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Talking About ADUs with Kol Peterson

If there’s one name associated with ADU education, it’s Kol Peterson.

Kol literally wrote the book on ADUs.

That’s why the ADU Advice team was excited about hearing Kol speak in person at an event in Bend. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to speak with him in depth about the future of ADUs.

First: “ADU” is an acronym for “accessory dwelling unit.” ADU’s are “tiny homes” that aren’t on wheels. They’re real homes in every respect … except smaller. ADUs can help reduce urban sprawl and provide much-needed livable housing.

It began with the ADU Portland scene

Kol took creative home buying to a whole new level. In 2011, he purchased a single family dwelling property, added an ADU in the backyard, then lived in the ADU himself while renting out the main house.

Result: Kol bought a home that pays its own mortgage — or, as Kol puts it, “A financially sustainable housing model.”

That experience hooked him on the ADU concept. At the time, Kol was employed with the USFS as an environmental planning specialist. Within three years, he was working for himself as an ADU consultant and co-founder of the first tiny house hotel on the planet.

Before long, Kol was an in-demand speaker. He began coaching property owners considering adding an ADU, real estate professionals wanting to know more about ADUs, and builders thinking about getting in on the action.

In a nutshell: when it comes to ADU information, Kol Peterson is the champ. Our aim is to leverage the principles Kol teaches to help you get started on your ADU project.

Let’s get right down to the ADU Q&A.

The graphic (above) is from Kol Peterson’s website.

How has the market for ADUs changed over the past few years?

DUs are growing in popularity in many jurisdictions. ADU awareness has blossomed in Portland for years. Now it’s spilling over to Bend and much of California. Most homeowners at least know what ADUs are in those areas, but that’s not the case anywhere else in the USA.

What does the future of ADU construction look like?

ADUs are just coming into sight. Over the next couple of years, public awareness about ADUs will increase tremendously, and city planning teams will be more and more open to the idea of not just allowing ADUs, but they’ll come out in support of them.

How are ADUs primarily being used today?

According to the only real study yet carried out on ADUs (2013 PSU Accessory Dwelling Unit Survey), about 43 percent of ADUs bring in rental income for the owner. The next largest segment of usage is ADU residence for a family member (nearly 23 percent). Other uses are office space, room for company, and room for friends.

The table (above) is from the 2013 ADU Survey by Portland State University.

What is stopping the construction of more ADUs?

Local ordinances often prohibit ADU construction or ratchet down the guidelines too far to make ADU construction feasible. Many property owners are concerned that allowing ADUs in their neighborhood will lower their property values and create the kinds of problems normally reserved for overcrowded and rental-based areas. There are also concerns over off-street parking glut.

Why should municipalities embrace ADU construction?

ADUs are just beginning as a housing phenomenon in the USA. They are a flexible housing option. From the municipal perspective, ADUs can help make better use of the current land and provide relief from urban sprawl. ADUs allow the current infrastructure to support population growth with minimum additional expense to city and county governments. ADUs can help alleviate the housing crisis.

What are the main topics you cover in your ADU presentations?

The more you plan ahead for your ADU, the smoother the project will be. ADU construction can be complex and challenging. I cover the gamut of ADU-related topics: legal aspects, zoning laws, financing ADUs, designing ADUs, the basics of building an ADU, how to start thinking like a landlord, and more.

Are most ADUs built by contractors or by the property owners?

According to the 2013 ADU Survey, over 82 percent of ADUs are built by contractors and 39.2 percent are owner-built ADUs. For the builder, ADUs aren’t nearly as lucrative as traditional housing.

The graphic above is from the 2013 ADU Survey.

If Kol Peterson is correct, ADU construction will boom and spread. Municipalities will relax regulations and property owners will see the potential long term value of ADUs.

Finding a builder experienced with ADUs won’t be easy, but getting your ADU permit will no longer be an uphill battle.

Instead of fighting against ADUs, local and regional governments will begin encouraging them. The demand is there and the time is here.

For overall information on ADU construction, check Kol Peterson’s site: Building an ADU.

For ADU help in Bend, Oregon and Central Oregon, call Central Oregon ADU’s experts at (541) 408-0637 or fill out our contact form!

For ADU help in Bend, Oregon and Central Oregon, call Austin Willis at (541) 408-0637
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