Housing Crunch: A Modern-Shed Solution

It’s no secret that the nation is in the midst of a housing crisis. Rent and the price of a home are rising, creating a problem not just for the most vulnerable people, like the chronically homeless, but also for the average worker, the middle-income earners who are finding themselves priced out of the market.

Industry leaders from big cities to small towns are talking about what we as a country can do to make housing more affordable for households that make 60 to 140 percent of the area median income.

Here at Modern-Shed, we don’t purport to have all of the answers, but one thing we’ve taken notice of is the onerous obstacles that prevent property owners from building rental housing that could alleviate some of the problem.

“In some places in Washington state, you can’t find anywhere to live where the rent isn’t astronomically high,” says Modern-Shed general manager Tim Vack. “Often, it’s the zoning laws of the county. If we could change the zoning to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on a property, more residents could build a rental unit on their property.”10x18guestroom_1 Continue reading

Portland changes rules on dwelling units

The City of Portland, Ore., made some big changes this year that went into effect Aug. 1.

To combat the city’s affordable housing crisis, city council members rescinded the city’s longstanding waiver of its system development charges for folks building accessory dwelling units and renting them out as short-term rentals.

For builders who want to build an ADU as a long-term rental, their fees will be waived permanently. Other builders will have to revisit the scope of their project.

What does this mean in plain English?

If you’re building an attached or detached dwelling adjacent to your home (think: tiny house, mother-in-law unit, backyard cottage), you won’t be able to rent it out on Airbnb, VRBO or any number of other short-term vacation rental sites (or not through a site) without paying the city’s very high system development charge — between $12-19K!

If you want to take advantage of the waiver and save $12,000, your dwelling must be rented out as a long-term rental for 10 years.

If the city finds out you’ve been using your dwelling to make extra cash renting it out short-term to tourists, they’ll charge you 150 percent of the original SDC waived.

This all only applies to new dwellings permitted after July 31.

DSC_0784While we have many Portland customers who previously took advantage of the SDC waiver (and who are not affected by this change since they’re not new builds), ultimately, we feel as though this could be a good thing for Portland’s tight housing market.

“Since Portland has more people than housing, rental rates have gone way up with the shortage,” Modern-Shed general manager Tim Vack noted. “If all residents could put a rental unit in their backyard that would alleviate the market. It’d be a win-win.”

Modern-Shed: Making you money $$$

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A Modern-Shed AirBnb in San Jose, Calif.

As the rise of AirBnBs and other vacation rental sites like HomeAway and VRBO can attest, when people take a vacay, more and more they want to stay at a home away from home.

We have several Modern-Shed customers who have capitalized on this trend.

In San Jose, Flora and Jeffrey initially built a Modern-Shed guest room to accommodate Flora’s sister, Fauna, who was staying in the area for college, but when Fauna graduated two years later, the couple started making serious money when they turned their shed into an AirBnB.

“I am just extremely happy with it,” says Flora, whose shed sees mostly business travelers. “I’m booked every day … Totally I was not expecting this many bookings … These guests, they come every day, even during the week, they’re here for a day and gone. It’s convenient for me and them … (Now) I’m a stay-at-home mom and a full-time AirBnB host.”

Other Modern-Shed owners rent or book their sheds for guests more interested in leisure.

Marc and Jeanine’s Modern-Shed AirBnB in fast-growing Portland offers exclusive access to the shed and an herb garden, with guests complimenting the shed’s “cozy” factor and noting that it’s “a gorgeous little oasis in Portland,” “central to a lot of restaurants and stores.”

Twin studios in Yosemite
Modern-Shed rental cabins in Blue Lake Springs

Meanwhile, Holly’s twin Modern-Shed cabins at Blue Lake Springs near the Sierra Nevadas in California complement a traditional cabin and offer large families a quiet respite from the busy, city life.

“They are really cute,” Holly says. “My girls love sleeping in the sheds even though we didn’t plan them to be sleeping quarters … I love how the sheds are really multi-functional. People can use them how they want and can say ‘Hey, this is my space.’”

Many more of our customers simply love having that extra space when family comes over, which is especially important to take into account as the holiday season approaches. Continue reading