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Helpful Information and ABI's services

The Facts

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and cottages--often referred to as mother-in-law apartments or guest houses--are habitable living areas added to, created within, or detached from single-family homes that meet the basic living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation needs of their residents.

ADUs can be attached, detached, or inside units. Detached units are located on the main building's property, but share none of its walls. Such units can be separate structures, or part of a detached garage or other detached building on the property. Attached ADUs are configured such that they are a structural part of the main building. They can be an addition or part of a remodeled attached garage. Inside ADUs are built somewhere within the existing main building (e.g. in a basement or upstairs area.)

Though requirements vary with municipality, a typical ADU ranges in size from 400 to 900 square feet.

The Buzz

Though ADUs have been around for decades, their popularity has grown in recent years for a number of reasons. Here are a few:

1. ADUs make great rentals. They help diffuse mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance and repair costs, and they offer retired homeowners a source of regular income.

2. ADUs are one way to meet the demand for further, affordable rental housing in desirable neighborhoods without changing the neighborhoods' character or creating the need for new infrastructure (roads, sewers, schools, etc.) Plus, ADUs cost 25 to 40 percent less to build than comparably-sized new units because they do not involve developing new land and have lower associated construction costs.

3. ADUs offer older kids and guests (not to mention you the homeowner!) a little breathing room and a home away from home.

Who Can Build an ADU?

If specific requirements (zoning and building permits, size and design specifications, etc.) are met, the following Puget Sound area cities and towns allow the addition of an ADU: Bellevue, Beaux Arts Village, Bothell, Clyde Hill, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kirkland, Medina, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Redmond, Seattle, Woodinville, and Yarrow Point. Note that not all cities and towns allow all types (detached, attached, inside) of ADUs.

How Can ABI Help?

If you are interested in or are in the process of adding an ADU to your residence, ABI would be very happy to provide any or all of the following services:

● Initial feasibility consultation

● ADU design

● In-progress construction consultation

● Troubleshooting

Feel free to call us at (206) 522-8077, or email us at info@abi-bldg-insp.com for further information.

The ARCH Housing Website also provides helpful information for those interested in building an ADU.


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Last Updated: 5/24/05