Accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, have become increasingly popular over the years. For many, they are a saving grace from the rising costs of housing and shortage of supply. For homeowners, it’s a great way to add value to their property and make some passive income.

It’s not as simple as deciding to build an ADU on your property, there is a process to ensure things are done legally and safely. That’s why our team at Apex ADU Builders is giving you all the information on ADUs, including what an ADU is, what types of ADUs there are, the benefits of having one, and how to get started.

What is an ADU? Accessory Dwelling Units Explained

Sometimes when a single-family home is purchased, there is extra space on the property lot that you can utilize for any purpose. Some homeowners will put in fire pits, playsets, sheds, etc. If you want an option that can provide a multi-purpose function, you can add an ADU.

An ADU, also known as an accessory dwelling unit or additional dwelling unit, is a smaller secondary housing typically found on a single-family residential property. There are different types of ADUs, used for different purposes. Therefore, like single-family homes, they can look quite different from one another, varying in size and structure.

The rules and regulations for ADUs and their size and structure will vary from state to state and city to city. It is important to check with the city to ensure your property is eligible for an ADU. Once you know you qualify, you can start looking at the different types of ADUs to see what would suit your needs and space the best.

Types of Accessory Dwelling Units

There are several different types of ADUs that you can have on your property. Each type will have unique needs regarding structure, permits, costs, and function.

1. Detached New Construction ADU

This type is one of the most common ADUs on a homeowner’s property. It is completely detached from the primary residence, typically has a separate entrance, and has accommodations for sleeping, eating, and using the bathroom.

Other names you’ll hear for this type of ADU are laneway houses, granny flats, DADUs, or backyard cottages. Homeowners will use these detached ADUs as a space for guests or will rent them out.

2. Home Addition ADUs

Sometimes building a whole new construction can be too costly upfront. A more cost-effective alternative would be an addition or a “bump-out” to the primary residence. A bump-out isn’t a full addition to the home but a single room tacked onto the house to add additional space. This type of ADU would be ideal for a homeowner that already has an empty space but needs more square footage or a bathroom to make it a legitimate dwelling unit.

3. Garage Conversion ADU

This type of ADU takes an existing space in the home and converts it to make it suitable for a person to live in, whether temporary or long-term, without needing to utilize the attached primary dwelling. In this case, the garage is refinished to make sleeping quarters, a kitchen or kitchenette, and a bathroom. Like the bump-out ADU, it does rely on the utilities, electricity, water, and sewer of the primary dwelling.

4. Above Garage or Workshop ADU

These ADUs have been referred to as carriage houses or garage apartments. This type of ADU can be attached to the primary dwelling unless the property has a detached garage. It would be considered a full addition, but unlike new construction, it wouldn’t require laying down a whole new foundation.

5. Basement Conversion ADU

Similar idea to the garage conversion ADU. The basement is refinished, often adding insulation, drywall, flooring and extending the utilities to accommodate more electrical outlets and plumbing for sinks, bathtubs, and toilets. The most notable difference between these conversions and those done in the garage is that basements are typically larger spaces. More room could be more costly to convert, but if you have the funds, it could also mean more dedicated spaces like a living room.

6. Internal Home ADU

Like a bump-out ADU, this type of ADU is inside the primary residence. Depending on the home’s layout, it could be in the back or on one side of the home with a separate entrance. This type of ADU may require a whole new addition to the home or simple construction, like adding a door or installing additional drywall.

Benefits of Having an ADU on Your Property

With ADUs’ rise in popularity, there must be some benefits to taking on such an investment. Believe it or not, there are advantages to both the homeowner and others, including potential tenants, the neighborhood, the city, and the environment.

Economic Benefits

Adding an ADU to your property will benefit you as a homeowner in two distinct ways: property value and passive income. While there might be an upfront cost to adding an ADU to your property, the addition has been known to increase property value, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on where you live.

If you’re looking for an immediate return on your investment, you can rent out your unit and make a sizable passive income. Not only will that passive income take care of the added property tax and maintenance of the ADU, but there will still be plenty left over.

Beyond your pocketbook, ADUs reduce the need for infrastructure expansion in your community to accommodate the growing demand for housing. ADUs provide flexible and economical housing options in existing neighborhoods using existing government infrastructure.

Environmental Benefits

ADUs on existing property utilizing existing infrastructure are a help to the environment as well. These dwellings are a fraction of the size of a single-family home and, therefore, have a smaller environmental footprint. ADUs are between 33-44% smaller per capita than standard single-family homes. In the long term, smaller spaces use less energy in their construction, habitation, and eventual deconstruction.

Social Benefits

With ADUs providing affordable housing in existing neighborhoods, there isn’t as much of a need, to tear down local parks or natural areas to make way for more housing structures. Neighborhoods can maintain their character instead of changing dramatically to accommodate housing needs.

How to Get an ADU Built on Your Property

If you’re looking to have some additional space for guests or want to gain some passive income while increasing your property value, an ADU will accomplish all these desires. Once you know you want to build an ADU on your property, you might wonder what the next steps are in accomplishing that project.

Here are the steps you need to take to get an ADU built on Your property:

Find Out if You’re Eligible

Figuring out if you’re eligible to build an ADU on your property depends on where you live and what kind of ADU you want to build. You will need to contact your local jurisdiction to determine if your property is eligible to build an ADU and what kind. Once you have your approval, you can contact a developer.

Get a Quote

Contact an ADU developer and book a consultation with them so they can get some information on your property and give you an initial quote. Remember that a quote is just an estimate and can be more or less than what you will ultimately pay for the construction. Make sure you’re considering other expenses, like fees and furniture, when setting your budget for this project.

Accept Your Bid

Once the developer can visit your location and you settle on a design, you will receive a bid. The bid will tell you the total cost of building the ADU, including labor and materials. Accepting that bid means moving forward with construction and agreeing to the attached price tag. Again, costs can increase due to unforeseen issues, especially if you’re laying a brand new foundation and need to perform land grading, so leave some wiggle room in your budget for these kinds of unexpected expenses.

Acquire Your Permits

Now that you’ve accepted your bid, you need to acquire your permits before you can break ground on construction. Visit your local zoning and building permit establishment to find out which permits you need, fill out the necessary applications and pay the fees associated with the permits.

Begin the Build

When you have your permits in hand, your developer/contractor can begin the building process. Be sure to keep in touch and check in every so often to get progress reports. Meanwhile, you will have a new unit to furnish, so you can spend your downtime purchasing furniture for the space. Make sure you have proper measurements to ensure any beds, couches, tables, and so on will fit in the unit.

Final Thoughts

An ADU is a great addition to any home when done thoughtfully and in collaboration with a developer with your best interest in mind. Not only would it be beneficial for you, the homeowner, but your tenant, the community, and the environment. If you’re interested in adding an ADU to your property, contact the team at Apex ADU for more information!