Five Accessary Dwelling Units

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They are known by many names. Guest House, Granny Flat, In-Law Suite, and Garage Apartment are a few. Officially, they are designated Accessary Dwelling Units or ADUs. ADUs can be inside, attached or completely detached from a single-family home. Many find this living arrangement beneficial, including multigenerational households, individuals needing care, live-in aides, remote workers seeking a designated workspace, those who host long term guests, or even empty nesters renting their home. Here are 5 types of ADUs.

  1. Detached New Construction – Think cottage or pool house. Zoning and permitting are often the biggest challenge for this ADU. Many governing municipalities don’t want them on your property. Once you get past that red tape, there’s another hurdle - Price. Designing and building a normal size house (1500 - 2000sq ft) is a far better value (more bang for your buck) than a small custom house (900sq ft or less). Less expensive alternatives, such as shipping containers, are fun to explore but present other challenges. Privacy is the biggest benefit of this ADU.
  2. Garage Apartment – Permitting isn’t as much of an issue if the garage is attached. If detached, then the same zoning and permitting issues apply as discussed in #1. Expense for this type of project go way down if you already own a garage. Finishing off the room over your existing garage is a great way to utilize space you already have, without adding to your home’s footprint. Storage is the biggest advantage of a garage apartment. No other ADU comes with a full-size garage.
  3. Addition or Bump Out – Our Design-Build team recently completed one of these, and the process was extremely straightforward and smooth. Additions don’t have the same permitting hurdles as detached dwellings. Plus, they can bring a higher ROI should you decide to move. Just remember, recouping 100% or more on any renovation investment is never likely.
  4. Basement Conversion – This ADU has multiple advantages. Obviously, you need to start with a basement, not everyone has one. If you have one, supplying water and power won’t be a problem because it’s already available in the home. Also, expect lower energy bills because the space is regulated by the earth’s temperature. A basement ADU can easily be reverted or reintegrated into the primary dwelling should you or the next homeowner no longer want it. Ceiling height is a potential downside. Basement ceilings are typically under 7’. And for privacy sake, you’ll want to create your own exterior door, which can easily be a $10K expense.
  5. Internal (non-basement) ADU – Examples include converting an attic or entire floor in a multi-story house to an ADU. External doors may or may not be necessary. The potential for overcrowding is high with this option, which would lead to a major loss of privacy. A good Design-Build team won't let that happen. They will ensure maximum privacy during Design and only move the project forward when the client is comfortable.

Does an ADU make sense for you and your family? Take the next step by sharing your renovation ideas Here.

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