A south Minneapolis couple have found that staying connected with family members is a lot easier when they live in your backyard.
The idea was born not long after Aliza Koplos told her parents that she was expecting her first child. They replied, "We're moving," as in moving back to the Twin Cities from Texas so that they could spend more time with their expanding family.
Aliza and her husband, Chris, had recently bought a 1928 Tudor-style house just off Minnehaha Creek in the Hale neighborhood. When her parents, Joe and Judy Albert, arrived from Texas, they rented a home nearby.
"They were looking for a place to buy," Chris said. He'd read something about accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which the city had only recently approved, and asked his in-laws if they'd be interested in living in one in his and Aliza's backyard.
They liked the idea.
So the two generations teamed up to design and build a 667-square-foot ADU above a new garage.
"Everybody pitched in," said Joe, who has experience working in maintenance for hotels and resorts.
Judy, whose background is in retail and merchandising, has a good eye for design.
Friends with construction skills shared their expertise. "We have friends who are tradespeople who we can trust," Chris said. "It's quality-built." They also hired a builder, Charles Class Construction.
The two homes are a study in contrasts. Chris and Aliza's Tudor has many classic features of that architectural style, including arched doorways, recessed nooks and traditional woodwork.
The ADU is contemporary with clean, sleek lines and black-framed windows.
"One is so modern, and the other is so Minneapolis," said real estate agent Todd Shipman, Lakes Sotheby's.
A shared courtyard with paver patio between the two dwellings provides a perfect spot for the two households to come together.
"We all have dinner out here," said Aliza.
Living in such proximity to her parents has been great for their family, which now includes two young children, Aliza said.
"How wonderful it is to have them here! I could cry, I'm so grateful," she said. "The kids can run out and see them. If she [Judy] makes food, she brings some to us. Hula [their dog] will go up and get treats."
Judy appreciates the time she spends with her grandchildren, who call her "Kuku" and Joe "Gramps."
And they all enjoy their location, which is just two doors down from the creek and easy walking distance to neighborhood restaurants, including Town Hall Tap, Carbone's and coffee shops.
"I love this place," Joe said of their home. "It's all new and everything works. It's maintenance-free."
Aliza and Chris have also made many improvements to their 2,079-square-foot Tudor, including a new kitchen with wide-plank wood floors and soapstone countertops. They converted an entry closet into a mudroom, and updated the fireplace with a gas insert, a new stone surround and a rustic wood mantel. The home also has updated windows and insulation — noise-mitigation improvements by the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
Now the two homes on one lot are on the market because Aliza and Chris want more space and a place to keep goats. The couple bought land near Prescott, Wis., where they plan to build a home — and an ADU for Joe and Judy. "We can take care of them as they get older," said Aliza, a nurse.
The Minneapolis ADU, which has its own metered utilities, laundry facilities and a full bathroom with separate shower and soaking tub, could be a living space for a young adult child, a nanny or caretaker or an aging parent. "There are a lot of possibilities," Joe said.
The ADU also has a covered second-story deck with sunset views above the treetops. "The view out back is incredible," Shipman said.
Todd Shipman, 612-382-4550, Lakes Sotheby's, has the $629,900 listing.