Case Study: Compact 1-Bedroom ADU

Big Things Come in Small Packages!

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are specifically designed to be an accessory to a primary house. To make it an accessory, the code in Portland decrees it must be 800sqft -OR-75% of the square footage of the primary dwelling, whichever is less. If you have a small house, you are going to have an even smaller ADU. Below is our case study for a compact 1-bedroom ADU coming in at 375sqft.


In Portland, there are many small bungalows in every neighborhood. They’re small, quaint, and end up having large yards due to their small footprint. This provides an excellent opportunity for an ADU. Due to the size restrictions, the ADU will likely need to be 75% or less the size of the primary house. Our challenge here was to design an ADU to be placed behind a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom bungalow, with the added requirement of being a 1-bedroom unit, not a studio. Resident Architect and small space expert Eli Green was up to the challenge.


Utilizing our standard building envelope, Eli designed a unit at 16’x26′ that would include a one-sided kitchen that opened onto the living room, a bedroom that was full of windows and even it’s own patio door onto it’s own backyard, and a full bathroom complete with a bathtub and a stacking washer/dryer. Utilizing pocket doors for both the bedroom and bathroom eliminates blank floor space to allow for door swings. We capped the bathroom with a ceiling to allow for some storage above (seen in the pictures already being used for storage). Near-clerestory windows on the backside allow the southern sun to shine in while providing privacy from the neighbors.


Even before the final cleaning of the unit, it was rented out! For someone looking for their own private space, these compact ADUs are the perfect solution at a cost around 2/3rds of an apartment. To sweeten the deal, as opposed to an apartment, the yard and residential neighborhood are included! Finally, this compact 1-bedroom ADU is Earth Advantage Certified Platinum. Both owner and tenants will sleep well at night knowing that this ADU is the pinnacle in healthy, sustainable, and efficient living.

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