See an Eco-Friendly Backyard Cottage in 700 Square Feet

See an Eco-Friendly Backyard Cottage in 700 Square Feet

Share this Video:
Replay Video

See an Eco-Friendly Backyard Cottage in 700 Square Feet

Anna and Donovan Watt had planned to build a studio rental apartment over a new garage in the backyard of their recently purchased four-bedroom home outside Seattle. But after they met with green builder Sean Conta, their vision changed. Conta showed the Watts that they could build a 700-square-foot, two-bedroom backyard cottage within their budget using efficient and sustainable building practices. “It made us start to think we can actually live in this versus [just using it] as a rental for somebody else,” Donovan says.

Once they saw Conta’s renderings of the proposed cottage, the Watts decided to build the cottage — with inspiration from Houzz photos — move into it and rent out the four-bedroom house instead.

Comment60
Keep Watching:
Comments (60)
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hctim12

Everything in the home is so lovely. How expensive was it to build?

43 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mrsobbs

One very smart couple. Practical and modest housing decision, and fabulous style and ethic with use of reclaimed materials. Impressive.

22 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
va22314

Does anyone know if it’s true that Seattle city council has recently looked at preventing landlords from evicting tenants from December through March, even if tenants don’t pay rent?

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
va22314

They appear to be outside Seattle city limits, so perhaps not an issue yet

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Robin Davis Interiors

Wow. I absolutely love it. My contractor does has a side-hustle of tiny homes on wheels and though I want to go tiny in the future, those are just a little too small. This one, however is pretty awesome. Now to plan!

15 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sherry Stanley

I'd like to see more articles about small houses. This one is lovely and smart.

30 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Kirsten Heffron

I love everything about this! I wonder what the total budget was.

30 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Mandy Kalan

I really love this house and have been thinking about cork flooring for the upstairs of our house, which cork flooring product was used in this house?

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
PCEI On The Move Inc.

A fabulous creative design, Reclaim wood is a savings and great finish look.

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ilemaurice

This is so great! The ideal size for a retired couple who wants to downsize and age in place. Compact but completely comfortable and livable.

8 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Jon Theron

Love it. Inspirational. Would be great to get an idea of the budget.

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
livinginpalmbeach

On the builder’s profile (Targa Homes), it say the typical job costs between $225k - $350k. Higher than I would have guessed. It’s still adorable and much nicer inside than I would have expected.


7 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Kate Dingle

I'd love to know the budget too.

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jjustmann

Is there any way we can buy the floor plans? This is fabulous!

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
scubanana

This is a great design! I can only dream ...

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
CGinNoCO

va22314: yes, Seattle passed a law prohibiting evictions during the winter months. This is a darling house, but sitting on the footings could allow for all sort of critters living underneath.

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Stephanie Jo Rountree

What a beautiful home! I'm curious about the cost. I, too, want more articles and videos about small homes. Does he only build in the Seattle area?

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kjriggle

As a retired couple who downsized into 1700 sf, I am pondering whether we have another downsize in our future :) Amazing use of space and love that she flipped the floorplan to get the best light. Smart and green!

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ljohnsonatty

This video, this couple, and this designer were fascinating, grounded, and intelligent about their needs for a beautiful and economical place to live. Well done, Houzz!

8 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kgbrn

va22314, yes it's true, Seattle City Council just voted 7-0 to stop evictions during Dec, Jan, Feb. Here's a story on it: https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/seattle-winter-eviction-ordinance-becomes-law-without-mayors-signature/DE475N63PVDHLGJBARAT6AAFGE/


1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
HU-772615958

Good question, I’m also interested in the overall budget. We have a property that would suit a similar project

   
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
J Cowling Design

I wish more builders were hip to build smaller houses of this quality. I live in Virginia Beach and builders here seem to think bigger is better to maximize property value and tax bases. But, if smaller homes like this were available, more people would buy them. Retired folks, childless couples, successful singles. The footprint of this house is gorgeous, the finishes are attractive and the livability is generous even though it is small. Bravo to this couple for moving in the smaller new place and renting out the larger one.

14 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Gram 1954

Perfect! Love it all. ENJOY!!


3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Targa Homes

Thanks for the feedback everyone! To answer the questions on budget - of course this varies greatly by where you are in the country as well as the specifics of your site and project. This specific project was roughly $230K here in Seattle/Shoreline but could be half that or double that in other regions.


Oh and the cork flooring is Wicanders Cork GO in "charm"

24 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
abstockwell

Love this concept!! Well done!


3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Maureen Best

Love it!

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cussot

I'd love to downsize from my 1000 sq ft house to a smaller, better designed, more energy-efficient home. Marketplace, bring them on! What I'd like to see is my block of smaller, older detached houses replaced by semi-detached or attached dwellings with a shared parking lot. We live in a snowy region, so communal parking would cut down on street clearing costs and free up square footage for green space and gardens.

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
soupercam

Love this place! Can you tell me the size of the shower tile and where to find it. Thanks!

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dtmp

Hello this is a question for Targa Homes.

I am a builder in Victoria, BC and am interested in the technique you used to air seal the home with "vapourized caulking". Is there a web-site or some other source you could direct me to so that I could look into this?

Thanks,

Dennis Dale

Fairwest Construction Co. Ltd.


1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Claire Vollmar

We have a small homenear Seattle and will be upgrading kitchen this summer. Can you provide more information about the countertops? durability? cost? Source?

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
craigmerrow

Love this house! My own off grid solar powered home is 684 square feet, but the cathedral ceiling is 15' at its peak. Everyone who has been in it say it feels so much more spacious than what the footprint would suggest.

