Builders

Add value in your backyard with an ADU

There’s no ignoring the current housing crisis in California. California needs approximately 3.5 million new housing units by 2025, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Many experts see accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, as a possible solution to this issue by providing additional housing for family members or renters on existing properties. One key step is finding the right partner to craft a sustainable, turnkey home.

The popular in-demand Huntington Farmhouse features three bedrooms, two bathrooms (1,173 square feet), which includes high-end appliances and finishes, all starting at $339,000. 
The popular in-demand Huntington Farmhouse features three bedrooms, two bathrooms (1,173 square feet), which includes high-end appliances and finishes, all starting at $339,000. 

“The goal of Perpetual Homes ADU is to build the highest quality at the most affordable price point,” explains Katherine Anderson, founder of Perpetual Homes ADU. “My experience, with 39 years in residential development, has come together to design and create ADUs that fit families’ needs. No where else can your family members live in such full-scale luxury at an affordable price point than in a Perpetual Homes ADU.”

“If your family member, for example, has been priced out of the area, adding an ADU in your backyard can help them stay in the area and live in a beautiful luxury setting,” she adds. Our goal is to help families stay together whether it’s the boomerang young adults or move-down parents. It’s extremely rewarding to help families stay together in the high-priced Bay Area.

Now is the time to act — both for Anderson and homeowners — to take advantage of visionary California legislation that enables ADUs to be built quicker and with fewer jurisdictional costs. New California ADU laws passed in 2022 include AB 2221, which includes new government-backed finance programs, no more front setbacks for statewide exemption ADUs, stricter 60-day limits on all permitting agencies, a height of 16 feet for a detached ADU on lot with existing or proposed single-family or multifamily unit (two detached ADUs per property), and over a dozen other rule changes that make California ADU law better than ever in 2023.

In addition, Senate Bill 9, also known as SB 9, went into effect at the beginning of 2022 and Perpetual Homes has already leveraged this bill to provide fee simple lot splits with single-family homes (up to 2,600 square feet) for some of their clients. SB 9 gives homeowners in many single-family zones the green light to build additional ADUs and single-family homes on their current property or subdivide their land into two separate parcels and sell one of the parcels. Whether you’ve thought about a multigenerational home, a guesthouse or a rental income stream, SB 9 offers the opportunity to build more on your existing homesite.

With decades of experience in real estate development and market analysis, Anderson acquires the highest-quality homes at the most affordable prices for her clients. Her vast network of prefabrication companies, engineers, architects and general contractors makes the process of building an ADU much smoother. ADU prices start in the mid-$200,000s for a one-bedroom ADU.

Whether you want to increase your property value, add a new source of income or provide housing for family members or renters, contact Perpetual Homes ADU for more information! Call (925) 309-0205 or visit www.perpetualhomesadu.com to learn more.

Content provided by Perpetual Homes

There’s no ignoring the current housing crisis in California. California needs approximately 3.5 million new housing units by 2025, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Many experts see accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, as a possible solution to this issue by providing additional housing for family members or renters on existing properties. One key step is finding the right partner to craft a sustainable, turnkey home.

The popular in-demand Huntington Farmhouse features three bedrooms, two bathrooms (1,173 square feet), which includes high-end appliances and finishes, all starting at $339,000. “The goal of Perpetual Homes ADU is to build the highest quality at the most affordable price point,” explains Katherine Anderson, founder of Perpetual Homes ADU. “My experience, with 39 years in residential development, has come together to design and create ADUs that fit families’ needs. No where else can your family members live in such full-scale luxury at an affordable price point than in a Perpetual Homes ADU.”

“If your family member, for example, has been priced out of the area, adding an ADU in your backyard can help them stay in the area and live in a beautiful luxury setting,” she adds. Our goal is to help families stay together whether it’s the boomerang young adults or move-down parents. It’s extremely rewarding to help families stay together in the high-priced Bay Area.

Now is the time to act — both for Anderson and homeowners — to take advantage of visionary California legislation that enables ADUs to be built quicker and with fewer jurisdictional costs. New California ADU laws passed in 2022 include AB 2221, which includes new government-backed finance programs, no more front setbacks for statewide exemption ADUs, stricter 60-day limits on all permitting agencies, a height of 16 feet for a detached ADU on lot with existing or proposed single-family or multifamily unit (two detached ADUs per property), and over a dozen other rule changes that make California ADU law better than ever in 2023.

In addition, Senate Bill 9, also known as SB 9, went into effect at the beginning of 2022 and Perpetual Homes has already leveraged this bill to provide fee simple lot splits with single-family homes (up to 2,600 square feet) for some of their clients. SB 9 gives homeowners in many single-family zones the green light to build additional ADUs and single-family homes on their current property or subdivide their land into two separate parcels and sell one of the parcels. Whether you’ve thought about a multigenerational home, a guesthouse or a rental income stream, SB 9 offers the opportunity to build more on your existing homesite.

With decades of experience in real estate development and market analysis, Anderson acquires the highest-quality homes at the most affordable prices for her clients. Her vast network of prefabrication companies, engineers, architects and general contractors makes the process of building an ADU much smoother. ADU prices start in the mid-$200,000s for a one-bedroom ADU.

Whether you want to increase your property value, add a new source of income or provide housing for family members or renters, contact Perpetual Homes ADU for more information! Call (925) 309-0205 or visit www.perpetualhomesadu.com to learn more.

Content provided by Perpetual Homes

Add value in your backyard with an ADU  The Mercury News

Read More...

Granny Flat Fever

Shawn Mizrachi, owner of West L.A.-based MDM Customer Remodeling, has seen his accessory dwelling unit business spike since 2017, when state laws began to favor the building types.

Accessory dwelling units, or ADUs — also known colloquially as granny flats — were seen by some as a way of addressing the affordable housing crisis. Their creation accelerated during the pandemic and is continuing to grow, according to experts and a new report. Among the reasons why ADUs are increasing in popularity now is an easier regulatory process to get the units approved.

ADUs, secondary housing units with independent living facilities on a residential lot in addition to the main house, are typically converted garages or freestanding units in the backyard.

Mizrachi said that 60% of his ADU projects are garage conversions and 40% are ground up projects.

According to Mizrachi, there are three scenarios behind the build of an ADU: moving a relative onto the property; needing more space to work from home — an event that accelerated during the pandemic; and rental income.

“Those are the three types of customers,” he said.

 

Rising demand

San Francisco-based ADU builder Cottage — which has offices in Los Angeles and San Diego — recently released its 2022 ADU Impact Report looking at the rising demand for ADUs in California. The report found that Southern California remains the hottest ADU market in the country and demand outpaces actual builds: For every three ADU permits submitted in 2021, only one had resulted in a completed dwelling by the end of last year.

Alex Czarnecki, founder and chief executive of Cottage, said “60% of ADU permits from California were in L.A. in 2022.”

 

A gate at home with an ADU in the background, left. MDM Owner Shawn Mizrachi at an ADU property in Culver City.

 

But while  California has made it easier to get ADUs approved, it is still a difficult process to navigate, said Czarnecki, as to why only one ADU for every three permits sought results in a build. Czarnecki, who comes from a tech background, formed Cottage after his own experience creating an ADU in 2020.

“I was building an ADU for my parents to help them age in place and fell into all of the traps that a homeowner falls into: feasibility, understanding what’s possible on your property, architectural design, navigating city permitting and finding and working with the right general contractor,” Czarnecki said.

He formed Cottage at the height of the pandemic.

“People stuck at home (were) thinking about, ‘What if I had a little bit of extra space?’” Czarnecki said. “The longer you spend at home, the longer you think of improving it. We saw this interesting dynamic of during the pandemic a lot of families looking to bring their elderly parents out of the senior living center to be closer together.”

Czarnecki believes the pandemic was only one factor boosting the ADU space.

“The other boost which happened on pretty similar timing was regulatory,” Czarnecki said. “Across California, the state has continued to pass, year by year, additional legislation that makes it easier for homeowners to build ADUs. The ADU space has been doubling year over year since 2018 in a lot of these markets.”

 

Rules and regulations

Even though California had begun to relax rules and regulations about creating ADUs in 2017, Gov. Gavin Newsom more recently removed other obstacles for Californians interested in building ADUs.

The new laws went into effect in 2020. Among the directives: Californians are now permitted to create two ADUs on a single-family zoned property, one full accessory dwelling unit and one junior accessory dwelling unit, or JADU. A JADU can be a maximum of 500 square feet and is created by converting part of an existing residence.

Beginning in 2020, homeowners could also build a detached ADU spanning 800 square feet and 16 feet tall without any local discretionary approvals. ADUs created by conversions were also granted automatic approval. Many of the requirements regarding parking and setbacks have also been minimized, and ADUs can also be added to multifamily dwellings, either in spaces such as carports and storage rooms, or, in the absence of such spare spaces, two ground-up detached ADUs can be built.

Facilitating ADU building is the mandate that California cities approve or deny ADU projects within 60 days of receipt of application. (Prior to 2020, the window of time edged 120 days.)

The result of the state laws has been reflected in the number of permits issued. From 2017 to 2021, the number of ADU permits issued in the city of Los Angeles increased by 202%. From Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2021, a total of 3,371 ADU permits were issued, and by the end of the year, 5,188 permits were given a green light, according to publicly available Department of Building and Safety data. The figure was surpassed last year, as 4,999 permits were issued in the first eight months of 2022.

 

Complicated process

Ray and Lesley Joelson, who run the architectural firm EZPlans in Woodland Hills, said that one out of every three inquiry calls they receive are regarding ADUs.

The average cost for a garage conversion is $150,000 while new construction could cost between $300,000 and $500,000, depending on the specifics, such as if the ADU is being built on a hillside property.

“The garage conversion is very appealing to so many people because it’s adding value to their house,” Lesley Joelson said. “Garage conversions are the least expensive way for a homeowner to create an ADU. At least 65% of the ADUs we do are garage conversions.”

Ray Joelson said that many clients seek to take advantage of what the law allows.

“If you have a two-car garage, you’re going to capture 400 square feet,” Ray Joelson said. “The typical law allows you about 1,200 square feet. So if people are looking to maximize their return on investment on building an ADU, those clients don’t go for the garage conversions, they tend to go for the new detached two story, 1,200 square foot maximum square footage in the backyard. To maximize the rental square footage and valuation on your property then you’d go for the detached ADU.”

