Transforming problem houses into Dream Homes

Berkeley Backyard Cottage #1

David Locicero / architect

Started in 2018 / completed in 2019

350 square feet / one bedroom

Private Client

The Problem: The client was looking forward. She retired during the project and anticipated needing additional income to supplement her retirement. Building the ADU gave her the opportunity to rent out the ADU while she was still able to live in the two story primary house and move into the ADU when she was unable to navigate the stairs in the primary house. When that time comes, she will be able to rent out the primary house.

The goal was to make a small, self-contained cottage positioned to avoid removing a mature Japanese Maple at the back of the lot and a mature fig tree in the middle of the back yard. We also wanted to provide ample yard space for both the residents of the cottage and the residents of the primary house.

The main room is small, but bright, and full of light. Photograph copyright 2020, David Locicero, architect

The Client: A professional woman at retirement age. She is concerned about environmental issues and enjoys travel.

The Solution: The solution was to design a small free standing cottage positioned between the Japanese Maple and the fig tree with the entrance at the south end of the cottage.

This cottage was designed to be built “by right” meaning it conforms with all of the planning regulations in terms of height, area, site coverage, and open space.

The mature maple tree is visible on the right of this picture. Photograph copyright 2020, David Locicero, architect.

The bathroom was designed to accommodate the use of a walker or wheelchair if necessary in the future.

View of the bathroom. It feels very spacious with the open shower sides. The handmade Mexican tiles provide a nice splash of color and pattern. Photo copyright 2020, David Locicero, architect.

The rooms are small, but the ceiling is tall giving them a feeling of spaciousness. The roof is sloped to maximize the area for future solar panels. And there are windows up high to allow light into the main room even if the blinds are drawn on the lower windows for privacy.

An early site plan. We shifted the cottage down, to provide more space for the maple tree after this was drawn. and we moved the kitchen to the back wall of the living room. But the plan is more or less unchanged. Copyright 2020, David Locicero, architect

The Results: The cottage was completed and rented in less than two years from the time we started working on the project. The new tenant enjoys the sunny, and accessible rooms. Both households have their own private outdoor spaces. The Japanese Maple and the fig tree survived construction and continue to thrive.

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