Planning & Development

Press Release

ADU | HOU Design Contest Concludes with Free Downloadable ADU Plans

ADU Plans Garphic

September 22, 2023 -- Property owners in the market to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) now have access to a free set of design plans courtesy of the Planning and Development Department’s ADU | HOU Design Competition. The plans for “Double House,” a detached secondary unit have gone through preliminary review by Houston Public Works but may require additional steps for permitting and construction. Download the Double-House design set for free.

"These plans are the finale to a two-year project that drew talent from the design community to make a difference in Houston's availability of affordable housing options,” said Planning and Development Director Margaret Wallace Brown. “By making these plans freely available, we are giving property owners a jump start in planning their own accessory dwelling unit project."

ADUs, also known as a granny flats or secondary dwellings, offer a range of benefits to existing property owners including providing extra space to allow residents to age in place, flexible housing for caregivers, young couples and empty nesters. Homeowners can also rent the secondary unit to supplement their income and provide housing affordability for college graduates and young professionals or provide short-term living space for people saving or searching for homes. Property owners seeking to build an ADU should verify whether deed restrictions allow the construction and rental of ADUs in their neighborhood.

Additional requirements may include submitting plans for review, obtaining required permits, developing a site plan, paying applicable permitting fees, and scheduling periodic inspections. Additional design work may differ based on site specific conditions. All submissions must abide by current codes and ordinances. You may need to consult with an architect, engineer and/or developer to complete the process.

Funded by a 2021 AARP Community Challenge grant, the Accessory Dwelling Unit book, the ADU|HOU Design Competition and ADU workshops are related to the ongoing Livable Places initiative, which is creating opportunities within our development standards that encourage housing variety and affordability.

The “Double House” plans were designed by Adam Berman and Siobhan Finlay, Master of Architecture students, who participated in the HOU | ADU competition as part of a graduate studio at Rice Architecture. The conceptual design was selected as the winner during an online vote in 2021. Since then, Berman and Siobhan have been working on completing the detailed plans and the Planning Department has been working with the Houston Permitting Center to achieve preliminary review.

“Participating in the competition and seeing the project evolve from its initial concept design into a complete set of construction documents as part of a larger team effort with Rice Construct students has been a wonderful and collaborative learning experience,” Finlay said. “My hope is that making the plans available to the public will help to increase awareness about ADUs as a practical way for Houston to densify its housing supply.”

To learn more about the permitting process, visit or call 832-394-9000. To download the free ADU | HOU Design Book, purchase a hard copy, or view workshop videos, articles and other ADU resources, visit