What Is An ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) For Homes?

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Small green accessory dwelling unit

Your home is running out of space and you don’t know what to do.

It could be your family is expanding (congratulations!), you need to keep your elderly family members close by, the college graduate is coming home, or many other reasons. Whatever the case may be, you need more room in your home. But, you can’t find the right way to do it.

This is when people turn to ADUs. When they hear this acronym, their first question is, “what is an ADU?” Keep reading to find out!

What Is An ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit)?

garden accessory dwelling unit

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a secondary housing unit that is on the same property as a single-family home. ADUs are often used as guest houses, in-law apartments, or smaller living spaces for older homeowners. You can also rent them out if you want to use your property to make some extra income.

While ADUs vary widely in terms of size and style, they all provide an extra living space that can be used for a variety of purposes.

The Different Types Of ADUs

There are three main types of ADUs: detached units, attached units, and converted units.

  • A detached unit is a stand-alone structure, such as a guest house or granny flat.
  • An attached unit connects to the primary residence, such as an in-law suite.
  • A converted unit is an existing space that has been repurposed, such as a basement apartment.

The most common type of ADU is garage conversion. This involves converting an existing garage into a livable space. Garage conversions are relatively inexpensive (normally) and a contractor should be able to complete one fairly quickly. However, they may not provide the same level of privacy as other types of ADUs.

While the type of ADU will vary depending on your needs and wants or the needs and wants of whoever will be living in it, all ADUs provide an opportunity to expand your living space without sacrificing privacy or jeopardizing the value of the primary residence.

Pros And Cons Of Having An ADU

Before taking on such a project, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to see if an ADU is right for you.

On the plus side, an ADU can be a relatively easy and cost-effective way to add living space to your home. In many cases, you can build one using existing structures such as a garage or shed. Many also don’t require a separate foundation or utilities, which will add to the overall cost. You can also design them to blend in with your existing home, or to stand out as a unique feature. Additionally, if you plan on renting out your ADU, the income can help to offset the costs of construction and maintenance.

However, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. For example, depending on your location, there may be restrictions on the size and style of your ADU. Even if you’re not planning on renting it out, an ADU can still have an impact on your property taxes.

Is An ADU Right For You?

There are a few things you’ll need to take into account before breaking ground on an ADU.

First, consider the size and layout of your property. You can attach an ADU to your existing home or build it as a freestanding structure. But, you will need to make sure it meets local zoning regulations in terms of lot size, setback requirements, and height limits.

You’ll also need to think about how you’ll use the additional space. Will it be for extra storage, a home office, or a rental unit? If you’ll use it enough to make it worth the cost, then it might be worth investing in one.

Finally, you’ll need to factor in the cost of construction and any necessary permits. You can always set aside money to invest in one if you decide it’s the right move for you and your family.

How To Get Started With An ADU

building a backyard accessory dwelling unit

The actual first place to start is deciding if an ADU is the best move for you and your family. If it is, the next step is deciding what type of accessory dwelling unit you want or what type can fit on your property. Once you decide that, the start of building begins with seeing what local zoning laws permit when it comes to accessory dwelling units.

FAQs About ADUs

  1. How big can an ADU be? The size of an ADU can vary depending on local zoning regulations, but they typically range from 300 to 1,200 square feet. This size range can also change if you are converting a space in your home into an accessory dwelling unit
  2. What can I use an ADU for? An accessory dwelling unit can be used as a rental unit, guest quarters, home office, or other types of living spaces
  3. How much can it cost to build an ADU? The cost of building an accessory dwelling unit will depend on the size and complexity of the unit, the contractor you hire, and your location. On average, you can expect to pay between $100 and $200 per square foot. For total costs, you may pay anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000
  4. Is it difficult to get approval for an ADU? The approval process can vary depending on your location, but it is generally not overly difficult to get approval for an accessory dwelling unit. In most cases, you will need to submit a proposal to your local planning commission and obtain a building permit before beginning construction. However, if you live in a historic district or conservation area, you may need to obtain additional approvals
  5. Can I build an ADU myself? You might be able to build an accessory dwelling unit yourself if you have experience with construction projects and are comfortable working with permits and inspections. However, it is generally advisable to hire a professional contractor to handle the project as it may involve dangerous electrical work

Expand Your Home Using Brucksch & Sons Contracting, LLC

ADUs can provide an opportunity for homeowners to add value to their homes and gain some additional income. They are a great option for people who want more space without having to move or for those who want to downsize but don’t want to give up their amenities or community.

If you’re interested in learning more about ADUs and whether they would be a good fit for your property, fill out our contact form today so we can start discussing your ADU project in Severna. We would be happy to answer any questions you have and help you start creating your very own ADU.