Learn what it costs to build a garage apartment ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) in Minneapolis or St. Paul, and what drives those costs.
South Minneapolis ADU
Revisiting a Remodel: This ADU is a hit in South Minneapolis!
White Crane Built an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) for Cate & Jason. Find out what they’ve learned after living with their ADU for a few years.
ADU Rental Pays Off
When Cate and Jason from Minneapolis began considering a job change, they didn’t see a way to make it happen. They both liked their work but not the stress that came along with it—and they wanted more time with her sons. Yet the family relied on both incomes.
After running some numbers they had an idea: Build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) above their detached garage, cut back on living expenses, and run the ADU as a furnished rental—so they could cut back at work.
They brought their ideas to White Crane, and the team there helped make their plan a reality. Three years later, they have 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:
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 more time to work 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.”
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.”
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.”