Backyard Cottages - coming to a neighborhood near you
Ben and January live in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood and built a cottage when Seattle's zoning laws changed allowing them to build a cottage on their lot. "We wanted a place that my father could live when he retired so that he could be closer to us and our two children. It also made sense from a financial standpoint because we are able to use the cottage as a vacation rental in the mean time" said January.
Building a cottage involved overcoming lots of hurdles first during the design and permitting done by microhouse and the construction by Carlisle Classic Homes. "A lot of what we did was determined by what the zoning code would allow but we still had to make a lot of decisions each of which had a big impact on the overall budget", Said Ben. "We had a limited budget so we chose finishes that would be durable yet affordable."
Backyard cottages are limited in size, often to less than 800 sq.ft. in size, and height to one or two floors. Because of the small size, the design is important. Placement of windows and natural lighting are crucial. Although frustratingly difficult to photograph, the connection to the landscape helps make the small rooms feel larger.
Backyard cottages are a great option for many seniors allowing them to live close to family or perhaps have a family member live close to them. Dana worked with architect Anne Van Dyne to design this cottage for his mother as an alternative to assisted living. Dana, a retired engineer, has a new workshop located on the floor below.
Three generations of Mary K's family live in Wallingford. Until this summer she lived a number of hours drive away and hoped to move closer to her new great granddaughter. She now has a comfortable place to live where she can be a more prominent part of her family’s life. Her kitchen window looks out on a garden she will plant with her daughter and her cottage features a loft for her great granddaughter to play in. Mary K's family appreciates her help. In this day and age it seems the lucky exceptions that have family close enough to help out with child care on a regular basis.
Financing the cottage came from her retirement savings so every square inch and dollar counted. Having at one time lived on a boat Mary K knew exactly how many inches of shelf space she needed for her bath shelf, thirteen, and how many feet of rod space she needed for her closet, five."It was challenging for me to participate in the design processs from out of town. I had the contractor leave some out some items like the kitchen counter so that I could hand pick the tile and the back splash after I moved in." Said Mary K.
One of the accessibility strategies used throughout her cottage was to provide supporting surfaces to aid movement. If need be Mary K can move throughout the cottage with support from the kitchen counter and grab bars. In the bath she wanted surfaces that were easy to clean. Her daughter, Trish, chose surplus tile from local supplier. The toilet doubles as a shower seat. (the bath grab bars are not yet installed in this photo).
Sean and his wife Lisa have a small two bedroom house and a small child. With Sean working from home and grandparents frequently in town, they needed more room. Working with Ncompass Cottage Company They built a cottage with a ground floor office and a second floor guest suite with a kitchenette and a bath.
Sean's cottage takes advantage of natural lighting, clean design, and light colors to make the upstairs studio feel gracious.More about backyard Cottages:While requirements for backyard cottages vary by juridiction these are some common requirements.Owner occupancy: The owner is required to live in the primary residence or the cottage.Lot Size: Minimum lot size varies considerably.Cottage Size: 800 sq. ft. is a common maximum size limit but many jurisdictions also limit the size to a percentage of the primary residence.Additional Resources:backyard cottage blogcity of santa cruzportland oregonseattle washingtonyour local building department will often be able to answer questions about accessory dwelling units and detached accessory dwelling units. Zoning codes that regulate cottages are increasingly available on line....