If you’re a homeowner in the United States, you’ve probably heard of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) – stand-alone or attached housings located on the same lot as the main dwelling or. Also known as Mother-in-law (MIL) suites, granny flats, in-law units, backyard cottages, or multigenerational homes, these tiny homes can do a lot. More and more people are turning to ADU’s as a housing solution due to the increasing housing demands. They can house aging parents, grown-up children, and generate rental income.
If you’re planning to build an ADU, now is a great time! Most cities in the state of Washington recently relaxed some formerly strict requirements for building ADUs and banned local authorities from imposing certain new ones.
However, don’t assume building a tiny house on your property will be a cakewalk. There are a few things you need to think about before going ahead with building an ADU; that’s why we prepared the 5 tips below to help you with your ADU project successfully.
Check Local Regulations & Standards to Ensure Your Property Is Eligible for an ADU
Before designing your ADU, you need to make sure that your lot is eligible according to local development standards. Consider ADU building limitations in your city such as:
Maximum height – Your local regulations can limit the height of new buildings in your area. Most cities limit it to two stories.
Density – This refers to the maximum number of dwelling units allowed to be built on a property.
Floor area – Some district’s regulations limit the floor area of ADUs and even prevent building detached ADUs.
Utility easements – These refer to public utilities that run over or under your property. Ensure that your proposed ADU does not limit access to these utility services.
Setbacks – This refers to the distance between an adjacent property and a detached property. Your local authority can impose a set distance to be sufficient for fire safety.
You can find the setback, height, and density parameters in the zoning guidelines of your jurisdiction. Make sure you check with the building department of your authority having jurisdiction for any other restrictions that may apply to building an ADU project.
Once you have verified that your property is eligible for an ADU addition, you can then go ahead with the design process.
Additional Parking requirements
Previously, cities and counties required additional off-street parking to be created for an ADU. However, you may not need to worry about a new parking space if your property is within 0.5 miles of a public transport system, located in a historic or architecturally significant district, has a car share vehicle located within one block of the property, or possess on-street parking permits that are required but not offered to the ADU’s resident.
Plan Access to Your ADU
Your ADU needs to be easily accessible for the occupants to get to the street. You may need a walkway that connects from the unit to the street. The walkway to the unit needs to be clear, clutter-free, and unobstructed. You don’t need to break the bank to achieve this. Consider investing in natural stone tiles, a smooth concrete path or precast pavers are good options for this. The passage between your house and the unit should also be clutter-free, so think of alternatives for placing your trash cans if that’s where you keep them.
How you incorporate privacy into the design of the ADU depends on the future occupant. For example, if it’s your family member, the ADU may not need to be isolated and private from the main building. The porch or front door can face your backyard entrance, giving the living arrangement a sense of harmony and connection. You could also make use of window blinds, trees, and plants to serve as subtle privacy screens.
On the other hand, if you plan to rent out the unit to strangers, privacy can be a deal-breaker. Imagine having a stranger live in your yard. Would you want them to have a view of what you do in your leisure time? I guess not, and the discomfort could be mutual.
Consider constructing the porch to face another direction other than your backyard entrance. You might want to install natural privacy screens such as shrubs, trees, and plants. Likewise, take additional steps like creating a fence, window blinds, and adding additional side or back entrances for an added sense of seclusion. These extra steps can go a long way in ensuring a comfortable living arrangement, and privacy for both you and your tenant.
Due to the small nature of ADUs, space is of utmost concern. With a bathroom, kitchen, living, and sleeping space all squeezed into about 1,200 square feet or less, things can get quite cramped. So your choice of furniture, size of appliances, and storage options can go a long way in adding space and comfort to these tiny homes.
Wall-mounted storage, for example, is key to reducing clutter, and this works in every part of the unit. Consider hanging the TV on the wall, along with some shelves. Fit-out the kitchen with upper cabinets and hooks for utensils. Make use of wall-mounted shelves in the bathroom as the linen closet. You can also have furniture made that can also act as a storage unit, and bedroom furniture that can double as a settee (they make those now), or a Murphy bed. The more wall-mounted storage options and space-saving features you give your ADU’s occupant, the more free space they’ll have on their floor. Opt for foldable chairs and tables to make more room when needed. The same goes for appliances. You can save plenty of space by going for condo-sized fridges, stoves, dishwashers, and washer/dryer stacks.
Lolark Contractors Can Help
Do you want to boost the value of your home with an ADU? Do you hope to save time and money during construction? Our five key tips can point you in the right direction.
However, don’t be mistaken, building a tiny home is not as easy as it sounds. If you want to get the keys to your dream ADU without breaking your bank, you’ll need a quality and affordable contractor to manage your project from start to finish.
Our team of skilled engineers, architects nad construction crew has extensive experience in residential construction, including ADUs (Check out our recent ADU projects and estimates at https://lolarkcontractors.com/attached-detached-suites/).
We know where the major and minor challenges lie and how to overcome them without breaking a sweat or the bank. We’re glad to give you the keys to your dream space on time and within budget. Contact us now for a FREE consultation and quote.