Francis Schumacher had unique motivations in planning a new cottage for his property. Instead of trying to maximize his rental profits, he’s hoping to help out “a pair of young teachers (or other under-compensated public servants) who would enjoy the cottage as a starter home.”
“I’m probably not very typical of people who build ADUs,” he says. “Sure, there are many who build with family in mind, but usually it’s a more immediate need, while my motivation is only theoretical (what if they might need it in the future). And I surely am not a person who is motivated by the potential rental income. I wanted to build something beautiful.”
Mr. Schumacher has always been interested in accessory dwellings, and when he realized he could act on that interest, he decided to go for it.
“I was in a position to turn some of the paper-only plans I’ve created over the last twenty or more years into reality. Put that interest into the mix with the other thoughts about having a ‘family resource,’ the need for more housing in our community, and the financial environment to make it practical—the result produced the motivation to take the plunge and turn an idea into reality.”
After looking at New Avenue’s website, he saw that New Avenue’s ideas and projects aligned well with his own thoughts about accessory dwellings. “I also appreciated the concrete examples and budgets that were available on the website,” he says.
Noting the rising property values in the area, Mr. Schumacher purchased a San Jose home with space to add an ADU. The main home had what he calls a “farm-house vibe,” and the property included a detached garage and storage building.
Interested in bringing his vision to life and adding much-needed housing to the area, Mr. Schumacher contacted New Avenue about adding an ADU that would make use of the space and complement the design of the main home.
A New Avenue partner architect designed a one-bedroom, one-bath ADU that would be attached to the existing garage. The ADU also includes a charming porch, a kitchen that opens into the living area, and washer/dryer connections, making it an ideal rental home.
Mr. Schumacher also wanted the ADU to be a place for his family to use in the future. He calls it “a family resource,” saying, “It’ll be available should one of my kids need it in the future.” For the near future, he says, “it’ll be available to help reduce the housing shortage in the SF Bay Area.” He hopes to rent to teachers who might need affordable housing in the area. He’s reaching out to local Parent-Teacher Organizations and schools to see if there’s a teacher who needs it.
Although the cottage is still a month from completion at the time of this writing, Mr. Schumacher is already pleased with the result. “I’m happy to see the vision of an old-style craftsman home become a reality. It’s only 600 square feet, but we were able to make it feel larger with vaulted ceilings and a good-sized porch in front.”
When asked if there were any surprises during the design and construction process, Mr. Schumacher notes that he was a bit surprised at some of the San Jose city requirements and the way they changed.
For example, to align with the city codes that were in effect during planning and permitting, the cottage needed fire sprinklers and the connections to support them. However, that requirement recently changed. Leaving them out would have saved several thousand dollars.
“I’m still happy with what we have,” he says, adding, “It’s very fire safe.”
Mr. Schumacher’s reflections on the changing requirements serve as an important message for future ADU owners: “It’s clear that the ADU design experience is going to be different for everyone and highly dependent on the particular set of rules that are in play at any given time.”
We’re happy to say that Mr. Schumacher is pleased with his new cottage and its bright future.
New Avenue has completed hundreds of custom projects like Francis Schumacher’s cottage. To explore some of those projects and get ideas for your own “family asset,” take a look at our project map.
Interested in your own cottage to use as a rental property, a home for loved ones, or extra space for you? Set up a free consultation call with a New Avenue project manager. Just click here and tell us when to call!