-scale drawings helped a lot to give us a sense of how a furnished room would feel. There’s fairly simple 3-D software you can use, too, although we never got around to it.

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11) Jeneen Bell and Bret Hodgert

The ADU was built for Jeneen’s mother. With both her daughters in Portland, it was time for her to move to enjoy her family and retirement.

Type of ADU Garage conversion
Architect/Designer Departure Design, http://www.departure-design.com/
General Contractor Markt & Company Construction, https://marktandcompany.com/
Heating System Ductless mini split is the primary heat, in the bathroom we used a cadet heater in combination with in floor heating.
When did you start the design work? 4/2016
When did you submit the plans to the City? 8/2016
When did you start construction 2/2017
When did you get your certificate of occupancy? 7/2017
Total Square Footage 746
Total Cost (including sweat equity) $230K
Cost/Square Foot 308
Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above) For our ADU, we’d estimate my and Bret’s sweat equity work was worth $30K. This includes the items we used from Old Portland Hardware & Architectural (Bret’s business) and yard landscaping.
Other special project costs Before regulations changes we paid the city an additional amount for a land use adjustment review because the building was less than 3 feet from the neighbor’s property (~$2K).
What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

The ADU was designed for Jeneen’s mother. She recently retired and currently has mobility issues. She will relocate from the east coast to live next to Jeneen and Bret.

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

Over time we will likely use the ADU as a rental or for other family to live. Perhaps we will move into it one day. The decisions are a long way away and there are so many options. Having a second living unit on the same property opens up so many options.

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

Jeneen attended Kol’s one day ADU class and two ADU tours. Plus, went to the city and asked several questions before starting the plans. We drew up some basic plans together before approaching an architect. We also created a short list of must haves (bright, open feeling, full size kitchen). This helped us keep focused.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

A previous Land Use Decision was previously rendered on this property that allowed a reduction in side-yard setback from 5’-0” to 3’-0”

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

It cost us approximately $200K to build it. We’re not viewing this with an immediate payback view since it is not being rented. It will greatly improve Jeneen’s mothers quality of life and make it easier for us to help her when she needs. Family is priceless. We will be able to sell the house for more or rent it in the future, so it is like adding to our retirement portfolio.

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?

Plenty of natural light, 5 ½” blown in fiberglass insulation @ walls, 9” thick eps rigid insulation @ roof, energy efficient electric mini-split system, “Lunos” e2 HRV’s (2), “Pro Clima” air barrier and waterproof membrane system, Energy Star rated appliances, Led light fixtures and bulbs throughout with dimmers.

What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

It feels great inside and out. We are very happy with how good it feels inside being bright and open with wood beams. The windows provide so much light that 95% of the construction work was done with daylight alone. We could have done a higher roof, but it would have felt oppressing to us from the outside. The ADU looks like an extension of our house and blends in well.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

This ADU is build for a person with mobility issues, many living in place design ideas were implemented. 100% living can occur on the main floor in a mostly ADA layout. The bathroom has a walk in shower and bath tub for soaking weary legs. It was a creative use of space.

We are both happy and proud of the cohesiveness of the two buildings.

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

There were many sacrifices to help save money. It would have been really nice to have casement wood windows that can be painted. But, the vinyl windows well insulated quality windows, so it’s easier to accept.

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

It would have been great to realize earlier what a great investment it is. We wouldn’t have waited so long to do this. Once we started the construction process we realized how valuable this addition is and think it should be the norm. The fact that the ADU can be used for family, friends, rental income, or retirement makes it a great investment.

We started with an architect who is not very familiar with ADU’s. We would have started with an architect that specializes in or has experience with ADU’s and aging in place.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

The decisions are endless and you can’t pick them all in advance. For instance, you might think a railing is one choice, but it can be 5 choices; material, style, finish, fastener finish and style, length…It’s great to have two people together making decisions, especially when decision fatigue sets in. Although this might not be an issue for people who aren’t so particular 😉

Another surprising this is that the construction process can take twice as much or more space as the finish product (i.e. staging materials, port a potty, sewage and water lines, contractor vehicles).

