Featured Projects

Brand New Guest Cottage in Midtown Palo Alto for Local Residents

This 227 square foot attached accessory dwelling unit converted an underutilized carport into a fully outfitted ADU studio for maximum efficiency and flexible use.

Caleb Lee•June 30, 2021

Homeowners that see this recent new construction attached ADU in Palo Alto, California are often surprised at how well the ADU ties into the architecture and construction of the main house. In fact, many neighbors find it hard to remember this house before the outdoor covered driveway space was converted into Palo Alto's newest ADU space.

One of the many advantages of designing this ADU as an attached ADU is the added curb appeal of the main home, private entrance for the ADU tenant, and preservation of the backyard space for the homeowners to enjoy their patio and green area.


ADU Floor Plan Attached Palo Alto Garage

By extending the former garage for the attached ADU, the homeowners were able to fit this additional unit into a surprisingly efficient footprint on their primary residence. In addition, the unit was quickly rented to a local university professional for above the market rent for a studio of comparable size.

A separate walkway and entrance to the unit coming from the sidewalk down the left side of the front yard ensured full privacy from the existing home. And thanks to Palo Alto's ADU regulations, no additional parking was required to be added to the unit since the ADU replaced part of the garage space.

As longtime Palo Alto residents, the homeowners wanted to ensure that their new ADU matched the look and feel of the existing home and blended in with the surrounding neighborhood. Needless to say, tying in the new ADU directly with the existing garage roof line, matching the stucco and roofing tiles perfectly, and constructing a second matching dormer made the attached accessory dwelling unit blend in perfectly with the main home. In fact, the homeowners and longtime neighbors both remarked that the new attached ADU made the entire house look more unified and visually appealing than the original single family home.


From the entrance to the ADU to the rest of the exterior facade, every detail was carefully looked over throughout the design and construction process.

With 227 sq ft to work with, Cottage's architects and contractor designed the attached tiny home to feel significantly roomier than expected. 15 foot vaulted ceilings and huge windows let ample light into the space, while the efficiency kitchen with a modern two-burner induction cooktop is placed strategically on one wall to ensure that no space is wasted. In addition, no detail in the site plan was left overlooked—even the microwave oven doubles as a convection oven to provide the most efficient use of the square footage without sacrificing options for appliances.

ADU Attached Kitchen Dining Room

ADU Attached Kitchen Dining Living Room

ADU Attached Living Room

Interior finishes and details were carefully selected for quality and durability. White oak engineered hardwood floors, a custom tile-in shower, porcelain sink, and custom quartz bathroom vanity counter highlight the space, while the in-unit LG under-counter smart washer/dryer provides all the comforts of a full apartment complex in a single unit.

ADU Kitchen Close-Up

ADU Window Trimmings Close Up

Throughout the custom, stick-built ADU unit, superior craftsmanship and clear attention to detail are plainly evident, from details as obvious as the recessed lighting fixtures in the vaulted ceilings to the window casings and baseboard work. Cable TV and internet hook-ups were pre-installed and ready for immediate use for the future tenant. Especially in the bathroom and kitchen cabinetry, anyone living in this space will enjoy an unexpectedly large amount of versatile storage options, thanks to ADU plans that ensured no inch was wasted in this high-end single-family home.

Upon moving into the unit, the new tenant used their eye for space planning to furnish the Cottage with efficient furniture pieces. A pull-out trundle bed/daybed, spacious mirrored wardrobe, combination desk/dining table, mirrored entryway cabinet, and the installation of an under-window bench proved to be a smart use of every inch of the tiny floor plan.

ADU Bathroom Close-Up

ADU Bathroom Close-Up Sink

ADU Cabinets Close-Up

There are a few ways ADU financing options so you can complete a renovation project just like this one. Homeowners can take out a traditional HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) or use Home Equity Loan financing if they have sufficient assets to borrow against. Borrowing against the value of your home and taking a second mortgage are always an option, but Home Equity Loans can provide a loan with fixed-rate interest if you don't want to perform cash-out refinancing on your first mortgage.

401(k) loans, construction loans, renovation loans, ground lease agreements, reverse mortgages, or personal loans from private lenders are also options, although these may have higher interest rates or a more variable rate than the lower rate offered through cash-out refinance. Of course, when planning your ADU construction, considering loan term, credit score, building permit fees, closing costs, fees, and loan limits are vital considerations for borrowers trying to determine their best option.

The Cottage team was proud to complete this highly efficient attached ADU space in early 2021, fulfilling the owner's vision for collecting consistent rental income from an otherwise unused space. The owners were able to rent out the ADU unit just a few weeks after listing it on the market, proving the immediate demand for units like these in the neighborhood. In addition, the significant equity value increase for the property ensured that the ADU cost would pay for itself and more down the road and help secure the homeowners' retirement plans.

An ADU project is well worth the cost, whether your granny flats will be basement renovations, backyard homes like a backyard cottage, garage conversions, an in-law suite, or a unit just like this one. You can choose from all types of ADUs in different locations throughout the California Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and beyond to new cities and states like Portland, Oregon or Seattle, Washington.

Interested in building a similar attached or detached ADU, or converting an existing garage space? Contact us today using the link below for a Free, No-obligation Consultation & Estimate for your ADU vision with one of our ADU experts!

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