Revisiting a Remodel: This ADU is a hit in South Minneapolis!

ADU Rental Pays Off

When Cate from Minneapolis began considering a job change, she didn’t see a way to make it happen. She liked her work but not the stress that came along with it—and she wanted more time with her sons. Yet the family relied on her income.

Her husband Jason ran some numbers and came back with a proposal: Build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) above their detached garage, cut back on living expenses, and run the ADU as an Airbnb to generate income—so Cate could leave her job.

They brought their ideas to White Crane, and the team there helped make their plan a reality. Three years later, Cate has more time for the family—and their ADU has been a hit with travelers and neighbors alike. “It’s working fantastically,” says Jason. “It’s booked almost all the time.”


After living with the addition for a few years, Jason sat down to offer some insights that might be helpful to anyone considering an ADU:

Pleasant surprises

I love my new garage.
“Detached garages in Minneapolis generally suck. Now I have an insulated, sheet-rocked garage and I didn’t expect it to essentially feel like a heated garage in winter. I love it.”

The tax benefits were more than we expected.
“Having Cate quit her job and work only on our real estate ventures (including another rental property) provided some added tax benefits that we hadn’t factored in.”

The neighbors love it.
“Everyone who sees our ADU loves the space, and neighbors are constantly asking about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some more ADUs go up in our neighborhood soon.”


Cate and Jason learned that renting to traveling nurses who want a furnished, private place to live for a few months at a time was a good fit for their ADU.


Valuable tips

Invest in landscaping.
“We didn’t know how it would feel for our backyard to have this ADU cutting into our space. Would it feel like ‘Garage-Mahol’? We invested in professional landscaping to make sure the space was done well, and now we love our yard even more than before. We’re outside all the time, sometimes sharing a bonfire or a beverage with our ADU tenants.”

Hire a professional stylist.
“We hired a home stager to style the furnishings once the unit was done. Most of the art and furniture ended up coming from what we already had in the house, but she was able to create a vibe that’s beyond what we could have accomplished. (My son said, ‘Why doesn’t our house look this good?’) I know this is why it’s been so easy to keep the space filled.”

Find the right kind of renters.
“Although our ADU was consistently booked with Airbnb, we figured out quickly that this involved a lot of short stays—and more cleaning than we wanted to do. Fortunately, we learned about the network of traveling nurses who come into town for temporary assignments. These nurses want a furnished, private place to live for a few months at a time, and they’ve been amazing people to host.” 


An armoire provides storage in the ADU. Jason reflects on the decision to not include a closet in the ADU, saying, “I wish we’d taken White Crane’s advice and put in a closet.”

What I’d do differently next time

Put in a closet.
“I wish we’d taken White Crane’s advice and put in a closet. I kept insisting that I wanted it to feel spacious and open inside, but a closet wouldn’t have changed the feel very much, and it would have been much smarter to have one.”

Enlarge the garage.
“I wish we’d made our garage two feet wider. I’d have a happier garage space—with more room for storage and a workbench (or: some extra elbow room)—and, in the grand scheme of things, it really wouldn’t have cost that much more.”

Pay White Crane to handle the details.
“I wish we hadn’t tried to save money by buying our own light fixtures and painting the unit ourselves. We’d forgotten what a pain it is to paint brand new drywall. After an hour or two of cleaning up the dust, Cate and I were groaning: ‘We’ll paint the room, they said! It’ll be fun, they said!’ And it ended up being a nightmare coordinating the light fixtures. It didn’t save us enough money to be worth it, and I wish we’d had White Crane do it all.”

Cate and Jason hired a home stager to style the furnishings once the garage apartment was finished. The art and furniture in the ADU mostly came from the main house, but the professional styling makes it really appealing to potential renters.


“This ADU accomplished everything we wanted,” says Jason. “Our family has benefited from more time together, and we were able to replace some of Cate’s income with the ADU. Plus we’ve gained friends and connections with the people who’ve stayed with us.”

Look inside building Cate and Jason’s ADU here. Curious if an ADU would work for you? Contact us for a complimentary consultation.