What Are Accessory Dwelling Units? A Simple Guide

accessory dwelling units

With the US entrenched in an affordable housing shortage, many people have been looking for an answer. However, it may be nearer than we realize. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are the perfect way for people to pay less in rent and have an independent space.

However, that’s not the only use for an ADU. Here, we’re going to talk about what a dwelling unit is and why you may consider building one on your property. Read on to learn if this is a good idea for you!

What Are Accessory Dwelling Units, Anyway?

In the most basic terms, an ADU is an additional dwelling unit that’s built on the grounds of a single-family lot. It is essentially a secondary house or apartment that shares the lot of this home and allows renters to reside on the property.

The defining feature of an ADU is that they’re an external accessory to another housing unit. They’re all much smaller than the larger house is.

The most common type of ADU is a backyard guest house. However, it can also be a free-standing garage that has been converted for renters to live in. The laws and regulations regarding the creation and use of an ADU will depend on the area that you reside in.

Types of ADUs

While all accessory dwelling units have some common factors, there are a few different types that can be built on a property:

  • ADUs made from new, detached buildings (granny flats, backyard cottages, laneway houses, etc.)
  • ADUs made from converted freestanding garages
  • Addition ADUs which are built as freestanding units but attached to the main house
  • Garage apartments that are above or adjacent to a freestanding garage
  • Basement ADUs in which a basement was converted to its own living space

Why Might You Need One?

There are a few reasons that you may want to build an ADU on your property. The first is that you simply want to make a little money renting out space. An ADU is a great way to host tenants while maintaining your privacy. You can get a rent check each month without even needing to share your space!

However, many people create ADUs so that they can have elderly loved ones nearby. If you have aging parents or grandparents, creating an ADU for them ensures that they will be close at hand and taken care of. The same applies for loved ones that have special needs and need a bit of additional care.

An ADU also makes a great guest house for visiting friends and family to make their own. You can have long-term visitors stay comfortable while still being nearby.

For more info on this, check out https://actonadu.com/blog/8-reasons-you-should-consider-building-an-adu-in-san-jose!

Get Started

Accessory dwelling units are awesome for many different reasons, and building one might be the renovation that your home needs to truly reach its maximum potential.

Now that you know what an ADU is, it’s time to get more information about building one. Contact us from our home page to ask us any more questions you have about ADUs. We’re happy to point you in the direction of more information on these units so that you can begin your home improvement project ASAP.


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