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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cities Helping Familes

Granny Flats, Carriage Houses, Pool Houses, Party Pavilions, Caregiver cottages, Casitas, are all names for an affordable housing choice some communities are making possible for their citizens. Accessory Dwelling Units, or (ADUs) is the term used to encompass these various local and regional names. ADUs are small independent homes placed in the backyard of a larger home. They provide room for an expanding family, an aging parent or parents, a young married couple needing help in their first years together, or an ADU can just be a fun complement to an existing home as a guest suite or office. Some cities also allow ADUs to be rented providing additional monthly income for a family.

The personal stories are numerous and varied, but they have a common theme. Families are moving back together. Sometimes the reasons are financial, other times it’s to be together, or to be close by in order to provide care for one another. According to the latest U.S. Census data, the number of households with three or more generations living under one roof grew 38% from 1990 to 2000, vs. 8% for families with just two generations and 16% for singles. It is also reported that the three-generation households have increased in number by 62% since the year 2000. Some family members are moving into mom and dad’s larger home, while other families are having the kids move to the basement making room for parents and grandparents on the first or second floors. Others are selling their house and their parent's home and using the extra money to purchase a larger single dwelling for everyone or building their own family compound.

Our Research of the ADU regulations adopted by some 30 cities revealed several similarities:
1- All city or county regulations limit the size of Accessory Homes in some fashion. A typical minimum is 400 square feet and a common maximum is 800 square feet. Sometimes maximum size is expressed as a percentage of the primary home’s size.
2- The number of bedrooms is often limited as well as the number of residents, usually one bedroom and two or three people max.
3- Parking regulations usually require 1 additional parking space in addition to that required for the primary home.
4- Lot size minimums are often established for the inclusion of an ADU.
5- Some simple statement such as “compatible with the primary home” usually regulates design, though some cities require formal reviews.
6- Renting is most often permitted, but some cities do not allow the rental of an ADU.
7- A few communities regulate the concentration of ADUs in a particular neighborhood, but most do not.
8- From there on, one or more municipalities probably include anything you can imagine: full public hearings, revocable permits, height limitations, use restrictions, construction methods, etc.

We took the most common restrictions as guides and designed a line of small homes that can either be constructed in a modular plant, panelized or stick-built depending on the physical limitations of a homeowner’s property. We market the homes on our website and through our national appearances, and partner with a local builder to construct the homes. That way the ADU cost will be comparable to any new construction in the area, from a low of $70 per square foot in the South to over $200 per square foot in California. We are developing a network of builder-partners in the locations that are currently friendly to the idea of ADUs. Each of our Sidekick qualified builders is a recognized expert in Green technology, Universal Design for accessibility, and small infill construction.

If our extensive offering of standard home designs doesn’t quite fit a family’s needs we will soon offer a “Design Your Cottage” page on our website that will let homebuyers design their own ADU and have that design in their hands in less than 5 minutes.

Mike Kephart
Founder of Kephart Living and Sidekick Homes

posted by Custom Blogs @ 2:55 PM 




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