ADU

Propel ADU Project featured on the Oregonian

A recent article in the Oregonian showcases one of our ADU projects as part of a discussion on the rise of ADUs across Portland. Check out the full article by following the link below:

Rentable Second Home Tops New Garage: Accessory Dwellings On The Rise, by Janet Eastman

Designed by Propel Studio Architecture, this ADU consists of a 2-bedroom apartment of around 650 sf, over a 2-car garage on the ground level, and was beautifully built by Durham Construction.

 
sinclair-ADU-over-garage-designed-by-propel-studio-architecture-2.jpeg

Why ADUs Are A Great Benefit To Portland Neighborhoods

This article was first published in “Hey Neighbor!” the neighborhood newspaper published by NECN.

Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, are secondary residences that can be built on any residential property in Portland and many of the surrounding communities. As housing costs continue to rise, many neighbors search for affordable housing for themselves or loved ones and ADUs can provide wonderful places to live while being much cheaper than buying a house in today’s market. They are also great ways to earn rental income for homeowners, potentially allowing people to stay on their property even if the neighborhood gets more expensive. In short, ADUs are great investments that help build wealth and provide much needed housing. They can be an important part of creating diverse and thriving communities.

The Wedge - Interior.jpg

At Propel Studio we have been working in neighborhoods throughout Portland over the past six years to help people navigate the design, permitting and construction process for ADUs. We find ADUs to be great ways to address our housing shortage, while preserving the neighborhood character that we all enjoy.

Here are a few reasons we think ADUs are a great fit for Portland and something that everyone should consider adding to their property:

  • ADUs create opportunities to provide housing while preserving neighborhood character.

  • ADUs are sustainable, by doubling down on residential areas with existing infrastructure and services (preventing urban sprawl).

  • ADUs give homeowners an opportunity to capitalize on their current investment (their property) to build wealth, provide passive income, and help people plan for retirement.

  • ADUs allow for multi-generational living and aging-in-place

  • ADUs are a popular way to downsize while remaining in the community you’ve grown to love.

  • ADUs can be designed to be low-maintenance.

  • ADUs can be designed to be net-zero energy use - meaning your energy bills could be close to $0.

  • ADUs can be cheaper to build than buying a new house to live in.

The+Screen+ADU+Exterior.jpg

Most of the time ADUs are detached buildings (like a backyard cottage), but an ADU can also be created within a renovated basement, attic, or garage. Each property and family is unique, so we work with our clients to talk through all of the options available and find the best solution to their situation - based on budget, existing conditions of the property, and what their goal is for the new structure.

Like any investment, there are costs associated with these. ADUs are not cheap - we find they cost between $170,000 to $275,000 depending on the size, complexity, quality of finishes, etc. This cost is relatively similar regardless of whether you are building new or renovating an existing space. Renovating basement or garages into an ADU is not necessarily cheaper than building a new as often it is more complex to work within an existing structure. In general, new, detached, ADUs are the simplest to build but we have worked on all sorts of ADUs over the past few years.

The Screen - Photo 1.jpg

We are passionate about ADUs as they can be economic, social, and environmentally sustainable housing opportunities. If you have any questions or are considering building an ADU, we offer a range of free resources on our ADU page, and free consultations at our office.

To help people financially plan for building an ADU, we have developed a simplified proforma spreadsheet that estimates the project costs that need to be considered. This worksheet allows you to play around with various costs and variables and see the impact on the total project cost.

ADU Costs and a Proforma Worksheet

Although they are small in size, ADUs are still a large investment for most people that we work with. To make sure we understand priorities and how to best design within a budget, we start the design process by discussing the client’s wants and needs, and understanding the budget and goals for the project. Although the design process takes a significant amount of time, and it is difficult to know exactly what the construction costs will be when the design is permitted and ready to break ground, we try to design projects that are reasonably close to our client’s stated budgets.

At the same time, having clients that understand their financial goals and potential returns for these investments, makes these discussions easier. It is important that the people we work with have realistic expectations for the costs of ADU projects in today’s market, as well as understand what they should expect for potential rents and the revenue they can expect compared to the costs. Too often people come to us with expectations based on information that isn’t correct or that is out of date, which makes these early budget discussions difficult. Even just a few years ago it may have been possible to build an ADU for $125,00 to $150,000, while in today’s construction market it is difficult to get even a simple ADU built for less than $175,000.

To help you make a more informed decision, and have more realistic expectations, we have developed a tool to help calculate the costs and corresponding payback period and return on investment for ADU projects. This Proforma worksheet outlines the costs and ongoing expenses along with the revenue for an ADU rental unit. Although it doesn’t include fees and other costs for a loan product, it should give you a rough idea of what it takes to build an ADU and what revenue you can expect when it is complete. All you have to do is input some numbers based on your local market and the spreadsheet calculates the rest. It is a free download - just fill out the form below and a link to download the spreadsheet should appear:

Name *
Name

Sneak Peak of Our Latest ADU Project

Our latest ADU in SE Portland was recently completed. Our whole firm met there last week to preview the project and do a final punch list walk through with the client and contractor to identify and final things that needs fixing or adjustments. The best part was to see how happy our client was and to see the results of over a year of hard work by everyone involved.

We were all really pleased with the result. It all came together beautifully and the contractors - Billy Spear and the entire Evergreen Craftsmen team - did an amazing job. Also, because it was a typical rainy Portland day we got to see the scupper and water fall in action!

Below are some sneak peak phone photos I snapped during the walk-through. We are currently scheduling a photo shoot with a professional photographer and will get those up on the website soon.

How We Balance Design And Budget In A Custom Home Project

Every project, no matter how big or small, has a budget and it is our job as architects and designers to meet a client’s needs within their stated budget. This can be a challenge and is often the part of a project that is the most stressful - especially for our custom home clients.

One of the main reasons people hire architects to design a custom home, is that they want a space that is tailored to their specific needs, values, and responds to their family’s lifestyle. This often means that when we first meet with our clients, they already have a good idea of what they want and need in their new home. The challenge occurs when their list of wants doesn’t align with the budget for a project they can afford to build.

The Wood House - Interior.png

We start each project with a programming meeting with our clients. This includes a conversation where we discuss everything that will be going into the new house before we even put pencil to paper to start the design. Together we identify all of the spaces, unique features, specific wants, and the overall needs of the client. We discuss general style consideration, and document any specific things the client would like us to include in the project. Once that list is defined we can then go through it together to prioritize what is most important vs what would be nice to have, but if budget becomes a concern we could do without.