The Joelsons note that despite the state law, the rules for building an ADU may differ depending on the community. For example, Burbank and Pasadena don’t allow ADUs to exceed 800 square feet.

“While the state has very ambitious goals to try to solve the housing crisis, some of these jurisdictions have conflicting requirements,” Ray Joelson said. “Not everybody is fully gung-ho about letting everybody build rental units on their property, but the state wants them to solve the shortage of housing. So they have different strategies of interpreting the law.”

Ray Joelson gives as an example a client he had in Venice.

“Those lots in Venice are very small and parking is an absolute nightmare,” he said. “So while at a state level you’re not required to have additional parking when you build an ADU, if you convert a garage in Venice, they do require you to find substitute parking. We’re doing a project there right now where there’s even conflict within the city’s Building Department versus the Planning Department inside of Venice. The Building Department was quite fine with losing the parking by converting the garage, but the Planning Department said, ‘Sorry, streets are too busy. We can’t figure any more cars here.’ They forced the architect to design an on-property parking space.”

Lesley Joelson explained that there are often discrepancies between the state and individual municipalities.

“The state sets the guidelines for ADUs but the various city jurisdictions often overlay additional restrictions and limitations on elements like the height and size of ADUs, or parking restrictions,” she said. “This is a very contentious issue, and creates a lot of confusion for homeowners. The individual cities are ultimately in control because they approve the building permit.”

Lesley Joelson gives yet another example of a client facing municipal minutiae.

“In Manhattan Beach, he wants to go to a two-story so he could still have some backyard for his children to play in,” she said. “He was very disappointed that he couldn’t go to a two-story ADU.”

Ray Joelson said that complications also arise when dealing with overlay zones.

“If that property falls within a special overlay zone, the rules become even more ridiculous,” he said. “In a historic zone, a whole bunch of different rules have to apply. (Also) if you’re in a coastal commission overlay, if you’re in a hillside property versus a flat lot.”

EZPlans helps clients navigate the nuances of building ADUs in different neighborhoods.

“What we try to do is do our due diligence before we take on a client so we’re very transparent and honest with what we can achieve or can’t achieve,” Ray Joelson said. “We’ve had to make clients aware that your wish list is not going to fly very well with the city.”

Shawn Mizrachi, owner of West L.A.-based MDM Customer Remodeling, has seen his accessory dwelling unit business spike since 2017, when state laws began to favor the building types.

Accessory dwelling units, or ADUs — also known colloquially as granny flats — were seen by some as a way of addressing the affordable housing crisis. Their creation accelerated during the pandemic and is continuing to grow, according to experts and a new report. Among the reasons why ADUs are increasing in popularity now is an easier regulatory process to get the units approved.

ADUs, secondary housing units with independent living facilities on a residential lot in addition to the main house, are typically converted garages or freestanding units in the backyard.

Mizrachi said that 60% of his ADU projects are garage conversions and 40% are ground up projects.

According to Mizrachi, there are three scenarios behind the build of an ADU: moving a relative onto the property; needing more space to work from home — an event that accelerated during the pandemic; and rental income.

“Those are the three types of customers,” he said.

 

Rising demand
San Francisco-based ADU builder Cottage — which has offices in Los Angeles and San Diego — recently released its 2022 ADU Impact Report looking at the rising demand for ADUs in California. The report found that Southern California remains the hottest ADU market in the country and demand outpaces actual builds: For every three ADU permits submitted in 2021, only one had resulted in a completed dwelling by the end of last year.

Alex Czarnecki, founder and chief executive of Cottage, said “60% of ADU permits from California were in L.A. in 2022.”

 

A gate at home with an ADU in the background, left. MDM Owner Shawn Mizrachi at an ADU property in Culver City. 

But while  California has made it easier to get ADUs approved, it is still a difficult process to navigate, said Czarnecki, as to why only one ADU for every three permits sought results in a build. Czarnecki, who comes from a tech background, formed Cottage after his own experience creating an ADU in 2020.

“I was building an ADU for my parents to help them age in place and fell into all of the traps that a homeowner falls into: feasibility, understanding what’s possible on your property, architectural design, navigating city permitting and finding and working with the right general contractor,” Czarnecki said.

He formed Cottage at the height of the pandemic.

“People stuck at home (were) thinking about, ‘What if I had a little bit of extra space?’” Czarnecki said. “The longer you spend at home, the longer you think of improving it. We saw this interesting dynamic of during the pandemic a lot of families looking to bring their elderly parents out of the senior living center to be closer together.”

Czarnecki believes the pandemic was only one factor boosting the ADU space.

“The other boost which happened on pretty similar timing was regulatory,” Czarnecki said. “Across California, the state has continued to pass, year by year, additional legislation that makes it easier for homeowners to build ADUs. The ADU space has been doubling year over year since 2018 in a lot of these markets.”

 

Rules and regulations
Even though California had begun to relax rules and regulations about creating ADUs in 2017, Gov. Gavin Newsom more recently removed other obstacles for Californians interested in building ADUs.

The new laws went into effect in 2020. Among the directives: Californians are now permitted to create two ADUs on a single-family zoned property, one full accessory dwelling unit and one junior accessory dwelling unit, or JADU. A JADU can be a maximum of 500 square feet and is created by converting part of an existing residence.

Beginning in 2020, homeowners could also build a detached ADU spanning 800 square feet and 16 feet tall without any local discretionary approvals. ADUs created by conversions were also granted automatic approval. Many of the requirements regarding parking and setbacks have also been minimized, and ADUs can also be added to multifamily dwellings, either in spaces such as carports and storage rooms, or, in the absence of such spare spaces, two ground-up detached ADUs can be built.

Facilitating ADU building is the mandate that California cities approve or deny ADU projects within 60 days of receipt of application. (Prior to 2020, the window of time edged 120 days.)

The result of the state laws has been reflected in the number of permits issued. From 2017 to 2021, the number of ADU permits issued in the city of Los Angeles increased by 202%. From Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2021, a total of 3,371 ADU permits were issued, and by the end of the year, 5,188 permits were given a green light, according to publicly available Department of Building and Safety data. The figure was surpassed last year, as 4,999 permits were issued in the first eight months of 2022.

 

Complicated process
Ray and Lesley Joelson, who run the architectural firm EZPlans in Woodland Hills, said that one out of every three inquiry calls they receive are regarding ADUs.

The average cost for a garage conversion is $150,000 while new construction could cost between $300,000 and $500,000, depending on the specifics, such as if the ADU is being built on a hillside property.

“The garage conversion is very appealing to so many people because it’s adding value to their house,” Lesley Joelson said. “Garage conversions are the least expensive way for a homeowner to create an ADU. At least 65% of the ADUs we do are garage conversions.”

Ray Joelson said that many clients seek to take advantage of what the law allows.

“If you have a two-car garage, you’re going to capture 400 square feet,” Ray Joelson said. “The typical law allows you about 1,200 square feet. So if people are looking to maximize their return on investment on building an ADU, those clients don’t go for the garage conversions, they tend to go for the new detached two story, 1,200 square foot maximum square footage in the backyard. To maximize the rental square footage and valuation on your property then you’d go for the detached ADU.”

The Joelsons note that despite the state law, the rules for building an ADU may differ depending on the community. For example, Burbank and Pasadena don’t allow ADUs to exceed 800 square feet.

“While the state has very ambitious goals to try to solve the housing crisis, some of these jurisdictions have conflicting requirements,” Ray Joelson said. “Not everybody is fully gung-ho about letting everybody build rental units on their property, but the state wants them to solve the shortage of housing. So they have different strategies of interpreting the law.”

Ray Joelson gives as an example a client he had in Venice.

“Those lots in Venice are very small and parking is an absolute nightmare,” he said. “So while at a state level you’re not required to have additional parking when you build an ADU, if you convert a garage in Venice, they do require you to find substitute parking. We’re doing a project there right now where there’s even conflict within the city’s Building Department versus the Planning Department inside of Venice. The Building Department was quite fine with losing the parking by converting the garage, but the Planning Department said, ‘Sorry, streets are too busy. We can’t figure any more cars here.’ They forced the architect to design an on-property parking space.”

Lesley Joelson explained that there are often discrepancies between the state and individual municipalities.

“The state sets the guidelines for ADUs but the various city jurisdictions often overlay additional restrictions and limitations on elements like the height and size of ADUs, or parking restrictions,” she said. “This is a very contentious issue, and creates a lot of confusion for homeowners. The individual cities are ultimately in control because they approve the building permit.”

Lesley Joelson gives yet another example of a client facing municipal minutiae.

“In Manhattan Beach, he wants to go to a two-story so he could still have some backyard for his children to play in,” she said. “He was very disappointed that he couldn’t go to a two-story ADU.”

Ray Joelson said that complications also arise when dealing with overlay zones.

“If that property falls within a special overlay zone, the rules become even more ridiculous,” he said. “In a historic zone, a whole bunch of different rules have to apply. (Also) if you’re in a coastal commission overlay, if you’re in a hillside property versus a flat lot.”

EZPlans helps clients navigate the nuances of building ADUs in different neighborhoods.

“What we try to do is do our due diligence before we take on a client so we’re very transparent and honest with what we can achieve or can’t achieve,” Ray Joelson said. “We’ve had to make clients aware that your wish list is not going to fly very well with the city.”

Granny Flat Fever  Los Angeles Business Journal

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Ready to live in an 800-square-foot house? Lacey is issuing permits for unique option

Contractor Cole Kelly is currently building a accessory dwelling unit for the Barrett family in the Lacey area.


Steve Bloom

sbloom@theolympan.com

The Barrett family of Lacey had to make some important decisions about their future housing needs, finally deciding that a family member would downsize into a new accommodation to free up space at an existing residence.

Such a move might sound familiar to many families trying to care for an older parent who still wants to remain nearby.

But for Mary Barrett, who has lived in Lacey’s Brentwood neighborhood for more than 30 years, she isn’t downsizing into a single-family home or an apartment. She will be moving all of 20 feet into an 800-square-foot accessory dwelling unit.

