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Home Visit: A Basement ADU

Portland, Oregon | 796 square feet

Basement ADU

Photos by Communitecture and Chris Nascimento

By lifting the house and digging beneath it, designers, engineers and builders turned a two-story, single-family home into a three-story, multifamily residence.

The transformation of this colorful Victorian was both a preservation and expansion project.

TEACHING MOMENT: “Here’s a very welcome breath of fresh air, especially in the face of so much gentrification that is going on in Portland!” declared Mark Lakeman, principal of Communitecture, an architectural, planning and design firm, about the pictured remodel. Writing on his company’s website, he says the project provides a lesson in how to “adapt and reuse our precious historic houses so they can accommodate more people while also providing more income to support the existing home.”

HOW’D THEY DO IT? To add a basement rental unit, engineers lifted the house. The resulting ADU is roughly four feet underground and four feet above.

THE ACHIEVEMENT: Adds Lakeman: “Unlike the seemingly pervasive method of simply tearing down existing buildings so that new, giant ones can be built, this approach achieves upgrades in energy efficient living places and adds density while retaining the continuity of our beloved historical urban environment.” 

Design: Communitecture
Home Lift: Emmert International
Builder: Tom Champion
Cost to build: $125,000 in 2015 

This article is adapted from The ABCs of ADUs, a publication by AARP Livable Communities. Learn more below.


Visit for links to more articles and to order AARP's free publications about accessory dwelling units.  


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