We use this programming document as a basis for the design work for the custom home. With the wants and needs in mind we start sketching ideas, and coming up with concepts for how the house could fit on the site, accommodate the programming list, and be within the budget range.

Once we have some design ideas documented, we recommend selecting a General Contractor to perform pre-construction services in order to get real cost feedback throughout the design process. Contractors are knowledgeable about cost fluctuation in material and labor costs, and have the ability to give some feedback on constructibility and offer ideas on how to make things more cost effective. With a contractor on board, we get a rough estimate when we are close to complete with the Schematic Design Phase. This allows us to get cost feedback and still have the opportunity to make changes or edits to the design to bring the project in line with the budget.

Often this is the moment where clients can get stressed - when the estimated cost of a project comes back above the stated budget. This is where our value as designers can really come to play. With the cost estimate in one hand, and the understanding of the project goals we discuss with our clients what the highest priorities are, what can be sacrificed, and where we can make edits to bring the cost down. We discuss overall design goals, and then offer suggestions on what changes can be made.

This process is common in almost every project and not something to worry about. It is a time where the client takes stock of what they want in their home and what they can afford to build. Sometimes this is a point where clients decide they want to raise their budget in order to get some of the things they really value. Other times, it involves working together to make some tough decisions on what the carve out of the project in order to keep the budget where it is.

Either way, we work closely with out clients to analyze the various options and make recommendations on how they can get as close to their vision as possible while still being a project they can afford. This isn’t always an easy process, but often can lead to a better design that is more efficient and cost effective.

At the end of the day, our priorities are to provide great service and make sure our clients can get as close to their vision as possible within their budget. We strive to make this happen in a seamless, stress-free way, and guide our clients through each hurdle to the best of our abilities. Cost can be a stressful part of each project and it is our goal to collaborate with our clients to make decisions that work for them.

Lucky8 House - Interior.jpg

If you have any questions about this post, the cost of building a custom home, or have other questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Book Giveaway: Backdoor Revolution - The Definitive Guide to ADU Development

A friend of Propel Studio, Kol Peterson, has published a new book: "Backdoor Revolution - The Definitive Guide To ADU Development. It is specifically written for planners, ADU advocates, and homeowners who aspire to build ADUs, and we think it would be a great resource for our clients and future clients. 

ADU Book Poster.png

 

About The Author

The author, Kol Peterson is an ADU expert based in Portland, Oregon, who has helped catalyze the exponential growth of ADUs in Portland over the last decade through ADU advocacy, education, consulting, policy work, and entreprenuership. He is the owner of Caravan- The Tiny House Hotel, the first tiny house hotel in the world, and organizer of Portland’s popular ADU Tour.  He consults with homeowners about ADUs on their property, and teaches ADU classes for homeowners and for real estate agents. He edits and manages AccessoryDwellings.org, BuildinganADU.com, pdxadu.blogspot.com, and AccessoryDwellingStrategies.com.

Purchase the book here:
http://www.buildinganadu.com/backdoor-revolution/

ADU Design and Innovation Slam

In the fall of 2017 Portland hosted the Build Small Live Large conference. Propel partner Tuan Vu participated in a Design and Innovation Slam, where 5 firms gave short presentations about innovative or creative projects they were working on. Tuan presented a recent ADU project that focused on Aging-in-place and designing for multi-generational living. Watch the full video:

This fast-paced, image-heavy session features exciting small home projects that address real needs in the market, including workforce housing, modular designs and age-friendly features.

Portland Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Permitting Lessons Learned

Having designed many Portland ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) over the past couple years and working through the often complex and picky city permitting process, we have some lessons learned on how to best prepare drawings and make decisions early that can make permitting smoother. Below are some of the common questions or issues that arise while permitting an ADU. The earlier we can address these sorts of issues in the design process the easier it is to breeze through the permitting process and start construction on your project.

Energy Efficiency Measures Checklist

Every new project in Portland has to address sustainability in some way. For residential projects, including ADUs, there is a checklist that city asks you to fill out, demonstrating what strategies you are using to reduce energy and water consumption. This ranges from the amount of Wall and roof Insulation, type of Heating Systems, use of low energy LED lighting fixtures, and more. For the ADUs that we have been designing we have focused on some simple strategies that are beneficial for the performance of the building but also easily attainable within our client's budgets.


Exterior 1 (3).jpg

Windows vs Doors

The proportions of windows are regulated in the ADU code, requiring them to match those in the existing house. However, many of our clients request bright, open, modern spaces that connect to the outdoors. With many craftsman bungalows or mid century houses, windows were relatively small and almost always vertically oriented, limiting what we can do in the ADU. We have often received comments from the city regarding window proportions and asking for proof that we were matching the existing house. There are two ways to address the discrepancy between what the city will allow and what our clients want.

The first trick is that if you make alterations to the main house you can then match those in the ADU. For instance, if you want a large horizontal window that frames a beautiful view into the garden in your ADU, then you can have your architect also propose adding a similar window somewhere on the main house. We recently did this for an ADU project, where we have a large array of south facing windows on the ADU and in order to accomplish this proposed that the owner also install a similar set of windows in the living room of his main house.

NamasteADU_Final-6.jpg



The second work around is that nowhere in the code does the city regulate doors. To create rooms that have a strong connection to the outdoors, we have used glass sliding doors, french doors and accordion doors to create walls of glass, providing beautiful views outside and also rooms that completely open up. This allows us the design flexibility to meet both our clients' wants with the regulations imposed by the Portland ADU zoning code. In this ADU we have wall to wall sliding glass doors opening the living room up to the backyard: http://www.propelstudio.com/project/northwest-modern-adu/

On-Site Water Infiltration

Portland requires new construction projects to address stormwater infiltration on site. There are two paths to meet this requirement, depending on the area of the impermeable surface in your project (think roof size). For projects over 1000sf we place a dry-well on the site that captures stormwater runoff from the roof and allows it to infiltrate into the ground. Drywells have to be located 10' from building foundations and 5' from the property setback. Usually this isn't a huge challenge although sometimes it can be difficult to find a suitable location depending on the placement of the ADU in relationship to the main house on the site. If the roof size is smaller than 1000sf we can simply have drains or rain chains that lead to a splash pad, allowing rain to directly absorb into the ground.

