ADU Case Studies Project Update


In December of 2013, we launched the ADU Case Studies Project on a contract with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Two years later, we're wrapping the project up with a new set of case studies set for publication in 2016. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to interview more than 80 ADU owners, designers, and builders, and I'm looking forward to sharing what I've learned with everyone. Below you'll find the 2016 preview, which was originally posted on


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ADUs are A Thing. Especially in Portland, OR, Vancouver, BC, and a handful of other cities. Maybe you’ve noticed.

Since I first started writing for in the fall of 2011, it’s been really exciting to see the small house movement gain traction. I’ve had a special backseat view of this crazy ride through the ADU Case Studies Project. In 2016, I’m looking forward to sharing with you what I’ve learned along the way.

Over the past two years I’ve had the opportunity to interview more than 60 ADU owners and 20 designers and builders. Through their generosity and willingness to share their triumphs and tribulations, I’ve learned an incredible amount about their reasons for creating ADUs, the biggest roadblocks they’ve encountered, and the creative solutions they’ve developed.

Each week on Friday we’ll post a new piece of the ADU Case Studies Project. Here’s what you can expect in 2016:

We’ll be sharing 20 brand new case studies of real projects that were created through interviews with ADU owners. We’ll be including more basement ADUs, garage conversions, and backyard cottages (detached new construction). In this round we also added some really Creative ADU Types that don’t fit into any of the boxes we’ve used before, including a Carve-Out ADU, Second-Story Addition, a Future ADU, and a 2-Story Garage Conversion.

We’ll also be bringing you a set of profiles of Designers, Design-Builders, and Builders. Most of these Designer-Builder Profiles also include a link to snapshots of three ADUs that the company has helped to create. Even if you live far, far away and wouldn’t be able to bring one of these professionals on-board, reading through their profiles will give you great food for thought regarding what matters to you in an ADU and how you can enter the process educated and prepared.

Finally, I’ll be sharing a set of posts that address some themes I noticed as I talked with more than 80 people about their experiences creating ADUs. This is where you’ll get to learn about:

Reading through these profiles, you’ll see the enormous amount of creativity and care that went into creating these small homes. Chances are, they’ll also give you lots of inspiration for what’s possible as ADUs become more a part of the urban fabric.

It’s looking to be a good year for ADUs. I hope you’ll subscribe to so you can come along for the ride!

P.S. Some of the links won’t be live until the posts go live, so please bear with us. You may want to bookmark the link so you can come back to it later. By November all the links will be an interconnected web!