There are several names for accessory living units, including in-law suites, guest homes, backyard cottages, and garage or basement conversions. ADUs are distinct living spaces that are often added to a single-family residential land, and they are now having a moment.
By building an ADU, you might raise the value of your home while adding rental income potential or additional living space for a relative. However, adding an ADU could turn out to be a costly burden that you later regret.
Here are some things to think about before committing to an ADU if you’re considering one.
Why ADUs are gaining popularity
Many towns and states, including California, Oregon, and New Hampshire, have implemented legislation in recent years that makes it simpler for homeowners to build ADUs. This is partly in response to the housing shortage and rising costs that have resulted in an affordability problem in many regions. ADUs are seen as a reasonably low-cost method of expanding the provision of more affordable housing without significantly altering the character of residential areas.
According to Rodney Harrell, vice president of family, home, and community at AARP, which publishes a manual called “The ABCs of ADUs,” demand is also being spurred by the aging of the U.S. population. For senior family members or caregivers, more space may be added. According to Harrell, this trend may have been hastened by the pandemic as people sought out alternatives to the nursing facilities where at least 175,000 Americans perished from COVID-19. ADUs can also offer autonomous living quarters to young adults who are a part of families but may not be able to purchase their own flats.
Even if it doesn’t resolve every issue, Harrell’s housing option “helps address a number of issues at once.”
Costs and acceptance can differ greatly.
An ADU can be built out of an existing area, like a garage, attic, or basement, for approximately $50,000, but a brand-new detached ADU can cost more than $150,000, according to Harrell. Additionally, obtaining the necessary permits to build your ADU may be relatively simple, a protracted battle, or downright difficult depending on where you live.Homeowners in California are legally allowed to construct ADUs, and local governments aren’t allowed to obstruct the application process. A few towns, such as Los Angeles and San Jose, have pre approved building blueprints that can further shorten delays. Other cities have simplified the approval procedure.
However, some Californian localities are bucking the trend by holding up or rejecting licenses. Kol Peterson, an ADU consultant and the author of “Backdoor Revolution: The Definitive Guide to ADU Development,” claims that the majority of American communities either do not permit ADUs or have tight laws that impede their development. Cities may demand pricey modifications, impose fines that can significantly increase the cost, or even need zoning exceptions called variances even in areas where ADUs are permitted, according to Peterson.
Considered skipping the permits? That probably isn’t a wise move. According to real estate appraiser Jody Bishop, president of the trade association Appraisal Institute, unpermitted buildings could make it difficult to sell or refinance your home and expose you to zoning department enforcement measures. One irate neighbor is all it takes to turn you in.