First, the acronym; A-D-U stands for Accessory Dwelling Unit. And it means a separate dwelling unit in your family’s home. Commonly it is the basement or the attic of a home. Or, one full floor of living space which includes a sleeping area, bathroom, kitchen and living quarters. They are essentially a small-scale house within a house. They are also sometimes called mother-in-law units.
There are also D-A-D-U’s which stands for Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit. Same definition only these units are detached from the existing home and located in a back or side yard. They are usually planned, built and constructed differently than a unit inside the home so I will save those for another post.
Why would someone want one of these? The reasons are many and as varied as the units themselves. Many begin to finish off their basement or attic to add room to their home as their family grows or needs change. It can start as an extra bedroom, a space to watch TV or maybe a hang out space for kids (or grown-ups) that includes a bathroom.
When you begin to add functionality to them, such as a bedroom, or kitchen area, they begin to take on the form of a dwelling unit and building codes will need to be considered. Any time you add a bedroom you’ll want to make sure you add an egress window. This is a window that meets certain minimum dimensions and allows for escape in case of fire and for emergency personnel to enter the home if needed. This is relatively easy to do in a converted attic space but more difficult in a basement as a window well is sometimes required. This means you are digging out a portion of ground outside the window to create an entry space for a bigger window that has a sizable opening.
Once you add an outlet for a stove, a kitchen sink and separate entrance, they officially become an Accessory Dwelling Unit and need to be permitted as such. They are easy to convert if you plan from the beginning for this eventuality. Maybe you never take the space to this level but if you ever decide to, the infrastructure is already there.
Why would someone ‘take the space to this level’? Many times, it becomes a living space for family members. Grown children move back in, aging parents move in or maybe you need some extra cash and would like to rent the space out. This type of space can ‘open up’ more living space in your home and add value.
So, go look at your attic or basement and start to imagine how this underutilized space may better serve you. Ask yourself what activities will take place there? Then, imagine it with better natural light, finished walls and floors, and lighting fixtures added. If the space is in a basement, make sure to read, Can My Basement be made livable?
Then call 1AD Studio to set up a consultation to find out how you can begin to plan the space for your immediate needs and possible future needs! We’ll create a plan which allows you to take advantage of the space right away and make sure it will accommodate future needs as time and money allow!