What was the initial vision for Abodu?
I cofounded the business four years ago, with my longtime friend and roommate John Geary. He had grown up around real estate and construction, and I had spent some time working in large-scale manufacturing. Our mission was to find a scalable, repeatable way to add high-quality, well-designed houses to metro areas—and ADUs seemed like a great way to do that, especially as legislation in California had recently changed to make it easier and smoother for homeowners to add homes to their backyards. ADUs aren’t the be-all-and-end-all solution to the housing shortage, but they are an important tool to add much-needed density to metro areas.
The Dwell House is the fourth ADU in Abodu’s roster. What are the others?
We have three signature Abodu products—Abodu Studio, Abodu One, and Abodu Two. The Abodu Studio is a 340-square-foot space that can fit the smallest of backyards; Abodu One is a 500-square-foot, one-bedroom home; and Abodu Two is a 610-square-foot, two-bedroom home. Each ADU is designed with tall ceilings, lots of natural light, thoughtfully placed windows, and a high-level finish. We partnered with some great architects over the years and have developed a really unique ADU product.
We have also partnered with amazing manufacturing partners on the West Coast. These are folks who have been around a long time and are real artisans. They build our housing units in a factory-controlled environment in a repeatable way that allows us to offer a high quality product at a price that’s lower than the average cost for a similar home.
Why are people so attracted by the idea of ADU housing?
It’s the ultimate in adding flexibility to your home—and, of course, it adds significant property value and makes a lot of financial sense. It’s an extension of the home that can stand on its own and adapt to the owner’s needs over the coming decades.
Our units are designed for full-time living, and that carries through to every decision, from the kitchen to the living room. We see a lot of different family use cases, including multigenerational living, space for an aging loved one, or a growing family that needs more room. Other people are interested in the income it can generate as a rental home.
It’s a really easy, painless way to expand your living space—and it’s so much more cost-effective and timely than doing an addition. It also adds property value above and beyond the cost of construction from day one. No matter what someone uses it for, it creates a lot of personal utility.
How has the ADU landscape changed since you launched?
When we first started, we had to do a lot of education and explain the benefits of ADUs and what the acronym stands for. Now people are familiar with the category and our products, and it’s really cool to see the trust we’ve built up over the years with folks in the areas we serve—the Bay Area, Southern California, and the Seattle metro area. We're also seeing more and more local governments implement ADU programs and laws to encourage residents to build them—not only in California but in the Pacific Northwest and other states as well. It's exciting to see that local governments see the value in ADUs to add density to single family neighborhoods and as a way to better their communities.
How would you describe Abodu’s design sensibility?
We looked to places that have the best small spaces and tried to think about ways to maximize every square inch of the design. This led us to looking at Scandinavian design, which has a universal appeal. It can be put in a backyard anywhere and be a desirable housing unit for anyone, regardless of their specific design interests.
Can you tell me more about your involvement with the Dwell House?
Both our companies have a shared interest in housing, and we wanted to think about how to bring the absolute best ADU to life. Norm Architects are at the forefront of Danish design and are pioneers in their focus on materiality and soft minimalism. We have a lot of data points on what works and what doesn’t work, and Dwell also has its own unique point of view. Our three businesses worked really closely to bring this to life and it was so much fun.
Walk me through the Dwell House.
It’s a generous 540-square-foot, one-bedroom unit with a beautifully optimized footprint that we arrived at based on our experience. It has a stunning living space that you can enter through one of two entrances, with a 12-foot-wide folding glass door and 12-foot-wide kitchen backsplash window that creates a visual pass through the home. We took inspiration from Scandinavian design as well as the ideals of American architecture. There’s a utility spine across the back of the house that includes the kitchen, storage, and mechanical details. It all looks very effortless, but it was the result of many hours from all our teams.
Are there aspects of the Dwell House that take ecological sustainability into consideration?
We always go out of our way to specify sustainable, natural materials where we can. The structure and siding is wood, which is a renewable resource and has less embodied carbon. The countertops are engineered, so they don’t have to be imported from a stone quarry on the other side of the world. And, because construction is in a controlled factory environment, we are able to significantly reduce waste.
Two things that are very important to us is energy efficiency and durability. We serve California, which probably has the most stringent building energy standards in the country. We exceed those standards, sometimes up to 30 percent. I can tick off all the features, but in general that means substantial savings on your energy and water bills, and a smaller energy footprint. In terms of durability, we build with quality products that’ll last instead of material that’ll end up in a landfill. This is all stuff we’re really proud of.
How is it delivered to the site?
We handle all the details of delivery, connection to utilities, permits—it’s a concierge-level service. It’s delivered fully constructed and shows up with all the appliances and windows installed. It’s ready to be moved into in a few short weeks. The whole process from start to finish can take as little as six months—for a comparable house built from scratch it could take up to 24 months.
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