Water Supply Size

There is a rather complicated equation that the city has to calculate the size of the water supply for a property. It counts all the fixtures, appliances and other water features on a property, each with a multiplier, adds them all up and this gives the size of the water supply. When adding an ADU onto a property you have to redo these calculations, adding in the toilets, sinks, laundry, showers, etc. from the ADU into the calculation. Often the updated calculations require a larger water services. This is a relatively large added cost to the permitting fees - around $2000 or more. There aren't many ways of getting around this without reducing the number of fixtures in an ADU. For instance, only one sink instead of two in the bathroom, no laundry machine, etc.


NamasteADU_Final-1.jpg

Separate Water Service Agreement

Along with water supply size, there is the issue of how the water makes its way to the ADU. Does the new dwelling split off the existing water lines running to the main house, or do you want a new water service directly from the street. The main reason to start a new water service from the street is that you can have the water bill for the ADU go directly to that address/tenant rather than being grouped into the water bill for the main house. This allows you to also pass on the cost of water to the tenants. However, there is also a large upfront cost to create the new water service. It is a tradeoff worth considering.

Most of our clients chose to just branch off of the main house water supply. This is because of the added upfront costs of installing the new service. In order to do this the city asks you to sign a Separate Water Service Agreement having the owner sign off on the fact that one bill is serving multiple units. Here is a sample of the agreement paperwork: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/water/article/221091

 

We Are Back From Japan And Moving Projects Forward

If you’ve been following our work, blog and social media channels, you know that we spent most of October in Japan. It was an exciting trip for us because it was our first time visiting Aridagawa since we finished our community design workshops in 2016. We were anxious to see the results of the community design process and some of the completed work that came out of those workshops.

We’re happy to report that our Japanese friends flourished with the community design process we introduced to them. Here are a few of the results:

  • The construction work has started, with the roof being replaced, seismic upgrades complete, and renovations to the public spaces within the building (bathrooms, etc.) wrapped up.

  • The main design move, cutting a hole through the building to better connect with the shrine to the north has been completed. There is now a wonderful covered outdoor room with stairs and ramps that lead down to the shrine complex. This was an important connection for the community and it was great to see it take shape

  • The community is now looking for small business and entrepreneurs to rent space within the building. The goal is to have each tenant design their individual interior space, bringing a diverse range of local styles to the structure. We learned that the first business will most likely be a top room, serving up local and Portland beers!

We also made new friends in Tokyo, Nanto, Wakayama, and Okayama. In each place, we met with people who are passionate about building community and revitalizing towns. We presented our work and talked about ways we could learn from Japan and share our expertise with the local communities there. What an opportunity to share concerns and passions for community-building, economic prosperity, equity, and multi-generational opportunities.

You can learn more about our international efforts through a number of articles, including:

If you’d like to know more about our community design process or about how Portland design culture contribute to the design culture where you live, give us a call. We’ll be happy to talk about ways we can improve your community together. We’ll also be happy to talk more about our trip back to Japan.

 

Accessory Dwelling Units

Now that we’re back in Portland, we’re catching up on work and moving all the projects in the office forward. Many of these are ADUs at different stages of development. We’ve been following up with the construction progress on 4 ADUs that are currently being built. It’s always fun to see our designs take shape.

We also were excited to get back and participate in the 2017 Build Small Live Large conference. This conference collected some of the leading experts on Accessory Dwelling Units, Tiny Houses, and small scale residential developments in the country.

It was an honor to be a part of the conference, present some of our ADU work, and participate in a round table discussion on the value of design for ADUs.

We’ll share videos from the conference on social media and our blog when they’re available.

If you’re considering an ADU or have any questions about these types of projects, don’t hesitate to reach out. We also have a lot of information and ADU resources on our website here. We love sharing our knowledge and helping people move forward with achieving their goals.


 

What's an ADU and Why Should I Want One?

We have been helping people with the design of ADUs for the past 4 years here in Portland, Oregon. However, as we have started working beyond the city limits of Portland, we quickly realized that these projects are called different things in each city or town. There are at least thirty different names (that we could find) for Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs.

You may call them Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs for short, Laneway Houses, Granny Flats, Alley Apartments, or Carriage Houses. You may find something called a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit, a DADU, an Accessory Apartment, an Accessory Suite or an Ancillary Unit. Sometimes, they’re called Backyard Cottages, Basement Apartments or Dawdy Houses. Garden Cottages, Garden Suites or Grand Retreats are popular. Many people like Granny Cottages, Granny Pods or Granny Units. We’ve even seen JADUs, Junior Accessory Dwelling Units, SDUs, Secondary Dwelling Units and Secondary Suites. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Home within a Home, an In-Law Suite or an In-Law Unit? Increasingly, families need Mother-In-Law Flats, Mother-Daughter Houses, Multigenerational Homes or Next Gen Units. HGTV has popularized Tiny Houses and Hawaiians have Ohana Units. Maybe the most interesting name we’ve come across for that smaller, secondary unit is the Sidekick.

Regardless of what nomenclature you use, the theme that ties all of these together, is the desire to add an additional unit to your existing property. In North America, Vancouver, Seattle and Portland are the most popular markets for these types of homes although we have received inquiries from interested clients in the Bay Area in California, and across Colorado, including Denver, Boulder and smaller towns across the state. No matter where you are or what they’re called, Accessory Dwelling Units are growing in popularity.

But, what is an ADU and why would you want one?

By any name and in any location, an Accessory Dwelling Unit is a way to create a secondary dwelling unit (or home) on the property that you already own. Most of the time we think of these as separate, detached buildings (like a backyard cottage), but an ADU can also be a basement or attic apartment. Wherever it’s located, an ADU is a residential opportunity.

In cities where housing costs continue to rise, many of our neighbors are searching for affordable housing opportunities. Different cities and towns have their own rules and regulations concerning Accessory Dwelling Units, but the community benefits are typically the same. These housing types provide for desirable growth and opportunity.

  • Accessory Dwelling Units create opportunities to increase density and provide new affordable housing where housing costs continue to skyrocket.

  • ADUs generate additional property tax income for cities to provide valuable services and amenities to a wider range of people.

  • Accessory Dwelling Units create opportunities for cities and towns to grow sustainably by doubling down in areas with existing infrastructure and services.

  • Accessory Dwelling Units create opportunities to grow while preserving the character of our existing neighborhoods.

  • Accessory Dwelling Units create opportunities for homeowners to capitalize on their current investment (their property) and build wealth.

  • Accessory Dwelling Units create opportunities for neighbors of all family structures and income levels to build community in our most desirable residential areas.

  • ADUs provide opportunities for aging in place

  • ADUs can generate rental income for families at risk of displacement due to rising costs of owning a home.

What opportunities can an Accessory Dwelling Unit create for you?

