What is an ADU? Accessory dwelling units are separate residences, either attached or detached from a main house, that exist on the same lot as the main residence. They are also fondly referred to as basement suites, granny flats, and a host of other names. Suffice it to say, these living spaces have a lot to offer, especially in this crowded rental market like ours here in Portland, Oregon.
Why are ADU’s important?
Those who know me are pretty tuned in to my passion for ADU’s. They provide a host of excellent benefits to homeowners and renters alike, including:
- Extra income for the homeowner
- Additional affordable rental spaces added to a depleted housing market
- Adding smaller, sustainable homes in existing neighborhoods rather than sprawling
- An aging in place solution for seniors who want to keep the family home
- An affordable living space for an elderly family member in need of care, or for visiting family members or older children
In the past, it was not possible to procure financing for ADU’s, you simply had to pay cash. On the flip side, there were no development fees, so that saved homeowners some money.
These days, you can finance your ADU, but development fees are now required as well. The building of ADUs in Portland has plateaued somewhat over the past few years, after a steady increase. The perceived complexities of building them seem to intimidate people, and it is difficult to measure the return on the investment with more complicated fees and permit structures. But I am here to tell you that it is entirely feasible and affordable to build an ADU. Not only have I helped many clients along this road, I’ve done it myself!
With the recently passed Housing Bill 608, it will be interesting to see how housing options in Portland are influenced. As the first state to pass such a law, Oregon is now in the position of paving the way for new rental trends in the country. Washington is not far behind, with a bill in the works (HB 1797) that will support the production of basement and garage apartments in residential neighborhoods. This bill includes provisions for two ADU’s per lot, and would make them easier to build and reduce impact fees.
How Do I Build my Portland ADU?
As a local realtor and ADU specialist, I work with people in search of ADU financing, zoning and planning. My design background and understanding of the bi-laws associated with the building of these accessory dwelling units gives me a unique insight into the process. I’ve seen a lot of ADU’s dreamed into reality, and it is so incredible to see the process unfold. I am lucky to keep in touch with families and hear stories about how they are using their newly built ADU’s to strengthen their communities.
If you are interested in building an ADU of your own, I highly recommend the annual Portland ADU tour.
The next tour will take place on Saturday, June 22nd. This is a great opportunity to visit local ADU’s and get a taste for all that goes into building one, from design to bi-laws. Homeowners, builders and designers will be on hand to answer your burning ADU questions! Thanks to Kol Peterson for putting on this event every year, and for his continuous support of the ADU movement in Portland. Kol’s blog is another excellent source of information for those wanting to learn more.
You can also contact me; I provide consulting for ADU projects and would be happy to provide support and resources on this worthy topic.