Austin entrepreneurs gear up for city’s ADU-friendly housing push

Up to three homes can be built on single-family lots, lawsuit expected

Austin Builders Gear up for Accessory Dwelling Unit Push
A photo illustration of Austin Council Member Leslie Pool (Getty, Jouaienttoi, CC BY-SA 4.0 - via Wikimedia Commons)

Austin developers and homebuilders are making moves following changes to the city’s residential codes.

City Council’s recent approval of the HOME Initiative has sent shockwaves through the city’s real estate landscape, the Austin Business Journal reported

Spearheaded by Council Member Leslie Pool, it allows up to three homes to be constructed on single-family lots. It also streamlines approvals and eliminates residential occupancy limits. 

Industry players, such as Volstrukt LLC, are gearing up to invest heavily. The Austin-based company specializes in machine-manufactured steel frame kits for accessory dwelling units. The firm is seizing on opportunity in homeowners’ ability to create additional housing units on their properties.

“It’s like when traffic builds up and you need to pick a lane,” Volstrukt owner Marc McQuain told the outlet. “There is that jumble, and everyone is trying to find a path. It’s about being able to get in and do really good work from the beginning.”

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Volstrukt is designing products aligned with the HOME Initiative guidelines, drawing inspiration from projects in Seattle and Southern California.

“We are big on supporting citizen developers,” McQuain said. “We are hopeful that we can make it easy for homeowners to navigate the process and take that opportunity for themselves. That is the nice thing about the scale coming down.”

Despite the excitement, challenges loom, as opponents of the policy plan legal action. Some developers, like Ryan Turner of Riverside Homes and Turner Residential, expressed caution, citing uncertainty regarding the initiative’s fate in the courts.

Uncertainties also persist regarding construction financing and ownership structures. A condominium ownership regime could be the best bet, said Michael Scott of San Antonio-based Jefferson Bank’s Austin office. That allows individual ownership of units but shared ownership of common spaces.

The HOME Initiative also provides opportunities for housing cooperatives to expand, as it eliminates occupancy limits. Ryan Nill, a consultant and lobbyist for the Austin Cooperative Business Association, sees it as an immediate solution to Austin’s affordable housing crisis. 

The city will begin accepting applications under the HOME Initiative in February. 

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