What is ADU+YOU?

We will soon be a nonprofit organization. But IRS approval takes time. We intend to offer courses like this to a range of audiences and community residents because we believe that the more people build ADUs, our neighborhoods get a little bit better.

We have some big dreams. If enough people build ADUs, we can put a real dent in Portland’s housing crisis. Granted, it’s not about housing the homeless, but it is focused on what planners call the “missing middle”: providing affordable places to live for seniors, people in transition, public service workers, service industry workers, or friends and extended family. 

If you would like updates, let us know. We would be happy to include you. 

What do you mean,
“It’s a journey to build an ADU?”

Building a backyard cottage is a journey. It can be fun. It will be challenging. It can be easier than some stories you might have heard. It’s up to you. You have to be able to clearly see yourself doing this project and have a compelling personal reason. That happens to be the focus of our first course session: come as you are. 

For many, building an ADU becomes part of larger life plan. In the words of one ADU owner, a single career woman, “The ADU enables me to plan for and live the life I want to lead.”

During the course, we will also hear from other ADU builders about their journeys so that you share their successes and experiences, instead of repeating their mistakes.

What does the course cost?

The series is eight sessions, meeting about every two weeks over a three-month period (exact timing may vary based on intervening holidays). The early bird rate is $300 per month (total $900); the discounted rate is $375 per month (total $1,125); regular tuition is $445 per month (total $1,335). 

Will I save money with the builder or architect if I take this course? How much?

Probably. We have to say that every situation will be a bit different. We intentionally built this course to enable you to begin work with building professionals with a lot of your preliminary work completed. Normally, building professionals would need to spend a great deal of time helping you understand how they work, the design process, your decision choices, and the costs of your choices. We’re guessing you might save at least the cost of the course, but likely multiple times that amount. That doesn’t count the time saved; that’s valuable too.

Do I have to be committed to building an ADU to do this course?

The course is for people who want to try on the idea as well as those who are at pretty much any stage of planning for their own ADU. We’ve found that taking the time to talk with like-minded people in a structured format can accelerate planning as well as effectively refine existing plans. 

Can my spouse, partner, parents, or significant other attend too?

Yes, a second person connected with the project may attend but one person must commit to attending all the sessions for continuity. If the second attendee won’t be attending every session, we ask they be respectful of other’s past participation and completed homework by not asking questions about material covered in earlier sessions. Of course, after class, instructors would be glad to follow up. 

How do I talk to my aging parents about this? Other family members?

We will address this topic along with some tips and case studies of both failures and successes in this arena.

Why isn’t this just a weekend course? I’m a busy person.

If you were only looking for a pile of things to read and a greatest hits list of suggestions, and, perhaps, you are an inveterate do-it-yourselfer, a weekend event could fit the bill. Based on our experience, people need time to reflect, discover, talk with significant others, and “try on” ideas. Some people who successfully completed ADUs thought about it for years; others, for shorter periods. Whatever it is for you, we intend the process to be of high quality and structured. Plus, you will get to meet and hang out with a group of other like-minded people, helping each other along the path. We’re also going to require some homework, but don’t worry because it will be the kind of thing that saves you money later and you won’t have to pay a builder or architect hourly rates to do it for you. 

Are there other courses like this out there?

There aren’t. Based on our experiences building our own ADUs and helping others do the same, we realized that knowing or having access to information just isn’t enough to successfully complete a project. We created this course to help you build a foundation of understanding and passion about your project so that when you hit speed bumps, you can power through them and not be stopped or derailed. Of course, we are going to talk about the details too, but in ways that help you understand and to make sure you don’t get in your own way.

What if the Portland housing market dries up? 

Tim Duy, an economics professor at the University of Oregon, says this about the local economy: “So will the Portland market's historic run ever slow down? The cyclical laws of boom and bust demand it will eventually. But the real question – as the city continues to deal with a population boom, a housing-affordability crisis and historically high increases in rents – is when. I couldn't even begin to tell you that. There's no fundamental law that says it has to end anytime soon. And it won't end until we have more balance between supply and demand in the housing market."

200,000: New residents expected in Portland in the next two decades

$1,302: Current average rent in Portland for a one-bedroom apartment

Portland’s Pearl District high-end condos and apartments attract buyers and renters from around the nation and internationally. Fueled by Portland’s urban desirability and evolving business sector, sales and rental rates are “red-hot”. However, places to live for middle-and low-income families and young people just starting careers are scarce as speculators buy, tear down, divide, or carve up lots with existing middle-income housing in order to build new, larger houses with price tags significantly beyond other neighborhood house prices. 

Do I have to live in Portland or Multnomah County to get value from this course?

No. While every locality has slightly different zoning laws, Portland has done extensive zoning work to encourage ADUs and many cities have borrowed these details for their own local use.