You might have a rough idea of what an accessory dwelling is, but do you really know what the actual definition is for cities and towns? The concept is simple. A building counts as an accessory dwelling if it is a second small dwelling on the same property or connected to your home. Examples include tiny homes on a solid foundation, an apartment above your garage, or an apartment in the basement of your residence.

It’s wise to know the legal issues and laws that apply to having an accessory dwelling on your property. Legally, an ADU is part of the same property that the single dwelling is on. Since it is part of the primary residence, it is not possible to sell it as a separate entity. Regardless who lives in the ADU, the official owner is whoever owns the primary unit.

The idea of ADUs tends to be an older concept when housing was limited. As more people moved to individual homes and spread out during the 20th century, they became less prominent. Their popularity has surged in recent years, especially in cities. Other terms that planners use to describe an accessory dwelling unit include secondary dwelling units, granny flats, or in-law apartments among other terms. Some ADUs are tiny houses, but not every tiny house can be classified as an ADU.

The primary reason that their popularity has increased is that it can be a secondary source of income or to allow a relative or friend to live on the premises to be closer or save money.

Some people are looking for increased flexibility for housing options due to constantly changing lifestyles. Buying a house is more of a permanent solution and doesn’t suit everyone’s needs. This is especially true for households consisting of one or two people who feel that a full-sized home is too large for their needs.

Certain localities permit owners of ADUs to legally charge rent for people to live in these dwellings. The increased capabilities and popularity of the concept have made them a game-changer for the housing industry as a whole. It will be intriguing to look at facts and figures regarding ADUs as they continue to expand all over the country with various styles, designs, and functions for the current population.