If you want to know more about Accessory Dwelling Units and how you can build one, download our free “ADU Inspiration Book”.
When you’re ready to get started, schedule a Free Consultation with Propel Studio.

5 Tiny Tips for Designing and Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Portland, Oregon

ADU’s are hot. High land costs and permitting concessions from the City of Portland have made the thought of building an Accessory Dwelling Unit popular among homeowners and want-to-be homeowners in the last couple years. Have you ever thought about building an ADU? 

Over the course of our past couple articles, I’ve talked about reasons most people want to build an ADU and a few things that surprise most people who start the process of designing and building an Accessory Dwelling Unit.

Today, I’d like to wrap up our series on Accessory Dwelling Units by sharing a few tips that may help you in the design and construction process. Some of these tips are covered in our free “ADU Inspiration Book” so I hope you’ll download that free guide if these articles have piqued your interest.

1. Think about WHY you’re building an ADU

This is the tip I can’t stress enough. You need to understand WHY you’re building an ADU before you do anything else. 

Are you building a place for your parents to live so they can be close to the grandkids? Are you providing a home base for your parents when they’re not traveling? Are you investing in a unit to list on AirBnb? Are you creating a backyard apartment? Are you building a home so you can downsize?

Whatever the reason, WHY you are building an Accessory Dwelling Unit will dictate many of the design and budget decisions you make. Let’s get that nailed down first.

2. Tiny Houses really are tiny

Tiny houses can live large. We set out to design Accessory Dwelling Units so that they are comfortable and livable similar to any other home, but ADU’s in Portland, Oregon are limited to 800 square feet in size.
That means, we have to make smart decisions and set real priorities. Are you willing to give up a full size refrigerator and stove to gain a dedicated work space? There are lots of tiny options out there. We need to figure out what’s really most important to fit into your tiny house.

Accessory Dwelling Unit Plans

3. Understand your budget

If you read “5 Biggest Surprises our Clients Discover when Designing and Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit in Portland, Oregon” you know that, although tiny houses are tiny, they don’t necessarily come with tiny price tags. 

You need to understand your budget. How will you finance your ADU? Is it an investment property? Will you split the cost with your parents or tenants? How much money do you have available?

Once we’ve determined a realistic budget, we can talk about priorities and ways to maximize your tiny house.

4. Educate yourself

The best consumer is an educated consumer. The same goes for ADU clients. 

As you decide WHY you want to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit and start to understand your budget, look around. What are other people doing in your neighborhood? Do a little research. Download our free “ADU Inspiration Book”. Understand what you like and don’t like; what you need and don’t need. Be proactive, talk to an Architect, understand the process.

This can be a lot of fun, but it’s a journey that can be full of surprises if you’re not prepared. 

Portland Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit.jpg

5. Your Architect is better than your best friend

Even though it sounds a little self-serving, this is my favorite tip. An Architect may be a total stranger, but we can help you make the best decisions in what can be an emotional process, especially if parents and family are involved. An Architect is sometimes your counselor. 

Talk to an Architect sooner than later. As you decide why you’re doing this and you get a sense of what your budget, we can help you dial in what you can really do and what you can really afford. We’ll help you be proactive, we’ll provide research, we’ll guide you through the process of creating your Accessory Dwelling Unit.

I hope this series of articles about designing and building Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Portland, Oregon has been interesting and helpful. If you missed the previous articles, you can click here to read “Why do You want to Build an Accessory Dwelling Unit in Portland, Oregon?” You can click here to read “5 Biggest Surprises our Clients Discover when Designing and Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit in Portland, Oregon

If you haven’t already, please download our free “ADU Inspiration Book” and start dreaming about your Accessory Dwelling Unit project.

When you’re ready to get started, give me a call at Propel Studio by dialing: (503) 479-5740

5 Biggest Surprises our Clients Discover when Designing and Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Portland, Oregon

Many of our clients are surprised by some of the things they learn during the ADU design and construction process … and that’s ok! 

How many times have we talked to a friend or read an article or seen something on tv only later to find out that what we’d heard didn’t tell the whole story?

We don’t expect our clients to be experts on design and construction when they walk in the door. That’s our job! That’s why we wanted to share 5 things that often surprise our clients when it comes to the design and construction of Accessory Dwelling Units in Portland, Oregon.

 

 

1. ADU’s are not one-size-fits all. 
In our first article in this series on Accessory Dwelling Units in Portland, Oregon, I asked you to consider WHY you want to build an ADU. There’s good reason for this: ADU’s are not one-size-fits all. Not every ADU design is fit for every ADU dweller. 

A place for your parents to live is different than a place for a family. Long-term renters (think apartment) have different needs and expectations from short-term renters (think AirBnB or hotel).

Before you take the leap, please think long and hard about WHY you want to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit. Then, let’s talk about how that WHY will guide the design of your ADU.

2. There’s a limit to every ADU.
There are different reasons to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit. See “ADU’s are not one-size-fits all” and “Why do You want to Build an Accessory Dwelling Unit in Portland, Oregon?” 

While an ADU for your parents or for yourself will be different than an ADU you plan to list on AirBnB, the size of every ADU in Portland, Oregon is limited to 800 square feet. That means that all the design considerations we need to make for your ADU dweller, even if they’re in a wheel chair, has to fit within that tiny size limit.

3. Tiny houses don’t necessarily come with tiny price tags.
This may be the biggest tiny house surprise of them all. Even though you’re building a tiny house that’s limited to 800 square feet, your Accessory Dwelling Unit may not come with a tiny price tag. 

The reality of the situation is that even though you’re ADU is limited in size, you’re still building a kitchen and bathrooms and bedrooms. And, if your project is in your back yard there are often logistical challenges for your contractor. 

There are important design and budget decisions we need to make (do you really need your full-size, side-by-side refrigerator in your tiny house?) that will affect the cost of your ADU, but the bottom line is: don’t expect your tiny house to have a tiny price tag. 

4. All ADU renters are not created equal.
One common reason homeowners build an ADU on their property is to generate income. They envision renting the tiny house like a backyard apartment or for overnight guests like a hotel or AirBnb. The problem is, a long-term renter and a short-term renter are different. They have different needs and wants, both inside and outside.

Before we start designing your Accessory Dwelling Unit, we need to understand who’s going to be living or staying there. We’ll consider what they want in terms of privacy and amenities. We’ll even consider the quality and durability of materials that are necessary for your ADU to be manageable long-term.

