Why Does Portland Have ALL the ADUs?

ADUs in Portland As you read through the ADU Case Studies on AccessoryDwellings.org, it may seem like ALL the ADUs in America are centered in the immediate vicinity of Voodoo Donuts. I’m here to assure you that’s not true. It’s really not about the donuts. It’s about the food carts, the craft beer, and the dream of the 1890s.

But in seriousness, there are indeed lots of ADUs in Portland, OR and several good reasons that Portland has become the epicenter of the small housing universe. There are also a couple reasons that Portland is over-represented on AccessoryDwellings.org. I’ll explain these in a moment.

But first, I want to make sure you know the ADUs are NOT all in Portland. Really. There are legal, permitted ADUs in cities all over the country. (And lots more practical ADUs that aren’t permitted, but that’s a different story.) Even within the ADU Case Studies Project, which is focused on ADUs in Oregon, there are several ADUs in Eugene, OR (see Bob & Jenny Harris, Robert Albano, Dennis & Stephanie Martin, and Caleb & Tori Bruce) and Ashland, OR (see Cheryl & Jim Levie and Dan Gray. We will continue to add information about ADUs to AccessoryDwellings.org so that over time it will be clear that the ADUs are not all in Portland.

So here’s why it seems like ALL the ADUs are in Portland:

  1. First, the creators of AccessoryDwellings.org - Kol Peterson, Eli Spevak, and Martin Brown - are Portland residents. They are also policy wonks and, of course, ADU owners, developers, consultants, and dwellers. These small space geeks write about what they know and love: ADUs and Portland. But, please be assured there’s a keen interest in continuing to include information about ADUs from across the country (and around the world). We Want Your Contributions to make the website representative of all the exciting projects happening everywhere!
  2. Second, the ADU Case Studies Project was funded by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to support building small as the best green building strategy. So the case studies written in 2014-2015 were all from Oregon. Now that the ADU Case Studies Project has wrapped up, you can contribute your own case study. If you’d like to submit your project, please contact us for the template and send it back to us with 5-10 high-quality photos of your ADU. Don’t be shy! Show off your ADU. We bet it’s awesome…
  3. Third, Portland is probably the best place in the country to build ADUs. Check out How Portland Became ADU-Friendly (And How Your City Can, Too). By reading through the posts on AccessoryDwellings.org, you can learn how Portland made it possible to create Discrete Density and learn Tangible Ways to Support Space-Efficient Housing, too.

Meanwhile, please look at the ADU Case Studies as a set of examples for how you, too, could create an awesome ADU. Even if the ADU regulations are different where you live, and even if it's not practical to bring a Portland-based ADU Professional on board for your project, there are great ideas here you can borrow. The ADU Case Studies Project includes all sorts of interesting information from how people created clever storage solutions to how to buy or sell a property with an ADU. So please enjoy exploring and share your ADU with us once it's built!

Early Bird Special for Downsizing E-Course

I02 Lina & Stuffn 2011, I radically downsized my possessions for a short stint in a 15’ travel trailer. A year later I took on My 200 Things Challenge. I’ve now lived in a 12’ diameter yurt and three tiny houses on wheels with fewer possessions than most people keep in their kitchens! Now I’m offering an exciting e-course to help other people through their downsizing process, too. Early Bird Special (20% off!) available through December 31st. Also, sign up with an accountability buddy and you both get $10 off when you sign up and additional incentives for completing your Challenges. (These two discounts CAN be combined until the Early Bird Special expires on December 31st!) Register here: http://www.nichedesignbuild.com/store/p22/Downsizing_E-Course.html.

Here’s the e-course description: What if were surrounded only by the things and people you love best? What if you had just the right amount of stuff and liked it all? What if you were cheered on throughout your downsizing process? If you're ready to take a good look at your stuff, this e-course is for you. We'll address our relationship with stuff, discuss needs and wants to figure out what really matters, set priorities, and evaluate our possessions. We'll identify old habits and clutter magnets and tackle problem areas in our homes. Then we'll develop organizational systems and new habits to reduce clutter. And the best part is you'll get to do this with the encouragement of other people who are embarking on a similar journey.

In this seven-week series, we'll cover everything from keeping track of our keys to developing a wardrobe of clothes we love. This seven-week e-course will include a weekly lesson, a weekly challenge, and a weekly check-in with your fellow downsizers. The January course begins on January 17 and runs through February 28. Check-ins are Sunday evenings at 5pm PST (8PM EST).

Please note, the reading materials for this course's lessons will cost approximately $30 if you purchase them. They're great books and I still have them on my e-reader. Of course, you're encouraged to check them out from your local library to save money and space. (See, less stuff!)

