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Sleek prefab cabins adapted into pre-approved ADUs

Bay Area housing startup Abodu tapped U.K. studio Koto to turn its minimalist prefab homes into city-approved ADUs

A small wood-clad prefab home with slanted roof sits on grassy plot. Courtesy Koto

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), or small housing units built on existing properties, have been much buzzed about as a solution to the affordable housing crisis nationwide. And now, installing a stylish backyard dwelling just got a lot easier for people living in San Jose, California.

The city recently approved a backyard apartment model from Bay Area housing startup Abodu, as part of its new plan to incentivize more housing stock through pre-approved ADUs. The initiative would allow residents to buy and install the 500-square-foot prefab house in as little as two weeks, cutting out the annoying and lengthy process of applying for a permit and construction.

The Abodu home, the first pre-approved design under the San Jose program, might look familiar to prefab fans. The backyard builder tapped U.K. studio Koto to adapt its Scandinavian-style cabins for U.S. customers. Like other Koto designs (including this impressive prefab playhouse), Koto’s $199,000 model for Abodu is clad in lightly charred timber and features a subtly angled roof, lending the house its distinctly modern character.

The one-bedroom dwelling sports pale wood floors and stark white walls inside. Buyers can opt for fancier (and pricier) finishes, built-in furniture, landscaping, and a curated furniture package that makes renting the space hassle-free.

In addition to pre-approved backyard dwellings, the San Jose city council is also considering an added incentive of a loan forgiveness program that would waive up to $20,000 for people who rent out their ADU as affordable housing for five years.

A modern galley kitchen features white counters, dark cabinets, and large windows. Koto
An airy living room has heigh ceilings, a gray two-seater sofa, pale wood coffee table, and a view of the kitchen area in one corner. Koto
A bright corner dining area with a small round table, two chairs, built-in bench seating next to a tall window. The area faces a large opening with sliding doors leading to an outside deck. Koto