ADUs Details You may not Know About

If you have never heard about accessory dwelling units, in this article, we will tell you all the important things concerning ADUs, their types, options of utilization, and the main benefits that homeowners get by adding an additional unit to their main property unit. But first, let us consider the history behind the popularity of Accessory Dwelling Units.


What is an ADU

An ADU is an Accessory Dwelling Unit, a small–size dwelling that homeowners have built on the household territory. The term is widely used around the USA and across the world, attributed to little secondary housing units of different types and purposes.
In older days, Americans who had just arrived in the country and didn’t have many resources to get a large housing unit immediately would dwell in such small houses while the building of their main units was still in process. It was especially the case with farmers’ households in the times when farming brought the main wealth to most families in the USA. Back then, building an ADU was a really common idea. On the other hand, more well-off individuals and rich families tended — and still do — to have additional housing apart from their primary mansions on the territory of their estates.

What is also important is that at that time, there were literally no rules regulating the process of building ADUs. ADUs should have to fit the local and federal laws, which led them to the proliferation of ADUs all around the USA by the end of the 19th century.


How ADUs Became the American Reality

Let us consider the major milestones in the way of ADUs spread and popularization.

  • In the past, Americans also used to get themselves carriage houses, also known as coach houses, usually powered by several horses. These constructions served as means of traveling with utmost comfort and of living, sometimes even with better conditions than traditional houses could offer, let alone mobility.
  • In the 20th century, ADUs renewed their appearance, and, in the days of terrible economic crises, they began to serve as dwellings given out for rent. That made the owners a bit more wealthy in the long-term by using previously empty and unused constructions to earn the dollar.
  • In the course of the repercussions caused by WW2, it was hardly imaginable that an ADU could be built legally in America, especially for business needs. At that time, some regulations concerning building ADUs, as well as some codes for zoning, appeared, and, in most states, it was allowed to build only one ADU on one household’s territory.
  • After a long pause, ADUs triumphantly reappeared in the USA, with increased popularity. Around the end of 1980s, most more or less large cities tried to give helping hands to small housings.
  • And in 2000, as a result of increasing demand among the people for ADUs, AARP and the American Planning Association issued a historical act, together with the first local zoning code for ADUs.

Nowadays, the demand of Americans for ADUs has increased again. Small wonder, because there are so many benefits one can get by having built an ADU. Let us talk about it further on in the article. But first, let us have a look at some main types of ADUs common in the US and discuss them in detail.


Most Common ADU Types in the USA

There are several kinds of ADUs in terms of their structure and placement on the housing lot.
1. Detached ADU
These structures often exist in the form of small cottages situated in the backyard of your main housing unit. Sometimes, these are referred to as DADUs, granny flats or mother-in-law units, depending on the location around the USA.

2. Reconstructed Garages

This type of conversion is really common in the USA because it is far simpler than building a new housing unit: you only need to reconstruct your already existing garage in order to make it look like and actually be like a decent place for dwelling, storing things, or letting somebody in for a couple of nights. Of course, all these things must be checked with the local regulations concerning the building and use of ADUs.

3. ADUs on top of your garage

Some homeowners like it attached to their garages, though, instead of building an ADU on top of them. These ADUs are a reiteration of carriage houses that early settlers in the USA would build several centuries ago.

4. Bump-Outs

These ADUs are built as an addition to the already existing main housing unit. They enlarge the space, giving the entire household a totally new look, not to mention the things you can do with your ADU to get benefits from it. Of course, all should be done in close conformity with the local regulations.

5. Basement-type ADUs

As the name states, these dwellings are usually constructed in the basement part of a household unit. Like the first type, these, too, are typically called mother-in-law dwellings, and some really do serve this very purpose of accommodating one’s relatives.

6. Internal Type

This kind of ADU is generally built inside the existing main housing unit. However, the basement doesn’t get reconstructed to become part of the ADU.

Having discussed the main types of ADUs Americans often prefer to have built in their household territory, let us enlist the main features all these mentioned ADU types have in common.


ADU’s Main Specs

Here are some of the main features that unite all kinds of ADUs:

  • They are built nearby or inside the primary housing unit
  • Their sizes are way smaller than those of primary units
  • Most often, only one owner or a single family has possesses an ADU
  • They all are regulated by law

Besides, there exist several more types of accessory dwelling units; however, most of them are not quite legit. Let us now have a look at what benefits cities get by implementing ADU regulations and inducing their residents to build themselves new ADUs.


ADU Benefits for American Cities

There are a lot of reasons why some cities make it a point to provide their residents with the best policies concerning buildin

Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Benefits for the economy

Additional dwellings are a great solution for the central districts of cities. Besides, they don’t require construction of additional roads, gutters, and other municipal facilities, as regular constructions frequently do. This measure also decreases the expansion of the city towards the furthest outskirts.

  • Eco-Friendliness

Accessory Dwelling Units and their construction cause far less harm to the environment than regular constructions built in the territory of a city.

Besides, the rate of energy usage is smaller than regular family households have.

  • Society factors

For those whose budgets are limited, accessory dwelling units are the way to go! Their cost is smaller than that of regular housing options, without the need to move to far-reaching districts in search of new accommodation.

However, the number of ADUs whose construction is legit by law can really make an impact on the housing situation in the city. Most individuals decide to have an ADU built for the purpose of its monetization through renting it out. Also, accessory dwelling units are great for extended families who want to live close to each other.

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Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ

What is actually an ADU?

One may call them granny-units, or mother-in-law houses, or the extension, but it all means an additional small dwelling unit built within the territory of the existing housing unit or garage. There are actually more than 60 names these constructions go by around the USA.

Do you have to have a kitchen in an ADU?

Actually, yes. You have to have at least a small kitchen space equipped and set in your ADU. By the way, this is the key difference between accessory dwelling units and other kinds of minor secondary housing.

Do ADUs require permits?

Absolutely. Your local authorities should give you permission to build an ADU on your main living unit territory. The policies differ based on the measures of ADUs, whether they fit or not the local rules for building ADUs. Of course, if you are not going to use your future ADU as a living space, no permission is needed.

Can I legally build a housing unit in my backyard?

Some states allow their residents to build additional housing units that can be used to accommodate residents in backyards. Some other states do not, considering it illegal. So the main point is whether you are going to use your ADU for living or for some other purposes. It is absolutely different with the housing units that can be legally considered as houses. You should check your local zoning codes for the answer about your particular case.

How about ADUs house value?

Property owners in the USA can really benefit from giving themselves an ADU built, as they can really increase the property value and become a real asset, financially. The amount of value varies based on many factors such as the area of residence, the purpose for use, and others. It is advised to compare the rates with the help of appraisal specialists, who should have access to sales data and will correctly tell you the rate.