Garden Cottages at Ruth’s House

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Got a small house on a big lot? Add accessory dwellings and call it co-housing. That’s what was done here in Portland, Oregon on this 50’x100′ lot. These tiny 12’x14′ structures (fully permitted in the City of Portland) contain a full bathroom, sleeping loft, partial kitchen, and a front porch to extend the outdoor living space.

FrontGardenThe residents share a large garden, rainwater harvesting, bicycle parking, and the main kitchen in the adjacent 526 sq.ft. house.

Photo credit: Orange Splot LLC (above) and Eli Spevak (below)

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Amy E. 11/18/2009 at 6:36 pm

this is totally awesome! a great idea that could become a small condo community, rental property in a vacation area, or even the remedy to roommates. i know when i finished college and everyone scattered on the winds i felt a lot more lonely, but when they were still there i valued my privacy! what a great way to get the best of both worlds!

Amy Turnbull 12/27/2009 at 10:36 am

Is this really happening? What about the omnipotent zoning gods? I’d love to get more information on this!

Deena Larsen 12/28/2009 at 11:45 am

Yes and no. In Denver, the code is changing and there are many people who WANT “accessory dwelling units” and many people who DON’T WANT them.

So this is a battle to be fought folks.

In the meantime, look for real estate with “grandfathered in” accessory dwelling units. We found one! (

CJ 08/22/2010 at 5:52 pm

We just bought a lot with 2 small houses on it in Montana. We are leaving our 2600 sq ft home in California for good and happy to do so. I am so happy to have found this site. One house will serve as our living quarters, the other as a guest cottage and a rather large shed (11×16) out back of both houses will serve as an outdoor kitchen with a deck area for gathering. I can’t wait!

Hillary @ ThisTinyHouse 08/23/2010 at 10:53 pm

CJ — Welcome welcome. Moving to Montana sounds exciting! I love outdoor kitchens and gathering spaces. Please do share photos when you can.

Jan 01/24/2011 at 3:18 pm

Springfield OR, (adjoins Eugene OR home of the U of O Ducks) is loaded with tiny houses… Not quite as small as the ones pictured, but between 600 and 1300 sq feet, post war, in need of updating and reasonably priced. Lots are usually less than 1/4 acre. The possibility for a decent job here is next to nothing but the University, Lane Community college, Hult Center for the performing arts, several small theater groups, and The Bach Festival offer allot of culture. We’ve even got a thriving ukulele band and of course the Oregon Country Fair. The laid back life style here is perfect for retirees and anyone who thinks outside the box and doesn’t follow the herd. Springfield is small, everything is convenient by bike. It has a new jail, two hospitals that also serve Eugene…. one brand new one….and you can bike to everything in Eugene on the River path bike system. The city bus goes up hwy 126 to McKenzie Bridge (unless they’ve changed it) You’re then in the heart of the wilderness and wild rivers, and you can bike farther up the hwy if you want. You are 1 hour from Florence OR on the coast by car. There are a few city parks that offer good hiking, a few dog parks, and the McKenzie River Trail is quite long. Lots of organic farmers, several wineries and many cottage industries in the area. Springfield has a Friday market, Eugene has a Tues and Sat. market. There are some decent vegetarian restaurants, some good organic food stores in Eugene. “Bring” A large recycling center for building materials is a great source of supplies is in Springfield. Unlike Eugene, Springfield schools still have music departments etc.. There are two active senior centers in Eugene and one in Springfield, and lots of opportunities for volunteering in this economy. For more information just Google map Springfield, check the real estate box. I would love some neighbors who are dedicated to creating an esthetically pleasing tiny house community on my street. (No I’m not a realtor) Realtors have raised the listing prices about 30k for some reason so think 50k less than asking price when you’re looking.

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