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ADU Book Review BACKDOOR REVOLUTION THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO ADU DEVELOPMENT BY KOL PETERSON

posted by: admin | Nov 05, 2019 | Plans & Permits Nov 2019

Accessory Dwelling Units are a form of residential infill housing that are poised to revolutionize housing in the United States. Unlike other urban development trends, the movement is being driven by homeowners, not professional developers. As the ‘missing middle housing’ concept is popularized among planners and designers, ADUs are poised to present the most viable stepping-stone solution for cities that are experiencing a housing crisis, and exploring how to increase housing opportunities within their single family residential zones.

Through case studies, expert interviews, firsthand anecdotes, images, and data analysis, Backdoor Revolution-The Definitive Guide to ADU Development, focuses on the opportunities, challenges, and best practices of ADU development for homeowners, including costs, financing, design, zoning barriers, and regulatory loopholes. The book includes sections written for policymakers and small housing advocates, and offers insightful analysis and a succinct prescription for solutions to municipal and institutional barriers for ADU development.

Backdoor Revolution-The Definitive Guide to ADU Development, is the most substantial written work about accessory dwelling units.  As ADUs become more mainstream in the next two to five years in major US cities, the book is written for the two distinct and most important ADU audiences: homeowners and planners and advocates.

This first half of book is an in-depth, detailed guide to the process of designing and building an ADU for homeowners who aspire to build ADUs. It covers costs, financing, permitting, ADU design, rental models, step-by-step guidance, and more. It is written primarily for homeowners who want to develop an ADU on their property. This book equips homeowners with the skills to become an ADU developer. The second half is for planners & ADU advocates. By focusing on institutional barriers that have kept ADUs from taking off in most US cities Peterson provides case studies and a research about ADUs designed to help city planners and ADU advocates increase the number of ADUs in their jurisdiction.

“ADUs are currently a rare housing form, and though ADUs have been around for quite some time, recent legislation has helped popularize them.  So it was important to get both professional readers (i.e., city planners, advocates) and homeowner developers on the same page by covering different aspects of ADU development under one cover,” said Peterson. 

According to Peterson, building an ADU requires thinking three steps ahead and Backdoor Revolution helps homeowners think as many as five steps ahead with advanced planning that can ensure success and save time and money.  What makes the book so effective is its ability to give those without experience in ADUs the ability to plan with advance and comprehensive knowledge about what they’re getting into.

For example, Backdoor Revolution has a chapter with 32 ADU-specific pieces of design advice because the features that make ADU design specialized, and arguably more challenging than designing a conventional larger home include overlap with tiny house, boat, and small house design, while at the same time there are many concepts intrinsic solely to ADU design. 

Among the book’s gems is a discussion of one concept often overlooked by those who build an ADU: the need for both interior and exterior storage.  While it is convenient to simply not add in extra storage because it can take up precious square footage, it is critical to do so. Those who do not have sufficient storage ultimately regret it. So if the garage is going to be converted to ADU, the book recommends owners consider adding a shed. It may make sense to incorporate the shed into the site plan for the ADU to ensure that there is good flow on the property.  If the shed is going to have a concrete foundation, then it would make sense to take care of the excavation and concrete work at the same time as the ADU. This will cost more, so the homeowner will need to apply for a larger loan. 

According to Peterson, the name of the book is a triple entendre referring to the colloquial synonym for ADU entrances, since ADUs are designed to be accessory to the primary hous to the software development term-of-art that refers to a coding loophole that enables knowledgeable hackers to exploit a piece of software just as ADUs can be understood as a zoning code hack of single family residential zoning regulations that knowledgeable homeowner developers can utilize and it implies an indirect approach to something which is appropriate since the ADU movement is a grassroots housing revolution consisting of both informal and permitted ADUs.


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