Is SonderPods part of the solution for thousands of families still displaced by the Sonoma fires?

It has now been over a year since the fires in Sonoma County destroyed 5,334 homes and yet only 70 homes have been successfully rebuilt with just over 1,200 under construction. This leaves over 4,000 displaced families with no solution in sight. To make things worse, thousands more Californians were displaced by more disastrous fires in recent weeks. It seems that this is a problem we will face for many years to come.  

But why the lack of progress? How can so many still be disrupted? Well, there are two main reasons:

  1. Insurance Payouts are not enough – The insurance payments have not been enough to allow families to rebuild. Take the Martins* whose family home was destroyed in Rancho Bernado. They received a payout of $1.1m with $785,000 for rebuilding equating to a rebuild cost of $175 per square foot. However, equivalent building costs have increased by anything up to 70% making the cost of rebuilding equate to $350 or even $500 per square foot. The insurance money is simply not enough to allow people to put their lives back together.
  2. Not enough builders – the simple fact is that there are not enough builders in the county to meet the demand. This has put upward pressure on costs of both labor and materials making it more expensive than ever before to replace your home. This coupled with an insurance pay out that is lower than needed is making the situation for many almost impossible.

Just maybe, a light at the end of the tunnel may have arrived in Sonoma County in the form of a new modular housing company called SonderPods who are headquartered right here in Rohnert Park.

The HCD accredited company has a range of SonderPods varying in size from a 120 square foot home office through to a 750 square foot, two bedroom, mini home all built to the highest level of California building codes. They are built in the SonderPods facility complete with full kitchen and bathroom in 30 days and delivered to site a week or two later.

The 750 square foot SonderTwo, two bedroom mini home including the Fresco outdoor entertainment module.

Probably the best news is that SonderPods have focused on squeezing cost and time out of the production process and pass a lot of these savings onto their customers and are able to price their homes at around $230 a square foot. This means rebuilding even with lower than expected insurance payouts becomes possible for thousands.

SonderPods aim to deliver one home every two weeks starting in January and plan to increase production to three a week by the summer of 2019. The company are taking reservations on a first come first served basis and interest is high as the word gets around about this new option. A reservation made at the time of writing this article will likely be delivered in late February but slots are filling fast.

The company hope to begin talks with Sonoma County officials before the end of the year with an aim to streamline the permitting and approval process to get those affected back in their homes as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know is still displaced by then get in touch with SonderPods to learn more about how they might be able to find a great solution for you. Contact Us

Interior of the SonderTwo mini home.

*Full story in

**Full survey results here:

3 reasons why investing in an ADU is one of the smartest investment decisions you’ll make in your lifetime.

sonder live modular house

3 reasons why investing in an ADU is one of the smartest investment decisions you’ll make in your lifetime.

Saving enough money to retire in California is tough. Not only do we have to pay off the most expensive houses in the nation, but we also have to save enough to be able to afford to live in the state with the highest cost of living too. As house prices explode as well as the associated property taxes, more than 39% of Californians “mortgage burdened” which means that more than 30% of their monthly income is used up on meeting their mortgage payments. If so much of your monthly income vanishes on mortgage payments, it becomes almost impossible to save the amount of money we’ll need to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

The need to break this cycle is becoming critical to millions of Californians if they hope to have a comfortable and enjoyable retirement in the state they call home now.

Building an ADU on your property with SonderPods could be one of the best investments you will make in your lifetime. Here are the three key reasons why:

Reason One: ADU’s instantly add value to your home

The average cost of houses has crossed $500 per square foot across the wider bay area with some areas crossing $1000 per square foot. Our houses are among the most expensive in the nation. But this provides us with the first great opportunity for adding value to your home with SonderPods and it’s incredibly simple! If you can add floor space to your home at a cost that is less than the value that it will add to your house then you are winning.

SonderPods are efficiently built in a factory to keep quality high and costs down. A 750 square foot SonderPod can be installed on your property for around $230 per square foot


Current Value of your home per square foot $500
Cost of your 750 square foot SonderPod

($233 per square foot including an average allowance for foundations & utility connections)

Potential value increase

(Size of the SonderPod multiplied by the square foot value of your existing home)

Immediate potential value gain from adding your SonderPod $200,000

Reason Two: You could pay off your mortgage 8 years faster


If you put one penny on the first square of a chess board, then on the second square you double that to 2 pennies. On the 3rd square, you double it again to 4 pennies and so on until you have covered the 64 squares of the chess board. You might be surprised that on that 64th square of the chessboard you would placing $93,233,720,368,547,800 – now I had to google what that number is and it’s ninety-three quadrillion dollars which I believe is more money than exists in the world today. What I am describing here is the power of compounding interest, something that Albert Einstein described as one of the most powerful forces in the universe.


Your mortgage is also an example of compounding interest working against you. That small interest rate that you are paying adds up to be a lot of money over the duration of a 30-year mortgage. On a typical $500,000 mortgage with a 4.25% interest rate around $1800 of your $2500 mortgage payment will be going straight to the bank in interest payments rather than paying off your home. That’s right, only $700 of your hard earned $2,500 mortgage payment actually goes towards paying off your home. When you add these interest payments up over 30 years, you would have paid over $880,000 to pay off your $500,000 mortgage.


