As I’ve interviewed homeowners, designers, and builders about ADUs over the past several years, one thing that has impressed me is how many people are using an ADU as part of their retirement plan. ADUs can provide housing flexibility, additional income, one-floor living to age-in-place, proximity to family members and caretakers, or even just a place to call home when traveling.
Aging-in-place was a key design consideration for Andy Simon and Ruby Perry as they designed an ADU in their daughter and son-in-law’s backyard. Their one-story ADU incorporates doors with adequate clearance for a wheelchair. Ruby and Andy’s ADU was completely paid off in three years and it is now serving as Andy and Ruby’s dwelling, just as they’d intended. Three generations have created a web of mutual interdependence including childcare, gardening, and shared meals.
The hidden value of ADUs is particularly evident in the conversations I’ve had with multigenerational families who use an ADU to create greater housing flexibility and security. There are so many tangible and intangible benefits of creating a multi-generational housing situation that I can’t possibly catalog them all here. But I’d like to give you a sense of how ADUs are working for multigenerational families.
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.
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.