What is an ADU? Accessory Dwelling Unit 101

Today we will explore everything you need to know about Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, which can also be referred to as an office shed, guest house, pool house, and sometimes a backyard or garden studio. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Table of Contents

What is an ADU?

To start with, an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, is a small detached outbuilding on your property. It provides additional space for a variety of uses, like a recording studio, private office, guest suite, workshop and more. Depending on how many square feet of extra space you need, most ADUs come in standard building sizes but can often be customized. ADUs are revolutionizing how we think of space on our properties, and offer limitless ways to expand your living options without having to move or renovate your existing building. These innovative buildings can inspire your creative side while allowing property owners to maximize use and get the highest return on their investment.

Advantages of having an ADU

Speaking of ROI, let’s talk about the advantages of having an ADU on your property. Depending on where you live, you may not need a permit to build an ADU. Some towns and cities allow you to construct an ADU if it meets certain requirements and codes. Before you go any further in your plans for one, we suggest contacting your town or city’s building department to determine what the local and state codes are. Once that is taken care of, start imagining all the benefits of having a little extra space that will provide your peace of mind, your business expansion, your in-law’s annual visits, or even the additional revenue that having a rental property can generate for you.

The next step is to identify exactly what you want to do with the extra living space. Then you have the non-negotiable list that your builder will need to know in order to build you what you want. From a bathroom to a kitchenette, closets, or built-in bookshelves. These details are important for your construction team to know in advance.

Types of ADU

There is more than one type of ADU to choose from when it comes to designing your extra living space. In fact, the options are truly endless from one story or two, from balconies and rooftop patios to screened in porches. From one hundred square feet of tiny living to a broader range of sizes to accommodate your space needs. You can match the design and decor of the main house or building on the property, or you can design something totally unique and bold if you dare.

We hope we have your creative juices flowing! Start to visualize yourself in your new space, creating that next masterpiece or sitting in your reading chair surrounded by your favorite first editions. Feeling a bit more active? Perhaps it’s an indoor gym, a boxing ring, or a pilates studio. You get the idea – or ideas – an ADU can house anything you can dream of and more. If you love to cook, maybe it is your very own personal test kitchen with room for an intimate class of students to ooh and ahh over your latest Moroccan tagine that wafts of saffron, cinnamon, and ginger.

How much does it cost to build an ADU?


The cost to build your dream ADU is strictly related to the style and quality of your design, the cost of materials where you live, permitting requirements and more. You can purchase pop-up options from warehouses and big box stores, or a simple shed that can be outfitted for your needs. However, if you are serious about the quality, structure, and longevity of your ADU, we suggest finding a qualified ADU building near you. A qualified builder will be knowledgeable of zoning and building codes, as well as being able to fully understand your backyard building needs. A qualified ADU builder will also be able to survey your property and help determine the best location for the new detached living space to maximize use, quality and environmental impact.

How long does it take to build an ADU?

Construction timelines vary depending on the complexity of the project. If you are purchasing a pop-up shed the timeline will be shorter than if you have higher standards, and if building performance and efficiency is important, the build will take more time. Having local utilities run to the building depends on the town or city that you live in and their timeline for tying the property into their lines. A reputable ADU builder will be able to coordinate these details with you and provide a clear and dependable timeline for you. That gives you the luxury of knowing when the paint color and decor needs to be decided and ready, so start dreaming today!

How an Accessory Dwelling Unit adds value to your property

If we haven’t piqued your interest enough yet, then perhaps we never will. We think the importance of having an accessory dwelling unit on property speaks for itself and can increase the property’s value, expand your living space, and provide an innovative answer to your additional space needs. Pool house, office space, conference room, client meeting space, home school, workshop, woodshop, ceramic studio, art studio, writing den, reading nook, crafters corner, play room, in-law apartment, rental unit, or yoga studio. For as diverse as this world is, so too are the infinite ways you can design and use an ADU on your property.

While we are thinking outside the box here, why limit yourself to one ADU? Think multiple cottages on a resort property. If you live near a tourist area, the beach, or other popular destination, by adding multiple ADUs to your property you create a campus of passive income that can become your next best adventure in life. Live bold, think big while building small. The world is your oyster, so keep dreaming and give yourself the gift of an ADU lifestyle. You deserve it.

Interested in designing a Custom Knük?

Interested in designing a Custom Knük?

Jeremy Thompson

Jeremy Thompson

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