Monday, March 8, 2010

Small Homes, Big Profit

D+A Studio is featured in the March issue of BUILDERnews Magazine, in Daniel Savicka's article, "Small Homes, Big Profit." Daniel interviewed Anna about the guest houses we have recently completed in the San Juan Islands, the Hare House guest house, the Henry Island House, and the guest house for the San Juan Channel House. Check out the online article here.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Add second homes and second incomes by upselling smaller spaces on existing property

Guesthouses have gone beyond a second-thought approach when constructing a home. Successful builders and designers are staying competitive by offering their customers a second space to live in or a space to rent as a profit-maker. It’s an untapped market that hasn’t slowed down in the economy.

In a lot of areas, such as the San Juan Islands, guesthouses provide a unique opportunity for rental properties. For Anna Howden of D+A Studios, who has an office on San Juan Island and in Seattle, many of her clients build guest homes with the idea of renting them out to people living on the island. “They’re basically the only affordable housing on the island,” says Howden.

Another option for people who don’t live on the island year-round, which is most people who can afford to build there, is to use the guesthouse as a place to house caretakers of the property for the winter. This way, there is someone to stay onsite to look after the property, and your client can trade them rent in return for their work.

According to Howden, the key to building a guesthouse is to keep it flexible. “That way you can use it as an office, a rental property, or a space for parents or grandkids. It’s basically a mini house that can keep changing according to your lifestyle. I’ve used mine as an office, we had our nanny live there at one point and other times we had friends living there that needed a place.”

Design-wise, trends for guest homes include high ceilings; lots of open space; building lofts (they can help capture space in every little corner); windows, which add views and natural light; and large slider doors, to partition off and create different spaces out of one room. Natural light is key, because they’re always smaller spaces, and proper planning can seriously cut down on the amount of energy needed to light the interior.

The typical guesthouse, according to Howden, is usually under a 1,000 square feet, but her firm has built them as large as 2,000 square feet and as small as 460 square feet. And since a lot of her clients live in Seattle full-time, most of them build their guest homes on top of a garage, where they keep a car year-round.""

Continue the article here.

Open floor plan in the Hare House guest house. The second floor serves as the living area while the first floor has a garage and a separate office. The clients are living there while the main house is under construction. After they move to the main house, the client will continue to use the first floor office, and they will rent out the second floor living area when no family is staying there.

Taking advantage of every space: a ship's ladder leads to a loft in the Hare House guest house.

A small bathroom can still be luxurious: the Hare House guest house bathroom contains a Japanese soaking tub/shower room.

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