Our Story

The story of Lilypad Homes began with a divorce. When co-founder Rachel Ginis, a talented designer and licensed contractor, became a single mother, she found herself with too much space and too many bills in her Corte Madera home. Always innovating, Rachel decided to turn her master bedroom into a private, independent apartment, which she rented out for many years. Later when her daughter moved out for college, Rachel downsized again by moving into the unit and renting out the larger home.

The flexibility and economic freedom provided by her home inspired Rachel to create the non-profit organization Lilypad Homes, which worked to open doors to housing by encouraging homeowners to create new rental units, by advocating for new local and state codes to expedite the creation of ADUs and JADUs, and by promoting progressive financing programs that recognize the future value and income from these units.

Our team members, who met through the non-profit, are now combining their talents into Lilypad Homes as a social enterprise company, a for-profit design and consulting firm, specializing in the creation of ADUs and Junior ADUs on single-family residential properties in Marin and Sonoma counties. Our team is dedicated to benefiting our clients and our community through more affordable and flexible housing options. We look forward to working with you.


Rachel Ginis, President, is Lilypad’s visionary housing advocate, a LEED-accredited designer and a licensed general contractor with over 20 years in high-end residential design (CA Lic.#898335). She is a third-generation designer, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, with a passion for small spaces and a talent for optimizing their livability. Rachel has extensive experience in all phases of remodeling, including design, specification, product sourcing, project management, and construction.

As a newly single mom, Rachel held on to her Corte Madera home by turning her master bedroom into a private rental apartment. This prototype of a Junior ADU did more than earn her extra income, it ignited a passion in Rachel for housing flexibility and affordability.  Rachel founded the non-profit organization, also called Lilypad Homes, and successfully advocated for new laws in California to ease the requirements and costs of developing accessory dwelling units. Rachel has worked tirelessly to develop an innovative model for infill housing development that opens new doors to owning and renting a home. With over a decade in the ADU space, she is excited to assist homeowners in creating new ADUs as a way to increase their economic and housing security, address the North Bay’s housing shortage, and promote more sustainable living.

Rachel has long distinguished herself as an effective activist on sustainability issues at the local, state and federal levels. In addition to her ADU advocacy work with Lilypad Homes (the non-profit org), Rachel also founded the Marin Chapter of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby. She advocated to establish the first Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) in California that allows Marin to aggregate its energy interests and purchase clean, renewable power, and she helped pass the most progressive grey water code yet established in California.


Ellen Nicosia, COO, Designer, and co-founder of Lilypad Homes LLC, brings over thirty years of corporate experience to Lilypad Homes, along with her deep love of design and home improvement. and a long-standing commitment to sustainability. Ellen’s passion for design led her to LilypadHomes.org, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (the predecessor to LilypadHome.com), where she served as a designer and its CFO. Having succeeded in making it easier to build ADUs and JADUs, Ellen is excited to work with homeowners to inspire and facilitate the creation of new units, for their own benefit and the benefit of future renters, our environment and our community.

Ellen holds a BA in Economics from UCSD and an MBA from UCLA. At IBM and Autodesk, Ellen gained experience in consulting, financial analysis, and project management. Ellen studied design through UCLA and Berkeley’s extension programs and applies these skills to formulate innovative ADU design solutions that emphasize privacy, livability and multifunctional spaces.



Sheila Hunter, CMO & CFO and co-founder of Lilypad Homes LLC, is inspired to this work by her own experiences as a homeowner and her passion for community. Sheila has a “grandpa flat” in her Marin County house, providing an independent one-bedroom home for her father-in-law. This ADU provides private, multi-generational housing and a richer life experience for her entire family.

Sheila holds a BA in Economics from UCLA and an Masters of Liberal Arts from Stanford. Having held a wide variety of roles at Ernst & Young, Oracle, and San Francisco Unified School District, She brings a diverse business background that includes marketing, partnerships, accounting, operations, and management to Lilypad Homes LLC. Sheila is thrilled to empower other homeowners to create rental units on their properties and enjoy lower housing costs, a reduced environmental footprint, and a richer community life. 

Learn about the types of units, their benefits and relative costs, along with the basics of what’s allowed in your town. We’ll explain the process of creating an ADU or JADU and help you determine the next steps.

We will assess your property and identify the options for creating your ADU or JADU.