Seattle Backyard Cottages

We have been working hard to get the City of Seattle to agree to allow Backyard Cottages, or DADUs (detached accessory dwelling units). It gives owners opportunity and choice to provide additional housing for rental or a studio, will increase property values and does so in a measured way that is conscientious of neighbors and the single family neighborhood fabric. The current legislation will allow fifty per year--so it will have a minimal effect on neighborhood character.  If anything, I'd like to see more of them.

I find it amazing that this is at all controversial, considering you can put an detached accessory building or garage on your lot which may not be as tall, but can take up to 1000 square feet of your back yard!   The argument that this proposal will lead to less trees and green space in Seattle is a red herring.

And since attached accessory dwellings are already allowed outright, it also doesn't make sense that this proposal will lead to more density.  More likely, it will lead to more people choosing to build a small cottage than expanding their existing house to provide for the mother-in-law.  Two smaller structures are better for the scale of the city than more larger houses.

Carriage houses are successful component of many cities' neighborhood fabric and we'd like to see them allowed in Seattle too!  If they were, I'd build one--my neighborhood and site would be perfect for a little cottage--so here is my first pass....


I need a shop space, my wife needs an home office, and both of us need a place for our parents when they are in town for extended visits.

The building's footprint is roughly 40 x 14 with an airy studio (or 1 car garage with ample storage), and a guest bedroom and bath on the first floor.  Stairs lead up to a loft office overlooking the garden.  The design has some additional flexibility built in--the garage can be built with the rough in for a kitchen, so with minor changes, we'd have a 2br/1ba cottage.

We have been talking to an excellent local contractor with experience in prefab about teaming up to deliver a few prototypical designs for a fixed price (including ground work) somewhere around $210 a square foot, but one-off custom stick built cottages will be competitive in price, and adapt to the unique conditions of each site--existing lot coverage, location of existing buildings, solar orientation, parking, matching materials etc.

Before we do any real development, the City Council needs to green light the ordinance.  So you support the legislation, email the council!