Top Remodeling & Design


5 Considerations Before You Build An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)


Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), is a type of housing that has been popularized in recent years. It is typically attached to the main house and creates an additional living space for the family. The ADU can be used as a guest room, home office, or rental property. When building an ADU many considerations need to be made before you start construction on your project.

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or “granny flat” can be a great investment for your home, whether you want to create the ultimate multi-generational living space with all of its amenities and creature comforts.

Like with any building project, careful preparation is crucial for success. Here are the 5 things that need consideration before investing in building one yourself:


Consideration #1: Check Development Standards

The first thing to consider when building an ADU is if your property meets the development standards for it. Not all cities and counties allow accessory dwelling units, as they are sometimes called (ADUs), so you will need to check with yours to see if you can legally build one on your lot. Here are some things to consider:

Density – This is the maximum number of dwelling units that may be built on a property. Ensure that your planned ADU meets the density restrictions of your district.

Maximum Height – Your city or county may restrict the height of new structures in your region. To obtain a construction permit, your ADU’s height must comply with these restrictions.

Utility Easements – These are the city services that operate over or beneath your land. Make sure your proposed ADU does not interfere with these utilities.

Setbacks – Your authorities having jurisdiction may impose more requirements, including a sufficient distance between a detached ADU and adjacent property lines for fire safety. Along with density and heights, you can discover the setback limits in your authority’s zoning regulations.

Others – There may be other criteria that would prevent you from building an ADU. Make sure to double-check with your local building department for any additional conditions that could apply to your proposal. You can begin the design process once you’ve decided that your home qualifies for an ADU expansion.


Consideration #2: Parking Requirements

There was a requirement that a new off-street parking facility is built for the ADU. However, because there wasn’t much space to spare, this was quite stressful for the ADU. If your home meets the following conditions, you don’t need to worry about having enough room for the new parking spot:

  • It’s accessible by public transportation.
  • It’s located in a historically and architecturally significant neighborhood.
  • On-street parking permits are required, but they are not provided to the inhabitants of ADUs.
  • The property is within walking distance of a car share vehicle.


If none of these conditions apply, you may need to reserve an additional parking space on your property. Check with the government having jurisdiction over your business to see if this is required.


Consideration #3: Privacy Level

Before you build an ADU, think about how much privacy you’ll need. The privacy barrier varies depending on who is living in the ADU and who will be residing there. For example, if you’re developing an ADU for your grandmother, you’ll have to go see her more frequently for health checkups.

However, the degree of privacy varies if you are allowing your ADU for leases. Then you’ll need to set up a tight privacy procedure to ensure that it does not interfere with your regular activities.


Consideration #4: Plan ADU Access On Your Site

For a variety of reasons, accessibility is an important factor to consider. A level, unobstructed walkway to the street is required for your ADU. This isn’t something you have to spend a lot of money on – natural stone tiles or precast pavers are both reasonable alternatives. Take into account the residents there, as well. If you have an elderly family member who will reside in an ADU, for example, a smooth concrete path with an access ramp could make reaching the unit simpler and safer.


Consideration #5: Understand Your Site Conditions

It is also important to understand your site’s constitution, as it impacts the amount of ADU developments.

  • Examine the grade of your yard to see whether it is gradual or steep.
  • Do you have a rainwater collection system in your backyard?
  • What is the soil’s quality?


Designing add-on dwelling units is similar to designing regular housing. As a result, don’t try it on your own. It’s not that you’re mistaken. It’s not easy to construct an ADU. You will need help from industry experts if you want to build your ideal ADU without emptying your bank.

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