5. Your parents may not want to live in your backyard.
Wouldn’t it be great to have your parents living in your back yard? They can be close to their grand kids and can help out as they get older! Did you ever think that your parents may not want to live in your backyard? I don’t mean that literally because hopefully, if you’ve decided to build an ADU for your parents you’ve already talked with them about it. 

Think about living in your backyard from your parents’ point of view. There are a number of things to consider when designing an Accessory Dwelling Unit for your parents. Things like their needs today, as well as in the future are important considerations. Privacy and the feeling of a place for themselves can be critical. You even need to talk about who’s paying for the project and how. 

When we sit down with you to design an ADU for your parents to live in, we’ll probably ask you to bring them to the table for some of the meetings.

 

 

Are you surprised?
These are some of the things we’ve found that usually surprise our clients that decide to build Accessory Dwelling Units on their property in Portland, Oregon. Did any of the things on our list of 5 things that surprise our clients surprise you? 

We don’t expect you to be an expert and we don’t expect you not to be surprised. Just like every design and construction project, there are lots of things to consider and lots to learn. We’re here to be your guide, sometimes even counselor, and help you through the process.

It’s important to understand that every scenario comes with it’s own design challenges and opportunities. Each requires special considerations in order to make the project successful.

If you’re thinking about an Accessory Dwelling Unit, please download our free “ADU Inspiration Book”. If you haven’t read it already, you may be interested in our previous article: “Why do You want to Build an Accessory Dwelling Unit in Portland, Oregon?” We hope you’ll also watch for the final article in our ADU series where we’ll cover helpful tips for designing and building an ADU.

Why do You want to Build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Portland, Oregon?

ADU’s are hot. High land costs and permitting concessions from the City of Portland have made the thought of building an Accessory Dwelling Unit popular among homeowners and want-to-be homeowners in the last couple years. Have you ever thought about building an ADU?

Over the course of our next few articles, I’ll talk about reasons most people want to build an ADU, several tips that will be helpful if you decide to take the leap and even a few things that surprise most people who start the process of designing and building an Accessory Dwelling Unit.

I’d like to start our series on Accessory Dwelling Units by asking you to consider WHY you want to build an ADU.

 

 

The Parents

The idea of downsizing is not new. Many more mature adults decide to move into a smaller home when they retire or when the kids leave home or even when they begin to travel and need a more modest home base. Sometimes those decisions are financial and sometimes they’re based on the amount of time and effort that goes into keeping up a larger home.

The emerging popularity of Accessory Dwelling Units in Portland have given downsizing homeowners a new option to consider. Whether it’s an ADU built in an adult child’s back yard that allows grandparents to be close to grandkids or a tiny house on the parent’s property to give a young-adult child a jumpstart or an ADU in the neighborhood that downsizing parents love and don’t want to leave, ‘The Parents’ is one popular reason to decide to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit in Portland, Oregon.

 

 

The Income Generator

It’s not hard to figure out. If you’ve lived in Portland long, you know land costs and housing costs are high. Designing and building an ADU to rent out on your existing property is a popular idea for homeowners who want to generate some extra income that may help cover those high costs.

When planning and designing and building an Accessory Dwelling Unit that becomes an income generator, most homeowners consider one of two types of renters: long term renters and short term renters. Keep in mind, there are important factors to consider after you’ve decided which type of renter you want to attract. Think about the different wants and needs between someone that rents an apartment and someone that rents an AirBnB or hotel room.

 

 

The Money Saver

What happens when your income changes because you’ve changed jobs or careers or you’ve retired? What happens when you have your first child or your children go off to college? Costs and mortgage payments rarely go down. That’s why some homeowners look at ADUs as money savers.

This scenario is much like the Income Generator, but opposite. Some homeowners decide to invest in designing and building an Accessory Dwelling Unit on their property so they can move into it and rent the main house. It gives them the opportunity to save money on their own living expenses while generating income on the house they used to live in.

Does one of these scenarios speak to you? Do you have parents that want to downsize? Maybe you are an adult that’s ready to downsize. Are you interested in generating some extra income on property you already own? Or, would you like to save money while generating income?

These are all common reasons homeowners in Portland, Oregon decide to build Accessory Dwelling Units on their property. It’s important to understand that each of these reasons comes with their own design challenges and opportunities. Each requires special considerations in order to make the project successful.


If any of these reasons interest you, please download our free “ADU Inspiration Book” and watch for the next couple articles where I cover helpful tips for designing and building an ADU and also things that often surprise our ADU clients.

Article 2 of 3 in this series is "5 Biggest Surprises our Clients Discover when Designing and Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Portland, Oregon"

Article 3 of 3 in this series is up next!  Stay tuned!

5 Ways Portland, Oregon Community Development Companies (CDCs) Can Benefit From The ADU Craze

As housing costs in Portland, OR continue to escalate, while access to affordable housing redefines crisis levels, it is increasingly difficult for organizations to meet their housing driven missions.

Many Portland-area Community Development Corporations (CDCs) meet their housing access missions by developing multi-family housing projects or purchasing and renovating or constructing new single family homes. Their portfolios are effective in meeting their mission, but are ultimately hamstrung by a number of factors.

As your organization looks out 5, 10 or even 15 years, does your current redevelopment model eventually lack in housing diversity? Will your budget strain under the costs of deferred maintenance? Are you ultimately limited by the physical footprint of your CDC area? Will your tenants have the ability for their families to grow and change without being dislocated?

You’re surely familiar with the recent explosion of popularity that Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have enjoyed in Portland and in many other cities. Last year alone, the City of Portland received more than 250 ADU permit applications. These are great ways to add new housing stock to land you already own. Many individuals have already asked the question "Why not build a small-scale house in your backyard?" Their parents could live there; renters could live there as they generate rental income; or they could live in the ADU themselves and rent the main house to a family.

Those are all great reasons to consider building an ADU, but how can your CDC benefit from the ADU craze? At Propel Studio, we believe there are 5 key ways your Portland, Oregon CDC can benefit:

1.  Quickly and inexpensively expand your housing stock within the existing footprint of your CDC.

After a thorough analysis and inventory, we can help you identify the development opportunities that exist on the properties you already own. Imagine doubling your housing portfolio without incurring any land acquisition costs. Almost every property in a SIngle Family Zone within Portland can accommodate an ADU. Often the biggest hurdle to providing more housing is the costs involved in acquiring new land. In this scenario, we can build new housing opportunity and eliminate the hurdle of purchasing the land as it is already in your portfolio. 

