Tag Archives: accessory dwelling units Oahu

Retirement Downsizing in Place with an Accessible ADU

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This entry is part of 13 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

 

 

 

Many seniors are seriously conflicted about the choice to downsize into a smaller, more manageable and affordable house or stay with the family home to pass it on to the children who grew up there. There is an inherent conflict between practicality and sentimentality, especially as you start to slow down and getting around the big old abode is becoming more of a hassle than it’s worth. The good news is that it’s not a clear-cut choice between selling the house to downsize or staying and trying to take care of it on your own. There are many shades of alternatives like living in the master suite and renting out spare bedrooms, running the place like a bed and breakfast through Airbnb, or you can even effectively downsize into a senior-friendly little home, rent out the house, and still be close enough to keep an eye on the old family home. How do you ask? By building an ADU.

What is an ADU?

An ADU is a small additional home built on your property either separately from or connected to the main house. These are homes generally between 400 square feet and 800 square feet. What’s so special about ADUs is that you can build one almost anywhere because they are so small but include enough room for one or two people to live comfortably, if not expansively.

Most ADUs feature one or two bedrooms, a full if small kitchen and dining area, a bathroom, and sometimes a laundry area. They often feature wide porches to help create more living space and are very comfortable in a spacious backyard. In other words, they are the perfect retirement downsizing apartments and you can build one right next to the home you don’t want to leave behind.

An Accessible ADU is Perfect for Retirement

ADUs are great for a lot of different population groups but for seniors, they are the perfect put-it-anywhere retirement flat. Small and incredibly compact, the ADU will be easy to keep clean even with a limited daily energy and you’ll never have to go up and down stairs to reach a room in the house. Even better, they can be easily designed for perfect accessibility with all the privacy and comfort of an apartment in a retirement community but still on your own land and completely under your control. A ramp can be installed out front, bars can be elegantly and discreetly installed throughout the home, and you can even have it custom-built with counter lifts, light-touch appliances, and other helpful accessibility features to make it a luxury retirement suite right in your own backyard.

The Smart-Home Upgrade

You can also make your small retirement flat even more convenient with the installation of a modern voice-activated smart home. You can have wifi-enabled lights and thermostat, and maybe even other appliances like a smart oven, coffee maker, self-watering plants, pet treat dispensers, and amazingly much more. Even non-smart things can be added to the smart home roster with the use of wifi-plugs for simple on/off functions. This means that from the comfort of your chair, you can manage many aspects of your home without having to waste your energy wandering around turning lights on and off, resetting the thermostat when it gets cold, or starting the oven pre-heating. And with an ADU, you’ll only need one hub because it can hear you from one end of the house to the other.

 

Downsizing is often the most practical choice for aging seniors, but it can also be a hard one because you don’t want to leave your family home. Fortunately, you don’t have to actually go anywhere to downsize or even give up some of your privacy to rent out part of the house. You can gain the full profits from renting the entire main home and still live comfortably on your own property by building yourself a cozy little accessible ADU. With the combination of a small clean space, ramps, and handrails, and helpful smart-home integration, you should be able to enjoy your retirement quite blissfully with all the joy of watching your family home come to life again with activity from a nearby comfy porch chair. For more information about building your cozy custom retirement ADU, contact us today!

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Six Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Build an ADU in Hawaii

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This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

It has been awhile since we discussed the benefits of having an accessory dwelling unit (or ADU) – including their potential for bringing more affordable housing options into the Hawaiian housing market and how ADUs can provide a new source of income. If you need to refresh your memory or read it for the first time, you can find that post here.

While the benefits of an ADU are numerous, there is a lot to think about when it comes to building an accessory dwelling unit. We have compiled a list of six questions you should ask yourself before you commit.

1. Why do you want an ADU on your property?

The reasons for having an ADU can vary greatly. Some are looking to generate extra income by renting it out. Others want to keep multiple generations of their family together on the same property while having separate spaces at the same time. Knowing why you want it and being able to articulate your reasons will be helpful as you get further into the process.

2. Are you or a relative willing to live on the property once the ADU is completed?

In Hawaii, as in many other areas, the owner (or a close relative) of an ADU is required to live on the property. This can be in the primary residence or in the ADU, but you or someone closely related to you will need to live on the property. If you are not willing to do this and cannot find a family member interested in doing so, consider investing in updates to the house that is already there and rent it out instead of creating an accessory dwelling unit.

3. Do you know the rules and regulations for ADUs?

Different residential properties on the Hawaiian Islands have different zoning regulations, as well as homeowners’ association rules, which may or may not allow ADUs to be built on your property. There are also regulations regarding owner-builders you need to be aware of if you intend to take on that responsibility for the ADU. Do your research and find out if your property is eligible for an ADU before you invest much money into the process of building it.

