I went on the self-guided Portland ADU Tour last weekend. It was a blast and I learned a lot about the requirements and costs of building an ADU in Portland. With one of the lowest rental market vacancy rates in the country, Portland is a prime location for building an ADU, and area home owners and buyers are looking for ways to create more livable space.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are self-contained residential units (think mother-in-law apartments) and can be:

  • a separate basement or attic apartment located within the primary residence
  • apartment above an attached garage
  • a smaller separate unit built on the same lot as a single-family homes
  • a converted garage

ADUs may be no more than 75% of the total living area of the house or a maximum of 800 square feet, whichever is less and in Portland, people are doing it right. The ADU tour provided some stellar modern examples of what can be accomplished in 800 square feet or less.

If you’ve been daydreaming about building an ADU or converting your garage or basement into an apartment like I have, now is the time to act. The city has waived the permit fees until July 2016, which on average can save you up to 17,000 dollars. Grab some coffee and get comfy with The City of Portland’s website and start taking notes. I also highly recommend taking a class from Kol Peterson, managing editor of Accessory Dwellings.