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The City of Portland, Oregon

Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300


1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

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Little is Large on the 2012 BIG! Home Tour

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Affordable courtyard housing - Svaboda-CourtThe City of Portland’s Build It Green! Home Tour and Info Fair (BIG!) turns eleven this year. BIG! is a self-guided tour of 16 green remodels and new homes around Portland. The Home Preview web page is a great place to begin planning your tour day, as it’s easy to start and stop where you choose.  With so many homes to see, tour-goers usually check out the free Info Fair at Green Depot first, then prioritize the homes based on their features.  Volunteers are on site at the Info Fair to help you out with routes and stops.

As they move through their route, tour-goers can chat with homeowners, designers, do-it-yourselfers and contractors about space-efficient dwellings, solar panels, green roofs, rainwater harvesting, natural landscaping, affordable housing, water and energy conservation, natural building materials and alternative construction techniques.

New ADU by Susan FirpoTour date: Saturday, September 22, 2012, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Eight accessory dwelling units (ADUs) will open their doors on tour day.  All of these “backyard cottages” are new construction projects, with the exception of a converted garage. Portlanders have capitalized on waived system development charges (SDCs), resulting in significantly lower permit fees for these small infill units.  The waiver, started in July 2010, is set to expire at the end of this fiscal year - June 2013.

For the Master-Draper ADU, an existing garage was converted into an energy-efficient art studio and compact dwelling, maintaining the existing footprint.  An open outdoor room with sliding doors extends living space to the pocket garden.  In 480 sq. ft. of living space, features include a salvaged farm sink, wine barrel stave railings, day lit loft and a mosaic bathroom designed and tiled by the owner.

The 240 sq. ft. pre-fab minibox from ideabox is designed to fit on a trailer for ease of transport anywhere in the United States. It can be a tiny house, a backyard retreat, an office space, a studio or a guest cottage. IKEA cabinets complement the modern, efficient, functional design aesthetic. 

Walt Quade’s home, on a 0.5 acre lot, also features an 80 sq. ft. pre-fab studio, teardrop trailer and 325 sq. ft. ADU for his sister-in-law is also showcased.

Small common guesthouse at Planet Repair InstituteAmong other homes you’ll visit are an eclectic accessible remodel featuring Universal Design elements; Planet Repair Institute featuring shared community, natural building techniques and permaculture; the Whitridge Full Plane House expressing the homeowner’s deeply held values of a low-impact home suitable for raising children; and Cully Grove, a new pocket neighborhood of 16 dwellings, common gardens and guest house.  

New this year are drop-in workshops at several homes that are included in the ticket price. Topics include small home communities, gray water reuse, rainwater harvesting, Living Building Challenge, Energy Performance Score (EPS), permaculture and more.

The Info Fair at Green Depot is a prelude to the Tour with green vendors, demonstrations, food, drink and music. The fun begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. Green Depot is located at 819 SE Taylor, Portland. The Info Fair is FREE and open to all.

The Water House ADUTickets are required for the tour homes.  These are currently available online or in person at Green Depot, 819 SE Taylor Street, Portland. 


  • $15 general admission
  • $10 honored citizens/students/alternative transportation.
  • Children 13 years-old and under are FREE.


Want a free Tour ticket? Volunteer for the Tour or Info Fair! 

Want more info or have a project you’d like to be considered for 2013? Send an e-mail to Valerie Garrett, tour coordinator,

BIG! is sponsored by Metro, Energy Trust of Oregon, Oregon Home, Solar Oregon, Green Depot, KINK-FM, City of Portland Bureaus of Development Services, Environmental Services, and Water.