Time for another stop on the 2015 ADU Tour. But first, a little background for those who are not familiar with ADUs…
ADU stands for Accessory Dwelling Unit. We often refer to our garage as The DADU, or Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit, because that was the going term when we bought our house five years ago. ADU, however, has become the all-encompassing term for any second dwelling that shares the grounds with your single family home (SFH). This could be an apartment over the garage, a basement apartment, or a tiny house in the backyard. Historically, these dwellings were termed Mother-In-Laws (MIL) or, sometimes, granny flats!
ADU terminology has evolved as more people are using ADUs for second incomes rather than dedicated living space for family or as “transitional” family housing for “aging in place” – sometimes homeowners build a secondary unit for themselves to downsize into as kids head off to college and their families shrink, leaving the primary home free to rent.
As we toured homes in Portland, we realized that we should consider moving away from the term ADU, or DADU, and replace it with “backyard cottage” instead. As ADUs grow in popularity within our region, more and more people we talk to about it think that the idea of converting our garage is an exciting one. However, amongst those less familiar, we’ve definitely gotten lots of strange looks and opinions about converting our garage. “Who would want to live in a garage?!” We think they’re imagining a cold, damp space with tools on the wall and oil stains on the floor. Well, that actually does describe our garage pretty well. But that’s not what we’re imagining as usable living space! Backyard Cottage more appropriately describes the cozy guest house we’re envisioning where our garage now stands. And, the ADUs we toured were proof positive that we’re on the right track.
Our second favorite house on the tour, The Hulick House. Designed by Ground Up Design Works and self contracted, this cottage had some similar features to the first, but with a few different details that I really liked. It’s a bit hard to tell from this photo, but that 2-story structure in back is a detached dwelling.
Here’s a better shot from the tour materials. It almost looks the size of a traditional house from this perspective, but don’t be fooled – the total square footage is only 600 sq ft and I would estimate the footprint at only 400 sq ft. The second floor loft bedroom is spacious, so the footprint could be even smaller.
A popular stop on the tour, Hulick House’s open floor plan managed to keep everyone from feeling too squeezed. The kitchen is fully equipped with a gas oven/stove, full size fridge, and dishwasher. To the right of the kitchen is the main floor full bath and a storage closet.
The reverse angle into the living room reveals a generous open space with room for a pull out couch to accommodate additional visitors.
The lofted bedroom has a clever window overlooking the living area…
…and a skylight that let in even more light. Although, I will say that the windows were otherwise plentiful. What you can’t see well from either of these pictures is that the internal bedroom window is outfitted with sliders that close the room off to the rest of the home for privacy. Clever!
The pièce de resistance for me, though, was the inclusion of a small powder room on the second floor. As someone who doesn’t like to trek downstairs to the bathroom in the middle of the night, this is genius! You can also see here that there is plenty of room for a queen bed with room to move around. The closet is a good size as well. Plus, there was another window to the reverse of this angle, in addition to the one over the bed.
Overall, this was one of the brightest homes we toured, which was a testament on a very rainy northwest day. Their plan is to use it as a short-term rental. Quite honestly, I think it’s too nice for renters, short or long-term for that matter! This is an ADU I would live in myself – and I certainly wouldn’t have any qualms about family living here. They could have skimped a bit more to save money up front and make more on the back end. The price per square foot was not the lowest of our three favorites, but still a pretty lean $217/sq ft. I’m certain that is primarily attributed to self-contracting.
Overall, we really liked this one. These were our pros/cons:
Pros: spacious feel of open floorplan, lots of windows, upscale kitchen, reasonable storage including drawers in stairs, stairwell, bedroom privacy, second half bath
Cons: lack of yard privacy/very close to main house, cost savings due to self-contracting (not an option for us)
One more favorite coming next week!
Further Reading: Accessory Dwelling Units: what they are and why people build them (Accessory Dwellings)