8 Insights from a Happy Client – Accessory Dwelling Backyard Cottage in Berkeley, CA

We recently had the chance to reconnect with an early client who completed a backyard cottage, that included a little remodeling and a lot of custom design, custom construction and landscaping.

Here are the client’s unedited responses to a few quick questions:

 1) Why did you build an accessory dwelling?
We had been looking for a duplex to buy and share with my Mom but couldn’t find anything that met her needs and ours.  At one point, we happened to look at a fixer-upper that had a big lot and that sparked the idea for an ADU.  That particular house wasn’t the match for us, but we did find another fixer-upper that did work out and immediately started the process.
2) What was most surprising about having all three generations together.
I thought we’d spend more time together than we actually do- especially dinners.  We each have our own routines and so we often share food, but not always together.
3) Have you set up any “good neighbor” rules between your two homes?
We don’t typically show up unannounced though now that we walk my Mom’s dog, we’re there once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
4) What was the worst surprise in the planning and building?
Fire sprinklers being enforced!
5) What was the best surprise during planning and building?  
The building permit was remarkably fast and made up for the delay in the planning permit.
6) What was the best aspect of creating a custom design?
We were able to site the cottage in a way that worked for both privacy and light.  We also were able to really consider how the space(s) would be used for my Mom and configure a nice sized office space for her.
7) What do you wish you did differently?
I’m not sure I’d choose radiant heat again.  And, if we didn’t choose radiant heat, we might not have chosen the tile floors.
8) Other thoughts?
We really love living here and sharing more of the day-to-day with my Mom.  It’s great to be able to help out as needed, but for her to be quite independent and able to walk/ take the bus/ etc. to get around here in the Gourmet Ghetto.  Her old house was up in the Berkeley Hills and not nearly as easy for accessing stores and restaurants.

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