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Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are becoming a popular option for those needing more liveable space or income options. These small homes are perfect to house aging parents, grown children, for use as a home office, and can even be rented out to generate income. 

One thing to note is that the world of ADUs is greatly expanding. A standard ADU is a separate permanent structure located on a property with an existing home. It can be a studio unit or as large as two bedrooms. Next, attached ADUs are structures that are built onto your existing home. A third option is a Junior ADU (JADU) and that tends to be a space in your home that is converted into a livable space such as a garage. There seems to be an ADU for any need you may have, but what are the pros and cons of building a detached vs attached ADU?

Detached ADUs

Building a detached vs. attached ADU offers several advantages. Firstly, it provides increased privacy for both the main property and the ADU occupants, as they are separate structures. This separation can be appealing to renters and homeowners alike. Additionally, a detached ADU typically allows for more design flexibility, as it can be tailored to fit the specific needs and preferences of the occupants without being constrained by the existing structure of the main property.

Furthermore, detached vs. attached ADUs often command higher rental income compared to attached units due to their standalone nature, which can potentially result in a better return on investment for the property owner. However, it’s important to consider that building a detached ADU usually involves higher construction costs, as it requires its own foundation, utilities, and often additional permits compared to attached units. Additionally, there may be zoning restrictions or regulations governing the placement and size of detached ADUs, which could limit their feasibility in certain areas.

Attached ADUs

On the other hand, attached ADUs have their own set of pros and cons. One of the main advantages is that they are typically more cost-effective to build compared to detached units, as they can directly share utilities and structural components with the main property, reducing construction expenses. Additionally, attaching an ADU to the main property can make it easier to connect to existing utilities such as water, electricity, and sewage. (It’s important to note that detached ADUs also connect to utilities from the main home. However, extending these services could be at a greater cost when you compare detached vs. attached ADUs.)

However, attached ADUs may lack the same level of privacy as detached units, as they share a common wall or structure with the main property. This reduced privacy could be a drawback for both the main property occupants and the ADU tenants. Moreover, depending on the design and placement, attached ADUs may affect the aesthetics and functionality of the main property, potentially impacting its resale value.

A JADU also may be more cost effective than a stand alone ADU in that the structure is already in place and may have water and electricity connected. On the other hand, you’re limited to the size and structure shape which may not be conducive to your needs for the added living space. 

Building Regulations for Detached vs. Attached ADUs

Building regulations for attached and detached ADUs can differ, and these discrepancies are typically influenced by local zoning laws, building codes, and other jurisdictional factors.

Detached ADUs often face more stringent regulations compared to attached units. This is because detached ADUs are standalone structures and therefore may be subject to specific requirements regarding setbacks, lot coverage, and utilities. For example, there might be minimum distance requirements between the ADU and the main property or neighboring structures to ensure adequate spacing and safety. Additionally, detached ADUs may need to comply with zoning regulations regarding maximum building height, footprint size, and parking provisions.

In contrast, attached ADUs must adhere to regulations that ensure they are properly integrated with the main property while maintaining safety standards. This may involve meeting specific fire safety requirements, such as fire-rated walls or adequate egress points, to prevent the spread of fire between units. Additionally, attached ADUs may need to comply with structural considerations to ensure they do not compromise the integrity of the main property’s structure.

Furthermore, both attached and detached ADUs may need to meet certain utility requirements, such as connecting to existing water, electricity, and sewage systems. However, the process for connecting utilities can vary depending on whether the ADU is attached or detached, with detached units potentially requiring additional infrastructure and approvals.

Overall, while there are common building regulations that apply to both attached and detached ADUs, there are also specific requirements and considerations for each type. Property owners and developers planning to build an ADU should thoroughly research and understand the regulations applicable to their specific project to ensure compliance and avoid potential issues during the construction process. Consulting with local authorities or a qualified professional familiar with ADU regulations can also provide valuable guidance and assistance.

Another important thing to consider is that detached vs attached ADUs tend to be prefabricated homes that are made in a factory and assembled on site. Many ADU companies have set floor plans and specific materials such as tiles, flooring, siding, etc. for you to pick from. While you DO get to customize it to a certain extent, you may be limited to the offerings of the ADU company.

An attached ADU may give you more options, but these customizations may come at a cost. You might need to hire an architect, order costly materials, and the wait time could be longer than a ready to assemble ADU. 

There are many pros and cons of building a detached vs. attached ADU. Questions? Give ADU Warehouse a call! We specialize in many types of ADUs and work with reputable contractors to serve you. From custom ADUs to prefab ADUs, we’re happy to share models, finishes, property placement, and more. We’re here to serve you! 

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