Why Does Abodu Exist?

Abodu Unit

John Geary

Co-founder and CEO at Abodu

August 14, 2020Backyard Living

Eric and I started Abodu 2 years ago this month with a dream of building Accessory Dwelling Units (also called ADUs or granny flats, in-law apartments, guest homes) in thousands of backyards across the country. While we didn’t have construction backgrounds, Eric and I grew up in housing and automotive industry families respectively. These family backgrounds provided us a unique perspective on what needs to be solved in the ADU space to increase adoption. We sensed the impact we could make on an issue that massively affects our generation – housing.

I grew up in the Bay Area and watched as home values continued to skyrocket through my childhood. My dad is a single-family residential real estate developer which provided me a front-row view into the challenges of adding housing in a state that desperately needs it. He used to say “take the number of homes you’re trying to build, and that’s the number of years it will take to get the project approved!”. My dad is an animated guy (and likes to exaggerate a bit…) but his sentiment adequately captures the challenges involved with building housing in California. This stuck with me, and never quite sat right.

Eric and I met as college interns working in management consulting and were fast friends back in the summer of 2014. We had been roommates and worked together for 3 years when we started learning more about ADUs and the impact they can have on the housing supply. The lightbulb went off for ADUs after a local city told my dad’s company that they would only approve a 45 home project if he agreed to build an ADU in 15 of the backyards. While this changed the economic equation for his firm, it was a massive step forward in local jurisdictions encouraging MORE housing, in the form of ADUs.

After exploring how homeowners tackled ADU projects, we quickly learned that almost everyone who had gone through the experience regretted it. From timelines stretching over 2 full years (yikes) to costs ballooning well over $400K to managing multiple parties throughout the project, it all sounded terrible. And that was a huge let down after being so excited about the prospect of ADUs making a meaningful dent in the housing deficit. Despite this poor experience across the board, California permitted just under 6,000 ADUs in 2018…which led us to ask – “How many ADUs could be built if the cost was reasonable, the experience was fun and a homeowner never had to lift a finger?” Queue, Abodu.

The concept behind Abodu was to develop an ADU experience that was built from the homeowner’s perspective, instead of a builder’s perspective. We asked homeowners “What sucks with your ADU project today? What do you care about most? How do you use your ADU? What would the best ADU project in the world look like?”. We learned homeowners wanted their ADU projects done fast (like unrealistically fast), to be well-designed and constructed with quality, completed on an upfront budget, and managed end-to-end by one team. So we built Abodu to optimize on these areas.

We worked with world-class architects to develop designs that were built to be lived in and could be constructed to the highest quality. We build our ADUs using the highest standards of pre-fab construction which allows us to complete projects fast and on a known budget. And we worked with local cities to remove the red tape from the process so that we could ultimately deliver projects in 12 weeks or less. All the while providing our “Abodu Concierge Service” to homeowners who never have to wonder what they’re going to get. Put succinctly – Abodu exists to solve the housing shortage, create value for homeowners and families, and forge a future where having a home in the backyard is the norm, not the exception. We strive to continually amaze homeowners with how beautiful our backyard homes are – and how easy a construction project can be.

Eric and I are proud of the foundation we’ve built for Abodu (ha construction pun) and our track record of successful projects speaks for itself. The future of ADUs is very bright and we intend to continue delivering amazing experiences for homeowners across the Bay Area and beyond.

Thanks for following along the journey!

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