Accessory Dwelling Units - What's an ADU

Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Award CalBRE 01730187

Accessory Dwelling Units - What's an ADU

You’ve already heard the term Mother-In-Law apartment or granny flat? Well, that’s an ADU. An Accessory Dwelling Unit.

It's a dwelling set up as a separate part of a single family home or property with the intention of creating space for other persons or a family to live. 

These are not like creating a room for rent in your house but rather creating a self contained home with its own entrance and living space.

In the past they were created to handle multi-generational living but now they are becoming a way to fill the housing shortage as well as provide a source of additional income for the homeowner.

In California and in other states, laws have been passed that now allow multiple housing units to exist on a lot that was formerly established as a single family property. 

Now, there’s a lot of politics on both sides of this situation but the bottom line is that it may soon be possible to add one or more ADUs to your property.


ADUs can take the form of a detached building with complete facilities including water, electricity and other utilities but


it could also be a full apartment over the garage or even converting the garage to a livable space.

They're situated on the same parcel as an existing primary single-family dwelling and provide complete independent living facilities for one or more persons. 

There ARE still several hurdles to cross before all of this gets ironed out but I believe that this will become a trend across the country. 

Ownership of the ADU remains with the  property owner of the main house. These are not units that can be sold separately but must stay with the owner. 

Some issues that concern current single family neighborhood homeowners are that no provisions have been made for the additional strain on utilities like power, water and sewer. 

Other concerns are additional on-street parking, traffic and an increase in neighborhood density. 

If you're thinking of adding an ADU, the regulations will vary with each city or county jurisdiction. Make sure you are following building codes and get the proper PERmits before investing in the building process. There is a movement by some cities to correct units that were illegally created.

Converted garages are one of the most common of these illegal conversions. In fact, some statistics indicate that there are millions of unpermitted ADUs already in existence.

So what are some PROS and CONS about ADUs?


On the PRO side:

There is Extra Income for homeowner

More useable space is created from large homes or lots


They Create a sense of community on the property.

They're also fantastic for seniors who want to live close to family and grandkids


You are Losing basic storage in your home, especially if converting existing garage to ADU and losing the parking spaces for one or two cars.


There could be a Disruption of daily life - you become a landlord and all the problems associated with it.


And Additional construction costs could be substantial, requiring additional loans.

Now, some items are Neither Pro nor Con:

Property taxes will increase which means more money for municipalities but more cost to the homeowner.

And an ADU may change the dynamics of selling your property in the future. 


Much like a pool, the buyer may or may not see the same value in it as you do.

If you have any comments or questions about ADUs, just leave them down below.





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John Alesi - REALTOR®


CENTURY 21 Award

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CalBRE# 01730187

Copyright 2018 by John Alesi. Text and images may not be copied with out consent.


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Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

This is good information to share with home owners in the area.

Nov 15, 2019 12:42 PM #1
John Alesi
Century 21 Award - Mission Viejo, CA
(Orange County California Real Estate)

Roy Kelley I was surprised that more people didn't know about these.

Nov 15, 2019 02:06 PM #2
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

It is interesting the number of people who are still in the dark about ADUs. Good video and timely as they grow in popularity. 

Nov 21, 2019 09:26 AM #3
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