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.