When I meet with clients, whether it’s a self-contained 90-minute session or a full 2-hour consultation with prior research, we get a lot accomplished! Lots of questions are answered, information is exchanged, and fun is had by all! In the end, clients have enough information to decide whether or not to proceed with further design services, a remodel or an ADU.
For more complicated projects, say ones that include building codes and land use rules, two hours may not be enough to make this decision. This is especially true with dwelling units (mother in law apartments in the home, stand alone backyard cottage, or an apartment over the garage, aka Fonzie’s apartment in Happy Days).
You may not have enough information to make a decision even after all your late night online reading of the Land Use and Building Code. It’s a good way to fall asleep at night but in the end, you need to know how these rules apply to you. Having a backyard cottage, or Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit, constructed in your backyard essentially makes you, the homeowner, a developer, and there is a lot to learn.
In this case, you will need to move ahead with a Feasibility Study. We dive deeper into the details to see if, not only can your project can be built, but built the way you want. This gives you documented information for potential contractors to give you an estimate (bids will come when a full plan set is completed), to get funding from a bank and to start a conversation with stakeholders.
Your neighborhood’s zoning, your lot size and features, and the size and placement of structures on your property and other rules, all have bearing on what you can do. Not to mention all the exceptions to the rules!
Once we study your lot we can see where certain items may incur additional costs; such as steep slopes, difficult construction access or maybe your lot will require a survey be done. Just because that fence has been there 20 years does not necessarily mean it was built on the property line. Or maybe, god forbid, there is a ‘tree of unusual size’, possibly making it significant, near where you want to build. The City of Seattle has lots to say about significant trees and what can be done to them, near them and around them. Even if that tree is on the neighbors’ property and not yours. Crazy. I know.
Most of these things are not show stoppers but the more you know before you start can significantly affect how your project will progress, how much money you will need and how happy you will be with the process and end results. Good results make for happy family members, good rental potential and maybe someday a good place for you to live. Above the garage dwelling units aren’t just for young, single guys who ride motorcycles! Let’s get started!