Exploring Cottages, ADUs, and DADUs as Attainable Housing Options

Cottage Exterior Image of Rein lot 2

August 4, 2023


As housing prices continue to rise, many people in Washington are looking for ways to find more attainable housing options. The City of Kirkland (and multiple cities throughout the PNW) has created zoning regulations allowing for the construction of cottages, ADUs, and DADUs in single-family neighborhoods. These smaller sized homes are an attractive and achievable housing solution for many first-time buyers, eco-conscious buyers, downsizers, and single families in the Kirkland area. Keep reading this blog post to explore the concept of cottages as attainable and diverse housing options! 

What are Cottages, ADUs, and DADUs?

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), and Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs) are small housing units built on existing single-family residential properties. Cottages are smaller sized homes (under 1,700 sq. ft) built with a compact, intuitive design. These unique housing options add diversity, attainability, and capacity to single-family neighborhoods. 


Cottages are small, detached homes usually found in a cluster or a small community. These charming homes feature a compact floor plan with open living areas, efficient use of storage, and a small outdoor space. Cottages are popular for downsizers, first-time buyers, or small families who want a smaller, low-maintenance home without sacrificing privacy or quality.


ADUs, or accessory dwelling units, are additional living spaces built on the same lot as an existing single-family home. They are similar to, and may also be known as AADUs, or attached accessory dwelling units, because they are additional living spaces attached to the main structure. AADUs typically have a separate entrance from the main home and include a kitchenette (sink and heating element for cooking food, such as a microwave or stovetop), bathroom, and living area. These units are commonly used by homeowners who want extra space for visitors and renters or to use as a gym or home office.


DADUs, or detached accessory dwelling units, are similar to ADUs but are completely independent from the main home. These homes are separate structures built in the backyard or on a vacant lot. DADUs offer more privacy and independence, making them ideal for homeowners who want a separate living space for visitors, tenants, or loved ones. 

All in all, Cottages, ADUs, and DADUs are innovative housing options that offer affordability, flexibility, and smaller-footprint living for a multitude of buyers. They allow existing homeowners to maximize their property's lot potential and create additional living spaces with multiple uses. They also provide first-time home-buyers, single families, and retirees the opportunity to purchase a home that is the right size for their needs and within their budget. 

Cottages, ADUs, and DADUs: Advantages and Items to Consider

These housing options have both benefits and drawbacks. Let's explore the pros and cons of cottages, ADUs, and DADUs, so you can garner more information on whether buying or building is right for you. 

Advantages and Benefits: 

  • Additional rental income: ADUs and DADUs can be rented out, allowing for an extra income stream for homeowners. It’s not uncommon for homeowners  to purchase two cottages next to each other so they can live in one and rent out the other.
  • Multigenerational living: ADUs and DADUs are great for housing loved ones who need their own space or for friends and family visiting. 
  • Increased property value: Adding a cottage, ADU, or DADU is likely to increase the value of your property, making it a smart long-term investment. 
  • Sustainability and environmental benefits: These smaller housing options require fewer resources to build and maintain, so they promote sustainability and a smaller footprint lifestyle.
  • Costs: Purchasing an ADU or DADU is often cheaper than buying a larger home or a second home. Cottages are also a more affordable housing option as they are smaller in size - especially for first-time homebuyers or downsizers who aren’t hosting as many family members as they used to.

Items to Consider 

  • Limited space: These units offer less space than a traditional single-family home, which could pose an issue for larger or growing families who need more room.
  • Additional maintenance costs: Building your own, renting out, or maintaining these units can add to your budget as a homeowner. 
  • Less privacy: ADUs and DADUs share the property with the main residence, which could lead to privacy concerns if you are choosing to rent out or share with a loved one.
  • Large time and financial commitment: Many people fall in love with the idea of building a DADU or developing multiple cottages for themselves and their loved ones to live in, but quickly realize it's easier said than done! Before you build your own AADU/DADU, you’ll want to consult professionals who can help you understand the permitting process, how to get financing, choose your design (pre-approved or work with an architect) etc. We are happy to help point you in the direction as well!

Cottage Development in Kirkland, WA

A cottage development is a collection of smaller homes designed to create a sense of community and provide attainable housing options. Cottages are typically built around an open space, such as a garden or courtyard. Some larger cottage communities may even feature a children’s play area. This layout encourages interaction and socialization among residents, fostering a close-knit community and a strong sense of belonging.

Cottage-sized homes can fill the gap between expensive single-family houses and apartment buildings, providing a more attainable option for individuals and families who want their own space without sacrificing quality. With the growing population and the increasing demand for housing in Kirkland, cottage development offers a solution that greatly benefits the community. 

Features of Smaller Footprint Cottage Style Homes in Kirkland

Cottages are becoming an increasingly popular option for attainable housing. At Merit Homes, our Urban Series is classified as “cottages” under the Kirkland zoning code due to their lot size, square footage size, and compact design. These small homes have several features that make them a unique and desirable housing option, including:

  • Density: Regarding cottages, developers and builders have options to increase the number of available homes in the area.
  • Maximum unit size: Cottages are limited to 1,700 square feet of gross floor area. This means that the layouts are highly intuitive and designed to maximize the use of space. 
  • Pedestrian circulation and common open space: Kirkland zoning code mandates that pedestrian circulation and community space be present throughout the area. This means that walkways must be accessible and easy to use, making it simple for residents and homeowners to move around the community.
  • Building orientation and variation: Cottage developments must include a variety of different building styles, including roof forms, porches, material choice, and color.  For example, while our Urban Series homes are all NW Contemporary, they all vary in colors, layouts, and interior design. 

Merit Homes Urban Series in Kirkland

In a city where the price of a new single-family home can easily surpass $3,000,000, finding attainable housing may seem impossible. However, Merit Homes Urban Series changes that perception with luxury living at a fraction of the cost.

Perfect for those looking to downsize and stay in their beloved neighborhood or first-time buyers in search of a starter home, the Urban Series provides an excellent solution. Our Northwest Contemporary-style homes are thoughtfully designed with all the modern amenities one could desire, just in a smaller package. 

If you're in search of an affordable yet luxurious housing option in Kirkland, look no further than the Merit Homes Urban Series. With prices starting in the mid-1M's, you can find your dream home within your price range. 

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