In March 2010, the Portland City Council voted to waive the system development fees for three years associated with constructing so-called “mother-in-law apartments” otherwise known as accessory dwelling units (ADU). This was an important decision as it has made it easier for homeowners in the city to add extra living space at a much reduced cost. Whether the creation of a finished basement, a garage conversion or even a small free-standing building,   ADU’s are an important tool for adding density in our older neighborhoods – one home at a time. the result is far less impact on the existing character that makes our older neighborhoods so attractive to begin with.  Their small stature also ensures a lower impact on the environment and given the confines of the Urban Growth Boundary, should be a tool for adding density that is put to use for many years to come.

A recent article in Northwest Renovation Magazine, points out a number of  the positive benefits to ADU construction. In addition to the environmental and neighborhood character benefits noted above, they also provide flexible space, whether for family members or other tenants; they’re affordable and can actually provide a solid return on your investment as well. You can pick up a copy of the NW Renovation magazine with the article on ADU’s at the Architectural Heritage Center which – by the way – is offering free  admission for the month of December.

You can also learn more about the rules and regulations governing ADU’s by clicking here.