What’s an ADU? An ADU is a tiny home-like structure that exists as an accessory to a primary residence, either attached to the home or detached from it, and is viewed as one of the growing options to address Washington state’s housing shortage. Between 2000 and 2015, the state’s housing supply fell short of growth by 225,000 units, according to Gov. Jay Inslee’s Office.

The result has been a limited supply of single-family homes, a surge in apartment construction, and enough demand to make the cost of buying a home and paying rent increasingly expensive.

The median price of a Thurston County home continues to hover around $500,000, while average rents in the county are just under $1,500 a month, according to Thurston Regional Planning Council data. In a little more than a decade, the cost of buying or renting has just about doubled in expense, the data show.

In response, some local governments have taken steps to encourage what is known as the “missing middle,” the other types of housing that fall somewhere between a house and apartment, such as a duplex, triplex, fourplex or ADU.

A cold start

Lacey rolled out its ADU program in 2020 and 2021, the two years forever associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. But in 2022 the program showed signs of life, with the city issuing four ADU permits, said Ryan Andrews, Lacey’s planning commission manager.

The city is offering four approved design plans: A 480-square-foot studio, a 600-square-foot one bedroom and two 800-square-foot options — a single-story two bedroom and a two-story two bedroom unit.

Why isn’t the city issuing more ADU permits? One reason is much of Lacey’s housing stock was built in the 1990s, Andrews said, when homes were being built on tiny lots. However, many of the city’s older neighborhoods have much larger lots.

Andrews said he thinks it’s just going to take time for people to recognize those reinvestment opportunities.

One such area can be found south of Lacey Boulevard and north of 37th Avenue, between Golf Club Road to the west and Ruddell Road to the east. The Brentwood neighborhood happens to be in this area. It’s also near Wonderwood Park.

That’s where the Barrett family home is, on one-third of an acre, according to Thurston County Assessor’s Office data. That is plenty of room for an ADU. When Lacey officials talk about the program, they typically refer to 10,000-square-foot lots as the appropriate size for ADUs, although lots smaller than that will work, too, Andrews said.

Mary is downsizing into the ADU so that she can age in place and still be close to her sons, who will move into the primary residence.

One of her sons is a longtime renter, she said.

“After a while it just gets old, moving from house to house,” Barrett said.

She considered buying a home and renting it to her sons, but that was too expensive.

In this arrangement, her sons have stable housing, and after she passes on, they have other options, she said. They could sell the house and ADU, they could rent the ADU, or one son could live in the ADU while the other lives in the primary residence.

Is it affordable housing?

Mary’s 800-square-foot ADU is being built by Cole Kelly of Kelly & Associates LLC, an 18-month-old Olympia-based contractor. This is his first ADU project under his shingle, although he has built them before for other employers, he said.

Kelly began work on the project in January and expects to finish toward the end of April. In addition to the two bedrooms, it has a kitchen, bathroom and a small living area. His budget is around $224,000, although it could be less than that due to some Lacey incentives.

Kelly budgeted $15,000 for building permit fees, but the city is only going to charge him $1,600, he said. The city is also waiving the fees associated with connecting to city water and sewer.

That’s a major savings, he said. Instead of having to run water and sewer connections out to the street, he was able to tie into the home’s existing system.

Still, he acknowledged that even building an ADU comes with its share of costs. He hired subcontractors for the project and Kelly said he is conscientious about the types of building materials he uses, favoring higher quality materials over off-the-shelf materials.

What would he charge in monthly rent for an 800-square-foot ADU? Based on his expenses, Kelly thinks it would still be $1,500 to $2,000 per month, which is right around the average cost of rent in the county.

If he were building Lacey’s 480-square-foot ADU, Kelly said he didn’t think he could do it for less than $100,000, although he is encouraged by Lacey’s steps to streamline the process. That could put rent closer to an affordable range.

Olympia Master Builders supports the ADU.

“As an organization we’ve been working with local jurisdictions to adopt ADU policies for a few years now,” Executive Officer Angela White said. “We feel that ADUs are one more way to increase housing stock in a community. OMB is always a proponent of jurisdictions having a broad range of options when it comes to housing people.”

Rolf has worked at The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, the city of Lacey and business for the paper. Rolf graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1990.

Contractor Cole Kelly is currently building a accessory dwelling unit for the Barrett family in the Lacey area.

Steve Bloom

sbloom@theolympan.com

The Barrett family of Lacey had to make some important decisions about their future housing needs, finally deciding that a family member would downsize into a new accommodation to free up space at an existing residence.
Such a move might sound familiar to many families trying to care for an older parent who still wants to remain nearby.
But for Mary Barrett, who has lived in Lacey’s Brentwood neighborhood for more than 30 years, she isn’t downsizing into a single-family home or an apartment. She will be moving all of 20 feet into an 800-square-foot accessory dwelling unit.

What’s an ADU? An ADU is a tiny home-like structure that exists as an accessory to a primary residence, either attached to the home or detached from it, and is viewed as one of the growing options to address Washington state’s housing shortage. Between 2000 and 2015, the state’s housing supply fell short of growth by 225,000 units, according to Gov. Jay Inslee’s Office.
The result has been a limited supply of single-family homes, a surge in apartment construction, and enough demand to make the cost of buying a home and paying rent increasingly expensive.
The median price of a Thurston County home continues to hover around $500,000, while average rents in the county are just under $1,500 a month, according to Thurston Regional Planning Council data. In a little more than a decade, the cost of buying or renting has just about doubled in expense, the data show.
In response, some local governments have taken steps to encourage what is known as the “missing middle,” the other types of housing that fall somewhere between a house and apartment, such as a duplex, triplex, fourplex or ADU.
A cold startLacey rolled out its ADU program in 2020 and 2021, the two years forever associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. But in 2022 the program showed signs of life, with the city issuing four ADU permits, said Ryan Andrews, Lacey’s planning commission manager.
The city is offering four approved design plans: A 480-square-foot studio, a 600-square-foot one bedroom and two 800-square-foot options — a single-story two bedroom and a two-story two bedroom unit.
Why isn’t the city issuing more ADU permits? One reason is much of Lacey’s housing stock was built in the 1990s, Andrews said, when homes were being built on tiny lots. However, many of the city’s older neighborhoods have much larger lots.
Andrews said he thinks it’s just going to take time for people to recognize those reinvestment opportunities.

One such area can be found south of Lacey Boulevard and north of 37th Avenue, between Golf Club Road to the west and Ruddell Road to the east. The Brentwood neighborhood happens to be in this area. It’s also near Wonderwood Park.
That’s where the Barrett family home is, on one-third of an acre, according to Thurston County Assessor’s Office data. That is plenty of room for an ADU. When Lacey officials talk about the program, they typically refer to 10,000-square-foot lots as the appropriate size for ADUs, although lots smaller than that will work, too, Andrews said.
Mary is downsizing into the ADU so that she can age in place and still be close to her sons, who will move into the primary residence.

One of her sons is a longtime renter, she said.
“After a while it just gets old, moving from house to house,” Barrett said.
She considered buying a home and renting it to her sons, but that was too expensive.
In this arrangement, her sons have stable housing, and after she passes on, they have other options, she said. They could sell the house and ADU, they could rent the ADU, or one son could live in the ADU while the other lives in the primary residence.

Is it affordable housing?Mary’s 800-square-foot ADU is being built by Cole Kelly of Kelly & Associates LLC, an 18-month-old Olympia-based contractor. This is his first ADU project under his shingle, although he has built them before for other employers, he said.
Kelly began work on the project in January and expects to finish toward the end of April. In addition to the two bedrooms, it has a kitchen, bathroom and a small living area. His budget is around $224,000, although it could be less than that due to some Lacey incentives.
Kelly budgeted $15,000 for building permit fees, but the city is only going to charge him $1,600, he said. The city is also waiving the fees associated with connecting to city water and sewer.

That’s a major savings, he said. Instead of having to run water and sewer connections out to the street, he was able to tie into the home’s existing system.
Still, he acknowledged that even building an ADU comes with its share of costs. He hired subcontractors for the project and Kelly said he is conscientious about the types of building materials he uses, favoring higher quality materials over off-the-shelf materials.
What would he charge in monthly rent for an 800-square-foot ADU? Based on his expenses, Kelly thinks it would still be $1,500 to $2,000 per month, which is right around the average cost of rent in the county.

If he were building Lacey’s 480-square-foot ADU, Kelly said he didn’t think he could do it for less than $100,000, although he is encouraged by Lacey’s steps to streamline the process. That could put rent closer to an affordable range.
Olympia Master Builders supports the ADU.
“As an organization we’ve been working with local jurisdictions to adopt ADU policies for a few years now,” Executive Officer Angela White said. “We feel that ADUs are one more way to increase housing stock in a community. OMB is always a proponent of jurisdictions having a broad range of options when it comes to housing people.”

Rolf has worked at The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, the city of Lacey and business for the paper. Rolf graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1990.

Ready to live in an 800-square-foot house? Lacey is issuing permits for unique option  The Olympian

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A Prefab Tiny Home Takes Root in a Northern California Vineyard

Surrounded by rows of cabernet grapevines, olive trees, a centenary oak, and bright blue sky, this cedar-clad prefab looks as if it has always stood on its cinematic site in Healdsburg, California. But the 540-square-foot Dwell House landed on the lot only a few months ago—just in time for Thanksgiving, which was homeowner Leslie Scharf’s plan.

One of the first Dwell Houses recently landed near Leslie Scharf’s vineyard home in Healdsburg, California. Norm Architects led the design of the 540-square-foot prefab, which is wrapped in Real Cedar siding.

After living on the property at the start of the pandemic with her adult daughters, Sophie and Sarah, and their families, Leslie decided she could use more square footage. “I needed flex space so that we could comfortably spend time together here,” she says.

“Natural materials bring tactility and warmth,” says Norm partner Sofie Thorning. Marvin windows and a folding NanaWall provide epic views of the landscape.

It turns out that Sophie was feeling slightly squeezed as well. “It was really tight, and we didn’t know how long the pandemic would last,” she says. She started researching accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and she was drawn to the materials and detailing of the Dwell House. “My mom and I love design, and the Dwell House is beautiful compared to a lot of other ADUs,” Sophie adds.

