The First National Gathering of Leaders in Small Backyard Homes

The heart of small housing is about giving people more options for what to call home.  At PAD, we’ve never cared much to discriminate about “small vs. tiny”, or “on wheels vs. on a foundation.” What we care about is people having access to affordable, sustainable places to live in a way that serves their life.

That’s why PAD has been hard at work again on the Build Small Live Large Summit, coming to Portland, Oregon on November 3-5! It’s a one-day conference on Friday, followed by optional small house tours on Saturday and educational workshops on Sunday. Here are some parts of the event that small and tiny house fans and advocates will be interested in:

The Why and How of Small Housing

Dee shared the keynote stage at the 2015 Summit with Sightline Institute’s Alan Durning – see below for a video of their great take on the personal, political and economic implications of small homes.

In 2017, the Summit is moving beyond its regional roots in the Pacific Northwest and gathering the national leaders in accessory dwelling unit (ADU) development for the first time. ADUs are better known as backyard cottages, basement and attic apartments, granny flats, mother in law apartments, laneway housing… the list goes on. The idea is an old one – you build a smaller house on the same lot as a bigger house – but it’s receiving new interest from big cities where rents and home prices are skyrocketing.

Those cities desperately need to build new housing to keep prices down. And while many cities can and do need to build bigger buildings like condos and apartment towers, ADUs have been an untapped resource in the effort to add more housing to our cities. Unlike big buildings, they fit neatly into the typical residential neighborhoods many people enjoy.

ADUs are also unique because they put existing homeowners and community members, and not big property developers, in the driver’s seat of what our housing looks like and how much it should rent for.

What’s Happening Each Day?

Here’s a little overview of what’s happening at the 2017 Summit and what tiny house fans might be interested in:

Friday, November 3 – The Summit and Tiny Houses in the Park

Shipping container home
Tour this shipping container home from Modern Dwellings PDX! Photo via Modern Dwellings.

At the Friday Summit, professionals in design, development and real estate, and advocates for small, sustainable and affordable housing will gather for a full-day conference about innovative small home and ADU projects across the country. One Summit session focuses on how ADUs can help fight the displacement of citizens from their communities, featuring speakers working on this issue in Portland, Austin, Los Angeles and the Bay Area.  Another session explores innovative ways to use ADUs and tiny homes villages as transitional housing for the houseless. The Summit’s exciting closing Innovation and Design Slam will feature presentations on small home projects that excel at affordability, sustainability, or important design criteria like age-friendly housing for seniors.

If you’re a professional or advocate in these industries and fields, please join us!

Or if you just want to tour through some great tiny houses in person, for free, come by the South Park Blocks all day long! We’ll have five tiny homes on wheels and a shipping container home open for touring all day, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm! Each home will have a builder or representative on hand to answer questions. Thanks to TruForm Tiny Houses, Modern Dwellings PDX, Real Wood Tiny Homes, Tiny Mountain Houses, and our old friend Joe Mauck who teaches students at St. Helens High School to build tiny! See all the participating builders on the Tiny House Tours page!


Truform tiny house on wheels
The spacious interior of a TruForm Tiny House. Photo via TruForm Tiny Houses.

Saturday, November 4 – Tours!

Carissa Page ADU in Portland, OR
Carissa Page’s Garage Conversion ADU in Portland, OR. Photo via:

The Summit is also hosting two exciting tours, which are open to anyone and don’t require registering for the Summit:

  • The last Portland ADU Tour before the fees to build them are slated to increase next summer. If you’ve been considering building an ADU before the development fees are projected to increase by almost $14,000 per project, come to the ADU and Small Home Tour!
  • We’ll also be hosting a unique educational talk and guided tour of tiny home villages for the houseless, including the Kenton Women’s Village. This new community is for houseless women, and the “sleeping pod” structures were designed and built by Portland’s architectural community, students and volunteer organizations, led by the Portland State University Center for Public Interest Design.
The Kenton Women’s Village, a transitional housing community for houseless women. Photo via: Catholic Charities

Sunday, November 5 – Workshops!

On Sunday, interested homeowners can take a free, one-hour introductory session on how to develop an ADU, or take a full-day, deep-dive workshop on how to develop an ADU from start to finish from ADU expert, consultant and educator Kol Peterson.


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