Auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs) are known by a few different names. The most common is accessory housing, or “in-law apartments”. Oddly enough, the latter name refers to the idea of the old-fashioned mother-in-law unit.


However, today they are growing in appeal as a way to address a more pressing problem than where to stash an in-law. ADUs are being proposed as a workable solution in many urban areas as an answer to limited housing.


Frequently, the reason there are housing shortages is due to space constraints. Auxiliary dwelling units are customarily very small, little cottage-like domiciles, or space in a home remodeled to offer full amenities. Here are three ways that auxiliary dwelling units are helping to ease the housing crisis.


The number one benefit of these small dwellings is as a space-saver. Most ADUs are cottage like residences, or studio style apartments added in an attic, basement, or over a garage. They can also be small units constructed on an existing piece of property that already has a designated home.


While smaller doesn’t always mean more affordable, for the most part accessory housing options are less expensive to build and rent. The actual square footage equates to less cost to build, or a lower rental fee. ADUs give people on lower and fixed incomes a wider range of alternatives when searching for a place to live.


Sometimes people refer to an auxiliary dwelling as a studio or efficiency apartment. In this instance efficiency is used in the context of combining both space-saving attributes and affordability.


Since accessory dwelling units are smaller, they are also more cost effective to build. Residents, either already have experience, or become accustomed to the efficient use of smaller living quarters.


Along those same lines, the improved affordability offers residents the ability to more efficiently disburse their income. Not every auxiliary dwelling unit meets the criteria of an efficiency apartment, but they do make efficient use of space and income.


Large cities and urban communities invariably deal with some level of shortage when it comes to available housing. Building more apartments or high-rise structures, is not always a viable solution. However, small dwellings like auxiliary dwelling units can help to ease a housing crisis. They save space, are affordable and offer an efficient way to comfortably house more residents.