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This Airbnb Cofounder Is Hopping on the ADU Train for His Next Housing Venture

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Tiny Homes

This Airbnb Cofounder Is Hopping on the ADU Train for His Next Housing Venture

Joe Gebbia's startup company, Samara, is building net-zero tiny houses meant to solve California's housing shortage  


November 15, 2022
Modern ADU house lit up at night
Image: Stock.adobe.com

Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia is starting a new company that will build prefab ADU housing in order to chip away at California’s widening housing shortage. The startup, Samara, is launching its first product, a net-zero tiny house called Backyard, and its available homes come in two sizes, a 430-square-foot studio and a 550-square-foot one-bedroom, Fast Company reports.

Samara’s ADU housing can be used for multigenerational living, home office spaces, or as rental units, and all prefab houses are built sustainably to generate more energy than they use.

By one estimate, there’s room for 1.5 million backyard homes in California, and ADUs could be a major tool in tackling the state’s housing shortage. But that depends in part on how many are used as rentals rather than offices or Airbnbs. They’re also challenged by cost; a custom-built ADU in the Bay Area can easily cost more than $250,000. Samara’s studio starts at $289,000 and the one-bedroom unit starts at $329,000, including installation costs; McNamara argues that the quality is higher than what’s possible with traditional stick-built construction. But even in a region where average houses sell for well over $1 million, at this price point, it isn’t clear exactly how much ADUs can grow.

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