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Monica D. Higgins / Budget  / What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

So, at your friend’s Sunday BBQ, someone just talked your ear off about ADUs — how they’re adding it themselves and taking multiple trips to Home Depot. Then they started talking about their “Granny Flat” and how great it would be.  All the while, you were nodding along and smiling thinking to yourself, “What in God’s green Earth is this fool talking about?”


Well, you’re not alone. As a granny flat consultant, people often ask me what it means or what it entails exactly. Unfortunately, I’m not available to come to the rescue at every BBQ, but thanks to the power of the internet, I’m here to help now.


So let’s answer three important questions. First, what is an Accessory Dwelling Unit, ADU, or Granny Flat?


Well, they’re all the same thing. I’ve even heard it called an in-laws or mother-in-law suite.


However, regardless of all these different names, LA County defines an Accessory Dwelling Unit as a dwelling unit with a full kitchen and bathroom, which is an accessory use to a primary or main single family residence.


This separates it from a guest house, which doesn’t have a kitchen, or adding a room or bedroom to a current home.


So, what can you do with an ADU besides avoiding your in-laws better?


Well, pretty much whatever you’d like to do. An ADU can be used as a rental, but it cannot be sold separately from the primary or main single family residence. It’s also a good way to maybe charge that 20-something child of yours some rent for their failure to launch. If you’re looking for passive income, this is really a great way to go.


Is it a completely new, added-on structure to a home?


It can be, but it’s also a converted area that’s added a kitchen for independent living. For example, you can convert a garage, basement or attic space to be a new ADU.


So now that you know, it’s time to think about if an ADU is right for you? And if you’ve got more questions, I’ve got more answers, so drop me a line.


To learn more about new legislation on Accessory Dwelling Units, read this! 


Brooke Tuzil

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