Report from last week’s ADU Hot Cocoa Mixer

A big thank you to all who attended … let the Accessory Dwelling Unit construction boom commence!

On a cold but dry day last week we were joined by several dozen folks from all points on the ADU and Building Performance spectra: from die-hard aficionados to curious newbies and everything in between.  We were all there to enjoy some nice hot cocoa and learn about the powerful convergence between small building footprint and high energy performance.  I took some snapshots during the event…

The above photo shows the crowd in conversation, with the in-progress ADU to the right and the primary (existing) house in the background.  When completed, the ADU will draw very little energy for heating, thanks to a superinsulated building envelope and smart application of quality windows and doors (and other concepts borrowed from the Passive House playbook).  So, in addition to all of the environmental, urban design, and intergenerational benefits of ADUs, the ongoing operational cost of the building will be super low.  Given that one of the key selling points of ADUs is how they “pencil” (ie. rental income can easily exceed debt service and other ongoing expenses), the low future utility bills for the unit will mean more positive cash flow for the owners.

The concrete floor hadn’t quite dried, so we weren’t able to actually walk inside, but the large entry (future home of a three-part door assembly) provided ample view of the space.  And don’t let the Tyvek fool you, this envelope is special.  A thick layer of EPS foam encases the building (and the entire building sits on 6 inches of structural foam.)

Here our own Sam Hagerman discusses the building’s superinsulated, airtight walls with two mixer-goers.

Sam discusses the floor plan of the building with another guest.  Dan Lajoie of Departure Design is the architect and design collaborator for the project, and drew up those plans.  The per square foot cost of the building is an affordable $143.

On another ADU-related front, our contact at Washington Federal, Alex Hoffman, is trailblazing the ADU lending process … and we’re almost there.  At the event I actually spoke with Shawn Busse (creator of the Portland Built blog) who is working with Alex to get the first construction loan (at least that I know of) to finance the construction of an ADU.  This is exciting stuff, because with the rollback of system development charges on ADUs and the relaxation of ADU square footage limits, the last hurdle to ADU development was financing.  That’s about to be officially overcome (crossing fingers), and we can really get to work.

Thanks again to everyone who joined us last Thursday.  It was great to see you all there!  And thank you, also, to our generous clients for allowing us to stage the event.


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