Seattle Homeowner’s Guide to the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

rez-construction-ADUFor many people living in the Greater Seattle Area, the work-from-home setup is still very much a reality. After more than a year of staring at our screens, a lot of us have started feeling like we’re not properly separating our work lives from our home lives. It is a challenge for employees from all over the country to be able to create a proper work-life balance given the current situation. But for homeowners with the space and money, you may not have to worry about that anymore if you consider building yourself an ADU.

What is an ADU?

The Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, is a technical term for a secondary dwelling unit within a given lot. You might know it through other names, like the granny flat or garden cottage. It is a secondary shelter, sometimes entirely separate from the main building in a lot, but it doesn’t have to be. A small cottage in a garden is just as much of an ADU as a converted attic or basement.

Why build an ADU?

While ADUs have been around for a long time (Fonzie from the 1970s show Happy Days lived in one), the pandemic has caused their popularity to boom for a number of reasons.

For one, it allows families to keep their relatives and loved ones close by giving an extra dwelling within a property, which is invaluable during these trying times. In the event that someone in the household catches COVID, an ADU may also double as a great place to self-isolate and risk potentially spreading disease.

Additionally, it gives Seattle homeowners looking to separate their work-from-home life from their actual home life, a potential solution to their problems. For some, a desk in the bedroom or a home office simply isn’t enough of a separation. With some time and available space, an ADU could be the perfect home-office setup.

What To Consider When Building an ADU in Seattle

But converting a basement or attic into an ADU isn’t just like rearranging the furniture in a room, and neither is building a new one outright. Since an ADU is a secondary, livable space, there is a lot of work that comes into making one. It needs to have its own water and electricity hookups to make it a livable space. If you’re constructing an ADU separate from your main building, it would also need its own foundation.

In Seattle, you are required to have a permit before beginning the construction of an ADU. The type of permit necessary depends on what exactly you’re planning for your secondary dwelling. If you’re looking to convert an attic or basement, you will need an Attached Accessory Dwelling Unit (AADU) permit. If you’ll be building a new ADU within your property, you will then need a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU) permit. You can read more on Seattle’s legal requirements for building ADUs here.

Before you decide what permit to get, you will first have to decide what kind of ADU you’re looking to build. You have to ask yourself: are you looking to convert your attic or basement, or are you going to be building a completely separate unit? If you’re making a second building within the property, where would you be putting it? Do you have the space to be making one? You also have to consider your budget and what’s possible.

An ADU can be the perfect addition to your Seattle property, but building one can be very intimidating. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone. If you want to add an ADU or any other improvements to your property, then contact Rez Construction for all of your home construction needs.