Small is the new green

Increasing environmental awareness along with economic and demographic trends favor smaller house sizes. Many cities are doing their part by updating zoning codes to allow cottage housing and small backyard cottages (detached ADU's) on residentially zoned lots. Seattle and Portland are two cities which allow backyard cottages up to 800 sq. ft. in size. These small houses provide opportunities for families, while increasing housing stock density and diversity. Continue reading for more information about small house design and Seattle's backyard cottage ordinance or contact us to find out if your lot is eligible for a backyard cottage.

Thursday, August 26

microhouse featured in highline times

A nice story about microhouse and backyard cottages (detached accessory dwelling units) is featured in the Highline Times. It features an interview with a client who built a backyard cottage for his mother. The cottage allows his ageing mother to live close to family and maintain her indepedence.

burien mother-in-law backyard cottage

Wednesday, August 18

magnolia backyard cottage takes shape

Design has started on Microhouse's newest backyard cottage in Magnolia.  Our clients are looking  to use some of the equity in their home to establish a rental property that could be used by a family member in the future. A secondary goal is to provide a home office for personal use. 


The steeply sloped ECA site has its share of logistical challenges as well as opportunities. Using the Eco cottage plan as a design departure point we are able to come up with a cost effective two bedroom design with a minimal amount of site work.  Tweaking the design to take advantage of the site slope we are able to pull the bathroom and circulation outside of the main plan into a tower structure that will house a home office on the top floor. The office can be accessed via a bridge from the main house via a bridge or from the cottage. The dual access allows it to be a third bedroom for the cottage or an office for the owners in the main house.  


 Microhouse -Modified Dragonfly Cottage


Microhouse -Modified Dragonfly Cottage










Monday, August 16

Microhouse small house plans available nationally

Microhouse small house plans and design services will soon be available nationally through houseplans.com. Microhouse will be one of the featured designers along with the likes of Sarah Susanka of "Not So Big House Fame". We are excited to be able to participate in the small house movement at the national level. This will also enable us to be a part of the growing backyard cottage movement as it spreads east to cities like Denver and Madison.

Ecohaus locations in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco will continue to provide a great resource for Microhouse patrons.  Their well staffed showrooms are a great place to view our standard finishes and materials.

Rain Garden - Ballard



Here is a photo of a small rain garden designed by Landscape Architect Vinita Sidhu nearing completion Ballard. The garden is designed to handle the roof runoff from an existing garage. During heavy storms and prolonged periods of rainfall the rain garden will briefly fill with rainwater. The owner chose a decorative rain chain to connect the gutter to the inlet providing visual interest even during periods of light rain. 



The rich soil mix chosen for the rain garden forms a depression that will collect the water like a sponge slowly releasing it into the ground. Water loving native plants will thrive here.  Prior to the installation, the runoff was collected by a combined sewer system, pumped, treated and discharged into the Puget Sound.