4. Are you prepared for the initial and ongoing costs of creating an ADU?

The cost of creating an ADU is not just a one-time, lump-sum payment. Often, there are multiple costs involved and multiple professionals you will need to pay in order to make sure that the work done to create your ADU is up to date and up to code. You need to be prepared for additional costs to surface as construction goes along.

5. Are you planning to convert space that already exists into an ADU, or will the ADU be a new building?

Many of the specifics of the accessory dwelling unit will depend on the answer to this question, so know your answer before you start designing it.

6. When it is finished, are you prepared to take on the role and responsibilities of a landlord?

Once you become a landlord, you are responsible for many things related to the ADU – including the maintenance and upkeep. Not sure what all of the obligations and responsibilities are? Spend some time researching what that means from a legal standpoint as well as what will be expected of you beyond what the law states, and honestly assess your ability to be a good landlord.

If you are considering building an ADU and looking for someone who can create accessory dwelling unit designs that are easy to read and permit-ready, contact us today. We have decades of experience and would love to work with you to create an ADU that fits your specific needs.

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Top Ten Pinterest Home Improvement Boards for DIY-ers

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This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Pinterest

 

As everyone already knows, we are living in a home improvement do-it-yourself era. Even those who have never held a hammer are taking small home improvement projects on and are doing a pretty good job. It’s also a well-known fact that Pinterest is the place to go for everything you could ever possibly want to know about almost anything. So we decided to share 10 of the most popular Pinterest boards that have to do with home improvement to get your creative juices flowing and your tools out on the table.

1. Visiting Shelley Creed’s board called Architectural Salvage is like taking a short course on how to incorporate salvaged windows, doors, and trim into the house you are building or remodeling. The pins on her board are beautiful, and the ideas you glean from her pins will inspire and intrigue you.

2. On the board Home Decor & DIY, Sarah McKenna of Bombshell Bling shares suggestions about paint, room make-overs, upcycling furniture, home offices, painting vinyl shutters, backsplash ideas, Ikea hacks, adding personality to a simple space, farmhouse finds, and more. Sarah’s board is colorful and sassy and well worth a visit.

3. Lucy, at Craftberry Bush, has 21,901 followers on her home improvement board. She includes many helpful and useful tips, such as types of molding, removing popcorn ceilings, home decor charts, and many DIY tutorials. You will find hundreds of ideas on Lucy’s board.

4. Jenny on the Spot Home has a home improvement board that contains everything from home exterior ideas to installing barn doors. She has tutorials for picking colors for your home, bathroom design, lighting, fabrics, outdoor living areas, choosing the right fence for your home.

5. For terrific ideas on designing shelves, stenciling tile, or building a pantry between the studs in your kitchen, visit the Allred Design boards dedicated to DIY tips for your home. With 17,400 followers, Allred Design is doing something right. Their home improvement board includes how to make open pipe shelving, open, floating shelving, crown molding templates, paint a concrete floor, and other stunning projects for your new home.

6. Lauren@Bless’er House offers a truck load of advice on her “how-to” board, including her favorite “peel and stick” vinyl tiles, farmhouse window trim, and DIY feather finish concrete counter tops. She also has pins on how to paint kitchen cabinets and the cheapest and easiest DIY Board and Batten.

7. Great ideas for home design are the focus of Jacqueline Tan’s home improvement board. She shares pictures of innovative and creative improvements you can incorporate into your new house. This Amsterdam homemaker has wonderful ideas for organizing, DIY projects, gardening, and interior design.

8. Tam P offers the kind of down-to-earth tutorials a DIY homeowner will need, like how to whitewash brick and how to create ship-lap wall covering. All her boards are chock full of ideas, however, and you might just get caught in that Pinterest rabbit hole we’ve all fallen in before.

9. The Savvy Saving Couple has found ways to cut costs on almost every type of new home project. They show examples of bathroom renovations, cottage-style design ideas, and styling a small space.

10. And best of all, the DIY Network Shows has boards of its own. The pins you find will allow you to travel behind the scenes with the hosts of your favorite DIY Network television shows. Watching these videos will be like getting your Ph.D. in home improvement.

Owner Built Design, LLC of Oahu is ready to get you started on building a house or adding an addition or other home-improvement for you and your family.  We will provide you with permit-ready designs and be available to you in many ways as you take on this exciting task.  Call or text for more information.

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What’s the 411 with Hawaii ADU’s: The FAQs Continued

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This entry is part 7 of 13 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

If you live or even occasionally visit Hawaii, you’re probably already aware of the intense housing crunch going on, especially when it comes to affordable rental properties for working families. While homelessness is usually something that happens to people who can’t or won’t work, it’s an unfortunate fact that many families are finding themselves without proper lodgings because there simply aren’t enough homes to go around. For this reason, Honolulu has recently authorized home-owner residents to build small secondary residential homes on their property in order to rent to families in need. These residences are known as Hawaii ADU’s or Accessory Dwelling Units and are a great way for home owners to both alleviate the housing crunch and make a little extra money for their own mortgages.

