Resident finds new way to expand existing homes.
A home design trend is turning homeowners toward creating more dedicated spaces within their houses. YardHomesMN is taking this concept to another level.
Based in New Brighton, the company provides accessory dwelling units (ADU), which, in YardHomesMN’s case, are detached from a home, placed above a garage or created as a single unit or part of a cluster.
Founder and CEO Nichol Dehmer of Maple Grove launched the business in January 2020. The idea started to take form in 2019 when, as Dehmer says, “a construction revolution happened in the Twin Cities.” She attended a conference, which highlighted new ways in which the rest of the nation was viewing the home construction space. “Out of that came the discussion of what kind of housing is Minnesota missing?” she says. “There was [an innovative] project here or there, but nothing systematic.”
Dehmer’s background includes serving as a bank COO and president. “I [also] ran the Minnesota Multi Housing Association (MHA), which is where I started thinking about this concept, because I was focused on innovation at MHA.”
Typically ranging from 300–800 square feet, people are using ADUs for a variety of reasons, including fitness areas, guest spaces, home offices, living units for adult children with various abilities and more.
Minnesotans love their cabins, and YardHomesMN can help expand an existing cabin’s livable footprint or create cabin clusters around a central space. Think: a unit or more for kids and one or more for adults. “You can get really creative when it comes to the creative cluster idea,” Dehmer says.
Speaking of, some clusters could be developed for those sharing a common interest or living situation (seniors, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], women getting out of difficult relationships, youth moving away from being houseless and more). Even cities could develop neighborhood clusters around a central space or element. “There are all different ways to put people together in independent living while creating community and support for one another,” she says.
The pandemic has shown a brighter light on another situation—multigenerational living. Dehmer speaks to families’ desires to keep their elderly family members closer to home in a post-lockdown world, which offers another way to utilize ADUs.
To date, YardHomesMN has sold 12 units in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. There are also some proposals out for sales in the Twin Cities suburban areas. The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans is considering them as options for affordable housing. This brings up the question: What about permits? Depending on the city, Dehmer said it varies in terms of what type of building or zoning permit is required. She says Maple Grove doesn’t have an ADU ordinance, so a variance exception would come into play.
Despite this state’s slower move toward ADUs, Dehmer sees a strong future for YardHomesMN. “Minnesota is always behind the curve,” she says. “We’re slow adopters to change.” Other parts of the country have been quicker about embracing ADUs, especially on the West and East coasts. “There’s a need for cities, especially [those that are] landlocked, to accept this type of housing,” she says. “I think we’re right at the cusp of the explosion.”