An accessory dwelling unit, also known as an ADU, is an apartment or residential unit that shares the same building lot as another apartment, condominium unit, single family home, duplex or townhome. ADUs may share the same zoning regulations, land use regulations and other property related issues as their adjacent building’s owners.
ADU’s provide additional living space to those with limited mobility and are becoming popular with seniors who have trouble navigating the city streets on their own. Some ADU’s are designed with the same features and services as the main building, while others are designed as an apartment for the residents. Some ADU’s may even include common areas like laundry rooms and laundry facilities for guests and residents alike.
Although ADUs are often designed with the same features and services of their adjacent building’s apartments and condos, there are some differences in regulations and rules of thumb between apartment buildings and accessory dwellings. There are specific codes and ordinances that govern accessory dwelling units and apartment buildings.
The regulations and rules for apartment buildings apply to accessory dwelling units, but apartment and accessory housing regulations vary between municipalities. Generally, apartment buildings are zoned to allow a certain amount of square footage for each unit. Condominiums are zoned to allow for different proportions of the unit’s area to be used, depending on its amenities and number of occupants. Townhomes, duplexes and single-family residences are zoned for maximum occupancy with an allowance for some square footage to be used for parking spaces.
One of the biggest differences between apartment buildings and accessory dwelling units is what is allowed on the property. Some cities limit the square footage of individual units to make them conform to the restrictions on adjacent buildings, while other cities prohibit certain types of additions or renovations on a single unit or multiple unit’s property. In the case of multi-unit properties, there may be restrictions on the size of the unit or multiple units for each tenant.
In addition to being considered the same, accessory dwelling units are different from apartment buildings because they do not have an actual building that serves as a primary source of income. They are typically owned by the owner of the property where the unit is located and are rented to people who live in apartments or condominium units.
It is important to check with your city or county laws for any additional restrictions regarding the design and maintenance of accessory dwelling units, including restrictions on wall color, curtains, window color, windows, paint, and other accessory additions. You may also need to pay fees to have the unit inspected to ensure that it meets local safety and building codes. Before you purchase an accessory dwelling unit, consider purchasing an attached unit or an attached dwelling unit to make sure you are purchasing the correct type of dwelling unit for your situation.
If you purchase a home that already has an accessory unit installed, it may be possible to convert it into an accessory dwelling unit. In this case, you would not have to purchase a new unit, and would only have to make one change.