Living Tiny Has A GIANT Impact

Live below your means, own less stuff, make do and mend, prioritize your life, and get out and live more. Get involved in your community and support your local businesses on the island. Living small is not chasing “more”, but instead learning to find the more in less. It’s about utilizing the space you have, shrinking your carbon footprint, and being an active member in your community (whatever that looks like for you).

Reducing one’s carbon footprint requires more frugal sacrifices than buying less stuff (such as flying less, eating less meat, using more public transportation), but it’s a good place to start.

ADUs and the global supply chain

With global climate change impacts looming, this holiday season offers an opportunity. We can change our shopping habits, decide to give more thoughtfully, to buy more locally and less overall. Yes, most households are hard-wired to splurge on end-of-year gifts, and some people will never stop even if the crisis worsens. The climate change issues can, though, lead us to buy more conscientiously.

To buy less with more intention is achievable for everyone, especially affluent shoppers. It’s incumbent on Americans, the wealthiest people in the world, to cut back on and be critical of their consumption.

According to sustainability researchers, intent matters. Making the active choice to think twice before we buy could improve both our happiness and quality of life. It could help shape social norms and influence others toward more-sustainable choices.

Quality of Life

Don’t assume you are adopting a lower quality of life by owning and buying less or living in a tiny home. It’s not about renouncing buying or the building of new things, but choice to live a bit more deliberately.

Building a tiny home ADU in your backyard- even in the midst of a global climate change challenges- is about making the choice to improve the quality of your life, or maybe someone you love.

Garden Boxes Bring Life to Your ADU

The City of Alameda Wants You to Build a Backyard Cottage Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) v2.0

In May of 2017, the City of Alameda Planning Board finalized the amendments to the City of Alameda Zoning Ordinance (AMC Chapter 30), which made it possible for Alameda to enjoy the benefits of a backyard cottage or tiny home- also known as an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU).

As of Jan 1, 2020 the City of Alameda – Local Government has revised their ADU process to reduce the administrative and financial burden of permitting a backyard cottage.

In accord with recent CA State regulatory changes, the City of Alameda has adopted new rules that will allow you to have an ADU even if you have a small lot, need to remove a garage to accommodate a backyard cottage or even if your neighborhood has an HOA.

They even posted this picture at the city permit office. 🙂

You Get an ADU!

Besides being a great idea for family & friends to visit (or stay), or a potential source of rental income, new ADUs count toward our Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) requirements.

ADUs help provide an important piece of the solution to our housing crisis puzzle!

If you are ready to explore the options please contact us or come to ADU 101: Building A Backyard Cottage in Alameda this Feb. 4, 7-9pm Phoenix Alameda

2020 Year of the ADU

Alameda Tiny Homes 300 sq ft ADU
Home sweet, tiny home…❤️

It’s official! With a slew of new laws going into effect for California, 2020 is the year of the ADU.

In addition to ADUs being easier and less costly than ever to permit, California’s new 2019 Energy Code is now in effect. This means that all new construction in California will be more efficient than ever before.

The good news is that all Alameda Tiny Home ADU Designs already met or exceeded the standards set out in the 2019 California Energy Code.

Continue reading “2020 Year of the ADU”

Governor Signs 5 Bills to help you build an ADU!

The construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) can help cities meet their housing goals and increase the state’s affordable housing supply. On October 9, 2019 Governor Gavin Newsome signed the following bills to boost housing in California and eliminate barriers to building ADUs:

AB 68 by Assemblymember Philip Ting (D-San Francisco) makes major changes to facilitate the development of more ADUs and address barriers to building. The bill reduces barriers to ADU approval and construction, which will increase production of these low-cost, energy-efficient units and add to California’s affordable housing supply.

AB 881 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) removes impediments to ADU construction by restricting local jurisdictions’ permitting criteria, clarifying that ADUs must receive streamlined approval if constructed in existing garages, and eliminating local agencies’ ability to require owner-occupancy for five years.

AB 587 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) provides a narrow exemption for affordable housing organizations to sell deed-restricted land to eligible low-income homeowners.