Abodu managed the build and delivery of the turnkey one-bedroom ADU. “The cost is up-front, transparent, all-inclusive— excluding taxes, fees, and custom site-specific work—and locked in before construction begins,” says cofounder Eric McInerney. The kitchen  includes a full suite of Bosch appliances.

Designed by Norm Architects, the backyard house is as artful as it is efficient. “Natural materials bring texture and depth, and we always strive for richness in our detailing,” says Norm partner Sofie Thorning. “The different scales of the cedar cladding align, creating a thoughtful rhythm that gives the house a calm appearance. The presentation is never flat, but it blends in wherever it goes.”

A Ravenhill Studio sconce hangs on the exterior siding.

“The interior’s muted palette is calming anddoesn’t overpower the home’s relationship to nature.When you’re inside, you note what’s outside.”

—Sofie Thorning, architect

Strategically placed glazing—including a 12-foot-wide folding glass wall that opens the living area to the deck—frames the bucolic setting. “I love the home’s relationship to the outdoors,” says Thorning. “No matter where you are, you catch a view of the landscape, which enlarges the feeling of the small house.”

“The interior’s muted palette is calming and doesn’t overpower the home’s relationship to nature. When you’re inside, you note what’s outside,” says architect Sofie Thorning.

Leslie and Sophie were taken with the design, but they also loved that home-builder Abodu would oversee construction and transport the ADU to their property in a seamless process. “After the Dwell House is fully constructed in-factory, it’s loaded onto a flatbed truck for transport to the homeowner and arrives as a complete, ready-to-move-in unit,” says Abodu cofounder Eric McInerney. “Prior to arrival, we handle all on-site construction work—from building the foundation to preparing plumbing and electrical.”

According to McInerney, prefabricating the unit off-site limits the on-site construction time to about six weeks. “This allows for greater control and oversight of the construction process and materials, which decreases the timeline to completion and lets Abodu deliver the Dwell House in as little as six months,” he says.

Leslie and her daughter, Sophie, stand on the deck with their labradoodle, Bean. “The two things about the home that caught my eye were the cedar siding and the folding glass wall that opens it up,” says Leslie. “You don’t get a better view than this,” Sophie adds. “We pretty much live on the deck, so to be able to walk in and out is ideal.”

On delivery day, Leslie, Sophie, and Sophie’s four-year-old son, Luca, watched Abodu crane the Dwell House over the grapevines in only a couple of minutes and then situate it between a massive oak tree and the main house on the property. Once it was in place, they couldn’t help but think that their new flex space was more than they’d hoped for. “I looked inside, and I was surprised that there was really nothing for me to do,” says Leslie. “It was all there—appliances and everything.”

So far, the Dwell House has made the family’s special gathering place that much more special. “My parents bought this land in 1982, and I kind of grew up here,” says Sophie. “When I was younger, my sister and I would run through the vineyards all the time, chasing rabbits and birds. Now, my son explores while we sit and watch from the deck or the living area. Our family is growing—and we finally have the space we need.”

— 

Head back to the January/February 2023 issue homepage

Surrounded by rows of cabernet grapevines, olive trees, a centenary oak, and bright blue sky, this cedar-clad prefab looks as if it has always stood on its cinematic site in Healdsburg, California. But the 540-square-foot Dwell House landed on the lot only a few months ago—just in time for Thanksgiving, which was homeowner Leslie Scharf’s plan.
One of the first Dwell Houses recently landed near Leslie Scharf’s vineyard home in Healdsburg, California. Norm Architects led the design of the 540-square-foot prefab, which is wrapped in Real Cedar siding.
After living on the property at the start of the pandemic with her adult daughters, Sophie and Sarah, and their families, Leslie decided she could use more square footage. “I needed flex space so that we could comfortably spend time together here,” she says.

“Natural materials bring tactility and warmth,” says Norm partner Sofie Thorning. Marvin windows and a folding NanaWall provide epic views of the landscape.
It turns out that Sophie was feeling slightly squeezed as well. “It was really tight, and we didn’t know how long the pandemic would last,” she says. She started researching accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and she was drawn to the materials and detailing of the Dwell House. “My mom and I love design, and the Dwell House is beautiful compared to a lot of other ADUs,” Sophie adds.
Abodu managed the build and delivery of the turnkey one-bedroom ADU. “The cost is up-front, transparent, all-inclusive— excluding taxes, fees, and custom site-specific work—and locked in before construction begins,” says cofounder Eric McInerney. The kitchen  includes a full suite of Bosch appliances.
Designed by Norm Architects, the backyard house is as artful as it is efficient. “Natural materials bring texture and depth, and we always strive for richness in our detailing,” says Norm partner Sofie Thorning. “The different scales of the cedar cladding align, creating a thoughtful rhythm that gives the house a calm appearance. The presentation is never flat, but it blends in wherever it goes.”
A Ravenhill Studio sconce hangs on the exterior siding.
“The interior’s muted palette is calming anddoesn’t overpower the home’s relationship to nature.When you’re inside, you note what’s outside.”
—Sofie Thorning, architect
Strategically placed glazing—including a 12-foot-wide folding glass wall that opens the living area to the deck—frames the bucolic setting. “I love the home’s relationship to the outdoors,” says Thorning. “No matter where you are, you catch a view of the landscape, which enlarges the feeling of the small house.”
“The interior’s muted palette is calming and doesn’t overpower the home’s relationship to nature. When you’re inside, you note what’s outside,” says architect Sofie Thorning.
Leslie and Sophie were taken with the design, but they also loved that home-builder Abodu would oversee construction and transport the ADU to their property in a seamless process. “After the Dwell House is fully constructed in-factory, it’s loaded onto a flatbed truck for transport to the homeowner and arrives as a complete, ready-to-move-in unit,” says Abodu cofounder Eric McInerney. “Prior to arrival, we handle all on-site construction work—from building the foundation to preparing plumbing and electrical.”
According to McInerney, prefabricating the unit off-site limits the on-site construction time to about six weeks. “This allows for greater control and oversight of the construction process and materials, which decreases the timeline to completion and lets Abodu deliver the Dwell House in as little as six months,” he says.
Leslie and her daughter, Sophie, stand on the deck with their labradoodle, Bean. “The two things about the home that caught my eye were the cedar siding and the folding glass wall that opens it up,” says Leslie. “You don’t get a better view than this,” Sophie adds. “We pretty much live on the deck, so to be able to walk in and out is ideal.”
On delivery day, Leslie, Sophie, and Sophie’s four-year-old son, Luca, watched Abodu crane the Dwell House over the grapevines in only a couple of minutes and then situate it between a massive oak tree and the main house on the property. Once it was in place, they couldn’t help but think that their new flex space was more than they’d hoped for. “I looked inside, and I was surprised that there was really nothing for me to do,” says Leslie. “It was all there—appliances and everything.”
So far, the Dwell House has made the family’s special gathering place that much more special. “My parents bought this land in 1982, and I kind of grew up here,” says Sophie. “When I was younger, my sister and I would run through the vineyards all the time, chasing rabbits and birds. Now, my son explores while we sit and watch from the deck or the living area. Our family is growing—and we finally have the space we need.”
— 
Head back to the January/February 2023 issue homepage
A Prefab Tiny Home Takes Root in a Northern California Vineyard  Dwell

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14 tiny-home startups set to transform real estate in 2023 by making housing cheaper, helping owners earn passive income, and more

Escape tiny home mid-century modern style
The N1 model by Escape.

Courtesy of Escape Homes

  • Tiny homes had a coming-out party in 2022, as more places began building or budgeting for tiny home villages.
  • Affordability, sustainability, and the chance to make extra money caught the eye of homeowners looking for something new. 
  • We compiled 14 tiny-home and accessory-dwelling-unit (ADU) startups to watch in 2023.

Tiny homes were not a new invention of 2022, but they picked up a lot of momentum.

Whether you’re a millennial or Gen Z buyer facing record-high prices, a current homeowner looking to live with less, or a city dweller whose lifestyle shifted during the pandemic, tiny homes can be filled with promise.

Elon Musk uses a Boxabl tiny home as a guest house near his Texas home. Boxabl cofounder Galiano Tiramani even shared a video on Twitter of a Tesla hauling a 15,000-pound tiny home.

Gimmicks aside, tiny homes are being used as solutions to housing crises in cities like Chicago or Bridgeton, New Jersey — where tiny homes are being used to house former inmates for free after their release. Albuquerque, New Mexico, created Tiny Home Village, which has 30 120-square-foot homes, and is being used as transitional housing and is providing shelter for people without housing. 

The often-modular approach of tiny homes can help reduce construction costs and make housing cheaper. From all-electric homes to optimizing backyards in the Bay area, the future of housing may look smaller.

Tiny homes can range in price and aesthetics, but typically remain under 600 square feet. The median square footage of single-family units in America through the first three quarters of 2022 was 2,294 square feet, according to the Census Bureau.

They can also be money makers. Petite, picturesque Airbnbs are popular with Instagram-savvy travelers. In states like California, homeowners are tapping companies that plop prefabricated structures down in their backyards. In one model, a startup collects rent from the tenants of the accessory dwelling units, or ADUs — and pays out a portion to the homeowner.

We’ve compiled a list of the hottest tiny-home companies to look out for in 2023, all shaking up real estate in different ways. Here they are, presented in alphabetical order.

Abodu

A white tiny home with big windows and a green lawn in front
An Abodu home.

Courtesy of Adobu

Abodu helps homeowners make use of their unused backyard space with accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. The Redwood City, California-based company, founded in 2018, promises customers none of strings some of their competitors require, such as splitting rental income.

"We don’t do any sort of land lease with the owners," John Geary, Abodu’s co-founder, said. "Our biggest view is that homeowners should feel free to use their backyard as they see fit and not have it tied to us as a company — or any other company."

Instead, Abodu makes its money on customers’ initial purchases of its tiny homes. Studios of 340 square feet start at $228,000, though the average purchase among all its offerings is closer to $280,000, according to Geary. Abodu also offers one- and two-bedroom homes in the relatively generous sizes of 500 square feet and 610 square feet, respectively.

The company has raised $25 million, according to an August press release. Geary declined to provide Abodu’s revenue but said it increased nearly five times in 2021 from 2020. It has placed 100 units in backyards as of 2022, and has more than 100 more units in production, according to Geary.