2.  Expand your housing stock without displacing current/long-term residents.

Developing multi-family projects is an effective way to meet your housing access goals, but these projects tend to displace neighbors and sometimes lead to gentrification in the neighborhood. Imagine developing a significant increase in your housing stock without displacing a single family. Instead, you can keep families in their long-term homes and potentially allow for these families to grow or multi-generational living to happen on a single lot. 

3.  Diversify the product mix in your housing stock.

Many times, financing and market forces dictate that a CDC’s portfolio grows in a certain direction. Maybe you’re heavy on single family homes or maybe it’s been more feasible to develop multi-family projects lately due to funding available. What if you could introduce a product mix that not only diversified your housing portfolio but also diversified residents you’re able to serve? Accessory Dwelling Units can take a lot of forms and can offer a wide range in housing types. We can design two storey 2-bedroom units for young families, or single level versions that are fully ADA compliant for ageing-in-place. There is also the option to create smaller, more affordable studio apartments. These are just a few of the wide range in housing types that can be offered through this creative project type. 

4.  Leverage available financing vehicles to cover deferred maintenance costs.

It’s no secret that it’s easier for a CDC to get financing for new construction than it is to find a way to cover maintenance costs. Many organizations like yours struggle with deferred maintenance costs. What if building a fleet of new ADUs helped generate the funds to cover much-needed deferred maintenance projects? One of the things we have been interested in, is using ADUs as a means to generate funds that can further your mission. ADUs can be rented as affordable units to low-income residents, but they could also potentially be rented as market-rate apartments, bringing in much-needed revenue that can be used for deferred maintenance and other costs on your existing assets. 

5.  Leverage existing incentives to save on development costs.

You already know that development costs in Portland are high and prices for land and construction costs are rising. What if you took advantage of the City’s ADU incentives and saved as much as $10,000-$20,000 per ADU unit in development costs? Currently, the City of Portland is waiving the majority of SDC fees until July of 2018, and permitting detatched Accessory Dwelling Units can be as low at $4,000-$5,000. Compare that to the permitting costs of a new single family house and you can see that now is a perfect time to maximize the benefits of investing in these projects. 

If your organization is looking to the future and thinking you can do more to provide better access to housing; if you’re thinking you can do more to support your neighborhood and it’s diversity, consider adding Accessory Dwelling Units to your properties in Single Family Housing zones.

ADUs in Portland, Oregon can currently help you quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively increase your housing portfolio. They can help you grow and diversify your housing stock without displacing your neighbors. They can even help you save money and solve the deferred maintenance crisis you may be facing.

If you’d like to know more about our experience with the benefits of ADU development, let us know. We’ll be glad to help. 
 

Modern Residential Design Blog Post Series

Sketches-05-04-2016-.jpg

Our team at Propel Studio is passionate about designing beautiful, modern, high-performance buildings that our clients and communities will love. To us, there are a series of primary qualities that lead to a successful project that is loved by its users and meets our design standards:

  1. Beauty
  2. Functionality
  3. Healthy and Comfortable
  4. Energy Efficiency & Sustainability
  5. Durability
  6. Materiality & Tectonics

Over the coming weeks, we will be writing a series of blog posts to elaborate on how we approach each design project and incorporate these qualities into our work. Although these themes can be applied to projects of any genre, we will be focusing on the design of modern residential projects - Single Family Houses and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

Although we have broken down these themes into distinct posts, there are many topics that overlap or bridge between the categories. For instance, choice of materials and how they fit together is an integral aspect of the beauty of a project, sustainable strategies often lead to healthier environments, durability and functionality go hand-in-hand. Through the design process we balance the solutions to hundreds of problems and weigh them against these focusses, and ultimately arrive at a solution that meets our clients’ needs and fulfills our desire to address these important topics.

By no means is this a complete list or cover all the issues and challenges that architects deal with on each and every project. They are just a few of the prominent themes that we focus on throughout our design process as we work with new clients.

---

To see how we have incorporated some of these ideas into our work please visit our residential portfolio.

How Much Will My Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Cost?

NE-19.jpg
Sustainable NW Modern ADU in Portland, Oregon
Sustainable NW Modern ADU in Portland, Oregon

One of the first questions we get from every client is: How much does an Accessory Dwelling Unit or ADU cost? At the same time, we get a lot of clients that come to us with a budget and ask if an ADU can be built for their available funds. The problem for any designer is that it is impossible to answer that question without knowing more about the unique aspects of the design that addresses the client's needs, wants, and site conditions. However, we thought we should at least share  a breakdown of the costs for a recent ADU project to give a realistic guideline for you to base your budget on.

Below is a rough construction cost breakdown for a 795 square foot sustainable ADU that was built in the summer of 2015 in Portland, OR. This design has a few unique elements that are reflected in the cost breakdown. The design includes a high performance envelope - typical wall construction with standard BATT insulation, plus an additional 2” of rigid insulation on all the walls, 3” of rigid added to the roof, and a fully insulated slab. We also designed in radiant floor heating with an on-demand hot water system. There was also a couple of unique custom windows that are significantly more than a standard window would be - however they were important to the design and function of the spaces.  Finally, this breakdown is for the construction costs and doesn't include architectural or structural design work. The design fees vary depending on the complexity, size and budget of your project. 

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Cost Breakdown

Permits

$10,000

This includes the current Portland SDC Waiver that is expiring in July and all of the individual trade permits.

Excavation

$10,000

around a 600sf slab area including the exterior decks. Also included excavation for a couple landscaping retaining walls on the property.

Footings & Retaining Walls

$20,000

This includes work needed for the ADU plus a couple of retaining walls needed as part of the surrounding landscaping.

Framing and Sheathing

$20,000

typical 2x6 stud wall construction and 2x12 roof joists and supporting structural posts and beams

Siding

$8,000

Hardi siding with vertical tongue and groove cedar highlights in some areas and cedar soffit

Roofing

$10,000

Standing seam metal roof

Windows and Doors

$10,000

2 custom windows, 3 skylights, 8’ front door with side lite, 8’ two panel sliding door, and a few standard vinyl windows.