SB 13 by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) creates a tiered fee structure which charges ADUs more fairly based on their size and location. The bill also addresses other barriers by lowering the application approval timeframe, creating an avenue to get unpermitted ADUs up to code, and enhancing an enforcement mechanism allowing the state to ensure that localities are following ADU statute.

AB 671 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) requires local governments’ housing plans to encourage affordable ADU rentals and requires the state to develop a list of state grants and financial incentives for affordable ADU

So what does this mean to you? Here are some highlights of the upcoming changes:

  • When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with an ADU or converted into an ADU, a local agency shall not require that those off-street parking spaces be replaced.
  • Reduces the application approval timeframe to 60 days and provides that if a local agency has not acted upon the submitted application within 60 days, the application shall be deemed approved.
  • Prohibits a local ordinance from requiring an applicant for an ADU to be an owner occupant.
  • Allows for a potential of both an ADU and a Junior ADU (via conversion of an existing structure) on a single lot.
  • Allows for ADUs on multifamily lots.
  • Removes maximum lot coverage requirements.

Pending legislation will make permitting ADUs (tiny homes and backyard cottages) easier!

The City of Alameda, Alameda Tiny Homes and The California State Legislature agree that the production of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) is an important strategy in the effort to reduce the overall cost of housing in California.

According to UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project, “Recent state efforts to incentivize the construction of ADUs have resulted in more communities and families building ADUs as a cost-efficient way to address the affordable housing crisis. By further reducing barriers to ADU approval and construction, this legislation will help add tens of thousands of new units to California’s housing stock.”


On September 27, 2016, Governor Brown signed three bills into law (AB 2299, SB 1069, and AB 2406), which modify State regulations related to accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Government Code Section 65852.2.

These new regulations made ADUs legal in all California cities. But in some municipalities, strict local regulations such as parking space and minimum lot size requirements coupled with high permit fees and have hampered ADU development efforts.

Upcoming Changes

This year, new legislation has been passed that streamlines the ADU application process, limits fees, and in general makes the permit process easier for ADUs.

Tell Gov. Gavin Newsom that you support these bills to streamline the ADU process.

Specifically, Senate Bill 13 by Senator Wieckowski, which is currently awaiting signature by Gov. Newsom addresses the issue of high permit fees and other barriers to ADU development, while Assembly Bill 881 removes owner-occupancy requirements. Assembly Bill 68 even allows for two ADUs on the same property.

According to Assembly Member Bloom, author of AB 881, “Although the ADU permitting process has been significantly streamlined as a result (of previous legislation), there continue to be ambiguities in the ADU statute that can slow or block the construction of these units. This has resulted in many ADU permits being significantly delayed or blocked. There are a number of specific deficiencies in existing law that this bill seeks to remedy.”

The California Association of Realtors notes that the bill “will help alleviate our housing shortage while capitalizing on limited land resources.”

Once signed these new regulations go into effect January 1, 2020 making now an excellent time to begin your ADU project with Alameda Tiny Homes.

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Your Tiny Home and Garden

One of the benefits of Alameda is year round outside time.  Figuring out how to mesh this with your indoor living will create the perfect oasis.  Your tiny home is not just extra square footage – done right, your new tiny area will complete your visual landscape and complement your main house.

Think about what you’re going to use your tiny home for.  Is it going to be a guest house or a personal art/ yoga studio?  Do you want privacy or visibility from your main house?  What area of your garden do you want to reserve for growing tomatoes?



The Beauty of Family and Friends in Your Backyard

So my sister, husband, and 3 cherubic (seriously, they are) nephews and niece came from the East Coast for an Alameda visit. Our home is a modest 1800 sq ft. but we do have a guest room/office with a comfy for 3 days max. Ikea pullout couch. An inflatable toddler bed manages to squeeze in nicely between the wall. My how they had grown. Sleeping bags in the living room, tooth-brushing parties, shoes everywhere…the stuff childhood memories are made of right? Okay, yes but… thank the baby Jesus it was Summer with “let’s go back outside” time. I realized then that our 150 sq ft. guest room (a.k.a. home office) wasn’t going to cut it if I wanted to keep my sanity and also make sure my family remained willing to keep making the cross-country trek. Cue the cute backyard cottage.