Boxabl

Interior of a tiny home facing the bedroom and living space
A Boxabl unit.

Courtesy of Boxabl

Boxabl’s factory-built homes may be tiny, but the Nevada-based company is scoring big endorsements from some of the most recognizable names in the homebuilding industry and beyond. 

In 2022, the company landed an investment from DR Horton — the largest US homebuilder by volume. The company didn’t disclose the financial details of the deal, but Galiano Tiramani — a cofounder and director of Boxabl — said the company has now raised more than $100 million, the vast majority of which has come through crowdfunding. That puts the company’s valuation at roughly $3 billion. 

Boxabl delivers its 375-square-foot "Casitas," which the company builds on an assembly line in Las Vegas, to sites via shipping containers and assembles them out into full-fledged homes in less than an hour. The unique assembly method has swirled up interest on social media and helped generate a waitlist of more than 100,000 names, according to Tiramani. 

Each unit sells for $50,000, not including the cost of installation. Boxabl has produced about 200 homes so far, 156 of which have gone to the Department of Defense for military housing. Boxabl is ramping up production at its existing factory and has secured land next door for an additional facility. Once both are running at full speed, they’ll be able to produce about 5,000 units a year, Tiramani said.

Casata

A portrait of Vickie Restani and her dog, Kiah, in the living room in her home at the Casata development in South Austin.
A Casata unit.

James Rodriguez/Insider

Why rent an apartment when you can lease a tiny home? That’s the premise behind the Austin, Texas-based tiny-home company Casata, which earlier this year debuted a community of 66 microhome rentals in the fast-growing Texas capital.

Residents — who pay between $1,400 and $1,865 per month — quickly snapped up the homes, which range in size from 378 to 758 square feet. Casata, which launched in 2020, is now planning larger projects in other Texas cities such as Houston, San Marcos, Bastrop, and College Station, while eyeing national expansion in the future. 

Champion Homes built the inaugural Casata units in a factory near Dallas. Future Casata communities will feature custom floor plans Casata designs and use modular construction, Aaron Levy — the CEO of Casata — told Insider. This means Casata will still build them in a factory, but the homes will sit on foundations like traditional homes and meet the same building codes required for homes built on-site.

Casata has raised roughly $2.1 million from a range of investors, including the family office of Adam Neumann — the founder of WeWork. In the next five to seven years, Casata aims to have 30 to 40 communities, which would equal a roughly billion-dollar portfolio, Levy said.

Cosmic

A Cosmic tiny home with palm trees behind it.
A Cosmic ADU.

Cosmic

This San Francisco-based startup creates accessory dwelling units equipped to generate enough energy to power themselves and supply energy to the property’s main home. The company, which founder Sasha Jokic began in 2021, currently sells two styles: A studio starting at 350 square feet and $190,000, and a one-bedroom unit starting at 450 square feet and $370,000. 

Cosmic’s innovation is a prefabricated platform that draws its power from a lithium-ion battery and thermal energy. Cosmic constructs the carbon-neutral units on-site with sustainable materials once the platform is in place. From start to finish, it takes from six to eight months to create a Cosmic dwelling.

Although the units are small now, Cosmic envisions scaling up. "We’ll consider ourselves successful once we tackle the problem of housing insecurity with the multifamily homes," Jokic told Insider in May.

Cover

Inside a Cover ADU.
Inside a Cover ADU.

Courtesy of Cover

Cover has a premise. Companies today use an outmoded method to build homes, and they can apply technology they use to design, create, and predictably price products — like cars — to residential construction. Cover has gathered followers and has raised a total of $73.3 million over four rounds through 2021, according to Crunchbase.

Cover customizes its backyard dwellings to each buyer and manufactures them in sections at its Los Angeles factory before assembling them on a dedicated site. According to Tech Crunch, the homes currently max out at 1,200 square feet with prices ranging from about $200,000 for a 400-square-foot studio to $500,000 for a three-bedroom house.

The production process is swift, taking about 30 days to build and install a home once Cover completes the foundation. As of October 2021, Cover had produced about 20 dwellings, though it expected production to ramp up after moving into its new 100,000-square-foot factory.

Dvele

Dvele tiny home with wood exterior
A Dvele unit.

Courtesy of Dvele

Robots might, one day, build your home.

At least, that’s if San Diego-based Dvele achieves its lofty vision. The company, which builds modular homes and assembles them on-site, announced in June the closing of $15 million in funding to build an automated, robotic production line at its factory in Loma Linda, California. The idea is to give people the opportunity to personalize their home online, then feed orders to the smart factory, and transport the completed modules — essentially the building blocks of the home — to their permanent site.

Dvele doesn’t just focus on tiny homes, or "mini homes," as the company calls them. Its floor plans range in size from 400 square feet to more than 3,900 square feet, and prices vary between $200,000 and $1.5 million. That doesn’t include the cost of prepping the site, delivering the home, and installing it once it’s arrived. 

The company launched in 2018 and plans to produce about 200 modules this year, Kellan Hannah — Dvele’s director of growth — said. While the mini homes require just one module, the larger ones are made of between three and five modules. Once the factory is totally automated and running at full capacity, the company’s production should approach 1,500 modules annually, Hannah said. 

For now, the company is mostly focused on delivering homes to California and neighboring states due to shipping costs, Hannah said.

Escape

Escape tiny home 5
The Traveler model by Escape Homes.

Courtesy of Escape Homes

Escape Homes of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, has been selling tiny homes since 2014, but business has never been this hot. 

"The pandemic was gasoline on the fire," Dan Dobrowolski — the founder of Escape Homes — told Insider.

Urban dwellers searching for greener pastures joined a movement that Dobrowlski says has been building across demographics and age groups. He’s seen this in every region where Escape has built homes as large as 388 square feet over the past 8 years, from California to New York, and even in Hawaii. The cost of the homes runs from about $43,600 to $93,261.

As the pandemic deepened in 2020, Escape teamed up with the furniture giant IKEA to develop the outlet’s first tiny-home offering. The 187-square-foot unit was Escape’s Vista Boho XL model outfitted with IKEA furniture, and available through its website. Dobrowolski says the partnership was a "really easy match," with both companies aligned on environmental issues. 

In other sustainability efforts, Escape has introduced some all-electric models. Other models were already close to being all-electric, but changing out cooking appliances, water heaters, and furnaces brought them to the next level, Dobrowolski said. 

Escape is also trying to transform neighborhoods. In 2020, the company opened its Escape Tiny Home Village — a cluster of 10 homes in a converted Tampa Bay, Florida, trailer park. The homes only take up about 20% of the acreage, leaving room for ample green space. Dobrowolski calls it  a "neighborhood of the 21st century." 

"It’s a much more efficient use of space, but at the same time gives you what people still think of as the American dream," Dobrowolski said.

Getaway

Inside a wood-clad tiny home, a bed is in front of a large window overlooking the woods.
A Getaway cabin.

Courtesy of Getaway

This tiny-abode-hospitality company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has created nature-filled experiences without common amenities like WiFi or TV in an effort to help people — especially big-city dwellers — unplug. 

At a base price of $109 per night, guests can stay in these tiny homes in 19 outdoorsy environments from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia near Washington, DC; to Mount Vernon, Washington, near Seattle. The 780 cabins of up to 200 square feet are stocked with bedding, cooking supplies and an outdoor-camping setup. 

"Growing up in rural Minnesota I was always surrounded by nature," Jon Staff — a cofounder and the CEO of Getaway — said. "When I returned to nature later in life, I fell in love with the idea of living simply in nature and making frequent disconnection part of my routine."

The company announced in June that it would add 9 new locations including places in Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Ohio; Greenville, South Carolina; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The expansion would boost Getaway’s offerings to 1,000 cabins.

In 2021, Cerates led the startup’s Series C funding, in which Getaway raised over $41 million.

Icon

A 3D-printed Icon home.
An Icon home.

Joshua Perez/Courtesy of Icon

Founded in 2017 in Austin, Texas, Icon has dominated the 3D-printed-housing market with technology that has brought over 24 homes to the United States and Mexico — the largest number of such structures completed by a construction company. It has so far raised $451 million from investors.

In 2021, the company worked with an Austin-based developer who brought a version of its 3D-printed home to market with prices starting from around $450,000. Others are eyeing the company’s technology as proof-of-concept for affordable and emergency-housing communities of the future.

Icon is now expanding the scope of its operations in collaboration with the United States Army to create moveable training barracks that, once completed, will count as the largest 3D-printed structures in the Western Hemisphere. The company is also working with NASA to develop construction systems to create infrastructure and habitats on the moon and beyond.

Minimaliste

Inside a Minimaliste home.
A Minimaliste home.

Courtesy of JP Marquis

Quebec City-based Minimaliste builds and transports tiny homes specifically designed for the climate surrounding the designated plot of land they will sit on. 

Founded in 2015, Minimaliste gained popularity for prefabricated tiny homes that are able to withstand wild weather conditions — from extreme heat to frigid temperatures — by regulating the temperature inside the tiny home with efficient heat pump and air conditioning systems.

Unlike most tiny homes, Minimaliste homes come with a heat pump and air-conditioning system. 

Minimaliste has built over 100 homes, though scaling up is not the company’s goal, JP Marquis — a cofounder of Minimaliste — told Insider. Instead, it’s focused on process, or making sure steps such as choosing materials, design, and delivery go smoothly, he said. 

"We invested a lot in the recipe," he said.

Customers can buy Minimaliste’s custom homes of up to 382 square feet, or choose from one of the company’s pre-designed layouts such as Nomad, a 165-square-foot home with a minimalist design for about $65,000. 

Most Minimaliste clients are based in New York, California, Washington and Ontario, Canada, but it’s getting increased interest from people in southern US states such as North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and New Mexico, Marquis said. 

Moliving

Inside a Moliving unit.
A Moliving unit.

David Mitchell

Moliving is introducing luxurious, sustainable, and affordable hospitality experiences to the tiny-house movement. 

The New York-based company has a fleet of prefabricated 399-square-foot trailers with additional deck space. It can expand or shrink the supply to meet seasonal demands, which helps lower the cost of the luxury digs, Jordan Bem — one of the company’s cofounders and the CEO — told Insider. 

