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Accessory Dwelling Units

What You Need to Know About Accessory Dwelling Units

“Accessory dwelling units” is the fancy name given to the extra room or apartment built beside an existing home. These can be a great addition to a home, particularly those with extensive gardens that no one takes advantage of anymore. Homeowners can turn that space into something useful.

How To Get the Most Out of Accessory Dwelling Units

There’s no one correct answer to this particular dilemma. Everyone thinking about adding an ADU must clearly know what they want to do with it. Creating an apartment with comfortable living accommodations will be a different project than wanting to use that space for a game room or office.

Even if the space can double down as an office and a game room, it’s essential to have a sense of the room’s primary use. That will allow whoever is heading the project to ensure that the ADU has the proper facilities or amenities.

The Pros and Cons of Building An ADU

Building accessory dwelling units means creating a useful space around the house in an area that, most of the time, wasn’t being taken advantage of. In some cases, these units can serve as an extra source of income for the homeowner.

The problem is that some homeowners can’t just get up one day and decide to build an extra apartment on their property. There may be consequences to the decision that they are not taking into account. These consequences could come back to bite them in a big way.

Pros

  • Adding accessory dwelling units to a home can help increase the property’s value.
  • The space will typically be more valuable than a large patch of grass.
  • ADUs that are turned into apartments can generate a source of income.

Cons

  • Setting up an ADU can result in the homeowner having to refinance the property.
  • Not all neighborhoods will allow accessory dwelling units to be erected.
  • These external homes cannot be sold as individual properties.

Can The Homeowner Build an ADU?

Figuring out the answer to this question is going to be the first step in the process of building an ADU. The homeowner would check with their Homeowners Association or the city beforehand.

Even where building adjacent buildings inside a prebuilt home is legal, there will usually be rules. One of the more common restrictions around building these units is the number of floors they can have. Homeowners thinking about building a small apartment complex within their property to generate more revenue may want to reimagine their business plan.

Types of Accessory Dwelling Units

An ADU can come in different shapes and sizes and, most importantly, be on other parts of a property. Different types of ADUs will require special permits to be able to build. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to have a clear sense of the type of ADU that’s planned before looking into the building requirements.

Detached New Construction

As the name suggests, this dwelling unit is an entirely different building than the main house. It sits on the property, and because of this, it enjoys unique jurisdiction. These units can be rented out to other people, generating revenue for the property owner.

These buildings are part of the central estate legally. That means that even though they can be rented out, they can’t be sold as an individual asset. Some of these detached constructions are garages or storage facilities and apartments.

Home Addition

These accessory dwelling units are extensions to the original construction of the main house. When homeowners want to expand a room, they can look to do so through a home or room addition. Some local codes are a bit strict with these, but it’s usually easier than creating an entirely new building.

Basement Conversion

The description is in the name with these types of accessory dwelling units. Basements usually turn into game rooms or other bedrooms. In most cases, there aren’t too many permits needed to make these conversions.

Garage Conversion

Garage conversion is another type of ADU where the process description is in the name. Like basements, people like to convert their garages into other bedrooms. No permits are needed as long as no significant adjustments are made to the home facade while making these conversions.

Out of all of the accessory dwelling units available, this is the one that homeowners try their hand at themselves the most. One of the main reasons for this is precisely the lack of permits needed for these projects.

How To Find the Right Contractor

Hiring the right contractor will be the first step toward a successful home improvement project. What key traits should the right contractor bring to the table? There are plenty of important ones, but these may be the best of the bunch.

Previous Experience

Knowing someone has worked on a similar project will always be reassuring for homeowners. Most of them wouldn’t get surgery from a novice doctor. The same concept applies to a home.

Permits and Legal Knowledge

A contractor that has this part of the project covered can save the homeowner a lot of problems down the road. The last thing anyone wants is to get a notice from the city in the mail.

A Keen Eye for Desing

Sometimes, architects will be in charge of the design and then hand the project off to the contractors. In other cases, the contracting firm is in charge of the plan. Regardless of how that process plays out, making sure the contractor can follow the original design is essential.

Final Thoughts

Accessory dwelling units are the easiest way to create more living space within a home. Choosing the right one for each situation could be a big challenge, though. There may be space concerns or budget issues to keep in mind.

The legal part of the process is one that should never be ignored. Many homeowners will get enamored by the potential they see in their accessory dwelling unit projects. It’s great to have that passion, but it’s not a good idea to be blinded by it and overlook the paperwork.

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