Alameda Tiny Homes ADU Design Permit Build

I would love it if the next time they come, my sister and her husband would have their own room (and real bed!) and the kids I’m sure would happily occupy the old Ikea pullout couch and upgraded twin inflatable. And, they’ll get to wake up on East Coast time, make some coffee and watch Peppa Pig.

Family visits can often be loaded – fortunately with my sister & co. they never have been – but I know the individual space will make for a more peaceful visit all round.  Tooth-brushing parties will persist.

Do You Want a Garage or a Livable Unit?

Written by a man:

With space in the Bay Area at a premium, we are all faced with some potentially difficult choices as to what gets to stay and what gets voted off the island.

This can be even more difficult if you have an active family with ‘gear’. It’s inevitable if you live and play in the Bay Area that you not only need piles of layers for our changing weather but also those more dedicated items like winter wear for Tahoe, the obligatory paddle board or kayak for romps at Crown Beach, a pile of bikes, scooters and wagons, the list can go on and on.

This doesn’t even take into account the earthquake kit, lawn tools, Halloween, and other holiday decorations (yes, we know who you are!). Though if you live on Christmas Tree Lane then you probably have already rented a warehouse so maybe this conundrum doesn’t apply to you.

“Yes!”, you say. “I know, I really should get rid of some of this stuff.”

But let’s face it, some of this stuff needs to stay. Building a tiny home in your backyard may mean that you need to remove that often dilapidated garage/shed thing that is already there. Yes, it may be a little worse for the wear since it was first put together sometime around WWII but it is undeniably useful in keeping the stuff of Bay Area living out of sight.

Alameda Tiny Homes ADU Builder

A big part of taking the plunge to tear down your shed and build a more versatile tiny home is about taking apart our priorities and putting them back together in a more purposeful way.

Even if you can’t bring yourself to offload your worldly goods to Goodwill, do not fear- there are amazing things that can be done through organizing! Ask anyone who has ever lived on boat. If everything has a place and everything is in its place, clutter can be kept under control even in tight spaces.

For my money, deciding to get my inventory under control and organized and stored in manageable ways is a worthwhile proposition not only because it opens the door to a better backyard structure.

A small but liveable space, also known as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), even one where the closet is well stocked, is so much better than a ramshackle shed or tired old garage.

ADU Home Decor Made Easy

Think pieces that can serve multi purpose – a table that can function both as a desk and a dining table, a deep sofa that can double as a guest bed, or an ottoman that can be both a coffee table and bonus seats when guests are over.

Built-ins, storage nooks, and furniture tailored to your exact needs can utilize every available sliver of space.

Buy bigger but fewer furniture. It may seem counter-intuitive, but outfitting a small space with just a few large-scale pieces (rather than a mishmash of pint-size furniture) can actually make it feel grand.

Remember to edit. You don’t have to display everything and certainly “Don’t fill every inch!” After all, nothing makes a room feel smaller than clutter.

The City of Alameda Wants You to Have a Backyard Cottage (ADU)!

On September 27, 2016, Governor Brown signed three bills into law (AB 2299, SB 1069, and AB 2406), which modify State regulations related to accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Government Code Section 65852.2.

On April 10, 2017, the City of Alameda Planning Board held a study session to discuss proposed amendments to the Alameda Municipal Code (AMC) to bring the zoning ordinance into compliance with the new State laws.

In May of 2017, the Planning Board met again to discuss and finalize the amendments to the City of Alameda Zoning Ordinance (AMC Chapter 30), which now make it possible for Alameda to enjoy the benefits of backyard cottages and tiny homes.

In short, these new regulations make it easier than ever to increase the the useable living space of your home, add value to your property, and create a viable housing opportunity for family, friends, or tenants- all while maintaining the unique neighborhood feel of Alameda that we love. Permitting and building accessory dwelling units, also know as ADUs in Alameda is our specialty.

This City of Alameda ADU checklist will help us determine if your property is a viable candidate for an Alameda Tiny Home.