Accessory Dwelling Unit 101

You might have heard of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) by any number of names – backyard cottages, mother-in-law-units, laneway housing, granny flats, or attic and basement apartments. While the idea is familiar to many, ADUs are experiencing a new infusion of interest from cities around the United States as a way to encourage the development of greener, more affordable housing in desirable neighborhoods. Read through this quick overview to learn how and why ADU development is picking up steam today. Q: ADUs have been around for a while – homes across the country have apartments in basements, attics or garages. So what’s new? A: A lot of what’s new is on the regulation side. Many cities and towns are changing zoning and other regulations to make it easier and, in some cases, cheaper to build ADUs. In January of 2017, a law went into effect in the massive California housing market that eliminates red tape so that it’s easier to build ADUs. Austin, Texas made pro-ADU legislative changes in 2015, Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2014, and Denver, Colorado in 2010. As housing prices rise in popular cities around the country, this is the first time that policy and industry are paying...
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How to Stay Involved with the Small House Movement!

Build Small Live Large 2015. Photo by Love Ablan.

Five hundred designers, builders, planners, realtors, students and homeowners gathered in early November to learn how powerful and important it is to build small. The day was packed with people looking for new ideas for homes that match the needs of our current population: homes that can be flexible as families grow and change, homes that allow new ways to live together in communities of all sizes, and homes that are safe, legal and affordable. Here's how to keep that momentum going.



Introducing Keynote Speaker Dee Williams

Dee Williams of PAD Tiny Houses“I don’t know of anybody who wants to feel like they’re living a spartan life. You want to participate in your life and you don’t want where you live to be a place that limits that,” Dee Williams told About Face Magazine. After living in an 84-square foot tiny house on wheels for more than ten years, Dee is well-practiced at answering questions about how much home is “enough.” Her memoir, The Big Tiny, released last year on Blue Rider Press, tells the full story of how one becomes a tiny home owner, educator to fellow DIY tiny house builders, and inspiration to those trying to live mindfully in a hectic, big-space, big-stuff world.

Small Home Designs We Love

Rainbow Valley Design and Construction Krause CottageA small house doesn't have to be crowded, spartan or "simple." One of the goals of the Build Small Live Large Summit is to show people that homes under 1,000 square feet can not only save them money and lighten their environmental footprint, but be fantastically-designed as well. Here are some small home designs we've been enjoying lately.

Introducing Keynote Speaker Alan Durning

Alan Durning Sightline Institute at Build Small Live Large Summit 2015 Alan Durning, a long-time sustainability leader in the Northwest, is newly fired up—and for good reason. Since founding Sightline Institute in 1993, he has written more than ten books on issues that connect sustainability to home, transportation and city design, and he has even lectured at The White House. But Alan’s recent work on a Seattle housing and livability committee convened by the mayor is particularly timely as Northwest cities like Seattle and Portland enter development booms. And one of his key messages is that building small is one of the best ways to create affordable, livable housing in the cities we love.

Sponsor Spotlight: PAD Tiny Houses

PAD was founded by Dee Williams, tiny home pioneer and author of The Big Tiny, and is co-owned by Joan Grimm, who knows small building from multiple angles. As a tiny house host, ADU owner, and creator of a pocket community in her own (shared) backyard, Joan is an active participant and leader in Portland’s small housing community. We asked her why PAD is sponsoring Build Small Live Large 2015.

Who’s Using Tiny Houses to Aid Homeless Populations?

Build Small Live Large Summit Speaker Andrew Heben, author of Tent City Urbanism Little houses have piqued America’s interest as an antidote to the McMansion-style housing boom, but they’ve also become an intriguing option for providing affordable temporary and transitional housing for the homeless. One true expert on this trend is Andrew Heben, Build Small Live Large speaker and author of Tent City Urbanism: From Self Organized Camps to Tiny House Villages.

Susan Moray’s ADU: Updating History in Ladd’s

Susan Moray’s ADU features French doors onto a private courtyard

Susan Moray first learned about ADUs from a realtor friend who had taken Kol Peterson’s ADU Class for Homeowners. The next time Kol’s class was offered, Susan attended and she soon decided to convert the garage of her Ladd’s Addition home into an accessory dwelling unit. There were several factors influencing Susan Moray’s decision: flexibility as her housing needs changed, income potential, and the option of having family close by. Additionally, Susan was motivated to build sooner rather than later because she knew that Portland’s waiver of System Development Charges (SDCs) for ADUs was set to expire.