An ADU for the Ages

These 381-square-foot homes hit a housing sweet spot (or two)—and now several of them are complete and ready to install. At (about) $285,000, they command a premium price, but price becomes more reasonable as you dive into certain markets and applications.

I’d like to put these for-sale Dvele Mini Homes in perspective against the hard costs of building a new home, and also potential applications for aging in place. In both scenarios, the quality of Dvele homes should form a backstop. These are not typical sticks-and-bricks construction. 

They’re super-resilient, super-efficient and movable structures.

Let’s start, for example, with California. Governor Newsom signed a bill in 2020 removing restrictions on so-called “Granny Flats” and ADUs. This greatly streamlines the process of dropping a mini house on an existing home lot next to a primary residence.

Beyond the Bottom Line

There’s a tendency to compare housing costs strictly on a “per square foot” basis, but this oversimplifies what homes are actually worth.

For example, the average cost to build a home in California is around $250 to $350 per square foot, depending on location and materials. A Dvele Mini Home comes in at approximately $748 per square foot.

Let’s chip away at that high cost. First, the Dvele house will use dramatically less energy over its lifetime than the full-size home, as much as 82 percent less. The average 2,400-square-foot new home will use about $72,000 worth of energy (at current costs). A Dvele house might only use a fraction of that—and add a few solar panels and you quickly hit Net Zero energy use.

Dvele Mini Homes also have inherent Climate resilience against multiple risks. Their metal frames give them seismic strength. They have an outer layer of 4 inches of insulation, probably the best way to resist extreme heat in a building. The outside of the shell is metal, offering super wildfire resistance.

Inside, the homes are decked out with high-performance fixtures, heat pumps, Bosch washer and dryers and other luxury bells and whistles. Surfaces are durable and low maintenance, and systems are “smart,” offering monitoring and control from any smartphone.

(See information at the end of the article for specific details on the Dvele Mini Homes.)

The ADU Equation

Although Dvele’s Mini Homes can be installed as vacation homes or “getaways,” in my view their most obvious and financially prudent application would be a way to add an additional dwelling unit to an existing property. 

Your college-aged kids can move back in without taking over your bathroom. If that doesn’t appeal, consider the financial upsides as a compact home for family members getting too old to live on their own: Some stats to think about:

Cost of Nursing Homes: The average cost of a private room in a nursing home in the United States is around $100,375 annually. In California, it's even higher at approximately $110,960 annually.

Cost of Assisted Living: Assisted living facilities can cost between $2,000 to $5,000 per month, depending on the level of care required.

Projected Increase in Costs: The annual cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is expected to average $120,008 per year by 2028.

Cost of Dvele Mini Home: A one-time investment that ranges from $100,000 to $200,000, depending on customization.

Supplemental Income as a Rental?

Would-be Mini Home buyers  also might consider the  prospect of installing one and turning it into a rental property, at least initially. A profile of a woman who noted that she’s paying $1,600 a month for a 140-square-foot tiny house in Santa Monica, Calif.

Markets differ, but it’s fairly safe to assume a Mini Home would rent for at least that amount in many parts of California and other States. With an annual rental income close to $20,000, you could feasibly cover most of the mortgage costs on a $285,000 property, even at 7% interest. That would be assuming you did not make a substantial down payment.

Putting one of these units (and presently there are ten ready to go) on your lot will require a little prep work on your part, however. You’ll need to hire a general contractor to help with permitting and prepare a foundation and install the house when it arrives on site. You’ll also need to arrange for utility connections that are not included in the base price.

Fortunately, Dvele has already done some of the permitting on these units. They note that these homes are “pre-permitted for California and ready for immediate delivery.” Buyers pay for transportation, so the company is primarily looking at markets west of the Mississippi.

Click here to sign up for pricing and more information. 

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Invest In a Dvele Mini Home 

Dvele has 10 available mini-homes that are ready for delivery! 

These compact homes boast a clean, modern design, with advanced materials, premium appliances, beautiful finishes, and expansive windows.  Specifics include:

  • Light-gauge steel structure; 15% recycled steel
  • Engineered for 200 lbs/sq ft snow load
  • Liquid-applied, air and water-tight membrane
  • 4" inches of exterior insulation; R-value 32
  • Exterior metal cladding
  • Millwork & hardware
  • Flooring, doors, and trim
  • Tongue & groove wood ceilings
  • European-style lift & slide doors and windows
  • Ring Pro doorbell
  • Nuki smart lock
  • Plumbing and electrical fixtures
  • Bosch kitchen appliances, washer & dryer
  • Mitsubishi heat pump HVAC system
  • Lunos heat recovery ventilators
  • Rheem tankless electric water heater

These modules are pre-permitted for California as Moveable Tiny Homes, making it a lot easier to obtain a permit for the units regardless of where you live.  Please be sure to check with your local planning committee about requirements pertaining to ADUs.

Once you purchase a unit, you’ll still need to:

  • Obtain a permit
  • Secure financing (if not paying cash)
  • Prepare the foundation and utility hookups
  • Set and stitch the module
  • Connect the utilities

If you’re a serious potential buyer, click here to receive pricing and more information.

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