The first location for one of Moliving’s mobile hotels will open during peak tourist season later this summer in a lush, mountainous hideaway in the Hudson Valley town of Hurley, New York, Bem said. It will have 60 suites starting at about $249 per night, he said.

But when the weather gets cold in New York, Moliving will simply take its accommodations elsewhere. 

"We take our suites, and trailer them to the next destination, something that is perfectly opposite, like Palm Beach, for example," Bem said. 

The nomadic business model eliminates off-season expenses, such as shutting down for a few months, or costs associated with climate, he said.

Bem invested nearly $7 million into the business, which recently closed a seed round of funding — which the modular investor SG Blocks led — in June, he said. In 2022, Moliving won the American Business Award for startup of the year in business services, and a Titan Business Award. 

New Frontier Design

A New Frontier tiny home sits in a clearing.
A New Frontier tiny home.

Studio Bull/New Frontier Design

David Latimer founded bespoke tiny-home outfit New Frontier Design in 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee, out of a desire to perfect a product from the design phase through to completion. 

The detail-oriented craftsman builds highly customizable tiny homes that he told Insider are mostly purchased by clients in Western states like California, Washington, and Idaho. Latimer said his clients often use his product as a luxury solution for the hurdles associated with building on remote properties, such as restrictive permitting issues and high construction costs.

New Frontier counts Olivia Wilde among its all-star client roster, as well as "some of the wealthiest people on earth," according to Latimer. The company’s tiny homes range in size from about 250 square feet to 450 square feet with prices sometimes exceeding $350,000. 

Latimer estimated he’s built 60 to 70 highly customized homes to date. An added bonus in the tiny-house space for Latimer? "It’s a vehicle for intentional living," he said. "You can’t mindlessly consume." The space constraints simply won’t allow for it.

OBY Cooperative

Inside an OBY house.
An OBY Cooperative house.

Courtesy of OBY Cooperative

The OBY Cooperative gets its name from the development debates between NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) versus YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) camps. OBY instead stands for "Our Backyard" and imagines a future beyond the debate.

"It doesn’t have to be yes or no, but just the understanding that collectively all of this land is ours," Declan Keefe — a cofounder of OBY Cooperative, in Oakland, California — said. 

OBY is in the process of establishing its first unique land-lease agreement with an owner and a tenant.

The cooperative seeks out homeowners who want extra income from an accessory dwelling unit, and pairs them with tenants who are utilizing housing vouchers. It aims to ink 35-year agreements under which it permits, builds, manages, and maintains the ADUs of about 650 square feet on residential properties, at no cost to the homeowner. Homeowners can earn around $500 a month for the rental.

A unique element of the cooperative is a plan to eventually sell shares of the rental unit to other members of the community. 

OBY is also tackling sustainability. The unit itself is all-electric and runs on net-zero energy. Even the construction process is carbon neutral and powered by solar energy. 

Keefe said the first tenant is expected to move in within the coming months. The homeowner has been an active participant in the endeavor, leaning on a legal background to help them draft equitable contracts, he said.

United Dwelling

A United Dwelling property.
A United Dwelling property in Los Angeles, where median home prices are over $1 million, according to Zillow.

Courtesy of United Dwelling

Steven Dietz — the founder of United Dwelling — thinks he has a solution to Los Angeles’ housing crisis. 

After a career in venture capital, Dietz wanted to make an impact on his community and in 2019 decided to tackle housing affordability through increasing attainable inventory. His team started by transforming garages, but found them to be inadequate. 

In part, a 2019 California state law that streamlined the construction process of ADUs made Dietz’s vision possible. United has so far built 60 homes, with 300 more in the permitting process, according to Dietz, who said their sizes range from 328 square feet to 1490 square feet. The homes start at $195,900, including demolition and design, permitting, and solar water and power systems.

"I can see a way we get to where affordability is removed as a problem in probably five to seven years," Dietz told Insider. "You just have to build enough new homes to pull down the price at the low end of the market." 

Dietz says units have been filled by working-class people who were suffering through brutal commutes. Teacher’s aides, EMTs, and nurses who were driving over two hours to their jobs are now just minutes away.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The N1 model by Escape.Courtesy of Escape Homes

