A few hundred square feet in the corner of Sam and Sara Taylor’s backyard are now home to two new residents of Broomfield.
The Taylors have fulfilled a dream they had since 2019 of building an accessory housing unit in their backyard, and last week a ribbon cut was held to commemorate its completion. The 462 square foot home is the first legal secondary housing unit in Broomfield, and the construction has proven to be a learning experience for Taylors and city officials.
The couple rent the unit for a few years as part of a long-term plan. Ultimately, they plan to move into the unit so that caregivers can live in their home with their disabled son Benjamin.
“We were trying to find a house to buy in the neighborhood. Because, I mean, when we’re not with Benjamin, we always have to be close because his needs are really specific and really complex, ”Sara said after the ribbon cutting. “But of course the houses in the neighborhood are getting more and more expensive and… we’ll be done with it, we don’t know how far.”
Sara remembers attending a city and county ADU workshop in 2019, and it clicked, “Look, we could put it in the backyard,” she recalls.
While other residents have converted garages to ADUs or built other structures, they are technically not legal, Sam explained. The two have chosen to go through the formal process and are intentionally renting the unit at an affordable price. But while they played by the rules, it wasn’t always easy.
“The construction process was just ridiculous. We had to do soil surveys and analyzes, ”said Sara. “Even though the ordinance says it’s like an ancillary building on the property, the approval process was as if it was a new house. That was insane… We need a specific code for secondary suites because they handled it all like it was a house which is expensive and unnecessary and we will never have a bunch secondary suites if that is not affordable. “
Sam said the two made their voices heard throughout the process with city council, and several council members and Mayor Guyleen Castriotta attended the ribbon cutting to get a feel for the unity and the process.
“We want people to look at it and say, ‘OK this can be done, how can we do it better? “”
Sam described the city and county as being cautious and ensuring the structure was of high quality.
“We thought it was a bit of a stretch. But Broomfield has been like this since its founding, being a master plan community. Everything has to be planned and organized, that’s what we do.
The Taylors admit their ADU is just a little relief in the affordable housing crisis. For Nicole Stoodley, it was “like finding a unicorn”.
Stoodley, 28, and her longtime boyfriend Neil Henry left Florida and were living temporarily in Henry’s boss’s basement before finding ADU.
“Neil and I were looking for apartments in the Westminster / Broomfield area as he will be working in Boulder and I will be working in Aurora. We were looking at all of these resorts and they charge all these crazy fees and have all these amenities that we don’t really need, ”Stoodley said.
Stoodley said Henry liked the Reddit forums and, knowing it was a hit in the dark, created a post saying they were looking for accommodation in the area. Sam and Sara’s daughter saw the message and told Henry what her parents were building. The two couples connected and Stoodley and Henry moved in on Friday.
Sara said she wanted to name the ADU “serendipity” because of the way Stoodley and Henry’s search went.
Sam, who served on city council, said one of the reasons he wanted to build ADU was because of some of his experiences on council when entities dreamed of building affordable housing, but surrounding neighbors felt the same. – “not in my backyard” – often shorthanded at NIMBY.
“All I hear is NIMBYs, NIMBYs, NIMBYs. “Oh we love it, but not here it doesn’t fit the neighborhood,” Sam said. “So instead of being a ‘step in my garden’ we’re literally ‘yes in my backyard’.
The city and county had no incentive to build the structure and rent it out affordably. Sam said they charge 30% of 50% of the median income in the Broomfield area, which was $ 1,200, including utilities for the one bed and one bath house.