Longtime Pleasanton homeowner Jocelyn had long wanted to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in her side yard. But it wasn’t until she found Cottage that her ADU dreams went from ideas in her head to designs on paper to construction from the ground up.
Despite her two decades of construction-related experience and a second career as a program analyst with the City of Oakland, Jocelyn wanted help planning, designing, and building her ADU.
That’s where Cottage came into the picture.
“I finally found Cottage online, and I loved the people that I worked with,” Jocelyn said. “The enthusiasm, the youth, the creativity, and doing everything online was the best I could have hoped for—it was pretty amazing. I always felt that I was being taken care of and that the Cottage team had my best interests in mind.”
A Second Chance ADU
This wasn’t Jocelyn’s first foray into trying to build an ADU. Back in 2005, she had previously planned to meet with an architect at her house to assess the feasibility of building a granny flat. The idea then was to move her mother—who had a full-time caregiver at the time—into the unit so that Jocelyn could take over as the primary caregiver.
But then other personal family health issues arose and the idea fell by the wayside. At the time, onerous state and local regulations would have made it difficult to permit and build an accessory structure with Jocelyn’s full time attention, let alone with the more pressing family responsibilities on her plate.
Fast forward 15 years, and now Jocelyn has moved into her mother’s old house. Her mind came back to Accessory Dwelling Units as a solution to her housing challenges.
“When I moved into my mother’s house, I decided that I needed a place to age-in-place,” Jocelyn explained. “Because I was working politically on affordable housing, it seemed like a win-win; I could rent the ADU out to an essential worker until I needed it to age-in-place myself.”
And with the passage of California AB 68, Jocelyn found herself with ADU options. Yet, her initial research didn’t turn up what she was looking for.
“I went online and looked at drop-in houses, stick-built houses, and other contractors like [Cottage]; I talked to lots and lots of people,” Jocelyn said. “I didn't like the prefab houses because I didn't have much say in how they were built, and I didn't like the exterior design very much.”
One Size Doesn’t Fit All ADUs
While Jocelyn’s initial research didn’t turn up the right partner, she pushed onwards in search of the right fit for her flexible age-in-place needs for her ADU.
Along the way, Jocelyn stumbled upon Cottage and immediately noted Cottage’s custom design approach to building its ADUs. Clicking further through the Cottage website gave her a better sense of what the company stands for and how it matched her values.
“On the Cottage website, the first house I saw was built for parents in the backyard to age-in place, and I'm like, ‘Bingo, they get it. They understand the challenges. And they understand the reason why I wanted to build it in the first place,’” Joceyln said. “That was huge. That made me feel that it was more of a higher moral position for building ADUs than just making money.”
After speaking with the team and meeting with a Cottage representative at her home, Jocelyn reviewed an initial design and floor plan with the Cottage design studio.
“I've always drawn floor plans ever since I was a little kid. I don't know why—It's something I've always been drawn to,” Jocelyn said. “So I had a really good idea of what I wanted, and I wanted someone who could see that vision and help me create that vision.”
After Jocelyn decided that the initial rectangular design didn’t take full advantage of her angled side yard, the Cottage design studio came back with an L-shaped design. This iteration was inspired by Jocelyn’s suggestions, and ended up bringing more light into the space on sunny mornings.
During the design development process, the Cottage design team made sure to get every detail right for Jocelyn’s needs. At one point, Cottage Design Manager Manon Paquet made her way to Jocelyn’s property to ensure that the design had everything Jocelyn was looking for.
“I know you can see a lot on Google Maps,” Jocelyn said. “But I asked, ‘Could you just come out here and see the constraints that I'm dealing with?’ And Manon was like, ‘Okay, sure!’ To me, it’s like, ‘Who does that?’ The flexibility and the willingness to meet the customer's needs is just outstanding.”
Mission-Driven: Affordable Housing through ADUs
Even while her ADU plans were still in the permit process, Jocelyn was a vocal ADU advocate—with Cottage by her side each step of the way.
“The fact that you all were aware of the legislation, were tracking it, and recognize the potential for affordable housing helped my decision to go with Cottage,” Jocelyn said. “[I felt] I was dealing with young professionals who understood the challenge of finding housing...and that Cottage had higher ideals than just churning out the houses.”
As an affordable housing supporter and vocal advocate in the East Bay, Jocelyn attended almost every city council meeting in 2021 at a time when new ADU guidelines were being discussed and debated.
“There was one meeting where I couldn't make either a planning commission or a council meeting,” Jocelyn explained. “And I asked [Cottage Operations Manager] Kyu if he could be on the zoom call to represent me, which he did—he stuck out that whole 3-hour city council planning commission meeting. I mean, who does that? So I just thought that’s Cottage’s loyalty to me and my loyalty back to Cottage for doing things like that.”
While the permitting process brought challenges in Pleasanton, the Cottage operations team managed the process from start to finish - assembling permit documents, coordinating the necessary consultants, and responding to the city building and planning departments to ensure permit approval.
Once the permit was approved, the general contractor partner set to work to break ground quickly.
“Every Friday I post on Facebook updates, and photos, so I've got everybody in my community really excited about my ADU, and I’m answering questions for them,” Jocelyn said. “So they're all traveling along with this. So that's exciting—and I love construction anyway, so I can't wait to see what the next step is next week.”
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