Visiting Orlando Lakefront RV & Tiny House Park

tiny house peeps visit Company Store on Wheels After living at Simply Home Community for a year and a half, this past weekend I had a unique opportunity to visit another tiny house community. My friend James Taylor, whom I met at the Tiny House Jamboree 2015, invited me and a few of the other folks we connected with there to come visit and check out what they’re up to. (Did someone say “Orlando in December?” Sign me up!)

And it’s so freakin’ cool! You can learn about it by exploring the Orlando Lakefront RV & Tiny House Park website. The story goes like this. A couple years ago a fellow named Adam purchased the existing RV park and a bit later a woman named Emily helped get the first tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) there. Once it became a tiny-house-friendly RV park other tiny house dwellers have decided to make Orlando Lakefront home. And James Taylor has been driving the welcome wagon since he moved there this spring. With their 12th THOW moving in in just a couple weeks, the park is about ¼ tiny houses and ¾ RVs!

Christina & her U-Haul Conversion

Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. James’ next door neighbor, who lives in an RV, visited with us and took photos. People who live in the park or are considering moving there gathered up for a little party. We also had the chance to tour four of the little houses. The tiniest one in the park is Christina’s awesome minimalist U-haul truck to house conversion. The biggest is Mary Kay’s 24’ long house with two full sleeping lofts, a bathroom, lounge, a kitchen, and a dining spot at the stairs. (This house really got me thinking about the two loft option. I just loved the way the stairs lead up to a sleeping loft with the bed platform over the bathroom. I’ve never seen anyone do it quite like this before and it made we want to smack my forehead in that “Hellooo! Of course!” sort of way. Simply brilliant!)

James hanging out in the Little Lake Nest

Meanwhile, Lee, BA, and Alek stayed in the Little Lake Nest. None of us brought a tape measure (so unlike us!) but I’m guessing this one was 18’ long. It’s a neat design with a catwalk connecting two sleeping lofts. I thought it was really clever how they took two sets of stair stringers, turned them the tall way, and sistered them together to make a steep set of stairs! This little house also has a small couch, a flip up table, two chairs hung on the wall behind the door, a micro and toaster oven that sit on top of the fridge, a closet under the stairs, and a dish rack is over the sink. The huge (by tiny house standards) bathroom has a trough tub, a handwashing sink, and a flush toilet. I’ve gotta say, after living in tiny houses for four years, that was probably the strangest thing about staying in tiny houses in an RV park: there were flush toilets! How bizzare, how bizarre!

But, I was the lucky one. I got to stay two nights in James’s awesome little house, The Company Store on Wheels. His house was built by Tennessee Tiny Homes with lots of his special design requests. It has a fabulous front porch so that it feels like a miner cabin. (James is a Coloradan so his house had to follow his heart!) It has a fabulous multi-functional couch that converts to a chaise or a guest bed (and has storage and the cat box underneath), a ladder at the same slope as the navy ladders (which James is used to so he can fly up and down it – even when half-asleep), an L-shaped kitchen with a sink, mini fridge with freezer, microwave, toaster oven, and a washer/dryer combo. His sleeping loft is asymmetrical with a dormer on one side, just as he requested it. It’s a lovely little home and it was extra special this time of year because James had decorated for the holidays and it was super festive.

It’s so exciting to see another community that welcomes tiny houses! I keep hearing about others in formation, too. I hope that by this time next year the number has increased exponentially.

Are you involved with the tiny house community? Where’s yours and what’s happening?

Less Is More: A 1-Week Small Home Design Intensive

Reese Five years ago I created my first tiny house design in a Yestermorrow Design-Build School course called Less is More. Less is More is a 1-week-long design intensive that includes field trips, presentations, and design time. For the past three years, I've been teaching Less is More at Yestermorrow and thoroughly loving it! I hope you can join us this January!

Less Is More: Designing the Small or Tiny House

Reese, who took the course two winters ago, is deep into the design phase for his tiny house on wheels, the Shred Shed. Reese looooves snowboarding, so he's designing his little house so that it can not only accommodate his lifestyle but so that the house itself can become a surface on which to perform snowboarding tricks. (You can check it out at Shred Shed.) It was great fun watching Reese go through his initial design process. In Less is More, Reese taped out the footprint of his little house on the floor and then borrowed furniture from the library so that he could rearrange the furniture until he figured out the ideal layout for his tiny house at a life-size scale!

Genevieve designed her tiny house on wheels in Less is More and is currently building it!

Genevieve took Less is More last winter and she's now building her tiny house on wheels. She has lived in some truly amazing places (including spending winters in Antarctica!) and her tiny house is shaping up to be a pretty amazing place, too.

Here's what Genevieve said about the course:

"I can strongly recommend this course. Lina & David are very helpful. This course truly confirmed my design decisions before building my TH." - Genevieve

If you're serious about designing your tiny house so that you can start building this year, join us in January in Vermont for Less is More!

Here are some posts I've written about the course so you can get a better feel for it: