How to pick the right kind of ADU for your home

If you’ve been thinking about needing some extra space in your home, you may be considering adding an ADU to your home. Just like our homes, ADUs can come in many different shapes and sizes, making it tough to decide which style is right for your property. Here are a few things to remember when deciding which type of ADU is right for you.

What is an ADU?

An ADU is an additional dwelling unit that can be attached or detached from your primary residence. They are often used as guest houses, attached juniors, rental units, or even rooms for a live-in caregiver. Civic engineer and President of CES4, Pedram Zohrevand has been an expert on building ADUs for years. Zohrevand advises that an ADU can provide many benefits, like additional income, extra space for yourself, friends, and family, and increased property value.

There are four main types of ADUs: detached, attached, duplexes and triplexes, and existing room conversions. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Detached ADUs

A detached ADU is a separate structure from your primary residence, connected by a path or driveway. They are usually built in the backyard and share utilities with the main house. Because they are separate structures, they offer more privacy than attached units but can be more expensive to construct.

This style of ADU is best suited for larger lots and can be used as a guest house, apartment for family or friends, or office space for a home business.

Attached ADUs

As the name implies, an attached ADU is an additional unit that shares one or more walls with your primary residence. Attached units are typically less expensive to build than detached units but may sacrifice some privacy. If you’re looking to use your ADU as an office space or main bedroom, an attached unit is a good option because it can be built relatively cheaply and quickly.

Some attached units are referred to as attached junior. Junior units are small apartments, often under 500 square feet, that share utilities with the main house. An attached junior can be used as a rental unit to generate income or as living quarters for an in-law, nanny, or adult child.

Duplexes and Triplexes

Duplexes and triplexes are two or three units on a single property that share common walls. This style of ADU requires more land than a detached or attached unit but can offer more rental income potential. Duplexes and triplexes are typically used as investment properties, such as rental units or Airbnbs. Because they share common walls, they offer less privacy than detached or attached units but can be more economical to build.

Existing room conversion

An existing room conversion, also known as an interior conversion, is an excellent option if you want to save money on construction costs. Zohrevand advises that converting an existing space into an ADU may require some modifications to your home’s structure. You will need to check with your local building department to see if this is allowed in your area. You’ll also want to speak with your builder or architect to see if your home can support this conversion.

This option best suits homeowners who want to use a basement, attic, or above carport space as additional living quarters.

The best option

Figuring out which style of ADU is the best option depends entirely on you and how you want to use the space. Take time to consider your needs and budget, search for inspiration online, research your options, and speak with an experienced builder or architect to get started.

An ADU can provide many benefits, like additional income, extra space for yourself, friends, and family, and increased property value. With a bit of planning, you can create the perfect space for your needs.

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