In a previous post, we covered a few of the FAQs about ADUs from defining our terms to how they compare to ohana units. Today, we’re picking up where we left off to answer more important questions about how you can contribute to the local effort against homelessness.

Frequently Asked Questions Pt 2:

Q: Are owners required to live on the property?

The short answer here is yes, but in truth, it’s a little more complicated. You cannot rent both the main house and the ADU at the same time, but the named owner doesn’t necessarily have to live on the property. In order to rent your ADU, the main house needs to be occupied by a relative by blood, marriage, or adoption to the property owner. However, a designated authorized representative is also allowed.

Alternately, you or a relative can choose to live in the ADU and rent out the main house, which also counts as using your ADU to alleviate the housing shortage. This is a great option for retirees who want to downsize for ease of lifestyle without leaving their family home behind.

Q: Is there a minimum occupancy period for each ADU tenant?

In order to ensure that Hawaii ADU’s are actually being used to help with the housing problem, tenants need to stay at least six months (180 days to be specific) with each lease. This prevents both landlords and tenants from misusing it’s intended purpose, but that also means that it’s inadvisable to Airbnb your ADU between tenants.

Q: Is there enough local sewer and water capacity?

It’s true, not every neighborhood has the infrastructure available to support doubling up on sewer and water needs. For this reason, you’ll need to get approval from all the usual sources including the Department of Planning and Permitting, Wastewater Branch, Traffic Review Branch, State Department of Health, Board of Water Supply, and the Honolulu Fire Department. If they all agree that a new residential structure is OK, you can proceed with building plans.

Q: How much parking is required for an ADU?

Hawaii ADU’s only require one off-street parking spot. This sets them aside from ohana units which require two and therefore permits home owners with smaller yards to contribute to the housing effort.

Q: How big can Hawaii ADU’s be?

It may be tempting to build yourself a near-duplex residential buddy, especially if you have the yard space to spare, but ADUs are, in fact, limited in size based on the size of your lot.

  • Lots 3500 – 4999 square feet can have an ADU of up to 400 square feet
  • Lots 5000 square feet and up are limited to an ADU of 800 square feet.

Q: How many ADUs can I build?

The answer here is only one, but it’s slightly more complex in practice. ADUs fill a secondary residential slot, but can only do so if you don’t already have a secondary residence on your lot. Therefore ohana dwellings, guest houses, and multifamily dwellings like duplexes disqualify a lot from having even a single ADU.

If you’re considering building an ADU on your lot, you’ll need an expert designer who can get your plans through approval the first time around. I have decades of experience and specialize in permit-ready drawings and would be delighted to ensure your ADU project hits the ground running. Please contact me today for more information or plans to build!

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Why Are ADUs So Important in Hawaii?

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This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

Housing affordability has long been an issue on Oahu. The challenge remains, according to the 2017 Housing Affordability Table compiled by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. According to the table, urban Honolulu is the 54th largest metro area in the country but has the most expensive single-family homes.

Honolulu Leads Top 100 Cities

In fact, only 19.6 percent of all households can afford the housing costs associated with the median selling price of $707,100. And, just 9.0 percent of renter households could afford to purchase a home at the median selling price. That is the lowest percentage of any of America’s top 100 metropolitan markets. Only greater Los Angeles and California’s Bay Area come close. Just 12.4 percent of Los Angeles renters would be able to afford the median selling price in that market. In the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Oakland, 13.6 percent of renters have the income to purchase a home at the median selling price.

Recession’s Impact

Following the recession of 2008, new construction dropped precipitously in Hawaii. One year later, only 6,000 housing units (including condos and single-family units) were sold in Honolulu County. Since then, sales have rebounded, but they are still nowhere near the boom years of 2003-2005.

Certainly, more work remains to be done. Today’s $700,000+ median selling price of a single-family residence is more than double the median selling price recorded for 2000.

Many people who cannot afford such prices will still need housing. In a report entitled “Measuring Housing Demand in Hawaii 2015-2025,” it is estimated that Hawaii will need another 64,700 to 66,000 housing units between 2015 and 2025. At the same time, the report states, “Wages and incomes have not been growing as fast as housing prices, making it harder to afford real estate in Hawaii, especially for younger and lower-income households.”

