Hundreds of homeowners have been taking tours of backyard cottages and poking around tiny house displays lately. With city encouragement – especially in Portland – they are considering legally adding a smaller, secondary home on their property or converting the basement, attic or garage into an apartment.
Called an accessory dwelling unit, these small-footprint homes are used for family, office or studio workspace or they are rented out for additional income. Some owners are building small houses that they call home, designed with features to help them age in place. They live there full time and rent out the main house.
Some cities treat micro units as a solution to affordable housing needs.
The City of Portland, Oregon has seen a spike in the number of applications for accessory units since it waived system development charges in 2010, which cuts the cost of building permits for an ADU up to $15,000. (The waiver has been extended through July 2016.)