What’s an ADU? It’s a granny flat or a mother-in-law unit, now more widely known as an Accessory Dwelling Unit and usually built as an additional living unit in the backyard of a single-family home. ADUs are typically small, so that they can fit neatly into a backyard, with a compact and efficient floor plan big enough for one or two people to live in.
Adding value all around
One of the greatest benefits of an ADU is the value it adds to a property. Already a popular selling point in many areas, they not only add square footage of independent living space but can also provide supplementary rental income to the homeowner. In the past, zoning laws have prevented this but with the current shortage of housing availability cities and states are enacting policies which encourage the building of ADUs but permitting them to be built “by right”, with no special permitting needed.
Building ADUs increases the amount of housing units while reducing the pressure of cities to expand outwards. Instead of building large-scale low-income housing, building a multitude of small-scale ADUs will increase property values across the board as the integrity and character of a neighborhood is preserved. And higher density populations can not only bring more commercial activity, more transport options and walkability, but the value of infrastructure investments such as transportation, is expanded when more people use it.
With the housing shortage at crisis levels, multigenerational housing is becoming more widely accepted in the US, and ADUs are likely to become more frequently used for expanded families. An ADU can provide housing for ageing parents, home care helpers or young adult members of a family. It can provide additional work-from-home space or it can allow senior homeowners to age in place.
Cost and efficiency
Building an ADU in your backyard means you don’t have to acquire land and their compact size requires less building materials. In some cases, costs are minimized by manufacturing off-site. Their size makes them inherently energy efficient as well.
In some cities zoning laws can make it tough for homeowners to create an entirely new dwelling on their property. They may also face backlash from NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) neighbors. But homeowners who build ADUs are filling an important affordability gap and are helping to address the ever-growing housing crisis.
In Portland, Oregon, the city has introduced a combination of zoning reforms, fee waivers, and outreach to jumpstart the building of ADUs and help address the critical housing shortage. That’s where Patrick Quinton launched his company, Dweller. Dweller specializes in building and providing ADUs to homeowners who want one. Not only do they build the modular ADUs offsite, saving substantial time and money, they handle all aspects of the process, from site planning and permitting, to utilities, installation and landscaping. And they pay for the ADUs as well – financing that most homeowners don’t have. Dweller enters into a ground lease with each homeowner, giving them the option to buy the ADU at some later date, making the process of adding a housing unit and adding a little income for each homeowner, as easy as can be.
Listen in to my conversation with Patrick.
Image courtesy of Dweller, Inc