Under The Tent offers information on ADUs

Adding access to accessory dwelling

Posted 10/6/22

With the cold coming in, the need for housing was more apparent than ever.

Folks were wrapped up in their coats for the fourth and final Under The Tent event hosted by the Housing Solutions …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Under The Tent offers information on ADUs

Adding access to accessory dwelling


With the cold coming in, the need for housing was more apparent than ever.

Folks were wrapped up in their coats for the fourth and final Under The Tent event hosted by the Housing Solutions Network that took place Thursday, Sept. 29.

The purpose of all the tent events has been to connect the community with meaningful ways to engage with and attempt to solve the housing crisis.

The last topic of the season was accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, which are fully plumbed additions to a property that can either be attached or detached to the main house.

Members of the county and the Port Townsend city government were there alongside a host of developers, contractors, architects, and financiers all attempting to offer their input on this one solution which is not a cure-all, but nonetheless may be a viable piece of the puzzle.


“There is no perfect solution. There is no silver bullet,” said Port Townsend Mayor David Faber.

“It’s going to take each of us doing as much as we possibly can in our own ways to address affordability in housing so that as many people can make their homes here as possible.”

It was also the first chance for Emma Bolin — newly hired as the director for planning, permitting, and development for the city of Port Townsend — to stand up and address this particular crowd since taking on the role. City officials have said that Bolin’s job will be to steward the identity and future of Port Townsend, especially through housing and development.

“I can’t emphasize enough that we really value your outreach in the community on these issues,” Bolin said, adding, “I like to use the analogy that we’re cooking up a lot of stuff in the kitchen, so don’t go anywhere. We might need some line cooks to help us with this.”

In the face of a shortage of action on the housing crisis, and with the food and beverage industry experiencing a labor shortage for years, the metaphor was perhaps overly apt.


Tammi Swanson, a freelance designer in Port Townsend, gave a brief overview describing the various possibilities for adding an ADU to a property from those attached to the existing home, detached, and even possible conversions of attics, basements, and garages.

“If you think, ‘Oh my gosh, where do I even start?’ Well, that’s what we’re here for,” Swanson said.

The crowd was asked to think of what might prevent homeowners from adding an ADU of their own and the most hands went up in response to financing and just getting started.

Imagining the maze of construction and permitting is daunting. To make things easier, the Housing Solutions Network is working with the county to steal a page or four from Seattle’s ADUniverse.

The main feature of the ADUniverse is the selection of pre-approved detached ADU plans. To simplify and streamline permitting, Seattle developed a list of 10 pre-approved construction plans which homeowners can simply and easily choose from.

To demonstrate the viability of such an idea, Richard Berg from Terrapin Architecture and Cody Wayland of Wayland Constructive each brought plans to the event they had built in Jefferson County previously. As they have already gone through the permitting process for the builds, the hope is that designs like these can be pre-approved to be reused. However, the building code updates that will include this pre-approval won’t be implemented until July 1, 2023.

The plan that Wayland brought with him was for a 450-square-foot detached ADU on display, which he managed to build for $100,000.

“That’s as low as I can go,” Wayland said.

That price does not include septic, which added another $20,000 to the project. But if sewer or an existing septic were able to be hooked up to the ADU, that cost could be avoided, he said.

In addition to the plans at the event, two more designers, Swanson and Lily Queen, have also drawn up their own ADU plans.

“Both are eager to support the pre-approved ADU process and submit them toward the project. We will be following up with the two of them and look forward to having ample plans for our community to choose from,” said Housing Solutions Network director Liz Revord.


To help with the other major hurdle, money, representatives from the Local Investing Opportunities Network (LION) were on site to discuss alternative financing.

“You’re the first ones to hear that come Nov. 3, LION, whose made local investing into local businesses possible, is going to open a channel to allow people in the community to lend to homeowners for things like building an ADU,” said Jane Armstrong, a volunteer for the Housing Solutions Network.

Deborah Stinsen and Carla Main attended the tent event to represent LION and helped to explain the process.

“We’re not going to finance apartments or houses,” Stinsen said, explaining that what they could help with were short-term loans, one to five years, for building small properties like ADUs which could then be refinanced once rent has been established and the project has been proven viable.

“A lot of our investors are in it because they want to see good things happen in the community,” Stinsen said. “They do need to recoup their investment, but they may not be looking to make a huge profit.”

“There’s a lot of cost and restrictions with a construction loan,” said Main, who works in more conventional financing. “Say that someone’s only been self-employed for a year and they’re a great success and their business is going awesome. I go, ‘Two years.’ That is a federal guideline that I can’t get around.”

That’s where LION comes in. It could provide financing to help that person build right away, providing a loan for the time it would take until more conventional financing becomes available.

The group will be hosting a celebration to launch the new program and will offer information for new investors at Finnriver’s Cider Garden on from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2.