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The Granny Whisperers

Designers, builders, and expediters of backyard flats.


Baran Studio Architecture

(1 of 4)

Sogno Design Group

(2 of 4)

Valley Home Development

(4 of 4)


Baran Studio Architecture
Matt Baran is one of many Bay Area architects fielding more requests for ADUs lately, with six in various stages of development today. His Oaklandbased firm is working on prototypes for customers to help keep design costs down. Projects typically start at around $150,000, depending on local permitting fees and construction costs (which have risen dramatically in the last two or three years). 510-595-6744

New Avenue Homes
The nine-year-old Berkeley company contracts with about 80 local architects and builders and has designed and built over 350 projects, half of them ADUs. Its granny flats range in size from 300 to 800 square feet. Founder Kevin Casey says that, realistically, an ADU takes about 18 months to design, permit, and build, though the timeline can be longer in San Francisco. 855-563-9283 

Sogno Design Group
Founded in 1998, this high-end East Bay architecture firm handles everything from newly built Craftsmans to kitchen remodels. But lately it’s been handling a surge in requests for ADUs. Principal architect Kathryn Rogers says converting a garage into a guesthouse typically starts around $150,000, plus permitting fees. 510-526-2720

Valley Home Development
This design and building firm has been in business since 2005, with a focus on large modular homes and ADUs. Founder Steve Vallejos says that he started seeing demand for granny flats go up during the recession and that business has grown ever since (the Fairfield company now has about 40 in development). A typical project takes upward of five months to permit and about three months to build. The company has nine main ADU models, starting with microunits that measure as small as 150 square feet and ranging up to house-size cottages as large as 1,200 square feet. 707-429-3300

Read More:
Grannies Gone Wild: A guide to going big by building small.
New Kids on the Lawn: Three companies trying to crack the cottage code.
Cottage People: Five homeowners who've made room for granny.
Another Thing Canada Does Better: Vancouver shows how cottage laws can ease a crisis.


Originally published in the February issue of San Francisco 

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