McDunn-Built ADUs Featured in Oakland Magazine

Oakland Magazine explored the growing trend of “intergenerational housing” via ADUs. They interviewed Carrie Shores of Oakland’s Larson Shores Architecture, a favorite design partner of McDunn ADUs, as well as two our our happy clients. The images you see below are from the final photoshoot of the project discussed in this excerpt:

Not all accessory dwelling units are in backyards. They can be built within the main house — but the same person owns them. More Californians are building these units, thanks to state laws that make it easier in response to the ongoing housing crisis locally and statewide. Across the state, cities saw a marked increase in backyard cottage applications and issued permits in 2017, according to the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2015, there were just 33 permit applications in Oakland. By Nov. 1, 2017, the city had received 247 applications in that year alone — more than seven times the volume from two years prior. In San Francisco, 41 such units were permitted in 2015, zooming to 593 in 2017.

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Carrie Shores of Oakland’s Larson Shores Architecture and Interiors designed Mella Trier’s backyard unit. The firm got interested in accessory dwelling units eight or nine years ago, one of the first to take an interest in the tiny dwelling spaces.

“We started this as a passion long ago when the process was much harder. We did it in our spare time,” Shores said. Now the firm regularly designs such units. Shores worked closely with both Trier and her daughter to design the backyard unit.

“I had input about what was important to me. I wanted a fully functional kitchen. I do like to cook and socialize over food,” Trier said.


Accessory dwelling units can be simple or elaborate. Trier’s is L-shaped with an open kitchen/living/dining area in the longer part of the L, and a laundry area, bathroom, and bedroom in the shorter part. Homey touches include hardwood floors, quartzite countertops, a kitchen peninsula, and a large dining table with built-in benches with storage.

Across the state, accessory dwelling units cost an average of $156,000 to construct, according to the Terner Center. In comparison, the average cost per unit of affordable housing statewide is $332,000, and even higher in major metropolitan areas: The cost is $591,000 per unit in San Francisco. In Shores’ experience, the cost of building an accessory dwelling unit is around $500 a square foot for constructing a free-standing backyard unit or about $250,000 for a 500-square-foot house.

Read the full article here.

Dan McDunn