We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Candace Kramer, a local portland Realtor and a member of the ADU community. In 2013, she built her Accessory Dwelling Unit and became involved in championing the construction and design of these clever urban living spaces. We wanted to hear about her methods for staying organized in these small spaces, and how she and her husband built and designed their very own ADU. Check out our conversation below!
Veronica: What made you first become interested in Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)?
Candace: I first became interested in ADU’s when I attended the 2012 Build Small Live Large Housing Summit at PSU. This one day summit brings together architects, builders, designers, and real estate professionals, and hosts seminars on how to live small. That’s where I first got more information about what it would be like to create one of these spaces.
In 2010, the city of Portland launched a program which waved all of the building fees (SDC’s) for building ADU’s (an average total cost of $8,000 – $15,000). This saved people who wanted to build them a lot of money and incentivized the building of these affordable small housing units.* So, I tore down the garage and built a 400 sq. ft house instead! These units allow for multi-family generational living or an opportunity for additional income. I rent mine out on Air B&B. It might even end up being my retirement home one day!
*This program is slated to continue until 2016.
V: What defines an ADU?
Candace: An ADU is a smaller, secondary dwelling unit that is attached to a primary residence. This could be a garage conversion, a basement, an attic or a separate building. These spaces can only be a maximum of 800 sq ft in order to qualify as an ADU. They differ from “tiny homes” in that they are not mobile. An ADU includes a separate entrance to the exterior and can therefore be considered a separate dwelling space, independent from the rest of the home.
V: How did you go about creating an organized tiny dwelling space?
Candace: The kitchen is the hardest thing keep organized because of all the appliances that we have become used to in our homes! We have purchased small appliances such as an under-the-counter fridge, a two-burner stove and a stackable washer and dryer. We keep everything minimal and don’t purchase “space-waster” appliances that can’t be used every day.
Another important organizational space-saver is to use vertical space creatively. For example, we have utilized the IKEA Pax system for storage and have been really happy with it. Track lighting and wall sconces were installed instead of floor lighting, and towels are on an open rack above the shower, stored vertically. There are plenty of ways to create harmony in a small space, but you have to be clever about it – question the need for everything!
V: What habits have you put in place to eliminate clutter in the space and keep things minimal?
Candace: We own only what we need on a daily basis! Our books are all on an iPad and Kindle, which eliminates the need to store books. And we do not continue buying items for the space unless they are broken or worn-out.
We also shop once a week and buy fresh foods instead of going to Costco and storing everything in the freezer. We’ve also been lucky enough to have a large garden space, and have planted lots of fruits and veggies to provide us with food right on site – with no need to store it. Successful ADU living is all about leveraging your outdoor space as well and creating a balance between the indoor and outdoor space so that they flow together in harmony.
V: What advice do you have for someone who is interested in ADU’s and would like to learn more?
Candace: If you live in the Portland Metro area, there is an upcoming ADU tour that is always a fantastic introduction to ADU living. It will be happening on Friday, May 29th and features a workshop explaining how to get started.
There is also a great documentary out there called TINY. I really recommend it if you are looking for more information.