Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
2020 stopped life as normal but also started new trends and accelerated some trends with rocket fuel. Trends like working from home, ordering meals-to-go, and online schooling saw explosive growth during the pandemic. And another trend already gaining a lot of steam for the last few years is the Accessory Dwelling Units or ADU. Accessory Dwelling Units are a fun, ingenious solution for several reasons and likely to become part of the new normal, it’s easy to see why.
What is an ADU?
First, let’s define what qualifies as an ADU. It’s a formal sounding name similar to calling your home a single-family residence or SFR. In short, ADUs are an adjacent or accessory development within a single-family residential lot. Which could be a converted garage, a basement apartment, a stand-alone new build, or a converted room within your home. For me, I named my ADU “The Bungalow.” It’s a cozy, modern, and charming little space for friends and family to relax or party. Before this, it was a musty, dusty old work shed for our lawn equipment and random storage items.
The most common name for ADUs and use over the years has been the “Granny Flat” or “Mother-in-Law Suite.” But as 2020 has changed the way we live and what we need from our homes, other prime uses have blossomed. And depending on the use, your ADU’s priorities will be different.
- Home Office (e.g., good insulation, electrical, internet and climate control for computers and you)
- Apartment for Adult Child (e.g., bedroom with a bathroom and possible kitchenette)
- Simply need more living space (e.g., game room, schoolroom, guest bedroom)
- Vacation Rental (e.g., cottage for rent, HOA or city codes, privacy needs)
- Room for aging parents (e.g., wheelchair access, functional space for medical equipment)
Beyond the scope and budget of your ADU project, you also need to consider city permits and how they may affect what you can and cannot build. HOAs can be notoriously strict but more and more are developing ways to accommodate. You also want to consider what you’re giving up in exchange for the ADU. It may simply be 100 square feet of your backyard. But it may be the loss of a work shed, and its contents need a new home. If you’re converting a room within your home to be an ADU, then you need to consider how it may affect your home’s value or marketability should you need to sell.
My ADU the “Bungalow”
My “Bungalow” ADU project is a representation of my little heart and my little brand. Everything from the weird, eclectic art, the watercolor paintings from my Grandpa, furniture from our custom line, the beautiful, European white oak floors, the quirky sculptural lighting.
It’s beautiful, it’s relaxed, it’s cozy, it’s charming, and it’s a little slice of who I am. Both my teenagers and elementary-age kids love to have friends over to enjoy this unique little space. Or to slip away for noise-free zoom calls and homework. It feels incredibly satisfying and rewarding to see this tiny, little project come to fruition, and it’s very dear and very special.
With all this in mind, I hope it builds your confidence to move forward with your own ADU. You can take so many different routes from converting a shed like mine to hiring a 3D printing company to build a one-of-a-kind ADU out of extruded concrete! Quick plug, the future of building design will incorporate more and more 3D printing. Check out what they’re doing here in Texas and Europe.