Building Affordable Housing In Tacoma

Building affordable housing in the City of Tacoma has been a hot top for almost a decade. The City of Tacoma has taken action and now allows homeowners to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) on their property to alleviate the growing need for affordable housing. It is not the golden ticket, but it without-a-doubt, has created an avenue for Tacomian’s to build affordable housing.


The median home value is Pierce County has soared to over $440,000 and as of January 2021 there is less than one month supply of homes for sale. That means (theoretically) that if no homes were to be listed, it would take less than 1 month to sell ALL of the homes on the market. For context, a balanced real estate market has three to six months of homes for sale. The median household income in 2020 was just over $70,000. Which means buying a “median priced” home for $440,000 is becoming quickly out of reach for the majority of our community. (See stats from the Census bureau – Tacoma, WA – Census Bureau Statistics from 2020). Now that you see the numbers and growing urgency to create more affordable housing in Tacoma, let’s get the discuss with Luke Shadduck on building an Accessory Dwelling Unit on your single family property.


Recently Dave Jones (One of the owners of Windermere Abode) interviewed Luke Shadduck. Luke is a lifelong resident in Tacoma, Code Official at the City of Tacoma and because of his work at the COT, is very familiar with the goal the city has to increase affordable housing for our community. Outside of his work at the City, Luke is a father, husband, entrepreneur, artist and all around good dude. As he states, he comes from very humble beginnings; living in the basement of a home as a young child with his mom, dad and sister. When his family had the opportunity to purchase a home in North Slope (on a hand shake non-the-less) it was a turning point for his family.

His upbringing, career as a Code Official and continued curiosity about Real Estate and architecture has enabled him to have a deep understanding of homes, the make-up of our community and dire housing need we see ourselves in today. He decided to embark on a project of his own; purchasing a small 2 bed 1 bath home with a detached garage and convert the garage into an Accessory Dwelling Unit.

When listening to the podcast, expect to learn what the top three things Luke suggest looking for when searching for a property to build an ADU. Why the partnerships with the City of Tacoma and Tacoma Public Utility were pivotal in the successful conversion of his garage, to a separate “tiny home” (as some might refer). The value of getting permits and the most costly things to look out for when building your Additional Dwelling.

In May of 2019 the City of Tacoma relaxed the regulations around building an ADU on single family residence to encourage homeowners to build more affordable housing. For a complete breakdown of the current requirements, click the link –


Step 1: Before you start picking out the backsplash, cabinets and flooring for your ADU, call the City of Tacoma, provide your property address and a general description of your plan. They will provide important information that you’ll need to have before starting the project.

Step 2: If you have an existing structure that you are looking to convert, be sure that you understand what upgrades need to happen in order for the building to be converted to a living space. The requirements of a home and garage are not equal, so arm yourself with information and understand what you will need to do to make it habitable. For this reason, some may argue that it is easier to start from the ground up, rather than working with an older structure.

Step 3: Utilities! They are arguable the most important and most costly aspect of building an Additional Dwelling Unit. The City of Tacoma requires that you have a separate meter for your ADU but will allow you to use the sewer line for your existing home. PRO TIP: When searching for a home, have a sewer scope and understand where the line runs. If you are able to use the existing sewer line for your ADU, you will be saving yourself tens of thousands of dollars.


Are you looking to Sell or Buy a home in the greater Tacoma Area? Call/Text or email Jenny Wetzel to get started. (253) 381-9788.

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Get In Touch

Tacoma Realtor - Jenny Wetzel

Jenny Wetzel

Call or Text: 253.381.9788


Fax: 253.381.9788