Homes are often thought of an expense, but they can also be a source of income, if you think creatively.

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Q: What are some of the ways I can get revenue from my home?

A: Average home prices in Seattle have jumped more than 12 percent in the past year, making our city the fastest-growing housing market in the nation, according to an industry report published in April.

This can make buying and owning a home in Seattle expensive. But there are ways your home can make you money, if you are willing to get creative and invest some time and resources into the idea.

Let’s look at a few different options you have as a homeowner, beginning with the lowest investment cost.

Share a room

People have been taking in roomers and sharing spaces with roommates forever, and this is still an excellent way to reduce your housing costs. This can work for just about anyone, but it’s especially good for single people and those whose grown children have moved out and who find themselves with more bedrooms than they need. A compatible roommate may be found by checking various online listings.

Rent to vacationers

The online vacation rental platforms Airbnb and VRBO have exploded in popularity, and for good reason. Travelers who want a homier experience can stay in a comfortable private residence, while homeowners can earn thousands of dollars per year. As a homeowner, you have many options, from renting your whole home while you are away on vacation to renting a single room while you are in town. Some homeowners choose to incorporate a vacation rental space into their remodel project. You can earn from $50 per night for a room to more than $1,000 per night for a luxury home. Companies like Seattle startup Loftium will even help you with your down payment on a home in exchange for renting out one of your rooms on Airbnb.

Former Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess proposed new regulations that would limit the number of nightly vacation rental units people can rent on Airbnb and other sites, but homeowners would still be able to rent their main residence and one other unit.

Convert your basement or add on

Sometimes called a “mother-in-law apartment,” an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, is a self-contained living space that is built into your home. To create these apartments, homeowners often convert their basements by adding an outside entrance, egress windows and a small kitchen, or they can add on to the back or side of their home.

In Seattle, ADUs can be up to 1,000 square feet, the owner must live on the premises, and one off-street parking space is required.

Build a detached unit

A detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU), or “backyard cottage,” is a small, standalone house built behind your main home. These units allow you to maintain your privacy and all the square footage in your main house while creating a significant income stream. DADUs are renting right now for between around $1,200 and $2,000 per month, or up to $24,000 per year. As a vacation rental, a DADU could earn you even more.

DADUs have been legal in Seattle since 2010 on lots 4,000 square feet and larger. The DADU must be 800 square feet or less. One off-street parking space is required, except in designated urban villages. A proposed ordinance in Seattle that would allow DADUs to be built on smaller lots and ease some of the other requirements is currently under review. DADUs are not allowed in Bellevue.

Getting started

Renting your space can make a nice remodel or a more expensive home more affordable, but it also requires some extra planning, an initial investment and ongoing management. If you are interested in monetizing your home, start by checking out Airbnb, Craigslist, Zillow and other websites to get a feel for the rental market. Get some ADU and DADU design ideas from sites like Houzz and Pinterest. Talk to your banker or mortgage broker to create a realistic budget. Finally, talk to a builder or designer if your idea requires adding on to or modifying your home.


Denny Conner is the president of CRD Design Build and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBAKS’s more than 2,900 members, write to