Accessory Dwelling Units: More Than a Way Out of the Housing Crisis

Education & Training with The Lones Group, Inc.

The Lones Group, Inc.

Accessory Dwelling Units

Not Just a Way Out of the Housing Crisis

As you probably already know from reading our Zebra Reports over the years, we are passionate about housing. For years, I have shouted from rooftops that our housing starts were not keeping pace with the numbers needed to house our growing population. Now our national housing shortage is in the millions – and Washington State and our local governments are changing building guidelines to help get us back on track.

Just one of the ways they are doing that is by allowing ADUs: Accessory Dwelling Units. These are rising in both popularity and necessity. However, they are also rising in desirability as design firms are taking on the challenge of building not only for functionality, but form!

ADUs should be both functional and
beautiful, enjoyable places to live.

We see this in our own city. The Whatcom Housing Alliance (WHA) is a local organization whose goals are to support efforts to stabilize housing in our community. Right now, WHA sponsoring a contest for design firms to put their best foot forward by creating ADU concepts that meet certain design challenges. The design has to work on a lot with an existing home, with setbacks, no more than 1000 square feet and no more than 24 feet high. The goal of the contest is to promote ADU awareness and possibly set framework in which to have some plans pre-permitted with local planning departments to create a shorter plan-to-build timeline.

We couldn’t resist! So, we have submitted a plan. With that we present:


A Multi-Generational ADU

What Makes This Plan Multi-Generational?

Low-threshold entry and back patio, wide doorframes, bedroom on the main, pocket door from bedroom to bathroom on the main, wardrobe access are just some of the features that make this an easy-living floorplan.

Check it out:

Why Else Would I Want to Live Here?

We really took the occupant demographic into account here and as a result, this floorplan works for a number of different setups. Students, people with children, people needing separate living spaces can all benefit from living here.

Plus, outdoor living is a BIG focus. We have an ample back patio with recreational equipment storage right off the patio (great for those people who travel primarily by bike and don’t want to have it in the house). We even included a shared outdoor seating area with firepit! An added bonus? Natural surroundings – an oasis in the city! Check out the site plan:

And oh my gosh! – Did you SEE how we snuck in all that storage?

You can read the whole write-up about why we made the choices we did here:


Building an affordable unit was one of the objectives, but we didn’t set out to build the cheapest ADU out there. Our goal was to build an ADU that people would really want to live in that didn’t just look like a shed or an afterthought. However, this unit pays for itself either in rent, in eventual appreciation, or as a unit that can be condoized and sold separately (or, if lot splitting were allowed, that would also be a way to increase housing and be profitable!).

We are going to see more of this product in the coming years, so we encourage you to get familiar with it and know there are great ADU design solutions out there!

We Need Your Vote!

But first and foremost, this is a CONTEST! And we would love your votes! There were 41 entries to the contest and below is the link to ours. Once you click on the orange VOTE button, you will see a preview of all the entries – but look for ours: THE MADRONA Multi-Generational ADU!


Cast your vote by October 16th at 11.59 pm


By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.

The Lones Group, Inc.

Comments (11)

Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Denise! I love it!!! dLove all the light that you have coming in as well as the storage. 

Oct 13, 2023 06:04 PM
Denise Lones

Kathy Streib - Thank you, I knew you'd have something to say with your background in this vein. Sorry I couldn't reply sooner, was gone all weekend. Hope you voted - Denise

Oct 17, 2023 11:12 AM
Charles Ross - eXp Realty LLC
eXp Realty LLC Salina Group - Salina, KS
Love To Help People

Excellent post.Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful day and a blessed week.

Oct 13, 2023 08:50 PM
Denise Lones

Charles Ross - eXp Realty LLC - Hope you had the opportunity to look at the competition entries too. - Denise

Oct 17, 2023 12:08 PM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@Properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Wow!  I want this house! Lately I've been binge watching Tiny House Nation, and while most of the homes they feature are too small for me, the show makes a point that most of us are in places that have more room than we need - and turn us into prisoners of all of the gratuitous possessions we collect because more room makes it possible!

Oct 13, 2023 09:04 PM
Denise Lones

Patricia Kennedy - Loved that show! Hoping for another season, but seems unlikely. It's just full of innovation and good stories. - Denise

Oct 17, 2023 11:16 AM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker
Great information, thanks for sharing.  I hope you have a great day.
Oct 14, 2023 03:48 AM
Denise Lones

Thank you Richard - Denise

Oct 17, 2023 11:16 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Denise - shelter is so fundamental to our existence.  In my opinion, different ways to imagine it would seem to be food for thought.  Alternatives such as this continue to fascinate me.  

Oct 14, 2023 05:38 AM
Denise Lones

Michael Jacobs I think WA State taking this initiative to increase housing options was bold and other states are going to be paying close attention as cities become required to adjust their planing adopt new zoning rules for SFR and where ADUs can be built. Locally, this is going to be a BIG deal for agents to become educated about and over the next few years, areas of density that are struggling for housing are going to see some big changes as a result. I love that our local Housing Alliance is holding this competition. I hope it opens more people's eyes to ways that we can tackle the essential issue of housing, and affordable housing, for more people. - Denise

Oct 17, 2023 12:51 PM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Denise. Just voted for your entry. Good luck. Amazing design, so adaptive to many situations. Enjoy your day.

Oct 14, 2023 05:58 AM
Denise Lones

Wayne Martin  Yeah! Thank you for your vote. We worked so hard on this and it would be amazing to be recognized. - Denise

Oct 17, 2023 12:52 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Oct 14, 2023 06:12 PM
Denise Lones

Thank you for spreading the word Kathy Streib!

Oct 17, 2023 12:53 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Denise,

I went in and voted for yours and honestly after looking at all the competition I thought yours was the best!

Oct 14, 2023 07:29 PM
Denise Lones

Dorie Dillard Austin TX I really appreciate that. And even though it's competition, thank you for really looking at what others are doing here too. Great to hear from you.  - Denise

Oct 17, 2023 12:54 PM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Good morning Denise, I too voted for your design. Much success.

Oct 15, 2023 06:35 AM
Denise Lones

Yay! Thank you Leanne Smith. - Denise

Oct 17, 2023 12:55 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great post!  Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day!

Oct 15, 2023 06:43 AM
Denise Lones

Kristin Johnston - REALTOR® - Thank you. Hope you had a chance to look at the contest entries while voting was still an option. - Denise

Oct 17, 2023 12:55 PM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Love the design of this ADU!  It looks modern, well-lit, and I bet energy efficient as well.  I saw 2 this past weekend at the HomeShow here in Phoenix.  One was a kit that popped up in an hour and a half, but pretty tiny!  Good luck on your contest!

Oct 18, 2023 11:47 AM
Denise Lones

Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ 1½ hours to pop-up - I'd love to see that. If you blog about the HomeShow and share some pictures, please let me know. I would love to read about that. Thank you for your compliments too. We should know more about the contest by next week's Zebra Report newsletter. - Denise

Oct 19, 2023 09:57 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ

That company is called Boxabl.  They construct the wall systems in a warehouse so all they do is "pop" them up!  Fascinating.  Checking out their website

Oct 19, 2023 10:38 AM