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Home Visit: Garage Apartment ADU

Denver, Colorado | 360 square foot

Garage ADU

Photo by Mara Owen

The apartment above the garage can be reached from inside the garage or from an exterior side entrance accessed from the yard it shares with the primary residence.

“I see our ADU as something very similar to a student loan,” says Mara Owen. “It’s something you invest in the future with. It was cheaper than buying a house for Mom, and it lets her have independence. It’s great knowing we can check in on her whenever.”

AH-HA MOMENT: Owen, her partner, Andrew, and their three dogs were sharing a one-bedroom, one-bath house with her mother, Diane. When Owen learned that ADUs were allowed in the city, she decided the best way to get more space for her small home’s many residents would be to remove their “leaky and defunct” garage and build a new two-car garage with an apartment above it.

WISE ADVICE:  “Get a really great builder and architect,” says Owen. “Interviewing architects was similar to a first date. It’s not just who you feel connected with. That’s important, but get to the values. It’s a niche market, so see if you can find someone who has built ADUs before, because ADUs are a little different.”

FUTURE PLANS: The stairs to Diane’s apartment are wide enough for a stair lift, if it’s ever needed. The roof was built at the correct slope for the eventual installation of solar panels. 

Design: Hive Architecture
Builder: Hive Architecture
Cost to build: $167,000 in 2016

Article from “ADU Case Studies” by Lina Menard on and The ABCs of ADUs, by AARP Livable Communities. 


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