Just what is an ADU and why are they are all the rage in Portland these days?
An ADU is an Accessory Dwelling Unit, also known as a tiny home or mother-in-law apartment. These small living spaces are sometimes converted garages or basements, or brand new construction. There are even prefabricated options that can be delivered as a fully built structure.
Urban Nest Realtors are ADU Experts
Many of the Urban Nest Realtors are ADU experts. They stay on top of the latest developments in our region and can help you find or sell a property with either an existing ADU or the potential for one (or more!). The regulations in our region are continually being refined, and it can be challenging to stay on top of all the details. That’s why it’s helpful to rely on Urban Nest realtors.
Portland ADU Home Tour
We recently attended “Build Small, Live Large” a Portland accessory dwelling unit tour hosted by the regional ADU experts of AccessoryDwellings.org. Every year this fascinating tour offers a peek into ADUs all over the city with the homeowners in attendance to talk about their projects. Often the builders, lenders and landscape designers are also on site to share their insights, challenges and costs.
With 17 units on this year’s tour, there was a lot of information available, and plenty of project diversity. We thought it would be fun to share a few of the insights we gained during the tour.
How to Design a Tiny Home
Urban Nest Realtor Naomi Campbell has been attending the ADU home tour for several years now. She is building her own ADU and enjoyed getting a close up look at the details of homes on the tour.
“It was intriguing to explore interior design concepts and the use of materials like tile. Proportions are different in a tiny home - the same size tile looks different in a smaller space. It was good to gain some ideas from what I saw in the homes I toured.”
Naomi also noted that in a smaller space, a unique light fixture or specialty tile can really stand out and create a statement element that adds overall character to the home.
Living Small: Privacy is Important
How do you separate the ADU space from the main house to provide privacy for both? And can you do this while still retaining scenic views? Naomi loved exploring these ideas. She said the big takeaway was that landscaping matters and hiring a highly qualified landscape designer can make a huge difference in the overall appeal of the final project.
Thoughtfully Designed Tiny Homes Stand Out
When the homeowner is a professional architect or a design-minded person, the difference definitely shows. Architects can do beautiful work, but when a stylish homeowner is involved in designing her or his own home, the result is a thoughtfully crafted space with unique features and overall cohesion in ways that clearly shine through.
Naomi says it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it was she loved about these homes. “I was just drawn to certain spaces, then found out the owner was involved in the design. It’s evident this makes a difference.”
How to Make a Tiny Home Feel Larger
Large, ample windows and spaces drenched with natural light feel much larger than they are.
Well-designed ADUs make smart use of the space to create lofted ceilings and open, airy regions of the home to create that larger feeling. Creating storage space under benches and behind staircases is another way to maximize space in a tiny home.
Ample outdoor living space, like a large patio, also adds considerable appeal to a tiny home.
Buying a Prefab or Kit Home ADU
Most people build an ADU from the ground up with new construction or by converting a garage or basement, but there are other options. Increasingly, companies are popping up that can deliver a home in various stages of readiness, from completely built with appliances and countertops to a kit that you (or a contractor) assembles on site.
Dweller, based in Portland, is one such company that delivers a fully assembled home. There was a Dweller unit on the tour and several Dweller staff on site to talk about the permitting, home options and delivery process.
Naomi found this tour stop particularly interesting. “It’s one thing to read about a home like this, but an entirely different experience to step inside one. It was nice to be able to talk with the team in person while viewing one of their homes.”
How to Permit an ADU or Tiny Home in Portland
Every single home on the tour was gorgeous. But what did it take to get to that point? Naomi says one of the most helpful aspects of the ADU home tour was the opportunity to speak with the tiny home owners about what the permitting and buildout process was actually like.
Each tour stop posted a worksheet listing basic costs, permitting timelines and other details that provided a clear overview of what it took to make the tiny home dream a reality.
Are You ADU Curious?
Whether you’re considering selling a home with an ADU, buying a property with an existing ADU or buying a home and adding a tiny home to the property, Urban Nest realtors can help you talk through the important details and considerations.
An ADU can add considerable value to a home, but what is that value? This is a newer aspect of the sales process. As the market is catching up with tiny homes, our agents are your best ally, they are the experts you can rely on.