State by State ADU Profile: Alaska
Accessory dwellings units are a popular option for those looking to expand their space economically. If you are interested in adding an ADU to your property, it is important to know about the laws and restrictions in place for your area. Alaska, like many states, has rules that vary from town to city to county, so any Alaskans looking at purchasing an ADU should ensure that they know all of the rules and requirements.
Anchorage is one of the few areas with specific ADU laws in Alaska. In June of 2018, the Anchorage Assembly approved significant amendments to the municipal code regarding ADUs. As one council member said, they wished to ‘allow for more efficient use of residential property.’ Their goal was to ‘ensure that accessory dwelling units are compatible with the desired character of Anchorage’s residential neighborhoods and to create more affordable housing alternatives.’
The prior ordinance only allowed ADUs on lots of 2,000 or more square feet. Now, they are permitted in all residential zoning districts. However, in specific single-family districts, ADUs must be added to or created within a detached single-family dwelling.
For ADUs city-wide, the lot coverage of the principal dwelling unit, including the ADU, must still conform to the maximum lot coverage allowed by other municipal codes. The homeowner must reside in either the principal dwelling unit or the ADU as their primary residence for six months of the year. The gross floor area of an accessory dwelling unit must be no less than 300 square feet and may not have more than two bedrooms within it.
If you are an Anchorage resident looking to purchase an accessory dwelling unit, follow all of the regulations regarding your ADU. Apply for your land use permit, as they are required for any new buildings or additions to the property.
As for areas outside of Anchorage, Tiny Society reports that interest in tiny homes, a category that usually covers ADUs, is strong state-wide, but that there are relatively few. While not a complete list, GovSites.org compiled the websites for fourteen of Alaska’s twenty-nine counties. Any Alaskan looking to build an ADU in an area without explicit rules regarding accessory dwelling units should contact their county and city officials.
ADUs are an affordable option for anyone looking to expand their property, but, as with any land developments, there are rules regarding the construction and use of ADUs.