Concrete Slab

$5,000

exposed concrete slab for floor of main level

Plumbing

$12,000

includes radiant floor installation and on demand hot water system

Electrical

$11,000

electrical panel, electrical wiring and outlets

Insulation

$9,000

batt insulation in walls and ceiling stud cavities, 2" rigid on exterior walls and 3" rigid on roof

Sheetrock

$8,000

drywall, mudding, taping

Interior Doors

$1,000

2 standard doors, 1 pocket door and 3 closet bi-folding doors

Paint - Exterior

$4,000

Paint - Interior

$7,000

Trim Work

$3,000

painted MDF, plus clear coated fir window sills

Cabinets

$4,500

Ikea kitchen and some custom work

Countertop

$2,500

Wood butcher block

Tile

$6,000

Kitchen backsplash and shower - materials and labor

Staircase

$2,500

off the shelf spiral staircase

Flooring - loft

$2,500

solid white oak, prefinished

Cable Railing

$2,500

off the shelf system

Appliances

$4,500

stove, oven, washer, dryer, refrigerator

Electrical Fixtures

$1,500

lighting fixtures, installation, etc.

Additional Plumbing

$1,500

plumbing fixtures, installation, etc.

TOTAL

$176,000

Includes all materials, labor and contractor fees

This is a relatively typical cost breakdown for the ADUs we work on. This isn't an extravagant project, and although there are a few places where the client invested in a bit of a premium (custom windows, skylights, radiant floor heating), the rest of the project is pretty straightforward. I think this is a good resource to base your project's budget on.

One thing of note, is that each site condition is different. Excavation and concrete work costs can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the site, ease of access, and amount of fill to be added or removed. Cost can also rise dramatically depending on the exterior siding materials and interior finish materials. There were some unique aspects for the concrete work that drove up the cost and we did have some premium siding materials in certain areas of the exterior. Even then we don't really see the cost of a custom designed ADU dropping below $150,000 when all is said and done.

It is also important to consider that a cost per square foot calculation is not a great way to determine the cost of a project like this. With smaller projects, the money that goes towards the expensive parts of a house - kitchen, bathroom, mechanical systems, excavations and concrete - don't get offset by the cheaper square footage of bedrooms, dining rooms and other spaces.

If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to talk about the unique aspects of your projects and discuss your ideas and goals for a sustainable Accessory Dwelling Unit. If you would like to see some of our other ADU designs click here.

Portland City Council Approves Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Zoning Code Updates

Small Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are now allowed in setbacks
Small Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are now allowed in setbacks

After recommendations from an exploratory committee and feedback from stakeholders, the Portland City Council voted 4-1 to approve the new Accessory Structure zoning code. This has created a single set of rules that regulates all accessory structures, from ADUs to Garages. If you have been wanting to build creative Accessory Dwelling Unit, the new rules will be a welcome development by loosening the design restrictions. Further, they incentivize building small which leads to more sustainable and affordable housing.The biggest change is that they now have two sets of rules. One that regulates small ADUs under 500 square feet, and a separate one for larger ADUs, 500-800 square feet. Below is a list of the updated rules that will have biggest impact for each project type and some personal thoughts on each.

Small ADU’s - Less than 500sf, less than 15 feet tall  
  • - No design limitations - Windows can be any proportion - exterior material palette is not limited to what exists on the main house - can be built in the property setback - roof can be any slope

These are the biggest changes and the ones we are most excited about. Basically what the city is saying, is that if your ADU is a small structure you are free to make it any style you want. This makes sense as smaller, lower structures have less of a visual impact on your neighbors and from the street. We still wonder why the ADU zoning code regulated style at all. We can’t wait to work with clients who want to explore the new design options this allows.

The loosening of the design restrictions is particularly good for people looking for a more modern or contemporary aesthetic. Most of Portland’s housing is more historical in aesthetics yet lifestyles and taste have dramatically changed. Especially with small living units like an ADU, connection to the outdoors is vital to make the space feel larger and spacious. In our relatively moderate climate making use of outdoor rooms as part of the living area makes sense. Many of our clients have asked for glass walls, large windows and a modern aesthetic and until now the city code limited what they could do by forcing them to match the style of the main house. Fortunately this silly regulation has been removed for the smaller ADUs.

Another huge advantage to the new rules is the increased flexibility of locating the project on a site due to the ability to now build within the property setbacks. For smaller properties or situations where you are trying to maximize usable yard or avoid significant trees, this opens up the ability to make full use of your property. It also gives additional flexibility in siting an ADU to optimize its orientation for solar panels, natural lighting, and other sustainable strategies.  

Large ADU’s - over 500 sf

Unlike the smaller ADUs, not as much has changed for the regulations of larger ADUs. The main change is that the previous height limit of 18 feet has been increased to 20 feet.  This is particularly good for those considering a 2 story ADU or dwelling over a garage. There were also some small tweaks to the design constraints, that we think are a small step in the right direction - giving increased options for designers and owners.

  • EXTERIOR FINISH MATERIALS:The exterior finish materials on the detached covered accessory structure must meet one of the following:
  • - The exterior finish material must be the same or visually match in type, size and placement, the exterior finish material of the primary structure; or
  • - Siding must be made from wood, composite boards, vinyl or aluminum products, and the siding must be composed in a shingle pattern, or in a horizontal clapboard or shiplap pattern. The boards in the pattern must be 6 inches or less in width.
  • ROOF PITCH: The roof pitch of the detached covered accessory structure must meet one of the following:
  • - The predominant roof pitch must be the same as the predominant roof pitch of the primary structure; or
  • - The roof pitch must be at least 6/12.
  • TRIM: The trim on the detached covered accessory structure must meet one of the following:
  • - The trim must be the same in type, size, and location as the trim used on the primary structure; or
  • - The trim around all windows and doors must be at least 3 ½ inches wide.
  • WINDOWS: The windows on all street facing facades of the detached covered accessory structure must meet one of the following:
  • - The windows must match those on the street facing façade of the primary structure in orientation (horizontal or vertical); or
  • - Each window must be square or vertical – at least as tall as it is wide.
  • EAVES: The eaves on the detached covered accessory structure must meet one of the following:
  • - The eaves must project from the building walls the same distance as the eaves on the primary structure;
  • - The eaves must project from the building walls at least 1 foot on all elevations; or
  • - If the primary structure has no eaves, no eaves are required.

Although we still believe there should be no restrictions on the style or aesthetics of an ADU, or any building for that matter, we think the new rules are at least a step in the right direction and we are excited to explore what these new rules allow as we start designing new ADUs.

Conclusion

The updated zoning code and loosening of the design restrictions is great for everyone looking to build an ADU on their property. We have to applaud the Portland City council for their forward thinking and voting to approve the new rules. We also thank all of the people who testified or wrote in to support the adoption of these rules. Without the grassroots advocacy, improvements to our zoning codes wouldn’t happen.

