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Transform Your Home with a Backyard Cottage: An Interview with Kevin Casey of New Avenue

By Kevin Casey

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Many accessory dwellings and second units fail to get built because of confusing permitting rules, custom design requirements or the difficulty of managing the 45+ people needed to complete the design, permitting and construction. New Avenue solves these problems with a structured process, people and data to give you an integrated project delivery experience.

We research, screen and enlist qualified designers, architects and contractors who work with our standardized process to get you through your project from start to finish. With our proprietary platform, everyone on your project team stays on the same page with a timeline, notifications, product schedules, forms and checklists.

Can you briefly explain what an accessory dwelling is?

Any new home or apartment added to a single family home. This includes additions, a remodel of existing space, such as an attic, bedroom, lower level or garage, or a separate independent home, such as a backyard cottage, casita or guest house.

What are some of the most common questions (and answers) you're asked about accessory dwellings?

"How much does a home cost?" In the San Francisco Bay Area, cottage costs range from about $100,000 to $300,000. The most popular size is a 2-bedroom cottage of about 640 square feet that, when you include architecture, engineering, permitting and construction, this costs close to $250,000 in California - but as little as $125,000 in other parts of the country. Our shared project page keeps everyone in the loop and this makes our partners more efficient. Add our competitive bid process and you get the best pricing possible.

Another popular question is, "What about permits?" Cities and states across the country have changed their laws to give homeowners the right to build second units. New Avenue has permitted homes in over 25 cities. We have the experience that you need to navigate through the local processes in any city.

Can you list the basic steps involved with designing and building one?

We recently counted all the essential steps involved with building an accessory dwelling and there a too many to list out - over 200! To manage this complicated process, we just released a new feature that we call our roadmap, which lists out the various steps and milestones of the project and tracks where you are in process. So, in short, step one for building an accessory dwelling would be to call New Avenue.

How much flexibility and input do homeowners get with the design of a new accessory dwelling?

It really depends on the constraints imposed by your city, as every jurisdiction has their own set of rules for height, size, setback, parking and what features are allowed. Generally speaking, our architects will work hard to make your dream home a reality, and incorporate all your needs while complying with any city restrictions.

What are some of the biggest things should people take into consideration before deciding if they want to build an accessory dwelling?

Every homeowner should consider an accessory dwelling. We ran an analysis that shows how accessory dwellings are an economic win. For example, it can yield a potential income of nearly $1M over a 23-year period in asset appreciation and rental income. In addition, the savings are substantial if you are considering housing your loved ones versus using a retirement home.

Homeowners should also know that we conducted a survey (and external studies verify our findings) that revealed how accessory dwelling occupants experience lower levels of stress and increased levels of happiness. It's for this reason we are so dedicated to our mission of educating the community on the benefits of accessory dwellings. Not only is this is a type of infill development that mitigates sprawl, accessory dwellings are an ideal form of shared housing that brings families together, and we can have an immense impact if every household tried to have their own little backyard cottage.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

Call 855-5NEWAVE, email or, fill out our contact form

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