Thursday, March 31, 2011

Inspired by the Doers

It feels quite remarkable and rare to have such easy and immediate access to innovative, creative, industrial minds all around me.

I met today with one of the authors of this Oregon DEQ report that found that the single most important variable to reduce the life cycle impact of residential construction is the size of the house. We discussed the smaller housing, ADU's, regulatory hurdles, costs, and material selection.

It was a great meeting of the minds, and I hope to continue to think through the overall strategy of this ADU with him further. He constructed a gorgeous, timber frame detached bedroom in SE Portland.

My girlfriend has lived in two cabins that she has renovated. Her cabin in Portland is a refurbished garage; while not a legal ADU, it is an ADU nonetheless. And, I might add, it the most gorgeous ADU I've seen to date. From the outside though, you would think it was just a plain garage. She renovated it on a budget of $20K. It seems me that a good rule of thumb may be that complying with building codes doubles the cost of design/build.

Two of her and my good friends in NE Portland are in the early stages of converting their garage to an ADU, though they are still trying to assess whether their $40K budget is sufficient for the job.

My mortgage broker has an ADU that she is renting out. She built it for $50K. My Realtor intends to build one over her garage. My "Phase I" builder is hoping to build one at him home in NE Portland down the road.

My architect took on the challenge of packing a lot of function into a small space with vigor. He was extremely knowledgeable and generous with his time. I have no doubt that he put more time into this design than he would on most projects, and for a relatively modest sum. I'd recommend him to anyone.

I am taking a class with Stephen Aiguier, the founder and president of Green Hammer. He is the most knowledgeable person I've met on green building issues. Incidentally, he seems to be increasingly focused on Passivehaus construction. What I respect most about Stephen is his deep understanding of building science, and his pragmatic and driven idealism. Learning from him is humbling.

My immediate neighbor is a craftsman and fabricator who specializes in reusing material, next door to me is the owner of a custom bicycle construction shop.

The ADU concept is ablaze in my circles in Portland. That is due in part to incredible range of needs and purposes that ADUs serve, but it is also a testament to the fact that here, in Portland, they are legal to build.

And that is rare. I'll discuss this much in more detail later.
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