Tiny House, Big Benefits

June 28th, 2021 by Mark

Blueprint delivers new ADU solution to increase housing options in Seattle

blueprint adu exterior 3

Carriage house, granny flat, #tinyhouse: the nicknames have gained popularity as quickly as the trend itself. In recent years, building an additional small house on a single-family lot—technically called an “accessory dwelling unit” or ADU—has become a popular way to add square footage used for everything from home office space to an in-law suite to a vacation rental.

But there is more to the story than hashtags or trends. ADUs are an important part of the effort to meet ever-increasing housing demand and support sustainable growth. By increasing the supply of housing in residential neighborhoods, both homeownership and rentals become more affordable, while mitigating sprawl and negative environmental impacts. For Blueprint, ADUs fit seamlessly into the mission of in-fill development, increasing urban density through efficient use of land and resources.

A Win-Win-Win Density Solution  

From social to environmental, the benefits of ADU development are meaningful for Seattle communities.

Imagine an urban neighborhood lot with one existing single-family home. Adding a small additional housing unit to the property creates another home that can be rented or sold, all without breaking new ground or creating new infrastructure. ADUs can be attached to the main home or detached and located on another part of the lot (known as DADUs). In some cases, there can even be two ADUs added to a property. This type of in-fill development essentially recycles the existing land to make it more useful and valuable to the owner.

Blueprint’s model of developing and financing residential real estate close to the urban core has demonstrated the advantages of in-fill development to builders, homeowners, investors, and the community. For Blueprint builders, this can include quicker permitting times, simpler builds, and continuing to work with existing subcontractors.

“ADU’s fit perfectly into Blueprint’s model and further our goal of building more sustainable communities one home at a time,” said Eric Graham, president of Blueprint Capital.

From an investment standpoint, the addition of ADUs can significantly increase the original property’s value, whether it is sold as a multi-unit property, or individual ADUs are sold off separately.

From a community perspective, ADUs increase the number of housing choices in the city for prospective buyers and renters and promote more sustainable communities by reducing suburban sprawl. The smaller scale construction and building on land with existing infrastructure minimizes environmental impacts while meeting a critical need for housing.

“ADUs have the ability to change Seattle-area neighborhoods for the better. They create housing options where they are most needed and in a low-impact way,” Graham noted.

Four Walls of Flexibility

blueprint adu exterior 1As lifestyles of urban dwellers evolve, ADUs are meeting their needs in a multitude of ways. City developers can now offer up to three smaller homes on a lot where there was previously only one. This extra square footage can benefit people with different housing goals:

– Multi-generational families, live-in nannies, or other caretakers can live together but in separate spaces

– Homeowners can offset mortgage costs by renting out their ADUs, making it more affordable to own a home in the city

– Renters can have more choices for single-family homes often with yard space and in desirable neighborhoods

In cities experiencing massive growth, affordable housing is a critical issue. Sharing land, but enjoying the privacy of separate living spaces, is a modern solution to help both owners and renters alike.

Form and function

Though they are typically around 1,000 square feet, ADUs are efficient and functional, with an emphasis on design that matches the main dwelling on the property. ADUs can be completely self-sufficient and range from studios up to three-bedroom units.

If desired, ADUs can also have less visual impact, appearing as part of an existing structure, so that the face of a home is unchanged. This is an approach that helps retain the original aesthetic and character of older neighborhood streets.

Adding Up the ADU Advantage

The City of Seattle estimated that of approximately 125,000 single-family lots in Seattle, almost 75,000 are eligible for adding an ADU; building one additional unit on only 5 percent of those lots could add nearly 4,000 new housing options. Building regulations, including parking requirements and permitting processes, continue to ease as the city supports ADU growth. “With so many lots available for ADUs, this truly is an exciting opportunity,” said Graham.

Blueprint continues to innovate its product mix and recognizes ADUs as one part of the solution to increasing housing demand, housing affordability, and sustainable city growth.

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