Transforming problem houses into Dream Homes

A Modern Berkeley Cottage

First pass at what this little cottage may look like. Image copyright 2017 David Locicero | architect.

David Locicero | architect

Started in 2017 / project abandoned

750 square feet

Private Clients

The Problem: The clients had purchased their first home and wanted to do an extensive remodeling. They wanted to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit on the property where they could live while the primary house was being remodeled. Then they could rent the ADU for additional income when the primary house remodel was complete. They wanted to make the ADU attractive to potential renters, and preferred a two bedroom solution.

The Clients: A busy young couple who had just purchased their first home. He worked in tech and she worked in retail. They both loved simple, crisp, modern style.

The Solution: The solution was to design a free-standing, two story cottage, that was semi-recessed in order to meet the 14′ maximum height limit. The ground level was to be a single living space with the kitchen along one wall. The upper floor was two small bedrooms and a bathroom.

The design included lots of windows to keep the lower level from feeling dark or cramped. The upper level windows were located to maintain the privacy of the residents and the neighbors alike.

An accessory dwelling (back yard cottage) in Berkeley.

The Results: Although the cottage was designed to the letter of the ADU ordinance’s rules, the Planning Department took exception to the 2-story solution. The Planning staff felt that the height of the cottage meant that the cottage was not “accessory” to the primary dwelling. The City of Berkeley actually changed the ADU ordinance as a result of this design. 2-story solutions are now explicitly not allowed. After discussions with the City and waiting to see how the City would revise the ADU ordinance, the clients decided not to proceed with this design and did not want to compromise their vision with a smaller cottage design.


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