But don’t worry, there is some good news and you can use compounding interest to your advantage. Making small additional payments can have a massive impact on the cost of your mortgage.


The table below outlines how renting out an ADU on your property from Sonderpods will not only pay for itself but it will also help you make additional payments and pay off your mortgage 8 years faster, saving you $138,000 in mortgage payments.


Mortgage Amount at 4.25% Your Monthly Payment Mortgage payment contribution from your SonderPod Years to Pay Off Money Saved
Current Mortgage $500,000 $2500 $0.00 30 $0.00
New Mortgage

($500k original mortgage + $100k for your SonderPod)

$600,000 $2500 $1000

(Assuming $1500 rent and 33% tax)

22 Over $138,000


Obviously, this table should be updated for your particular situation but your SonderPod team can help you understand the potential savings you could make by adding an ADU to your home.

Reason Three: You could need to save $450,000 less for your retirement


Hopefully, you are making regular payments into your 401k and that balance is building up over time from the tax benefits and as the markets continue to climb. But what kind of income will this provide for you in retirement?

The widely accepted rule of thumb is that you can expect your retirement income to be 4% of whatever you have managed to save throughout your lifetime. To have a retirement income of $60,000 a year, you will need to save a massive $1.5 million dollars. To put this into context, a 30-year-old need to make sure that their retirement savings are increasing by $50,000 a year if they hope to retire at 55 – a tough ask if over 30% of your income is already committed to your mortgage payments.


This is where the rental income from your SonderPod can make all the difference in helping you prepare for an enjoyable retirement. With an average annual rental income of $18,000 a year, your SonderPod will provide you with the same income that $450,000 of retirement savings would bring you.


You should always have your own financial plan in place for your retirement, but how much better would you feel about your preparation for your retirement if nearly a third of what you need to retire was already in place?



An investment that pays for itself and pays your house off 8 years earlier AND could reduce what you need to save for retirement by nearly half a million dollars?!


To some, this might all sound too good to be true but it’s actually just a simple process of understanding the compounding impact that small changes can have over longer periods of time.


At SonderPods, we keep the cost of construction low and pass those savings onto our customers. If you have to spend less to create an income stream now and use this additional money wisely, it can truly be life-changing.

To understand more about whether adding an ADU to your property can have a big impact on your retirement plan you’ll first need to confirm that your home qualifies for an ADU. Your SonderPod team can pre-approve your home for an ADU within 48 hours.

ADU’s are the next revolution in California housing

ADU’s? The next housing boom?


There is no denying it, the ADU revolution has well and truly hit California. Annual applications for Accessory dwelling unit have exploded from 70 to over 2000 between 2015 and 2017 in Los Angeles alone. This is only the beginning as it is estimated that more than 500,000 homes in California qualify for an ADU. But what is driving this revolution and how can you take advantage of it?


What is an ADU?


Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADU, are secondary homes, today’s mother-n-law house if you will located on the same parcel of land as an existing home. These are permanent homes are self-contained with a private entrance, a full kitchen, and a full bath and have floor plans of up to 1200 sqft.

What is driving this revolution?


Supply & Demand


Demand for new housing is much greater than the growth of the California housing stock. For every 100 new residents to the state, there is less than 25 housing permits filed compared to over 43 permits per 100 new residents nationwide.

What does this mean? There more prospective tenants than there are houses so homeowners are confident that they will be able to rent out their ADU at a rate that is more attractive than almost any other secure investment.




More than 1 million residents of California left the state between 2006 and 2016. Why? The cost of housing ranks as the number 1 reason. In comparison to the rest of America, California’s median sale price is more than twice. Not only do Californians have the most expensive houses, they also have the biggest mortgage payments to make. When more than 40% of your net income disappears every month in mortgage payments every month, it does not leave a lot for holidays, luxuries or more importantly saving for retirement.

The additional income that an ADU brings can easily pay off a mortgage years faster or provide a healthy stream of income for holidays and those special thing we could not otherwise afford.  

What would you do with an extra $20,000 a year?


Increasing Property Values


With some careful planning, the cost of adding an Accessory Dwelling Unit to your home, increases the value of the property by more than what it costs to build the unit. For example an installed Sonderpod costs around $120,000 but depending on where you live, doing this can easily add more than $250,000 to the value of the home.


Can you think of a better way to make an instant $100,000?


It’s encouraged by Government


Experts are warning us that by 2025, the state of California will be short as many as three million homes if things aren’t changed soon. Realizing there is housing issues that could be easily resolved, more and more local governments are passing measures which have made it easier for a homeowner to build an ADU.

In 2016, law was passed at a California level (SB1069) that significantly simplified the process of getting an ADU approved for your home. The law states that if your property meets certain criteria then your application will be approved at a local level and within 90 days.

Criteria For Approval Includes:


  • You have enough space on your property for the unit.
  • The unit is on a solid foundation and includes and kitchen and bathroom.
  • Has parking for the occupants or public transport is close by.


Want to learn more or see if you home qualifies for an ADU? SonderPods can help pre-approve your home within 48 hours. Get Pre Qualified Today!


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