This story originally appeared in the Press Democrat.

A chain of home improvement store with locations in Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sonoma is advertising something more than a new hammer or backyard plants.

Customers of Friedman’s Home Improvement can walk up to a kiosk and review floor plans for granny units, much of which come ready-made thanks to Santa Rosa-based HybridCore Homes.

Customers can look at “core” sections — including walls, doors, windows, countertops, kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures — made in a factory.

Friedman’s provides the materials for finishing touches and financing is being offered through Redwood Credit Union.

The companies are tapping into a tool that policymakers see as an easy way to help expand the persistently tight supply of available housing options. With local home prices remaining out of reach for many and vacancy rates low, state legislators and local officials have moved to ease restrictions on granny units built on lots with primary homes by expanding their allowable size.

“I like to call them stealth apartments,” said Shaun Faber, co-founder of HybridCore Homes.

For the granny unit project, HybridCore offers eight floor plans and two elevations for the ready-made units, and the company oversees the delivery and placement of the cottages. HybridCore made its name providing a similar model for larger homes, and it’s currently involved with the Paseo Vista subdivision under development in southwest Santa Rosa.

While the “core” granny unit provides many of the dwellings’ key components, homeowners still need more material to make them feel complete — and unique.

“You still have to put a roof on it, you still have to do the siding, you still have to finish it more from the outside than you do on the inside. Those finishing materials are part of a package that we’ve put together,” said Barry Friedman, CEO and president of Friedman’s Home Improvement. “Obviously, with all of the products we sell, we have the plants and the other walkway material or whatever it is you need to finish it to make it a home.”

On the financing side, Redwood Credit Union is offering a home equity line of credit that accesses up to 85 percent of their home’s equity — up to $500,000 — to pay for the unit. HybridCore and Friedman’s estimate the cost of the units will fall in the $150,000 to $300,000 range.

“We saw it as a good way to partner with them to help fulfill and deliver on a solution that, certainly in this market, is a big deal with the way housing affordability is going and all of the challenges there,” said Ron Felder, Redwood Credit Union’s chief lending officer. “It seemed like a win-win if we could work with them to help provide some financing for that.”

You can reach Staff Writer J.D. Morris at 707-521-5337 or On Twitter @thejdmorris.

This story originally appeared in the Press Democrat.