FAQ about ADUs

Get the answers to frequently asked questions about accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs, granny pods, guest houses and backyard cottages.

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Accessory Dwelling Unit – what does it mean?

A secondary home, on the same lot as the main house, that provides sleeping, eating and hygiene comforts. It can be detached, attached or converted from existing space. 

What does ADU mean in real estate? Property value increase. Option for additional rental income. Flexible housing that lets you host extended family or downsize without selling.

For kids? For parents? Modern? Traditional? 2 bedrooms? 2 bathrooms? Attached? Detached? Junior? Custom? Modular? Home office? Guest house? What is a priority – cost or time? 

As restrictions on our lives are thankfully beginning to ease, many of us are wondering which, of all the many changes brought to our daily lives by the Covid-19 pandemic, may be here for good. Will we continue to work from home, at least part-time? Do we actually prefer taking exercise at home rather than in a communal gym? Would our elderly family members, who stayed with us so we could care for them better during the pandemic, like to live with us more permanently?

If any of these lifestyle changes do in fact become the new normal for us, then an Accessory Dwelling Unit (or ADU for short) might be just what we need. So, what is an ADU and what can they offer us?

What makes it an ADU?

Also known as in-law units or in-law apartments, these are fully functioning independent, living spaces built on the same land as your main home. They might be a converted basement or attic, a detached separate structure like a converted garage or a new-build small cottage. What they have in common is that they are secondary units to an existing property and they use the same utilities as the main home. Their size can typically vary from 600 to 1200 square feet. Although they have their own entrance, they are legally part of the same property as the main home and can’t be bought or sold separately. 

For many families, an in-law unit is the perfect care solution for older family members who still value their independence. It’s the perfect blend of having company and support close at hand, whilst still having your own front door.  For other families, the in-law unit can actually cater for the younger generation, offering hang-out space for teenagers or even a home for a young adult who can’t afford to buy or rent their own place just yet. 

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ADU as a source of income

Aside from personal use, many homeowners are choosing to build an ADU for rental as a valuable source of supplementary income. Maybe you’d like a little extra help to pay the mortgage or provide some extra retirement income. You could even move into the ADU and rent out your main property for periods of time. Very importantly, a well-executed ADU can increase the value of your property by as much as 20-30%. Homes for sale with an in-law unit are an extremely attractive proposition.

ADUs are becoming increasingly popular throughout the country and many states actively encourage them, seeing it as one solution to the urban housing crisis. However, local municipalities may place restrictions on their development, so you must check on your local regulations.

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