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
HU-655095396

Amazing! Bravo & all the best in your lovely home. So inspiring 👍

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Lynne

Lovely home, I could easily live there. I am curious about the footings, would this work in areas where there is actual winter conditions, with snow and froen ground? I am assuming it is also built to withstand earthquakes?

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Helen Sanders

Amazing place!

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Meka Nevaneedtohate

Very impressive!! I would want one as I get older or for a vacation home. Saving this article.

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
alana10

I could definitely live there!

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Nancy Armstrong Sloop

Lovely house, lovely couple. Thanks for sharing -- this was such an interesting read.

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Targa Homes

@soupercam - the shower tile is American Olean "Starting Line" 10x14. Got it at Lowes.


@Dennis - yes the air sealing product is called AeroBarrier (https://aerobarrier.net/). It's game changing. Look for a dealer in your area!


@Lynne - Yes Diamond Piers definitely work in frost/snow. Check it out - https://www.diamondpiers.com/

6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buster57

I wish NYC would be friendly to this type of building but there are so many zoning restrictions....guess it's time for me to move!!

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Stan John

What are the House dimensions.

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Julie Sheer

Lovely home and great use of sustainable products. The airtight envelope and energy recovery ventilator are pretty brilliant features. And that radiant ceiling panel.

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
celestina89

This house reminds me of the Rock Musician's Tiny House (total 560 sq ft) owned by a violinist from Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Both are very amazing even if in different ecosystems. :)

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mollyds1

A word about Wicanders. We put it in what we call the “boot loop” of our home; mudroom, kitchen, laundry, slop sink and dog washing stand, twenty years ago, and it has not a mark on it. It’s the same color as the dog, hides everything, feels great once the boots are off. Cannot recommend it enough.

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Rebecca C.

I love these people!!! Thank you so much for sharing this awesome story!

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Teressa Grannum

Beautiful! I could easily live in this soace.

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Teressa Grannum

space.

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Targa Homes

@Stan John - 35' x 22' (minus the cutout at front door)


@mollyds1 - great to hear, yeah I'm a huge fan of the cork!

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Strongwood Carolina Log Homes, LLC

Perfect in design, application of construction and energy efficient technologies, execution of details and just "feels" good! I build very energy efficient smaller homes utilizing much of the same technologies with the addition of Metal SIPs for walls and roof (since 1977). I would love to build a home under 900 sq. ft. in the Winston-Salem, NC area (not a Tiny Home on Wheels - a friend does those). Anyone interested?

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seachange1988

Where did you buy the counter stools. They are exactly what I am looking for!

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Nikki Bush

@seachange1988 These can be purchased on Houzz! You can find the counter stools and a handful of other products used in the space here.

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Anna Watt


Hey everyone, I'm the homeowner! I want to share how we live in the Seattle area for $500 a month in this beautiful eco-friendly backyard cottage. This is our financial journey that brought this project to life:

How we live in the Seattle area for $500 a month in this beautiful eco-friendly backyard cottage

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buster57

Question: Since there is no foundation, how is the electric, sewer and water lines hooked up? Do you have any problems with the pipes freezing? I'm not as north as you & we do have a crawlspace but our pipes tend to freeze if there is sustained below freezing temperature even though the pipes are wrapped.

   
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
celestina89

@Anne Watt: Very expensive home at $328 per square foot, considering 700 sq ft home and what you ended up paying for it including load and interest. Flipping houses isn't new. Some people are successful doing it, One requires knowledge, lots of planning and smarts to be good at this business. Then there is the 2% rental rule. I trust that's what you used for your rentals and that your rentals also meet the Tax rules regarding deduction.

It's the same idea/basis as day trading. Some are successful, some aren't. Apparently you have the ability to handle such a business. I wish you luck with your business plan and the ability to weigh out the financial downsize of the housing market.

BTW, I began investing in my early teens with my first savings account. I learned to deposit a percentage of my income (allowance at that time) and a bit later from jobs which included baby sitting money. You are right - as long as you reinvest your capital and don't take out any income, your net worth will most certainly grow even with financial downsize of the housing market. It's when a person removes the income and the capital worth decreases that problems occur as one moves on down the road.

You are both young and learning. Again I wish you well. I'm sure you'll learn much from your experiences, both the upsides and downsides.

   
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
livinginpalmbeach

Anna....what a great and powerful article! Although you said you wanted to be a property manager and start your own business, you should also find a side hustle job and be a writer. Your message, “just get started” sounds so simplistic, but that’s what holds so many people back from getting where they want to go. Unless you are fortunate enough to become wealthy from an inheritance, your next best strategy is building wealth over time. You and your husband have started your real estate portfolio and I bet over the next 5-10 years you will be a landlord of multiple properties. Congratulations!

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Koeltzow Homes, LLC

Can this plan be purchased?

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Ntsizwa Magagula

beautiful design love it alot

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Hive Architecture By Becky Alexis

How did you insulate the water line coming up into the house? Heat tape? Conditioned space? Thx.

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Targa Homes

The ~3 ft or so that comes from the ground into the floor joist cavity is just wrapped in foam insulation. We don't dip under freezing too much in our climate, plus being sheltered by the house above eliminates radiative heat loss to the sky, plus the water is flowing regularly. If the house was vacant for a while and temps were sub-freezing I suppose it could be an issue but that is unlikely.

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
terriwaller123

Love this!

   
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Kerstin Dieterich Designs

Great job! In our area ADU' s are getting very popular- this is a perfect inspiration.

Thank you!