When I first heard about ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) I pictured minimalist construction and accommodation.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have been known by many names: carriage houses, granny flats, in-law units, backyard cottages, secondary units and more. No matter what you call them, ADUs are an innovative, affordable, effective option for adding much-needed housing in King and Pierce counties. My parents had a large house on North D Street in Tacoma. In back of the home there was a circular drive and a carriage house. My parents never used the carriage house for anything but storage, but in today’s world it would make a great second income for new owners.
ADUs are fully functional, stand alone houses built on the same property as the “main” home. These additional dwellings generally add to the resale value of the original home. They can be used as an office, a workshop, a studio or provide a great rental income.
Writing in his article “Accessory Dwelling Units in Portland Promise ‘Smart Growth'” writer Zachary Semke mentions benefits for the Portland area, but the same information applies to local communities like Tacoma, Puyallup, and Lakewood, or anywhere allowed by law:
- Increasing the supply of affordable housing in a way that blends easily with existing neighborhoods;
- Supporting the creation of a compact urban form that supports walking, transit, and vibrant neighborhoods;
- Providing an independent living option for elderly/disabled that promotes intergenerational living;
- Generating extra rental income for owners and tax base for the City;
- Providing increased residential development without major new infrastructure.
“Accessory dwelling units give home owners unparalleled flexibility, while also adding desperately-needed supply to the local rental market. With an ADU, home owners have more freedom to age in place, take care of family, or just supplement their family budgets with additional rental income. It’s a commonsense addition, and I’m proud of our community for embracing it.” – Anders Ibsen – Tacoma Realtor and former Tacoma City Council member
Here is a resource for Pierce County ADU information: co.pierce.wa.us/4572/Accessory-Dwelling-Unit
Here is a resource page for Tacoma ADU information: tacomapermits.org/accessory-dwelling-units
Any home building contractor can build ADU homes, but the most dedicated and most knowledgeable one operating in our midst is DADU Homes. Principal Ken Miller has experience in housing, He was the board chair for the Tacoma Housing Authority. DADU Homes has construction down to a science. They build the walls in their plant, so construction debris is kept to a minimum. After the foundation and utility connections are made, they can have the walls up within two days.
You can see a twenty minutes interview about DADU and ADUs on Tacoma Talk – daduhomes.com/media
So what are the prices? Ken says, “Our current models range in price from about $130,000 to $200,000. The smallest unit is a 350 square ft studio; the largest is a carriage house with 725 square feet of living space over a large two-car garage. Variables include site work and client choices in finishing.”
I really like the layout and the look of the Bungalow, which features two bedrooms, full bath and kitchen, and living room in 624 square feet. DADU can convert the two bedrooms to a larger single room or to a wide-open, studio-like space. The full appliance package, with washer/dryer and dishwasher is standard. Each room has its own temperature control for focused, efficient heating and cooling. Among the Bungalow’s optional features are a covered entry landing, an accessibility package, solar panels, electric car charging station, and parking pad.
DADU Homes also offers an affordable housing program. “We will build at cost – that is, forgoing our profit – for any organization or individual committed to i) renting affordably to ii) low income people for iii) five years.”
“Affordable” means the household can pay rent and utilities with no more than 30% of its gross income. And “Low income people” are those whose gross household income is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) as determined annually by HUD.”
You can call Ken at 253-973-3171 or visit DADU Homes on line – daduhomes.com/
Lakewood community activist Malcolm Russell feels that first and foremost an ADU should fit the character of a neighborhood and act as an improvement, but never as a eyesore. A simple ADU built in the front yard or simply stuck on a side yard, would not benefit the homeowner for later sales, nor the surrounding homes. However, a small or modest sized dwelling (compared to the size of the primary home) and of a similar style and quality of the primary house, set back on the side or into the back yard would be more a wise choice for an addition.
Malcolm also says, “Building codes can also do a lot to minimize the ‘impact’ of infill ADU’s on a neighborhood character . . . for example the ‘wise choice’ mentioned above could have added code requirements that don’t add cost but harmonize the ADU to the lot… roof angles must be same pitch, exterior paint of primary and ADU must be the same or similar, add in some modest landscape codes… etc. If done well – ADU’s are great!”
Although, adding an ADU to your property is going to increase its value, it might not make up for the entire expense of building. In the long run, however, figuring in rental income, tax breaks, and other uses like a home office, or a mother-in-law apartment, an ADU could be a definite investment for individuals and non-profits as well as a step towards affordable housing.