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    What are the Pros and Cons of Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

    Auxiliary or Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are referred to as many things: backyard cottage, in-law apartment, granny flat, you name it. The various names are related to the fact that an ADU can take on many forms. Whether you’re looking for a garage conversion, basement living space, addition, or detached unit, this small footprint space can make a huge impact.

    What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

    An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a self-contained living space within an existing single-family dwelling. Though attached to the existing home, ADUs allow you to maintain privacy and square footage, while creating a separate living space. This could look like renovating a basement or putting an apartment above the garage. The key to this is that it has to have its own entrance. This is what sets it apart from a home addition. According to SDCI Tip 116A, ADUs must include living, sleeping, kitchen, and bathroom facilities and have a lockable entrance door, and be located within the same structure as a principal or primary dwelling unit.

    What is a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU)?

    Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADU are the same as an ADU, simply detached from the property’s main house. In the City of Seattle, ADUs are limited to 1,000 square feet in a single-family zone and 650 square feet in a low-rise zone. DADUs The DADU must also have heating controls separate from those in the primary dwelling unit. If you are curious about the requirements, check out your local building department's website or give us a call. 


    6 Benefits of Building an ADU

    Building an ADU or a DADU has quickly become a popular option for Seattle area homeowners. In an effort to improve housing accessibility, the City of Seattle passed legislation making it easier to build accessory housing. With economic opportunity growing here in Rain City, we continue seeing an influx of residents. Residents must keep finding new ways to increase their housing to keep pace. One of the reasons that these spaces have become so popular is because, for a small space, you can see relatively large returns depending on your use case. Here are several reasons property owners may consider a Seattle ADU builder or DADU builder:

    1. Provides More Opportunities for Diversity

    Accessory Units, attached or detached, can help promote economic and social diversity in neighborhoods that may otherwise be out of reach for the average renter.

    2. ADU Rental

    ADUs and DADUs can provide valuable rental income for the homeowner. With options ranging from full-time renting to Airbnb style, this can be a great way to get a little extra cash in your pocket. Additionally, it will likely increase your overall potential property resale value.

    3. Multigenerational Living & Guest House

    For those with older family members who may need assistance, this can provide an alternative to expensive assisted living facilities. The same goes for providing low-cost housing for adult children who may need to return home for a while. Additionally, the space can be used for guests. Whatever the case, having separate, private spaces is incredibly valuable for long-term guests.

    4. Work From Home Office

    Being able to separate being at work from being at home is invaluable. Create a more professional environment and eliminate the commute by creating the ultimate work-from-home “office.” With many professionals now working remotely full-time, a dedicated office space makes all the difference.

    5. Studio Workspace

    Whether you’re a yogi, musician, fine artist, or woodworker, an ADU/DADU can be incredibly useful. By choosing an ADU/DADU for these scenarios, you can design and plan the space according to the specific needs of your craft. This means that specialized ventilation can be built in, soundproofing, specialized flooring for yoga, and custom built-in storage solutions.

    6. Multi-Use Space

    No matter what you’re using the space for, there’s always an option to make it multi-use by putting a Murphy bed into the space to accommodate guests–these can fold up and be put away when guests aren’t using it. Designing the space so that there is designated storage to put items away in an organized fashion also helps accommodate different uses of the space. This may look like a family lounge, studio, or pool house by day, but can easily convert to living quarters when needed.

    What Style is Right for You?

    Finding the right type of ADU for your property takes extensive research and planning. From city zoning codes and building setbacks to site feasibility, there is a lot to explore in the planning process. Engaging with a vetted, experienced, professional General Contractor is vital to assure that the smallest details have been accounted for. Working with a general contractor who can help guide you through the process of determining why you need the space, and if you even need it, is incredibly important.

    To learn more about what it takes to plan a home renovation, home addition, or building an accessory dwelling unit, download the eBook, "Space Planning 101: How to Renovate Your Home Layout to Improve Functionality."

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    Pete Baughman

    About Pete Baughman

    Home renovation and custom home building have been a part of my life since birth. My great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all Carpenters. It was only natural for me to be drawn to it as well. I worked as a Carpenter and Project lead helping him create and produce many extraordinary projects. My experiences have varied from Carpenter, Lead Carpenter, Project Manager, Production Manager, Project Developer, and Sales Manager. I started with Better Builders in 2011 and, in 2019, became an owner.