ADU Example - Converted Shop

Carol's Quaint ADU

Quick Facts
  • Neighborhood: Amazon
  • Type of ADU: Detached, Stand-alone
  • Square Footage: 600 sq. ft.
  • Year built: 2006
  • Owner: Carol Schirmer
  • Designer: Earl Morsund
  • Builder: The original shop was built by Carol and her boyfriend
  • Total cost: $100,000
  • PDF of floor plan
 Outdoor photo of Carol Schirmer's SDU


In 2006, Carol Schirmer, a landscape architect in Eugene, decided to convert a shop that she and her boyfriend originally built into an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). No longer needing the shop, her primary reasons for converting the space into an ADU were to make the most efficient use out of her land, and earn some extra income.

Since converting the shop to an ADU, Carol has said that the property is never vacant! On average, renters turn over about every two years, and the value of her property has gone up since building the ADU. 

While this extra income is great, many people do not consider some of the down sides to having an ADU in their own back yard. Carol lives in a quiet and charming neighborhood. Her primary dwelling was built in 1949, and she says that neighbors, with the exception of university students, generally respect the quiet of the neighborhood. However, Carol urges those who want to build an ADU in their backyard to consider the appropriate neighborhood in which to build one. For example, Carol feels that building extra housing, such as ADUs, contributes to the noise and takes away from the quaint neighborhood feeling. If more university students continue to move into the neighborhood, and if more ADUs are built, then the original characteristics that led Carol to settle in the Amazon neighborhood in the first place might change. 

Photo of Carol Schirmer's SDU kitchen  In addition to a changing neighborhood, Carol urges potential ADU builders to think about noise and privacy. An ADU only 50 feet away from the primary dwelling means that if both dwellings have their windows open, or tenants in the ADU are loud, then residents of the primary dwelling can hear everything. Understanding how having a second dwelling in one’s backyard might have the potential to take privacy away from the primary dwelling, and even nearby neighbors, is another reason that ADUs might not be suitable for every neighborhood. Carol suggests that those wanting an ADU should consider if their lot is large enough that sound and privacy will not be an issue. Lastly, ADUs with alley access might contribute more traffic than the alley was meant to have.
With all of that being said, Carol’s ADU is a beautiful home with a great design. Carol and her boyfriend built everything themselves in the original shop with the exception of pouring the concrete floors. In order to remodel the shop into a dwelling, Carol took the time to get the details right and has created a space that feels bigger than it actually is by including a vaulted roof. For the remodel into an ADU, Carol hired a builder to help implement her well-thought out design. The ADU includes a full size bathroom, kitchen, washer and dryer, dining room, and living room that shares a half wall with the bedroom. There is a trellis ceiling in the kitchen that brings the scale down and provides a cozy feeling in the dwelling. In addition, there is an extra sleeping nook in the living room with many cabinets and extra storage space. 

Other special features include radiant heat floor, a tankless water heater, and an outdoor vegetable garden that Carol shares with the ADU tenants and her next door neighbor. Regardless of some of the down sides to her ADU, Carol put a lot of time into the detail, and is happy that she is able to provide quality housing for Eugene residents. 

When asked about some of the challenges to building an ADU, Carol cited the costs as one of the biggest challenges. While she acknowledges that her ADU might be overdone, the total cost was $100,000 and that was after having the existing shop in place. One problem with the costly system development charges (SDC) is that they have the same base rate whether or not the property is a primary dwelling or a secondary dwelling. In addition, there were lots of regulations and issues, mainly with the fire department, who wanted a sprinkler system installed, and who originally said that Carol’s ADU could not be reached by emergency vehicles from the alley. Lastly, Carol had the mailing address of the ADU changed from an alley address to one of the main street, and had the ADU listed as a second unit to the primary dwelling in order to make it easier for the mailman and guests to find the property.
 Photo of Carol Schimer's SDU Study and Sleeping Area.

Overall, Carol’s advice for those considering building an ADU is to plan ahead. This means, save money in advance. While the cost of Carol’s ADU might be on the more expensive end, she invested in design and quality. Understanding how much systems development charges (SDCs) and building materials will cost in advance will be the key to being happy with the final outcome, and not being surprised by price at the end.

Carol understands that her ADU has benefits, but urges others to consider the noise and privacy issues, as well as understand how an ADU and more infill development might contribute to a changing neighborhood. Carol’s main point is that she wants others to recognize that some neighborhoods are more suited for ADUs over others.