ADU Designer Profile: Holah Design + Architecture
- City: Portland, OR
- Contact Name: Greg Holah & Libby Holah
- Contact Phone: 503-288-4203
- Form of Business: Design & Architecture
- # of Years Creating ADUs: 2 years
- # of ADUs Completed: 5
- Types of ADUs Created: stand-alone detached unit (new Structure), attic conversion, carve-out, basement conversion, Improvement
“We enjoy the challenge of fitting a great deal of stuff into a small, compact space. We believe the buildings which result are creative and distinctive.” — Greg Holah
For Greg, building small is a great departure from the large homes asked by many clients nowadays. Having grown up in a NYC apartment, Greg considers that this has helped shape his way to look for smaller spaces.
“two hundred or so square feet will be a fantastic amount of space which could accommodate one or two people. We see a lot of homes and construction going into another extreme. Things are getting large. However, I believe we want people building. Constructing less is always the most straightforward thing you can perform.” –Greg Holah
After designing their very first ADU, Libby and Greg have continued to design ADUs in the request of their clientele. It’s still fantastic to Libby that some Portland residents are unaware of the present System Development Charge Waiver. It’s a big advantage for individuals considering an ADU for their property.
“ADUs are getting more and more popular. We didn’t necessarily need to market ourselves. Clients were coming to us, considering creating an ADU. We’ve got steady interest from new and present clients about building ADUs.” –Greg Holah
Greg explains that the design consideration for an ADU are extremely much like the design considerations for almost any dwelling.
“ADUs still want all of the fundamentals: kitchen, bath, living room, and bedroom. Freestanding ADUs are simply small homes. Essentially, a lot of the program is similar to designing a 1-bedroom apartment. They have the very same components as a home and we must be smart about how we make every thing work. We have developed a few strategies to accomplish this that we’ve done a few ADUs.” –Greg Holah
Each time they look an ADU, then Greg and Libby make a point to ensure it is conducive with sustainability in mind.
“Creating a well-insulated envelope is equally essential. Because it’s not a lot of quantity to warmth, if we create a well-insulated shell, it doesn’t require a lot to condition the space. Fantastic quality windows and a well-insulated exterior are two very important matters.” –Greg Holah
Greg says that his preferred small space design tricks are making the spaces as flexible as you can and adding built-ins wherever they make sense. Storage is important to many of their clients, therefore Libby and Greg prefer to discover chances for built-ins. Their two favorite places to pay off storage area are beneath a stairs or at the low areas where the roof meets the exterior wall. Greg points out that the space from the eaves that is shorter than 5′ doesn’t count towards habitable distance, but it’s a great place to tuck built-ins. Utilizing this space permits them to maximize the entire construction. (Watch more ADU Storage Solutions.)
“The greatest challenge is maintaining the footprint streamlined. Adding a detached ADU on a 50’x100′ lot could have any challenges based on where the present home is sited. If the rules have changed so that we could go closer to the property, which will help. In certain projects, being 5 feet off the real line is a concern for clients concerned about losing backyard space” –Greg Holah
But for Greg and Libby, the same challenge of maximizing a small space is also the highlight of designing an ADU. The present setback requirements for detached ADUs does have some advantages however. It may create good outdoor storage for gardening gear and trash enclosures.
“The very best part is carrying the footprint we are given and maximizing it so it doesn’t feel as a small distance. We enjoy challenging the view of what could be achieved in 800 square foot” –Greg Holah
Greg says that if Portland didn’t have its requirement that detached ADUs suit the primary dwelling, many clients would explore alternatives for a more contemporary exterior and massing. (These regulations altered slightly in December 2015 when the The Accessory Structures Zoning Code Update Passed.)
“It depends on the client. Some clients wouldn’t be interested in having something radically different than their home because they want it to be more theoretical, but we also have clients in the opposite end of the spectrum that wish to do something contemporary and different, like a more modern roof. We have had clients on the two ends of the spectrum. We look forward to designing more ADUs later on. We enjoy them as a construction type.” –Greg Holah
So what advice does Greg need for homeowners considering making an ADU on their own property?
“Good planning consistently goes a very long way. Looking at each of the options. We’re biased, but we think that it’s wise to use an architect that will help generate options on different permutations which are readily available. We do that on pretty much all our endeavors. There isn’t just one correct answer. Additionally, think about two bedrooms in this unit. There is more versatility as a rental unit using a two bedroom plus a adjustable two bedroom. We’ve got clients that want to dwell within their ADU while renting their main home. More bedrooms could afford more options. I recommend working with somebody who is going to spell out different alternatives in graphic form.” –Greg Holah