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What You Need to Know About ADUs in Portland

Office space, studio, man cave, play room, in-law apartment, rental. These are some of the reasons you may be desiring the addition of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (AKA ADU) on your property. If you have never looked at building an ADU before, here are some of the things you need to know about constructing one in Portland.

  1. Size Matters: In Portland, ADU height is capped around 15-20 feet high and they can not be more than three quarters the size of the main house, up to 800 square feet. Those are not the only limitations though. You also need to be aware of the distance you build from your property lines, the total ratio of your ADU to your lot, and features such as window proportion. In regards to residents, you may not have more than 6 roommates living with you in your ADU. Considering an ADU cannot be more that 800sf, I would love to see how you would fit that many people in one!
  2. If You Are Wondering if You Need A Permit, You Do: The City of Portland has some great resources when it comes to learning about what is required when building an ADU, but one of the basic pieces of information is: Yes, you will need a permit to construct an ADU. Depending on what you plan on building, you may also need electrical, plumbing, and or mechanical permits. This is in addition to site surveys, the metro excise tax, zoning inspection, and site-specific fees for erosion control. If you are wondering how much that could set you back, take advantage of Portland’s online fee estimator.
  3. Hold That Waiver High! You will see fees for water, transportation, parks, and environmental services. These fees are supposed to help Portland’s infrastructure keep up with new development. Now, I don’t know the exact cost of these fees, but I do know that they can be steep. Fortunately, a resolution was passed in Portland extending a waiver for System Development Charges that is in effect until July 31, 2018. For more information on the SDC waiver, click here.
  4. Taxes Have Good News? Homeowners that have added ADUs to their property will have the same experience with property taxes as a new homeowner would. This means that they can expect a tax bump the first year, but the max property tax hike after that would cap at three percent. Why is this good news? Well, because it took until this last spring to reverse the formula assessors were using on ADUs that had homeowners seeing their property taxes quadruple as an ADU was considered a zoning change. So thankfully this is no longer the case, and property taxes can be the same formula they were.

If you can make it through all of the rules and regulations, you will be on to the fun portion! Designing, building, and decorating your ADU!  Other facts to know before getting started: ADUs are not allowed on sites where one or more of the residents work from home and see employees or customers on site. Another important thing to know is that the exterior on your ADU must either match the main house or be a shingle, horizontal clapboard, or shiplap pattern.

If you were to construct an ADU on your property, what would you use it for? What kind of décor would it have?