Tiny homes had a coming-out party in 2022, as more places began building or budgeting for tiny home villages.
Affordability, sustainability, and the chance to make extra money caught the eye of homeowners looking for something new. 
We compiled 14 tiny-home and accessory-dwelling-unit (ADU) startups to watch in 2023.
Tiny homes were not a new invention of 2022, but they picked up a lot of momentum.
Whether you’re a millennial or Gen Z buyer facing record-high prices, a current homeowner looking to live with less, or a city dweller whose lifestyle shifted during the pandemic, tiny homes can be filled with promise.
Elon Musk uses a Boxabl tiny home as a guest house near his Texas home. Boxabl cofounder Galiano Tiramani even shared a video on Twitter of a Tesla hauling a 15,000-pound tiny home.
Gimmicks aside, tiny homes are being used as solutions to housing crises in cities like Chicago or Bridgeton, New Jersey — where tiny homes are being used to house former inmates for free after their release. Albuquerque, New Mexico, created Tiny Home Village, which has 30 120-square-foot homes, and is being used as transitional housing and is providing shelter for people without housing. 
The often-modular approach of tiny homes can help reduce construction costs and make housing cheaper. From all-electric homes to optimizing backyards in the Bay area, the future of housing may look smaller.
Tiny homes can range in price and aesthetics, but typically remain under 600 square feet. The median square footage of single-family units in America through the first three quarters of 2022 was 2,294 square feet, according to the Census Bureau.
They can also be money makers. Petite, picturesque Airbnbs are popular with Instagram-savvy travelers. In states like California, homeowners are tapping companies that plop prefabricated structures down in their backyards. In one model, a startup collects rent from the tenants of the accessory dwelling units, or ADUs — and pays out a portion to the homeowner.
We’ve compiled a list of the hottest tiny-home companies to look out for in 2023, all shaking up real estate in different ways. Here they are, presented in alphabetical order.
AboduAn Abodu home.Courtesy of Adobu
Abodu helps homeowners make use of their unused backyard space with accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. The Redwood City, California-based company, founded in 2018, promises customers none of strings some of their competitors require, such as splitting rental income.
"We don’t do any sort of land lease with the owners," John Geary, Abodu’s co-founder, said. "Our biggest view is that homeowners should feel free to use their backyard as they see fit and not have it tied to us as a company — or any other company."
Instead, Abodu makes its money on customers’ initial purchases of its tiny homes. Studios of 340 square feet start at $228,000, though the average purchase among all its offerings is closer to $280,000, according to Geary. Abodu also offers one- and two-bedroom homes in the relatively generous sizes of 500 square feet and 610 square feet, respectively.
The company has raised $25 million, according to an August press release. Geary declined to provide Abodu’s revenue but said it increased nearly five times in 2021 from 2020. It has placed 100 units in backyards as of 2022, and has more than 100 more units in production, according to Geary.
BoxablA Boxabl unit.Courtesy of Boxabl
Boxabl’s factory-built homes may be tiny, but the Nevada-based company is scoring big endorsements from some of the most recognizable names in the homebuilding industry and beyond. 
In 2022, the company landed an investment from DR Horton — the largest US homebuilder by volume. The company didn’t disclose the financial details of the deal, but Galiano Tiramani — a cofounder and director of Boxabl — said the company has now raised more than $100 million, the vast majority of which has come through crowdfunding. That puts the company’s valuation at roughly $3 billion. 
Boxabl delivers its 375-square-foot "Casitas," which the company builds on an assembly line in Las Vegas, to sites via shipping containers and assembles them out into full-fledged homes in less than an hour. The unique assembly method has swirled up interest on social media and helped generate a waitlist of more than 100,000 names, according to Tiramani. 
Each unit sells for $50,000, not including the cost of installation. Boxabl has produced about 200 homes so far, 156 of which have gone to the Department of Defense for military housing. Boxabl is ramping up production at its existing factory and has secured land next door for an additional facility. Once both are running at full speed, they’ll be able to produce about 5,000 units a year, Tiramani said.
CasataA Casata unit.James Rodriguez/Insider
Why rent an apartment when you can lease a tiny home? That’s the premise behind the Austin, Texas-based tiny-home company Casata, which earlier this year debuted a community of 66 microhome rentals in the fast-growing Texas capital.
Residents — who pay between $1,400 and $1,865 per month — quickly snapped up the homes, which range in size from 378 to 758 square feet. Casata, which launched in 2020, is now planning larger projects in other Texas cities such as Houston, San Marcos, Bastrop, and College Station, while eyeing national expansion in the future. 
Champion Homes built the inaugural Casata units in a factory near Dallas. Future Casata communities will feature custom floor plans Casata designs and use modular construction, Aaron Levy — the CEO of Casata — told Insider. This means Casata will still build them in a factory, but the homes will sit on foundations like traditional homes and meet the same building codes required for homes built on-site.
Casata has raised roughly $2.1 million from a range of investors, including the family office of Adam Neumann — the founder of WeWork. In the next five to seven years, Casata aims to have 30 to 40 communities, which would equal a roughly billion-dollar portfolio, Levy said.
CosmicA Cosmic ADU.Cosmic
This San Francisco-based startup creates accessory dwelling units equipped to generate enough energy to power themselves and supply energy to the property’s main home. The company, which founder Sasha Jokic began in 2021, currently sells two styles: A studio starting at 350 square feet and $190,000, and a one-bedroom unit starting at 450 square feet and $370,000. 
Cosmic’s innovation is a prefabricated platform that draws its power from a lithium-ion battery and thermal energy. Cosmic constructs the carbon-neutral units on-site with sustainable materials once the platform is in place. From start to finish, it takes from six to eight months to create a Cosmic dwelling.
Although the units are small now, Cosmic envisions scaling up. "We’ll consider ourselves successful once we tackle the problem of housing insecurity with the multifamily homes," Jokic told Insider in May.
CoverInside a Cover ADU.Courtesy of Cover
Cover has a premise. Companies today use an outmoded method to build homes, and they can apply technology they use to design, create, and predictably price products — like cars — to residential construction. Cover has gathered followers and has raised a total of $73.3 million over four rounds through 2021, according to Crunchbase.
Cover customizes its backyard dwellings to each buyer and manufactures them in sections at its Los Angeles factory before assembling them on a dedicated site. According to Tech Crunch, the homes currently max out at 1,200 square feet with prices ranging from about $200,000 for a 400-square-foot studio to $500,000 for a three-bedroom house.
The production process is swift, taking about 30 days to build and install a home once Cover completes the foundation. As of October 2021, Cover had produced about 20 dwellings, though it expected production to ramp up after moving into its new 100,000-square-foot factory.
DveleA Dvele unit.Courtesy of Dvele
Robots might, one day, build your home.
At least, that’s if San Diego-based Dvele achieves its lofty vision. The company, which builds modular homes and assembles them on-site, announced in June the closing of $15 million in funding to build an automated, robotic production line at its factory in Loma Linda, California. The idea is to give people the opportunity to personalize their home online, then feed orders to the smart factory, and transport the completed modules — essentially the building blocks of the home — to their permanent site.
Dvele doesn’t just focus on tiny homes, or "mini homes," as the company calls them. Its floor plans range in size from 400 square feet to more than 3,900 square feet, and prices vary between $200,000 and $1.5 million. That doesn’t include the cost of prepping the site, delivering the home, and installing it once it’s arrived. 
The company launched in 2018 and plans to produce about 200 modules this year, Kellan Hannah — Dvele’s director of growth — said. While the mini homes require just one module, the larger ones are made of between three and five modules. Once the factory is totally automated and running at full capacity, the company’s production should approach 1,500 modules annually, Hannah said. 
For now, the company is mostly focused on delivering homes to California and neighboring states due to shipping costs, Hannah said.
EscapeThe Traveler model by Escape Homes.Courtesy of Escape Homes
Escape Homes of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, has been selling tiny homes since 2014, but business has never been this hot. 
"The pandemic was gasoline on the fire," Dan Dobrowolski — the founder of Escape Homes — told Insider.
Urban dwellers searching for greener pastures joined a movement that Dobrowlski says has been building across demographics and age groups. He’s seen this in every region where Escape has built homes as large as 388 square feet over the past 8 years, from California to New York, and even in Hawaii. The cost of the homes runs from about $43,600 to $93,261.
As the pandemic deepened in 2020, Escape teamed up with the furniture giant IKEA to develop the outlet’s first tiny-home offering. The 187-square-foot unit was Escape’s Vista Boho XL model outfitted with IKEA furniture, and available through its website. Dobrowolski says the partnership was a "really easy match," with both companies aligned on environmental issues. 
In other sustainability efforts, Escape has introduced some all-electric models. Other models were already close to being all-electric, but changing out cooking appliances, water heaters, and furnaces brought them to the next level, Dobrowolski said. 
Escape is also trying to transform neighborhoods. In 2020, the company opened its Escape Tiny Home Village — a cluster of 10 homes in a converted Tampa Bay, Florida, trailer park. The homes only take up about 20% of the acreage, leaving room for ample green space. Dobrowolski calls it  a "neighborhood of the 21st century." 
"It’s a much more efficient use of space, but at the same time gives you what people still think of as the American dream," Dobrowolski said.
GetawayA Getaway cabin.Courtesy of Getaway
This tiny-abode-hospitality company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has created nature-filled experiences without common amenities like WiFi or TV in an effort to help people — especially big-city dwellers — unplug. 
At a base price of $109 per night, guests can stay in these tiny homes in 19 outdoorsy environments from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia near Washington, DC; to Mount Vernon, Washington, near Seattle. The 780 cabins of up to 200 square feet are stocked with bedding, cooking supplies and an outdoor-camping setup. 
"Growing up in rural Minnesota I was always surrounded by nature," Jon Staff — a cofounder and the CEO of Getaway — said. "When I returned to nature later in life, I fell in love with the idea of living simply in nature and making frequent disconnection part of my routine."
The company announced in June that it would add 9 new locations including places in Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Ohio; Greenville, South Carolina; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The expansion would boost Getaway’s offerings to 1,000 cabins.
In 2021, Cerates led the startup’s Series C funding, in which Getaway raised over $41 million.
IconAn Icon home.Joshua Perez/Courtesy of Icon
Founded in 2017 in Austin, Texas, Icon has dominated the 3D-printed-housing market with technology that has brought over 24 homes to the United States and Mexico — the largest number of such structures completed by a construction company. It has so far raised $451 million from investors.
In 2021, the company worked with an Austin-based developer who brought a version of its 3D-printed home to market with prices starting from around $450,000. Others are eyeing the company’s technology as proof-of-concept for affordable and emergency-housing communities of the future.
Icon is now expanding the scope of its operations in collaboration with the United States Army to create moveable training barracks that, once completed, will count as the largest 3D-printed structures in the Western Hemisphere. The company is also working with NASA to develop construction systems to create infrastructure and habitats on the moon and beyond.
MinimalisteA Minimaliste home.Courtesy of JP Marquis
Quebec City-based Minimaliste builds and transports tiny homes specifically designed for the climate surrounding the designated plot of land they will sit on. 
Founded in 2015, Minimaliste gained popularity for prefabricated tiny homes that are able to withstand wild weather conditions — from extreme heat to frigid temperatures — by regulating the temperature inside the tiny home with efficient heat pump and air conditioning systems.
Unlike most tiny homes, Minimaliste homes come with a heat pump and air-conditioning system. 
Minimaliste has built over 100 homes, though scaling up is not the company’s goal, JP Marquis — a cofounder of Minimaliste — told Insider. Instead, it’s focused on process, or making sure steps such as choosing materials, design, and delivery go smoothly, he said. 
"We invested a lot in the recipe," he said.
Customers can buy Minimaliste’s custom homes of up to 382 square feet, or choose from one of the company’s pre-designed layouts such as Nomad, a 165-square-foot home with a minimalist design for about $65,000. 
Most Minimaliste clients are based in New York, California, Washington and Ontario, Canada, but it’s getting increased interest from people in southern US states such as North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and New Mexico, Marquis said. 
MolivingA Moliving unit.David Mitchell
Moliving is introducing luxurious, sustainable, and affordable hospitality experiences to the tiny-house movement. 
The New York-based company has a fleet of prefabricated 399-square-foot trailers with additional deck space. It can expand or shrink the supply to meet seasonal demands, which helps lower the cost of the luxury digs, Jordan Bem — one of the company’s cofounders and the CEO — told Insider. 
The first location for one of Moliving’s mobile hotels will open during peak tourist season later this summer in a lush, mountainous hideaway in the Hudson Valley town of Hurley, New York, Bem said. It will have 60 suites starting at about $249 per night, he said.
But when the weather gets cold in New York, Moliving will simply take its accommodations elsewhere. 
"We take our suites, and trailer them to the next destination, something that is perfectly opposite, like Palm Beach, for example," Bem said. 
The nomadic business model eliminates off-season expenses, such as shutting down for a few months, or costs associated with climate, he said.
Bem invested nearly $7 million into the business, which recently closed a seed round of funding — which the modular investor SG Blocks led — in June, he said. In 2022, Moliving won the American Business Award for startup of the year in business services, and a Titan Business Award. 
New Frontier DesignA New Frontier tiny home.Studio Bull/New Frontier Design
David Latimer founded bespoke tiny-home outfit New Frontier Design in 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee, out of a desire to perfect a product from the design phase through to completion. 
The detail-oriented craftsman builds highly customizable tiny homes that he told Insider are mostly purchased by clients in Western states like California, Washington, and Idaho. Latimer said his clients often use his product as a luxury solution for the hurdles associated with building on remote properties, such as restrictive permitting issues and high construction costs.
New Frontier counts Olivia Wilde among its all-star client roster, as well as "some of the wealthiest people on earth," according to Latimer. The company’s tiny homes range in size from about 250 square feet to 450 square feet with prices sometimes exceeding $350,000. 
Latimer estimated he’s built 60 to 70 highly customized homes to date. An added bonus in the tiny-house space for Latimer? "It’s a vehicle for intentional living," he said. "You can’t mindlessly consume." The space constraints simply won’t allow for it.
OBY CooperativeAn OBY Cooperative house.Courtesy of OBY Cooperative
The OBY Cooperative gets its name from the development debates between NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) versus YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) camps. OBY instead stands for "Our Backyard" and imagines a future beyond the debate.
"It doesn’t have to be yes or no, but just the understanding that collectively all of this land is ours," Declan Keefe — a cofounder of OBY Cooperative, in Oakland, California — said. 
OBY is in the process of establishing its first unique land-lease agreement with an owner and a tenant.
The cooperative seeks out homeowners who want extra income from an accessory dwelling unit, and pairs them with tenants who are utilizing housing vouchers. It aims to ink 35-year agreements under which it permits, builds, manages, and maintains the ADUs of about 650 square feet on residential properties, at no cost to the homeowner. Homeowners can earn around $500 a month for the rental.
A unique element of the cooperative is a plan to eventually sell shares of the rental unit to other members of the community. 
OBY is also tackling sustainability. The unit itself is all-electric and runs on net-zero energy. Even the construction process is carbon neutral and powered by solar energy. 
Keefe said the first tenant is expected to move in within the coming months. The homeowner has been an active participant in the endeavor, leaning on a legal background to help them draft equitable contracts, he said.
United DwellingA United Dwelling property in Los Angeles, where median home prices are over $1 million, according to Zillow.Courtesy of United Dwelling
Steven Dietz — the founder of United Dwelling — thinks he has a solution to Los Angeles’ housing crisis. 
After a career in venture capital, Dietz wanted to make an impact on his community and in 2019 decided to tackle housing affordability through increasing attainable inventory. His team started by transforming garages, but found them to be inadequate. 
In part, a 2019 California state law that streamlined the construction process of ADUs made Dietz’s vision possible. United has so far built 60 homes, with 300 more in the permitting process, according to Dietz, who said their sizes range from 328 square feet to 1490 square feet. The homes start at $195,900, including demolition and design, permitting, and solar water and power systems.
"I can see a way we get to where affordability is removed as a problem in probably five to seven years," Dietz told Insider. "You just have to build enough new homes to pull down the price at the low end of the market." 
Dietz says units have been filled by working-class people who were suffering through brutal commutes. Teacher’s aides, EMTs, and nurses who were driving over two hours to their jobs are now just minutes away.
Read the original article on Business Insider2022 was a big year for tiny homes as companies started addressing the housing-affordability crisis. They also give homeowners an option to earn passive income.

