Thomas and Terra: A Community Effort for an Accessible Home

Tom & Terra’s Redwood Retreat

  • Location


  • ADU Type


  • Price


  • Time

    approx. 2 years

  • Year of Completion


Although we are from Northern California, we met in Washington D.C. while serving in the armed forces. In 2018, we decided to return to Terra’s hometown to start our family. We love being five minutes from the beach or redwoods and it was also extremely important to be close to parents as they age.  A family friend helped us find our home and we decided to build an ADU so Terra’s mom, who has mobility issues, could be close to us.

We cherish the sense of community Arcata provides and have leaned on it a lot. Friends donated their time and expertise, including a designer and a builder, who helped us develop an accessible floor plan including two bedrooms, an ADA bathroom and a huge screened back deck overlooking the redwoods. We held a community art sale, including art by Terra’s late father, to raise money to complete the project. We also salvaged old growth redwood paneling from his home to use as siding on the ADU, which gives it a familiar charm.

The property being on a hillside was a major issue and expense. There were also unpredictable price increases, a local labor shortage and unexpected fees. Initially, the application process was difficult due to city staffing issues but accelerated once the plan was approved. We paid for our ADU using a personal loan, savings, donated materials, and community effort. We recommend building an ADU, but if you do, be prepared to be flexible throughout the process and ready to commit a lot of time and energy. And if possible, use the power of community to get you across the finish line!

Hear from Thomas and Terra about what this ADU has meant for their family and get a peek inside in a short video.