A great movement, coming to a city near you, is the creation or emphasis of backyard cottages. In an effort to curb suburban sprawl, city officials around the country are encouraging infill development with small houses built beside or behind existing houses. This movement is a win win situation for everyone involved – the city creates an increased tax base while preserving the countryside and agricultural land, homeowners are given an opportunity for rental income, and renters are given a great option for affordable housing.
The movement also provides designers with an incentive to increase the options for creative and sustainable small house plans. Seattle, one city that is on the cutting edge of sustainable development, has allowed attached ADU’s (Accessory Dwelling Units) since 1994. Their recent 2009 legislation, that allows detached ADUs of up to 800 sq. ft. to be built throughout the city, has motivated at least two companies to offer design challenges to inspire more creative small house design options.
Just up the road from Seattle, Vancouver is another city that is encouraging backyard cottages and, down the road, Portland Oregon is doing the same. Farther down the road, Berkeley, California is even setting goals for a percentage of their new development to be in ADU’s. Around the country other cities have adopted, or are considering adopting, similar ordinances.
This brings me home to Asheville, NC. Backyard cottages, attached or unattached, are legal here – they have been for some time. I’m not sure if suburban sprawl had anything to do with the motivation or if it is just common sense mountain wisdom. Whatever it is, it is a great opportunity to increase creative green built and affordable housing, as well as to increase the development of community in any neighborhood.
Wherever you are, whether you are a home owner or renter, this is a great option to consider promoting in your neighborhood. Let me know if we can help – we have great resources to help design and build your backyard cottage.