Architecture + Design

Every once in awhile, we come across an idea or product that reminds us of just how grateful we are for the movers and shakers—globally, yes, but especially those mixing up the status quo in this town we call “home.” And when those ideas or products center around that which is our very bread and butter? Well, then all the better.

Enter Modal.

This forward-thinking co. is in the business of creating stunningly minimal ADUs (or “accessory dwelling units”). The vision, according to Modal’s Founding Partner and Design Principal, Dallin Jolley: “We want to move the needle in what’s known as standard living practice. Salt Lake City is one of the fastest-growing cities in the entire nation, and we have to have an answer for our lack of dense housing”.

Aesthetically speaking, the units are lovely—picture the beautiful (stackable! Stitch-able!) offspring of a tiny house and a shipping container home. With a base price of under $100,000 and a footprint of 432 sq. ft., Modal’s ADUs aim to “build small, but smart,” with spaces that “combine thoughtful design and quality materials.” One such unit is currently on display at Downtown’s City Creek Mall, and, when Modal approached our own cityhomeCOLLECTIVE design and styling teams with a proposal to stage the model unit, we leaped at the opportunity to get our hands on the tidy space. Senior Designer Pamela Jewell was happy to lend her creativity and elbow grease in equal measure (they needed a table? She made it. A side table? She welded it. Art on the wall? She painted it.), and our newly acquired Staging Manager, Drew Stone, styled it up and gave it some serious sprucing. 

The frame in which our talented team worked was a stunning one--in fact, this space is so full of life it might actually be to die for--but the finished product also wouldn’t have been possible without some of our team’s product collaborators: CM Ceramics, Adib’s Rug Gallery, and Dropit Modern. 

We sat down with Dallin at the newly designed unit to talk shop and find out the goods on Modal’s model. Read on…

What sparked the idea for a creative ADU redesign?
 It just so happened that as we were brainstorming the idea of [pre-fab construction], Salt Lake approved their new ADU code. That code-change officially sparked our excitement and became the vehicle to our highway so to speak. We are also actively conversing with the appropriate officials in the hopes of pushing [a larger, blanketed approval] forward. 

What do you see your end-user getting for these rent-wise?
- That certainly depends on the location, yard space, what’s included amenity-wise, etc, etc, but we’ve seen $950 on the low end, and up to $1250 on the higher end.

You currently have a one bed, one bath design. Any new floorplans on the horizon?
 We have what we're calling a flex studio coming soon, which is a 13’ x 26’ space with Murphy beds and kitchen and bathroom spaces off to the side so there will a good 165 square feet of open space. It’s designed for those that want to use it for alternative methods such as yoga studio space, a home office, or something along those lines. It’s totally transformable, totally flexible, and definitely coming soon. 

What is the current build time for a Modal unit?
 Once we have the official green light, our build time is about 19-20 days. We have that part pretty dialed in, and we think that it is a necessary perk, because the permitting process can be lengthy. So as soon as that permit is issued—we are a total go.

How long does installation take?
 Typically just one day! We have all previous site work done, which takes about a week, where we trench and pull, and stub utilities in; we’ll also place the helical screw pile foundations in so we can simply transport, crane, set, and connect the Modal unit all in one day.

Lastly, how does one become a Modal citizen (that is, where do we sign up!)?
 The first step is to visit our website and fill out our ‘Does My Property Qualify?” checklist. If we think it might, then we would continue our own due diligence by visiting the property for a site assessment - which is free of charge. We would be looking into lot size, zoning, setbacks, and all of the other regulations that would be necessary to move forward. We can usually have an answer to you within 24 hours of visiting a property.

Have questions of your own? Shoot an email to [email protected], read the SLC’s official ADU handbook here, or check out


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