Can Fonzie Live Over My Garage?

Remember Fonzie from Happy Days?

Me neither. I am not that old ;-).  Ok, I am.  He was this guy who lived in an apartment over the garage of the Cunninghams, who lived in a single family home, in the 1950’s. At some point many jurisdictions changed zoning so this type of housing was against the rules because people were afraid it would “ruin the character of the single family neighborhood”.  Well, apartments over the garage, in the garage, in the basement and added on to a home are back and they are called ADUs!  Turns out they don’t ruin a neighborhood they just allow more people to find a home they can afford and be close to where they work.

Many clients contact me for a house remodel, an interior ADU or a detached ADU or even a garage.  Sometimes there is a lot of overlap between what each of these spaces can be.  You have a family room, bedroom and bathroom in the basement. Is it an ADU?  What if you add a wet bar?  Does that make it an ADU? Sometimes there’s very little difference. A food prep area here and a stove outlet over there.  And what does all this matter anyway?

When I meet with clients for a full 2-hour consultation, we get a lot accomplished! Lots of these questions are answered, information is exchanged, and fun is had by all! In the end, clients have enough information to decide how they want to proceed with their project and the advantages and disadvantages of each route.

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 maybe even a landlord.  There is a lot to learn!

With a Feasibility Study we dive deeper into the details to see what you can build

Where you can build and how big you can build.  With these drawings, you have documented information and drawings 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.

Once we study your lot we can see certain items that may incur additional costs; such as steep slopes, difficult construction access or existing utility upgrades. And just because that fence has been there 20 years does not necessarily mean it was built on the property line and therefore a survey may need to be done. Or maybe, you have a ‘tree of unusual size’, possibly making it a significant tree, 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.

These are not show stoppers but the more you know before you start can significantly affect how your project will progress. The process will be less stressful and the results amazing.  You will want to live in your brand new space!  ADUs provide density, affordability and a place for family to live close. Let’s get started!

Learn how to change spaces in your home by starting small.
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