What Is An ADU: Accessory Dwelling Units
An accessory dwelling unit, usually just called an ADU, is a secondary housing unit on a single-family residential lot. The term “accessory dwelling unit” is an institutional-sounding name, but it’s the most commonly-used term across the country to describe this type of housing. While the full name is a mouthful, the shorthand “ADU” is better.
It is an additional, self contained housing unit that is secondary to the main residence or the primary unit. ADU’s are sometimes referred to as “Granny Units” or “Mother-In-Law units” since many ADU’s were initially constructed to provide housing for family or guest members. They can take many forms and shapes. In some cases, an ADU can be attached as an addition to the house, or as a second story over a garage or as detached unit from the primary residence. The garage itself may be converted to an ADU or the ADU may occupy a basement. An ADU can be a section of the main house that is separated from the main living space, or an ADU can be a stand-alone unit like a small house or cottage.
The fact that it’s a secondary housing unit—rather than a given structural form—is what defines an ADU.. But, when we’re learning about concepts, it’s natural to want to know what that concept looks like in the flesh. We want to visually embed the design concept in our brains as a tangible object that we can mentally reference.
Types Of Accessory Dwelling Units
There are three main types of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs): interior(garage conversion), attached, and detached ADUs.
These additions adjoin the primary dwelling – to the side or rear of the home, or constructed on top of an attached garage.
A stand-alone structure separate from the primary dwelling. A detached ADU can be built as entirely separate unit or constructed over an existing accessory structure, such as a detached garage.
Located in the primary dwelling, an interior ADU is built from existing converted space, usually an attic or basement. ADUs above a garage or workshop, or attached to it. In some areas, these may be called garage apartments or carriage. ADUs also commonly called basement apartments, mother-in-law units, in law units, secondary suites, English basements, accessory apartments, and a host of other names.
What ADUs Have In Common
While their structural forms vary, ADUs share some common traits and face common design and development challenges. For one thing, the fact that they’re secondary housing units on single family residentially zoned lots places ADUs into a unique category of housing. And ADUs also have some other distinguishing characteristics that help further define, differentiate, and distinguish them from other housing types.
- ADUs are accessory and adjacent to a primary housing unit.
- ADUs are significantly smaller than the average US house.
- ADUs tend to be one of two units owned by one owner on a single family residential lot.
- ADUs tend to be primarily developed asynchronously from the primary house by homeowner developers.
- A large range of municipal land use and zoning regulations differentiate ADU types and styles, and dramatically affect their allowed uses
- Vast numbers of informal ADUs exist compared to permitted ADUs.
- ADUs are required to have kitchen and bath facilities.
- ADUs must be built on a permanent foundation.
These differentiating characteristics make ADUs a distinct type of housing and have led to a lack of common understanding around the language and best practices of ADU development. This site is going to help change that by providing some clarity about ADUs, and how average homeowners can build them.
ADU’s Offer Benefits of Flexibility & Extra Space
The flexibility of accessory dwelling units allows them to serve a variety of functions as a homeowner’s needs change over time. An ADU can be a home office, a private space for guests, or an opportunity for additional rental income. It can also be a home to a family member with special needs, or an elderly relative who wants to age in place, allowing them to receive the support and care they need while retaining as much independence as possible. As with any new build or remodeling project, an accessory dwelling unit is a significant investment of both your time and money. However, after the initial build has been completed, ADUs are less costly to operate and maintain per square foot, and rental income can help to supplement mortgage costs or retirement savings. Homeowners can also benefit from increased property value and the flexibility and security that comes with having a secondary and adaptable structure that can meet their future environmental, lifestyle or financial needs.
For those looking to optimize a traditional home, an accessory dwelling unit is a great way to take advantage of existing resources, while increasing the efficiency of a property and providing extra income. We recommend working with a qualified design, construction and project management team who can help you to understand local development constraints and navigate the permit process. This trusted team can also ensure your ADU is exactly the way you imagined, delivered on time and on budget.
Do you have an elderly family member that needs care that you would like to have closer to you? Children that are priced out of the current Real estate market? Would you like an additional passive income? We can help you with the process of getting your new Unit developed and all of the requirements needed to make your dream a reality. We can provide design and drafting We will work with the planning department in your area to get the approval to build. Of course, the construction of the ADU building is what we do best! If you are looking to save a few steps and purchase a Modular home… Call one of our experts today!. A premier Modular ADU design build firm.