Ohana Units Help Somewhat

In the late 1980s, the ohana unit first addressed some of the state’s affordable housing needs. However, the impact was somewhat muted because only relatives of those residing in the primary residence can occupy these units. Nonetheless, they are great for multi-generational households. Ohana units are often occupied by adult children of homeowners or seniors in the family, and they must be physically attached to the primary residence. The location is fairly flexible because they are possible in agricultural, country and residential districts, although they are prohibited in areas zoned R-3.5.

ADUs to the Rescue

In 2015, Honolulu introduced accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to further address the shortage of affordable housing. Given the statistics noted above, the future of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) appears bright. ADUs offer local governments some of the advantages of duplexes, but at a lower cost. Both types of dwellings increase housing density without putting an undue strain on infrastructures like sewer, water, and roads. In particular, these units tend to spread out across metro areas like Honolulu. And, governments can refuse an ADUpermit if the construction will unduly strain existing infrastructure.

ADUs are not just a Hawaiian phenomenon. According to Hawaii Appleseed, they have been used to address shortages of affordable housing in across the continental U.S. as well, from Lexington, Massachusetts on the East Coast to Portland, Oregon, and Santa Cruz, California, on the West Coast.

Qualifying homeowners renting out ADUs find they can generate a new and valuable revenue stream. ADUs can increase the overall value of the property, aiding asset accumulation in the process. If there is eventually a decision to sell the property, the seller may find that some prospective buyers value the ADU for the same reasons.

Owner Built Design LLC is your source for residential design, engineering and permit processing on the island of Oahu. I bring three decades of local experience to my work on behalf of homeowners and owner-builders. To better determine if the construction of an ADUis right for you, please contact me today.

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Why ADUs Make Financial Sense

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This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

The accessory dwelling units (ADU) is an increasingly popular idea which benefits homeowners, tenants and local governments alike. On OahuADUs provide much-needed affordable housing.

Hawaii Life reported on September 14, 2015, signing of Bill 20 by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. By mid-January of 2016, there were already 29 ADU applications pending. Since then, interest in ADUs continues to surge, in part because of the financial benefits.

Benefits for All Parties

There are key financial reasons why homeowners, tenants and local governments find ADUs attractive:

Homeowners – Whether it is detached from or attached to a primary residence, an ADU makes financial sense for homeowners in a number of ways. First, the rent paid generates a new revenue stream. Second, many expenses related to an ADU rental unit are tax-deductible. Third, it is an ideal way for a homeowner to build the asset value of their existing property. Since an ADU must be sold together with the primary residence, the homeowner benefits if and when the property is sold. A wide variety of prospective buyers may be attracted to a property with an ADU, including those that like the potential rental revenue and those that need space for another family member like a senior or retiree.

Renters – ADUs are popular, first and foremost, as a source of affordable housing in an expensive market. Also, for some prospective renters, ADUs make financial sense because they mesh with modern lifestyle choices. More and more Millennials, for example, are comfortable living in less than 800 sqr-ft of space at a modest cost, because they would rather spend more available cash on travel and other outdoor leisure activities.

As long as they have the basics like a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom, a fair percentage of prospective renters on Oahu are comfortable with a smaller living space. Widespread interest in so-called “tiny houses” across the country demonstrates that many people are willing to embrace the idea of living in a home with several hundred square feet of living space. Vaulted ceilings, bay windows, and uncovered lanais help create a feeling of spaciousness.

Local government – ADUs also offer local governments a way to address overall housing needs at modest cost. Since ADUs are dispersed across greater Honolulu, they require only incremental improvements to infrastructure. This compares favorably to the significant investment in infrastructure often required when major housing developments are constructed.

Bill 20 Stipulations

Bill 20 carries stipulations that exclude some properties from ADU development. For example, ADUs are not allowed in planned communities, or in those subject to governance by an association. Also, lots must be at least 3,500 sqr-ft in size. ADUs up to 400 sqr-ft are possible on lots of 3,500-4,999 sqr-ft. ADUs up to 800 sqr-ft are allowed on lots measuring at least 5,000 sqr-ft.

Bill 20 also requires that there be at least one off-road parking space, although there is no such requirement for ADUs within 0.5-mi of a rail station. Finally, ADUs are only possible when there is sufficient infrastructure in place for sewer and water. Since leases must be at least six months long, ADUs are not intended as seasonal vacation rentals.

An article in Hawaii Home Remodeling quoted Harrison Rue, an official with the City and County of Honolulu, suggesting that ADUs are “really trying to address the dire need for more affordable and workforce housing.” He also said it is “one of the first pieces of the housing strategy.” This strategy offers clear financial benefits to all parties involved, including property owners, renters, and local governments.

Owner Build Design LLC is your source for the knowledge and expertise needed when developing an ADU. I bring over three decades of experience to my residential design and drafting services in Hawaii. I offer everything from permit processing services to permit-ready drawings. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss how an ADU could work for you. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

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