These self-contained compact houses are perfect for many

by: STAFF PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Renaissance Homes broker Amanda Andruss says accessory dwelling units (ADUs), formerly called granny flats, are coming back into vogue.

Granny flats, in-law apartments and backyard cottages — they are in vogue once again. Today referred to accessory dwelling units (ADUs), these are self-contained compact houses built on the same lots as single-family homes. They can be garage conversions, basement living spaces or new detached units, and they include a separate kitchen, sleeping area and bathroom facility and usually a separate entrance. They are growing in popularity because of their economic advantages and small, sustainable footprint.

“ADUs are becoming very popular once again,” Renaissance Homes broker Amanda Andruss said. “Lots of people are considering them. They allow people to age in place and reconnect with family. They are perfect for visiting relatives and adult children coming back home as they allow space for privacy.”

Andruss explained that ADUs provide many benefits to homeowners, renters and the community in which they are located. They increase the potential for affordable housing opportunities and address other social issues, particularly those relating to housing options for the growing elderly population.

Some benefits include:

Income production: Simple designs keep construction costs low so that rental income can exceed the debt and generate revenue from a rented ADU. Supplemental income offsets the cost of a home mortgage, utilities and maintenance and real estate taxes.

Multi-generational living: ADUs offer independent living spaces to meet family needs but keep family members close by. Elderly family members can avoid the emotional and financial costs of having to move to a care facility and younger members can have a space of their own while establishing their lives and careers.

Green living: ADUs offer smaller footprints and have less impact on the planet than a traditional single-family home. ADUs are ideally located in walkable, accessible locations. Small spaces use less energy, fewer building materials and increase urban density. Renaissance Homes builds its ADUs with green, energy-efficient features, including RainScreen siding and Polar Blanket Insulation, resulting in low monthly utility bills.

Increased property value: The addition of an ADU can increase the current and resale value of the property significantly above the initial cost of the ADU.

A secondary rental unit can be attractive to potential buyers. Also if financing through a mortgage on the property, the interest payments and some of the closing costs are usually tax deductible.

ADUs are self-contained compact houses built on the same lot as single-family homes.

“With ADUs you have others to keep you company, look after your wellbeing and help out around the house,” Andruss said.

Nicole DeCosta, marketing coordinator for Renaissance Homes, said the private apartments are a great extension of the home that is flexible space that can provide extra income from renters or a suite for relatives.

“I met a woman the other day who said the accessory dwelling unit would have been handy when she broke her leg. It has everything — a full kitchen with a dishwasher, living room, bedroom, bathroom and closet suite,” DeCosta said.

To learn more about Renaissance Homes’ ADU program, visit or call Andruss at 503-969-4939.

— Review, Tidings reporter Barb Randall contributed to this story.

Compact kitchens, baths and living spaces keep the footprint of an ADU small.

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