AADU vs DADU vs Apartment Land Use terms


Here at 1AD Studio we talk a lot about spaces; interior, exterior and all the ones in between.  But with this project we needed to focus on the name of each existing space and what the we needed to call the new space for permitting.

Land Use Terms – What to call each space?

Zoning laws can be beneficial but they can also be a hurdle that needs to be jumped in order to get the project you want for the property you own.  This particular projects’ piece of land started as a corner store back when the Seattle Maple Leaf neighborhood had dirt roads.  It went through many iterations including a gas station when people first started buying cars and somewhere along the way an apartment was added over the business.  This all makes for an interesting history but a complicated permitting process.

What do we call these spaces?

We had a structure that needed it’s spaces re-defined and re-named to fit into the current zoning code which required a ‘change of use’ through the construction permit process.  The apartment was still a 2-bedroom living unit but was now defined as the “single family home”.  We then added a 2 bedroom living unit (the AADU) to the ground level office space through a remodel.  We then built a new construction home in the back/side yard of this corner lot that became the DADU.

From one lot, to three dwelling units

Each unit has their own private entrance and the existing office parking spots were kept.  The AADU is one story, at grade and with parking right outside the front door.  It’s a unique living space that many older people, or anyone needing ground level parking and one story living, would love to find.  It’s also has a major bus route steps from the property so many trips wouldn’t even need a car but for anyone with limited mobility (or young children) the main floor unit with parking space and bus out front would be like finding the unicorn of affordable homes.

The permitting process can be arduous.

It takes a lot of time. You may be told ‘No’ several times but if you keep pushing forward and redefining the project to fit the narrow definitions of the land use code, you can eventually prevail.  Not all projects will be as challenging as this one but these types of projects help us easily clear hurdles on smaller projects because we’ve tackled these tougher ones.

As a side note: We submitted for permit at the onset of Covid closures and the entire building department transitioning to all online permit processing.  Construction was shut down for awhile and amid all of this the project still got built.  My client was determined, patient and did a lot of work themselves to keep the project moving forward.  This was truly a project where assembling the right team from the beginning was crucial.   Clients are definitely a part of that team! Let’s meet and see if we would make a good team.