The Zoning Code updates provide more flexibility to the design team by reducing restrictions and hurdles. High quality design increases the value of these structures and should be incentivized and celebrated. Further, the zoning code is about protecting the health safety and welfare of the public and should have absolutely nothing to do with dictating style or aesthetics. The new rules move in this direction and allow creative designers to provide clients with better buildings that fit their unique site and style.

This is especially true for those looking for modern or contemporary styles for their ADUs. We tend to design with a Northwest Modern aesthetic and look forward to exploring the creative flexibility the new rules will permit. This includes the ability to do low pitched or even flat roofs on the smaller ADUs and move towards a very modern look and feel. There is now the opportunity to create wonderful spaces that open up to the outdoors, blending the interior and exteriors. We can also explore rooftop decks and terraces, planted green roofs, and other beautiful and sustainable ideas. We look forward to collaborating with a client who shares in the vision to push the limits of what these new rules allow.

___

If you want more information on ADUs, our design process or frequently asked questions please visit our Accessory Dwelling Units Design page: http://www.propelstudio.com/accessory-dwelling-units-adu/

Completed Portland ADU

Completed Portland ADU
Completed Portland ADU

We designed this ADU a couple years ago and construction was completed last summer. This spring the landscape was updated as the last step!  We also have a few ADU renovations that are complete, and 4 new ADUs under construction. Still, this is the one that got the ball rolling. Thanks to Brendan for being a great client!

For more information on this and other ADU's we've designed, check out the links below: 
Enright Accessory Dwelling Unit
Sustainable Portland ADU
Northwest Modern ADU

For more information on our ADU design services, please follow this link: http://www.propelstudio.com/accessory-dwelling-units-adu/

Portland Oregon’s ADU resources and information: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bds/36676

 

A Design Guide to Portland ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) - PART II

Harvey-Greenman-Exterior-Rendering-FINAL.jpg
Cut away view of a 2-level, spatially efficient ADU.
Cut away view of a 2-level, spatially efficient ADU.

When thinking about building ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) it is imperative to not think of them as full houses. That is the first thing you need to realize when deciding to build one of these Accessory Dwelling Units on your property. It is often difficult for clients to make informed decisions that seem like sacrifices to their normal lifestyles when conceptualizing the layout of a new ADU. Space is at a premium and it is necessary to consider smaller appliances, less storage, and less stuff. As we have been working with a variety of clients on ADU projects over the past year we have been gathering appliances and other space saving tricks that we highly recommend considering.

Small Kitchen Decisions

When considering kitchen layouts it is important to understand that there will be minimal counter space. It is usually difficult to fit in large islands and other features common in contemporary kitchens. However, there are a few ways to maximize counter room by scaling down the appliances you are used to. The biggest space saver is by rethinking the fridge. Considering only one or two people max will be living in an ADU there is no reason to have a full, family sized, refrigerator. It is easy to allow the grocery store to store your food and thus save space within the dwelling. It does mean a change of lifestyle, shopping more frequently for one or two meals at a time rather than large shopping trips. This can also help save money by reducing the amount of food that goes bad, ending up in the compost or trash. To address these issues we highly recommend under the counter, drawer style refrigerators. They are simple, elegant, are easy to access and allow the counter to be extended over it. It can even be finished to blend in with the under-counter cabinetry so it doesn't stand out as an appliance but rather blends in with the kitchen aesthetic.They are a bit more expensive than your standard fridge but in our opinion they are worth the investment to increase the usability of the kitchen.

Another kitchen related decision is whether or not to include a dishwasher. Again, it is our belief that small living doesn't necessitate all of the same conveniences we are used to in full sized houses. We feel that with smaller spaces and less people, there will also be less dishes and kitchen mess. For this reason we suggest removing the dishwasher altogether. It is an added expense and takes up a lot of space that could be better used for storage. However, if you can't imaging living without the modern convenience of a dishwasher than we again recommend a smaller sized, drawer style unit. This takes up much less space than a standard dishwasher and can also be blended in with the cabinetry materials.

Combining an under counter fridge, small drawer style dishwasher, as well as considering a extra narrow, apartment style stovetop/oven can make compact kitchen more efficient and usable. Counter space is always at a premium in any kitchen layout and these small tricks or lifestyle decisions can make a huge impact on the livability of the space.

Laundry

The other appliances that are challenging to accommodate in a small living space are the washer/dryer units. We almost always recommend stackable units and are now even suggesting that clients invest in a 2-in-1 Washer/Dryer combo, which one client recently did. Even though stackables save floor space, every inch of volume needs to be efficiently used in an ADU. The vertical space above a 2-in-1 combo can be better used as a linen closet or storage for detergent and other items. In the Sustainable Portland ADU we had to fit the laundry under the stairs and thus a 2-in-1 unit was the only option.

Downsized Furniture and Storage

This downsizing must occur beyond just appliances. Rooms, closets, furniture also must be conceived as smaller and more efficient than what we are used to in full sized homes. Whittling down our personal items, like clothes, linens, books and other accumulative things is a must if you are considering moving into the ADU. Otherwise, you have to assume any tenants will be doing a similar purge of personal belongings. Closets will be small, necessitating less clothing. Beds should be in the Double (or Queen size max) to fit comfortably in a small bedroom. Loves-seats might replace full couches and small tables are chosen over full dining tables. To make an efficient ADU built-in shelving, creative cabinets and hidden storage can be incorporated throughout the design. We recently designed a fold-out murphy bed so a room could double as a bedroom and office. We have designed built-in cabinets below staircases, fold up benches with storage below for dining areas, and multi-tiered closets with built in dressers. Each client has unique needs and the storage throughout the ADU needs to creatively solve their specific challenge.

 For A Design Guide to Portland ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) - PART I click here: http://www.propelstudio.com/a-design-guide-to-portland-adus-accessory-dwelling-units/

Video: Accessory Dwelling Units - Take the First Step

Oregon DEQ Accessory Dwelling Units Explainer Video

Oregon DEQ Accessory Dwelling Units Explainer Video

Here is an excellent video by the Oregon DEQ about building Accessory Dwelling Units or "Granny Flats." It offers lots of great reasons to build an ADU on your property, either for rental income, relatives to live in or visit, or even to move into yourself as you rent out your main house. Propel Studio has been designing many of these projects over the past couple years and think they are a fantastic way to increase the value of your property, bring in supplemental income and creating sustainable, affordable housing stock in our wonderful Portland neighborhoods.

You can check out our previous post titled A Design Guide to Portland ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) for more information on this project type, frequently asked questions, and how we can help you create one on your property. https://www.propelstudio.com/accessory-dwelling-units-adu/