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Bay Area backyard cottages boom as elderly parents and college students flee coronavirus

Bay Area companies that specialize in backyard cottages are seeing a surge in interest from homeowners who suddenly need to create additional living space for elderly parents or adult children displaced because of the coronavirus.

Some families are scrambling to move their parents out of assisted-living facilities, where the risks of contracting the coronavirus are high. Other erstwhile empty-nesters find themselves crowded as their young adult kids return from shuttered college campuses or look to escape small apartments in expensive cities like San Francisco or New York.

After California lawmakers embraced a series of statewide bills in 2017 to streamline building backyard cottages — also called accessory dwelling units or ADUs — the number of new units approved exploded to more than 7,000 in 2018, 50% higher than 2017. For many suburban residents, the backyard homes were seen as a more palatable answer to the housing crisis than large apartment buildings. But in a state that should build millions of homes to keep up with demand, critics said the cottages are a distraction from the need to build multiunit buildings at scale.

Abodu, a San Jose firm that makes ADUs, estimates that 10,000 will be permitted in California in 2020, based on a survey of city permits.

Adobu has seen orders for modular cottages more than double since the pandemic began, according to CEO John Geary. The units start at about $199,000, and with finishes, most come in at about $220,000.

Another manufacturer, Sonderpods of Novato, had 3,000 visits to its website in the 90 days before the shelter-in-place order in March, but has seen that number jump to 25,000 over the last 90 days. Within a few weeks of the health order, the company had signed seven contracts to deliver backyard cottages and was negotiating an additional 92 deals. Sonderpods average about $139,000.

“We are sprinting to keep up with things,” said Edward Stevenson, CEO of Sonderpods.

Hank Hernandez, who owns Alameda Tiny Homes, said he has been flooded with inquiries.

“I get calls all day, every day,” he said. “The basic request is, ‘I want to put my parents in my backyard as quickly as possible.’”

Before coronavirus, Redwood City resident Jen Parsons was exploring options for her widowed mom, who was looking to downsize from her longtime home. She was exploring nearby retirement communities and possibly buying a bigger house that could accommodate three generations when the pandemic hit. Suddenly there was a pressing need. With two young kids, Parsons didn’t feel safe moving to an unfamiliar neighborhood in the middle of a pandemic and was not keen on moving her mom to a senior housing complex.

“You hear all these stories about retirement communities being on lockdown — you can’t even take your elderly parent to lunch or dinner, only to doctors appointments,” she said.

Instead, they decided to purchase an Abodu AD unit, which will arrive in August or September.

“Having an ADU unit back there for my mom will feel like a safe and peaceful environment at a time when there is a lot of stress because of COVID-19,” she said. “We can meet her in the patio and have snacks.”

Faysal Abi, a retired police officer and yoga teacher in Redwood City, also ordered an Abodu. He said that the unit will provide housing for a friend who needs a place to live.

“A friend fell on hard times, and the Bay Area isn’t exactly cheap,” he said. “I feel like community is something we are lacking, especially since coronavirus. There is more isolation. One way to heal the world right now is through more community and knowing your neighbors and staying connected. I feel this will help accomplish that.”

Abi also persuaded his mother, Rabina Abi-Chahine, a 62-year-old social worker, to buy her own backyard cottage for her home in Millbrae. Abi-Chahine said she was motivated both by a desire to create some income as she approaches retirement and having a spot for her own father some day.

Geary said another client, a Palo Alto woman, had two children away at college suddenly return, joining two other teenagers at home, which immediately made the house feel crowded.

Stevenson, the CEO of Sonderpods, said that 70% of customers are older than 55 and 70% are women building units on their kids’ properties.

“A lot of it is Baby Boomers selling the family home and moving in into their kids’ backyards. People are re-evaluating what is important and trying to bring the family closer together,” he said. “We are not seeing a lot of people who are straight-up looking to make income.”

Thanks to a series of state and local bills, ADUs can be built relatively quickly with limited bureaucratic hassle in some cities. San Jose, which has been aggressive in encouraging the tiny homes, has seen permitted ADUs jump to 691 last year from 24 in 2014. So far this year, 321 applications have been filed.

The Abodu was the first ADU manufacturer preapproved by the city of San Jose — which cut multiple inspections and red tape. From the day the permit is pulled, Abodu can have the unit installed within 12 weeks.

Hernandez of Alameda Tiny Homes said that while his business has been steady for the past few years, clients’ motivation has changed. It used to be that most homeowners were looking for extra income. Now it’s to meet family needs.

Alameda Tiny Homes range from 250 to 675 square feet and generally cost $200,000 to $300,000. In the East Bay, they tend to work best in flatland communities such as Alameda, San Leandro and San Lorenzo, rather than the hills, which require expensive foundation work.

“It’s all about, ‘Can I build a place to put Grandma and Grandpa?’” he said. “If you think about the Bay Area housing market, this is the most affordable way to build housing. Every ADU we build means somebody has a nice place to live that, at the end of the day, is more affordable than the other options.”

J.K. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jdineen@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @SFjkdineen

Bay Area companies that specialize in backyard cottages are seeing a surge in interest from homeowners who suddenly need to create additional living space for elderly parents or adult children displaced because of the coronavirus.

Some families are scrambling to move their parents out of assisted-living facilities, where the risks of contracting the coronavirus are high. Other erstwhile empty-nesters find themselves crowded as their young adult kids return from shuttered college campuses or look to escape small apartments in expensive cities like San Francisco or New York.

After California lawmakers embraced a series of statewide bills in 2017 to streamline building backyard cottages — also called accessory dwelling units or ADUs — the number of new units approved exploded to more than 7,000 in 2018, 50% higher than 2017. For many suburban residents, the backyard homes were seen as a more palatable answer to the housing crisis than large apartment buildings. But in a state that should build millions of homes to keep up with demand, critics said the cottages are a distraction from the need to build multiunit buildings at scale.

Abodu, a San Jose firm that makes ADUs, estimates that 10,000 will be permitted in California in 2020, based on a survey of city permits.

Adobu has seen orders for modular cottages more than double since the pandemic began, according to CEO John Geary. The units start at about $199,000, and with finishes, most come in at about $220,000.

Another manufacturer, Sonderpods of Novato, had 3,000 visits to its website in the 90 days before the shelter-in-place order in March, but has seen that number jump to 25,000 over the last 90 days. Within a few weeks of the health order, the company had signed seven contracts to deliver backyard cottages and was negotiating an additional 92 deals. Sonderpods average about $139,000.

“We are sprinting to keep up with things,” said Edward Stevenson, CEO of Sonderpods.

Hank Hernandez, who owns Alameda Tiny Homes, said he has been flooded with inquiries.

“I get calls all day, every day,” he said. “The basic request is, ‘I want to put my parents in my backyard as quickly as possible.’”

Before coronavirus, Redwood City resident Jen Parsons was exploring options for her widowed mom, who was looking to downsize from her longtime home. She was exploring nearby retirement communities and possibly buying a bigger house that could accommodate three generations when the pandemic hit. Suddenly there was a pressing need. With two young kids, Parsons didn’t feel safe moving to an unfamiliar neighborhood in the middle of a pandemic and was not keen on moving her mom to a senior housing complex.

“You hear all these stories about retirement communities being on lockdown — you can’t even take your elderly parent to lunch or dinner, only to doctors appointments,” she said.

Instead, they decided to purchase an Abodu AD unit, which will arrive in August or September.

“Having an ADU unit back there for my mom will feel like a safe and peaceful environment at a time when there is a lot of stress because of COVID-19,” she said. “We can meet her in the patio and have snacks.”

Faysal Abi, a retired police officer and yoga teacher in Redwood City, also ordered an Abodu. He said that the unit will provide housing for a friend who needs a place to live.

“A friend fell on hard times, and the Bay Area isn’t exactly cheap,” he said. “I feel like community is something we are lacking, especially since coronavirus. There is more isolation. One way to heal the world right now is through more community and knowing your neighbors and staying connected. I feel this will help accomplish that.”

Abi also persuaded his mother, Rabina Abi-Chahine, a 62-year-old social worker, to buy her own backyard cottage for her home in Millbrae. Abi-Chahine said she was motivated both by a desire to create some income as she approaches retirement and having a spot for her own father some day.

Geary said another client, a Palo Alto woman, had two children away at college suddenly return, joining two other teenagers at home, which immediately made the house feel crowded.

Stevenson, the CEO of Sonderpods, said that 70% of customers are older than 55 and 70% are women building units on their kids’ properties.

“A lot of it is Baby Boomers selling the family home and moving in into their kids’ backyards. People are re-evaluating what is important and trying to bring the family closer together,” he said. “We are not seeing a lot of people who are straight-up looking to make income.”

Thanks to a series of state and local bills, ADUs can be built relatively quickly with limited bureaucratic hassle in some cities. San Jose, which has been aggressive in encouraging the tiny homes, has seen permitted ADUs jump to 691 last year from 24 in 2014. So far this year, 321 applications have been filed.

The Abodu was the first ADU manufacturer preapproved by the city of San Jose — which cut multiple inspections and red tape. From the day the permit is pulled, Abodu can have the unit installed within 12 weeks.

Hernandez of Alameda Tiny Homes said that while his business has been steady for the past few years, clients’ motivation has changed. It used to be that most homeowners were looking for extra income. Now it’s to meet family needs.

Alameda Tiny Homes range from 250 to 675 square feet and generally cost $200,000 to $300,000. In the East Bay, they tend to work best in flatland communities such as Alameda, San Leandro and San Lorenzo, rather than the hills, which require expensive foundation work.

“It’s all about, ‘Can I build a place to put Grandma and Grandpa?’” he said. “If you think about the Bay Area housing market, this is the most affordable way to build housing. Every ADU we build means somebody has a nice place to live that, at the end of the day, is more affordable than the other options.”

J.K. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jdineen@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @SFjkdineen

Bay Area backyard cottages boom as elderly parents and college students flee coronavirus  San Francisco Chronicle

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