Potential of ADUs

Catalyzing New Markets in Construction & Building Materials


Interest in ADUs and other secondary units has skyrocketed in California in the last few years thanks to new state-level legislation making them permissible state-wide. This strong increase in demand has created space for new players and new ideas in the building industry. These smaller structures have a host of unique needs and potential, including different supply chains, using new materials or old ones in new ways, and integrating technology from the beginning. Their size (between ~400-1,200 sq. feet) allows for experimentation with pre-fabrication in factories, using new methods like additive manufacturing (i.e. 3D printing), and delivering panels or modular units to job sites for faster

construction times on-site, the efficiency of material use, and standardization in product quality and performance. They also create a secondary market of innovation like using technology to batch projects, co-manage construction, or increase transparency in the building process.

Our speakers come from three very different companies and leverage technology, materials, and supply chains to innovatively address some of the gaps and opportunities present in the ADU space.

Learn more about this series here.

Hosted by:

John Crowley
John is passionate about developing disruptive products, strategies, and business processes. Recent work includes modular and component building systems with FACET, intelligent furniture, advanced textiles, and automated daylight/shade control systems. John is on the Board of Build It Green.

Guest Speakers:

Sam Ruben

Mighty Buildings is a construction-technology company using 3D printing, robotics, and automation to unlock productivity and create new types of construction jobs for new entrants. 

“Because it is end-to-end digital fabrication, if there’s a design change late in the process that’s not an added cost for us. It’s just a change in the model which then gets converted automatically into the code that runs the 3D printer and the robots.”

– Sam Ruben

Kevin Casey

New Avenue Homes is a market network of a team of designers and contractors and a system that uses transparency and data to create efficiencies and reduced risk in custom designed and built ADUs.

“Remodels (to create ADUs) are repurposing existing space. It’s hard to beat that on the sustainability side when you’re using existing assets – sustainability AND price-wise.”

– Kevin Casey

Justin Hersh

Group Delphi is a 30-year-old exhibit design firm. His company is leveraging its existing global supply chain and pivoting to deliver ADUs constructed with panelized systems to help address the housing crisis.

“The weakness of the housing industry is not innovation, it’s integration.”

– Justin Hersh

Action steps you can take

  1. Get involved with a building systems incubator. Check out the Carpenter Union’s Factory OS, Terner Center’s Housing Lab, or USGBC’s Housing Accelerator to learn more about what’s happening on the cutting edge and collaborate with other innovators. 
  2. Interested in designing ADUs? New Avenue Homes is hiring designers or architects interested in residential design, and builders with a contractor’s license who are team players and understand the construction project management process. 
  3. Already building ADUs? Learn more about the ADU legislation in the areas you work, and see if they have a list of pre-approved ADU plans (ADU California has begun to build a list).
  4. Read up on ideas to close the housing gap with these McKinsey reads:
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Alex Coba

Communications Associate

As a proud California native from Stockton, Alex brings a wealth of experience and a versatile skill set. He has a solid communication background with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Public Relations from California State University, Chico. Alex is adept at strategic communications and media relations, with experience gathering and sharing stories from his local communities that uplift the unique spirit and values of those places. He is excited to join Build It Green, where he can apply his talents to further BIG’s mission to help communities across California thrive.