Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are making news all over the country these days. They’re being touted as a solution to the housing crisis, and there are plenty of property owners in California building them. They come in the form of backyard cottages, garage apartments, basement or attic conversions, and additions.
Of course, the idea is far from new. People have been taking on renters and having family move into their ADUs for—well, probably forever.
We thought it’d be fun to look at some famous ADUs from top TV shows through the years.
Happy Days (1974): Fonzie’s Garage Apartment
When the Cunninghams think their hardware store is doomed, they decide to rent out the apartment above their garage for $50 a month. (Keep in mind we’re talking about Milwaukee in the 1950s.)
At first, they show the apartment to Fonzie’s grandmother. After struggling to get up the stairs, she decides that the place isn’t right for her.
Disappointed, Mr. Cunningham agrees to rent the apartment to the Fonz. With those strong morals and cool attitude, who wouldn’t want the Fonz for a neighbor? (Well, maybe you don’t want your tenants storing motorcycles in the living area.)
Although Cunningham Hardware doesn’t go under, it was wise of the family to have an apartment to rent out, just in case.
Fun fact: People in Queensland are calling over-garage apartments “Fonzie flats,” and the public is going wild for them.
Full House (1987): A Basement Bedroom and an Attic ADU
Who can forget that iconic painted lady shown in the exterior shots of Full House and its modern-day reboot, Fuller House? The set looked nothing like the actual interior, but we all had fun pretending.
When Danny Tanner’s friend Joey and brother-in-law Jesse moved in to help him raise three girls, the Tanner family needed more space. (Now that we can believe.) Throughout the show’s run, the family continued to improve on their home.
First, Joey, who was living in a tiny alcove in the living room, got his own room (with an unpermitted bathroom) when the Tanners remodeled their garage. This means they’ll be parking in the street, though we do occasionally see a car in the yard when it’s relevant to the plot.
Then, when Jesse got married, he did a DIY remodel on the attic, turning it into a beautiful studio apartment. Of course, there were numerous sitcom mishaps along the way. (Maybe he should have hired the best ADU builder in San Francisco.)
7th Heaven (1996): The Camdens’ Garage Apartment
The Camdens, who by Season 6 have seven kids and a lodger, really need more space. It works out perfectly when they decide to finish the apartment over their garage. There’s some dramedy around who, exactly, will get to live in the space, but the apartment proves to be important in keeping the family together.
When the Camdens’ daughter Lucy gets married and has a baby, she and her family live in the accessory dwelling over the garage. It’s a perfect example of how an accessory dwelling can help a young family financially while keeping everyone close (but not too close).
Parenthood (2010): A Multigenerational Home
Zeek and Camille Braverman, some of TV’s favorite Berkeley residents, have their own ADU over the garage.
The show is widely admired for its multigenerational storytelling. Naturally, multigenerational housing is a big part of that story.
Zeek and Camille’s daughter Sarah moves into the garage apartment with her teenagers. Throughout the series, we see loads of comedy, drama, and sentiment. Through it all, the Bravermans’ ADU is an important part of their lives.
The Great Gatsby: Nick’s Delightful Rental Home (2013)
Nick Carraway’s cottage in The Great Gatsby has been a point of fascination since the novel was released in 1925.
In the book, Nick describes the home as a “small eye-sore.” But in the film, he lives in a guest house that’s absolutely gorgeous and has a spectacular view of the bay. It gets even more beautiful when Gatsby has the yard cleaned up for Daisy’s visit.
It’s a small house in contrast to Gatsby’s enormous mansion, but it’s the perfect place for a writer to spend the summer.
The Rookie (2018): John Nolan’s Guest House
Firefly and Castle fans rejoiced when Nathan Fillion once again graced their screens as LAPD rookie John Nolan.
When John gets divorced, he moves to LA and lives, rent-free, in a guest house belonging to his former college roommate, Ben. It’s the perfect place for John to reside as he learns the ropes of his new job and his new life. Ben’s mansion, once featured in Architectural Digest, includes an amazing guest house with an incredible view.
It’s the perfect use for an ADU—helping a friend (and public servant) get back on his feet. Maybe John’s colleague Angela and her boyfriend Wesley should look into getting a house with an ADU. Those two seem to need some space.
ADUs Have Always Been a Wonderful Thing.
If you’re interested in building an accessory dwelling unit, you’ll need someone who knows city and state rules, is an expert is great design, and can minimize delays and surprise fees. New Avenue has a network of professionals who can do all of that, plus the best tech to keep your project running smoothly.
Set up a call today, and our project manager will talk to you about the possibilities for your property.