Inspiration from our founder, Stan Acton
I moved to Palo Alto from Boulder, Colorado when I was three years old. As a kid, I spent every waking hour building forts, chairs, boxes, tables, and all sorts of wooden contraptions with whatever I could get my hands on. I was fortunate. High schools still had wood shop and I was even more fortunate to have an inspiring shop teacher named Bud Jamison. Bud never bothered with curriculum. Instead, he encouraged us with a blank canvas and a heaping load of leeway to chase our creative endeavors. Bud’s the one that really turned me into a designer and a builder.
The experience instilled in me an appreciation for detail and beauty, specifically the beauty of a well-designed form. Take that discovery and couple it with the opportunity to express myself freely? I was inspired. But the greatest artists (not that I’d count myself among them), have parameters too. Whether it’s literally a blank canvas with defined dimensions, or the volume of a slab of marble ready to be chipped into a statue, the opportunity to express myself and create beautiful, functional things within a restrictive set of limits soon became even more inspiring for me. And a good thing too, because California, for all its beauty and wonders, does seem to have a lot of limiting regulations and red tape, orbiting the field of building.
I worked my way through college as a remodeling carpenter. I never could shake my love of woodworking, so I happily framed homes, crafted cabinets and finished carpentry on crown molding to help pay for my degree in computer science. Once I graduated, I was swept up by Texas Instruments and worked as a salesman for four years before my entrepreneurial itch needed to be scratched. So, in the spring of 1990, the pull of building was stronger than the allure of Silicon Valley tech riches, and I became a carpenter again. And, so begins the 30-year story of Acton Construction and Acton ADU.
I remember it vividly. Standing idly in the small, highly personalized walk-in closet of my historic home in Naglee Park in early 2017. You know those moments when you’re suddenly struck by an idea? An epiphany? Well, that’s what happened. It was a bolt of lighting that flashed through me and lit up every neuron in my brain. In that spectacularly ordinary moment, literally under the light of a swinging light bulb, I had a vision. ADUs will make an impact.
ADUs. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU). They go by many names. Backyard homes, granny flats, or cottages. But, in the United States regulatory environment, these homes are called ADUs. And for the first time, the State made an effort to make them easier for homeowners to build.