According to 1997-2019 Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data, 1.4 million U.S. properties had ADUs (accessory dwelling units). First-time listings with ADUs grew during that period, averaging 8.6% per year. Wow!
In fact, these small buildings are growing in popularity as more and more families see building an ADU as a way to address various needs—as we’ll discuss here.
We caution you, though, that many municipalities have ordinances governing ADUs, including how to build an ADU that’s building code-compliant. So before building an ADU, be sure to check with your local government.
Enjoy Extra Space for Family and Friends
One great reason for building an ADU is to expand the room you have in your existing home to give others who need it a place to stay. It sounds like a win-win to us!
1. A Place Nearby for Your Elderly Parents
It seems like senior communities become more expensive each day. The cost of an ADU can be much less. So if your aging parents are in relatively good health, why not give them a private space to enjoy.
They can dine at your house and spend time with you as they wish, and the money they’re saving could go to housekeepers or other non-resident care providers as needed.
2. Help Relatives Who Are Down on Their Luck
Do you have a single friend or relative or a couple who are unemployed? If so, make their situation more bearable by providing a rent-free place to live while they get back on their feet.
Why not offer them some yard or household chores in exchange so they won’t feel self-conscious about taking the necessary time to find new employment?
3. Building an ADU Can Give Teenagers More Independence
It seems teenagers always want to move out of their “kid” bedrooms and take over the attic or basement. Doing this is the closest they can get to having personal space away without the folks always looking in.
So, what the heck? Let them take over the ADU! Provided they agree to a few rules, of course. Doing this might give them the preparation they’ll need to live away from home someday.
4. Offer Private Accommodations to Guests
Would you like to have more out-of-town visitors to your home? Do you sometimes wonder why old friends say they’ll visit but never do? Could it be simply that, like many people, they are reluctant to impose on you?
Problem solved! Give them access to your ADU to visit with you and relax or be tourists on their own. They might even decide to stay longer than they had planned, knowing they won’t be in your way.
Building an ADU Can Provide Extra Income
What is an ADU for if you can’t give friends and family the space they need when they need it? But when you have a vacant ADU, think about using it to build your income.
5. Rent Out Your ADU
If local zoning ordinances allow it, you might consider renting your ADU to a student or someone just getting started in a new job after college.
There is a lot of demand for smaller apartments and other dwelling units, especially in any metro area with a high cost of living—like Boston, NYC, or Silicon Valley—where many prestigious (and costly) universities are also located.
For instance, if you live in San Jose or anywhere close, you know how much homes cost in this desirable area. ADUs from Acton ADU are poised to help solve the city’s housing crisis by adding more space to existing properties.
6. Start an Airbnb With Your ADU
One of the increasingly popular ADU ideas is using it as an Airbnb. Before you go all out with your decorating plan, though, be sure that using an ADU for an Airbnb is legal where you live, and note any restrictions that apply.
If your place passes muster with the local government, then full speed ahead! Using an ADU for Airbnb gives you and your paying guests the right amount of privacy. And you can still get to know each other a bit.
Enhance Your Retirement Funds
Any of the ADU benefits described above could contribute toward your retirement savings in one way or another. But the last item on our list might give you a significant cash sum all at once.
7. Building an ADU Could Increase Property Value
Many home buyers see an ADU as an asset in a property they like. Some will even imagine the ADU’s possibilities before even thinking about the main property. So, yes, having an ADU sometimes can increase property value.
However, the value of an ADU can vary based on location, local ordinances, how it fits and coordinates with the rest of the property, and other factors.
In fact, before you add an ADU for any reason, it’s wise to:
- Plan its design carefully, even in consultation with an architect
- Weigh the benefits of an ADU versus addition to your existing home
- Consider how much green space will remain once it’s built
- Ask yourself how prepared you are, financially and logistically, to go forward with any of the uses discussed here
- Think about how well having an ADU on your property might serve you over the long term
This last item is a particular consideration. As you age, you might want to move into the ADU and turn the main home over to children and grandchildren.
Conversely, the aging process and any accompanying income changes might prevent you from keeping up with all the needed maintenance and repair responsibilities.
Building an ADU
As we’ve discussed here, there are many possible benefits to having an accessory dwelling unit on your property. And in some high-cost or crowded metro areas, they could be a game-changer for middle-income families.
Building an ADU should not be an afterthought, though. That’s why cities like San Jose and others struggling to provide affordable housing have begun to set certain expectations telling people how to build an ADU to suit their available space.
We publish other articles on topics like this one about saving time, space, and money. If you found it helpful, please come back!