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

Do it now, don’t wait, the costs will only go up! When we starting talking about this 5 years ago we could have built it for at least 30% less costs. Materials and labor costs increase over the years, what are you waiting for? Also, If you’re doing a garage conversion, unless it was build in the last 20 years it might be better to take the whole thing down. It doesn’t hurt to be on good terms with your neighbors.

Write down your must have’s or your wish list. Ours was bright and open feeling with a full bathroom and kitchen. Check, check, and check! Done!

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12) Jeremy and Kristin Nasta 

My mother Phyllis, really wanted to move to Portland to be here when we had a baby. We looked at homes in the area for over a year but in the end, it seemed like a great idea to have our own little home freshly built. It’s a great investment and we could avoid the hassle of renovating really old construction.

Type of ADU

Detached new construction

Architect/Designer

Beate loanide-Culi, rnbdesign.org

General Contractor

Western Oregon Builders,  www.WesternOregonBuilders.com

Heating System

Heat Pump

When did you start the design work?

2/2016

When did you submit the plans to the City?

4/2016

When did you start construction

6/2016

When did you get your certificate of occupancy?

12/2016

Total Square Footage

730

Total Cost (including sweat equity)

$151K

Cost/Square Foot

$206

Sweat Equity estimate (part of the “Total Cost” listed above)

$1.5-2K

Other special project costs We were very lucky in that our ADU was a new build in an area of our yard where there were no trees or hills or anything. Our water/sewer line was upgraded when we bought the house (the city paid for half at the time) otherwise that would have prevented us from getting this ADU up so quickly. We did have to have a land survey to check our property lines and that ran us $600.
Energy Scores EPS
What different ways do you plan to use the ADU in the coming year?

As a house for my mother. A granny flat!

What different ways do you plan to use the ADU over time?

Could be a rental or for family and friends too

What did you do to prepare for the ADU development process?

I attended Kol’s class and that really set things in motion. Otherwise, just the normal amount of online research and asking around.

Describe your experience working with BDS to get your project approved.

We did have a parking spot on the design which was located in our back yard. At the time we were not really set on that being the parking spot but it was included in the design as a visual reference. BDS came back with a requirement that we pour a 12’x16′ concrete slab in the alley to act as a driveway. WOW! That was a surprise. Fortunately our designer made some calls and found out that if we removed the parking spot from the design, they would waive the slab requirement. We removed it immediately and plan on having parking in the alley way. Otherwise, the experience as homeowners working with BDS was fine. Our designer, Beate, did the legwork for us and ushered things along. Very nice to have her for that.

How do you think about the ‘return on your investment’ for this ADU?

The ROI comes in both real estate and living space. It’s a wonderful option to have. Thanks to the City of Portland for waiving the building fees and peaking our interest!

Besides its small size, what green features did you include in your design?

There is an extra thick layer of insulation between the walls and the siding.

What design aspect of your ADU are you most happy with?

The high ceilings and many windows is what gives this relatively small home a big feel. The rustic style patio covers and the choice of stone and wood for finishing products brings a great feeling to the atmosphere of the place.

What features in your ADU are you most proud of?

High ceilings and lots of windows

What design aspect of your ADU are you least happy with?

There really isn’t anything that we aren’t happy with but that has a lot to do with being around while key decisions are being made and being able to foresee aspects of every part. Where will the water spicket go? We moved it from the side to the front at the last second. How about electricity outside? We are able to operate the north facing light from outside- a decision made on the spot. Dream big and be happy with what you get!

What would you do differently, if you were to start over?

Perhaps we would have gotten permits when we converted our garage in the main house to living space. This would have allowed us to get the full 800 ft2 allotted for ADU’s. Since our home is only 900 ft2, the ADU (can only be 75% of main home or 800ft2) had to remain 730 ft.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your design/build process?

You’ve really got to be into every aspect of the design from the tile, counters, floors, cabinets, doors . . . everything. We went in without much experience at all in choosing these products and we had to learn fast!

What advice would you offer someone else building the same kind of ADU?

Build as big and modern as you can. Choose the best products and find a company/designer with a modern sense of what works. Also, think upwards. Go as high as possible and create space wherever you can in the design.

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