Enhabit Creates ‘Essential House’ Design to Explore ADU Affordability

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADUs) are a great way expand Portland’s housing options and increase density in single-family neighborhoods without requiring demolition of existing homes or constructing new multi-family housing units.

ADU development in Portland to date has largely been an exercise for households with higher than average incomes and strong interest in the design and construction process. Many new, detached ADUs built today are highly customized to meet the interests and design preferences of the household. This one-off customization has resulted in average costs being rather high, from $150,000 to $200,000 per unit, making it difficult for middle-income families to finance construction.

However, ADUs offer a compelling option for affordable housing in Portland, where the number of families experiencing homelessness continues to rise, and affordability is a top priority for city officials. Designed right, ADUs could be built and deployed quickly for homes across the city, where homeowners are willing to rent them long-term to a person experiencing affordable housing challenges.

To better understand conventional building costs for an affordable ADU, Enhabit commissioned the design of the “Essential House”, a 16’ x 24’ (384 sq. ft) fully functional (full kitchen, bath and laundry) one-bedroom structure. The Essential House is designed with build cost in mind, but it’s also energy efficient, attractive and very functional for an individual or small family. The estimated “all in” delivery cost for this unit is $125,000, proving out the theory that ADUs could pencil out for homeowners interested in offering an affordable home to someone

“Enhabit’s mission is to create social impact through better living spaces, and ADUs present a very interesting new option for us to create impact here in Portland where rents are skyrocketing,” says Tim Miller, CEO of Enhabit. “The Essential House is another step we’re investigating to help get people who need a home in a space that is healthy, safe and efficient too.”


Enhabit ADU Floorplan

Enhabit’s “Essential House” ADU Floorplan

A 3D rendering of the "Essential House" ADU by Enhabit.

A 3D rendering of the “Essential House” ADU by Enhabit.

Essential House ADU living space rendering - accessory dwelling unit, Portland

A rendering showing the living space of the “Essential House” ADU by Enhabit