A Realtor's Guide to Accessory Dwelling Units

An Interview with Laura Shaffer

Have you ever shown a client a home that was in the perfect location, with the perfect lot size, and within their price range, but they just wish the home had one extra room? Many realtors can relate.

While buyer demand is currently strong and expected to continue in the coming year, housing inventory is predicted to remain low compared to previous years. With fewer houses on the market, buyers may not be able to find that perfect home they’ve been dreaming about, especially in popular locations. In 2021 alone, demand for multiple home offices more than doubled from 24% to 48%; demand for home-based fitness and yoga spaces jumped from 23% to 39%; and demand for au pair/in-law suites rose from 35% to 42%, according to an AIA Home Design Trends Survey.

Home renovations are top-of-mind when considering adding more space to a home, however, there is a simpler and less intrusive option available that can help ease your clients’ qualms about a lack of space in a home that otherwise checks all the boxes. Rather than suggesting a home renovation or addition to clients who can’t find the perfect home, the alternative is to suggest adding a single-room studio or accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to the backyard.

Why Backyard Studios & ADUs?

Backyard studios and ADUs have gained national attention in recent years for the myriad lifestyle and financial benefits they provide to homeowners. These backyard modular additions are the fastest and most affordable way to add flexible square footage to the home and are often designed for home office spaces, music and art studios, and she sheds to name a few.

Backyard studios and ADUs are also a great way for homeowners to add significant value to their property. According to a recent study from Porch.com, in America’s largest cities, a home with an ADU is priced 35% higher on average than a home without one. A well-appointed ADU is effectively a fully functional second dwelling on your property complete with kitchen and bath that can be used for guests, a home studio for hobbies or workouts, or even rented out to provide a new source of income to the homeowner.

It’s easy to see the benefits that backyard studios and ADUs provide to homeowners. To better understand why it’s important for realtors to know about these flexible structures we sat down with Laura Shaffer, a realtor in our home state of Colorado. Here’s her perspective on ADUs in the real estate market as well as her own personal experience adding a backyard home office from Studio Shed to her home:

Q: What type of ROI do clients typically see by adding an ADU or backyard studio to their home?

A: While it’s hard to pinpoint an exact ROI, a separate studio/ADU will boost the value of a home by adding finished & conditioned square footage.


Q: Have you seen any emerging trends in the real estate market involving backyard studios or ADUs?

A: As more companies allow their employees to work from home on a permanent basis, workers are moving wherever they desire to live. When they do find a home, they will need a dedicated office. A backyard studio/ADU or the ability to add one offers the perfect option if the home they find doesn’t have an office.


Q: What talking points do you use when suggesting that a client adds a backyard ADU or studio to their home?

A: Many smaller, older homes are not designed with a home office so homeowners need to utilize a spare bedroom as an office space which is often less than ideal. If the lot allows for additional lot coverage, building an external office space can nicely complement a smaller-sized home. As a bonus, a backyard studio offers a much quieter, private space compared to using a spare bedroom which is often adjacent to a basement rec room or another bedroom.

Q: Why do you think realtors should know about Studio Shed as an alternative option to a home renovation?

A: Realtors should know, in some cases, a separate, external space on the property can be more desirable than an attached addition or renovation to the home because the location of the addition may not be ideal to the overall layout of the home. Architecturally, a Studio Shed can complement or enhance a backyard’s landscape.


Q: What influenced your decision to add a Studio Shed to your home?

A: Having a separate space was the most important reason for me to add a studio to our property. Second was having a space with a lot of light. My home “office” inside my home was the smallest bedroom with only a 3’ by 4’ window.


Q: What benefits have you seen (lifestyle and/or financial) since your Studio Shed was installed?

A: It is much easier to focus on my work in my studio away from all the distractions going inside my home. Even though only 12 feet separate my studio from the home, it’s enough space to feel like I’m disconnecting from my physical office and my work at the end of the day.

Thank you, Laura, for sharing your insight on ADUs and studios in real estate and your personal experience with adding a Studio Shed to your home! Your home office looks absolutely gorgeous and we’re so pleased to hear that you’re enjoying the space.

Realtors: want to learn more about Studio Shed backyard studios and accessory dwelling units? Explore our Summit Series for all things ADUs or check out the Signature Series and Portland Series product pages for more information on our single-room studios. Check out the “Shed Stories” tab on our website to see how customers across the nation have utilized their newfound space with Studio Shed. Then, play around in our 3D Design Center where you can customize your own Studio Shed by selecting from a range of sizes, mix and match colors and materials, add extra doors or windows at your discretion, and more!

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One shed does not fit all. Our innovative prefab solution is a flat-packed, panelized kits of parts with hundreds of customizations in the Design Center. There are millions of combinations of sizes, door and window placements, and colors. All thoughtfully designed to work together.