• RTB Staff

The ABC’s of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s)


For the novice real estate enthusiast, the world of ADU’s can be daunting-- understandably so, as the rules, regulations, and standards for these accessory dwelling units can vary per state, city, and county. On top of endless design options, confusing permitting, and fluctuating costs, trying to make sense of what owning an ADU means can be very overwhelming. This is why this resource guide breaks down the basics of ADU’s, their benefits, and, all in all, what they can do for you. What is an ADU: An ADU is a structure that is separate from or attached to the primary dwelling on a single-family lot. Whether attached or not, an ADU is an entirely independent living space, often equipped with a full kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping quarters. Who can live there: The modern ADU is nicknamed the ‘granny flat’, as it is a great option for families who want to move in relatives like grandparents, aunts and uncles, and adult children. But really, once you build an ADU, the possibilities are endless. You can use it as an additional living space for a growing family, move in relatives, utilize it as recreational or office space, or simply rent it out.  What can an ADU do for me: The bottom-line of it is, an ADU can make you money. Now, this is not the only reason people invest in these structures; the benefits of an ADU range from improving quality of life to offering an affordable housing alternative for those looking for more space. But the huge draw for many is the fact that an ADU can be financed and leased out to renters, serving as a consistent source of income. Whether put towards the initial investment, mortgage payments, or just generally additional cash flow, an ADU can generate monthly rental income to make life just a little bit easier.  What type of ADU should I get: What ADU you get really depends on your own needs, as well as actors like the zoning laws and regulations in your area, as well as the amount of space within your lot. On top of that, these structures are highly versatile, and depending on the company you are purchasing your unit from, are able to be tweaked and even transformed in the way of design. But generally, there are a few categories of ADU’s that you can choose from, and customize to your liking:

  • Detached ADU

  • Above-garage ADU

  • Detached-bedroom ADU 

  • Detached ADU

  • Upper-level ADU

  • Lower-level ADU

What can an ADU do for my community: ADU’s have high community compatibility for a few reasons. Firstly, they are super environmentally friendly, not only requiring fewer resources to build, but also expending less energy for heating and cooling once in place. On top of that, these structures can be seamlessly incorporated into neighborhoods without taking up additional space, often being placed at the back of properties. And finally, ADU’s are becoming an integral part of creating affordable housing alternatives, and are utilized as a solution to the displacement of lower to middle-class income households. 


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