Accessory Dwelling Unit Plans – Are They Worth It?

Accessory Dwelling Unit Plans - Are They Worth It?

While you may have daydreamed about accessory dwelling unit plans, they may not have been a serious thought until recently.

In light of spending more than a year quarantined to our homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have felt inspired to improve their spaces.

This may take shape in a variety of ways. On one hand, many homeowners may be looking to expand the livable space of their property. Or, they may be looking to make space for new hobbies.

Furthermore, the idea of a lucrative “side hustle” has become all the rage in recent years. People across the country continue to look for new ways to generate extra cash.

One of the most effective ways to achieve all of these goals is with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit. There are many benefits to implementing these units—though like anything else, important considerations to take into account as well.

Keep reading for a full overview of the most important factors in implementing an accessory dwelling unit.

What Is An Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An accessory dwelling unit is an additional structure put on to a property, often in the form of a small home. This structure can be used as a living space for guests or rented out to small families.

Exact appearances will vary, as well as the features included. Some accessory dwelling units serve as a complete guest house, with full plumbing and kitchen facilities included.

Other spaces may be utilized for different things, and only feature a kitchenette or a half bathroom.

What Can An Accessory Dwelling Unit Be Used For?

One of the most common uses for these units is rentals.

This can provide an extra source of cash flow every month—sometimes to the tune of a couple of thousand dollars. Of course, exact revenues will depend entirely on the unit, the renters, and the local housing market.

There are also many expenses that come with this type of investment. But over time, it can certainly pay off. Creating a rental space can be a very beneficial use for an additional unit.

Beyond renting, many homeowners may consider implementing an additional space as a guest house. Though this option does not bring in revenue, it does allow for privacy and comfort for visitors.

Similarly, these units may be used as a “granny flat” or an in-law suite. This allows for comfort and ease of access for aging parents.

Whether it be a temporary or permanent arrangement, constructing this type of addition opens up many opportunities to take care of older relatives.

In addition to living spaces, accessory dwelling units can make room for new hobbies. This could be a creative studio, yoga or fitness space, or simply storage for sporting equipment.

Whichever way you use it, the key to a highly functional accessory dwelling unit is the design.

Designing Accessory Dwelling Unit Plans

When creating accessory dwelling unit plans, many options are available. It’s important to carefully consider your individual needs of both the present and future when designing any additional spaces.

There are completely detached models, as well as semi-detached. Or, you may opt to take the form of an addition to an existing home. These options are often less expensive than a totally separate unit.

Plus, exact plans will depend on the nature of the space. For example—a detached garage with an apartment above it would require a unique set of designs as compared to the construction of a creative studio.

Furthermore, deciding how many floors to construct and other key design elements may be influenced by other factors. If looking to construct an in-law apartment for aging parents, stairs and other hard-to-maneuver features may not be the best option.

For those looking to create an accessory dwelling unit for rental purposes, designs may be more complicated. Be sure to contact your city’s appropriate building regulators to ensure the area meets the required codes for rental dwellings.

On the bright side, many cities have relaxed local ordinances concerning single-family zoning. This is in an attempt to boost affordable housing opportunities, as costs of living continue to rise.

This means that there are fewer hoops to jump through and complicated design elements to include when constructing a rental unit.

It may seem overwhelming at first, but it does not have to be overly complicated to include one of these structures on your own property. This is partly due to the tiny house movement, and the increase in interest in smaller living structures.

With this in mind, prefabricated construction components are readily available. This drastically cuts down on construction costs and timelines. In fact, you can even buy a tiny house on Amazon!

Important Considerations To Remember

While it’s true it is becoming easier than ever to construct an accessory dwelling unit on your property, it does not come without a few key considerations to keep in mind.

Prefabricated accessor dwelling units are often one of the cheapest routes for homeowners looking to expand their living space. But with that said, they still come with a hefty price tag. Prefab units can range from $10,000 to $100,000 a pop.

Of course, exact costs will vary by model, size, and location. But these prices do not include the various other costs associated with living spaces.

This includes fees for:

  • Plumbing hookup
  • Electrical hookup
  • Land preparation
  • Permits
  • Taxes
  • Maintenance
  • Furniture and decor
  • Other miscellaneous costs

While these factors do not negate the benefits of an accessory dwelling unit, it is certainly important to take them into account.

The best path ahead is to consult with an experienced and qualified builder. They should have plenty of experience in constructing accessory dwelling units, and know what is best to fit your needs and budget.

Is An Accessory Dwelling Unit Right For You?

Whether it be for a guest house, additional living space, or room to take up a new hobby—the options for accessory dwelling unit plans are endless.

Checking in with your city’s building office can be a great place to start, and for more information on what is required to legally construct an additional unit on your property.

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