The Backdoor Revolution: The Book | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

The Backdoor Revolution: The Book

As last week's feature story in the Source highlighted, many people in Bend are adding accessory dwelling units to their properties. The process typically involves the addition of a new structure, conversion of a basement to an apartment, converting a garage into living space or adding living space on top of an existing garage. Housing prices have been a big factor in this increase. Some cities, including Portland, are encouraging such infill development.

According to an article in The Oregonian, Portland's relatively recent Residential Infill Project allows two additional units on lots located in neighborhoods with access to transit. The City of Portland offers an added incentive for ADUs by providing a waiver of system development fees. This has been going on since 2010, according to the article.

Infill housing uses existing utilities and service such as roads, sewers, and schools—and their smaller size means they typically leave a smaller carbon footprint. These homes are typically smaller than new construction and their popularity reflects changing housing needs. In that recent article in The Oregonian, ADU advocate Kol Peterson is quoted as saying there's been a 22-fold increase in annual ADU permits over the last 10 years.

While some people don't like to see changes in their neighborhoods, many embrace this concept and there are signs that the popularity is increasing. Rising housing costs make it popular for young and old alike with many being motivated by the rental income from an ADU helping pay their mortgage or allowing for multi-generational living. Changing household sizes are also creating demand for smaller housing. ADUs are often the size of 1950s homes.

Peterson, a longtime small housing advocate and ADU expert in Portland, released a book on the subject on Jan. 23, titled "Backdoor Revolution-The Definitive Guide to ADU Development." The book offers advice on construction, regulatory barriers and loopholes, financing, space-saving layouts and so on. This book is showing up on various real estate and even planning blogs. The author also has an active blog with useful links and additional information at

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