Around 76% of American housing is single family. One solution to adding affordability and density to this commodious architectural form is accessory dwelling units, aka granny flats (because grandpa, you know, lives underground). ADUs are basically little houses you can toss in your backyard—they can be used by family, a tenant, or Airbnb. They’ve been gaining popularity particularly in California and Oregon, each state lending crucial legislative support.
But a lot of folks paying a mortgage can’t necessarily afford to build a second home, which can easily run $100K+.
Portland-based startup dubbed Dweller has a solution for this shortfall. According to the CityLab, “Dweller fronts the cost of purchasing and installing one-size-fits-all prefabricated ADUs in backyards. Third-party property managers rent out the unit to long-term tenants, and Dweller splits the revenues 70-30 with the homeowner, almost as if the company is leasing the land.” Homeowners can buy back ADU at any time or can purchase one of the prefabs outright.
Given the preponderance of single family housing stock as well as a tighter lending climate, it’ll be interesting to see if: A. ADU popularity will grow beyond areas with high per capita granola consumption; and B. whether Dweller’s model—which seems like a smart one to us—will grow along with it.