What Is an ADU?

What are ADUs, and why are they becoming so popular?

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What Is an ADU?

An ADU, sometimes referred to as a “granny pod”, stands for “accessory dwelling unit.” An ADU sits in the yard of the main home where the caregiver lives. Care must be taken to make sure the locale permits a granny pod on an existing lot.

ADUs vary in cost but typically range between $40,000 to $125,000, depending upon what’s included with the granny pod. The cost will largely depend on the size of the structure. ADUs are usually the size of a studio apartment.

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shared buried power lines
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How ADUs Operate

ADUs usually share sewer, water and power with the main house. This does, of course, raise utility bills, so homeowners should factor in these costs when deciding if an ADU is the best option for their loved one. Many incorporate Universal Design, so that means ramps, wide spaces for easier wheelchair access, grab bars for support, cushioned floors, good lighting, etc. This is especially important if the space will be used to care for an elderly family member.

Making a small garden near the ADU open up the possibility for your loved one to get outdoors and do something they may have loved to do in the past. Keep the garden to a reasonable size and consider raised beds which are much easier to tend.

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Whole-Home Automation app
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What to Add to an ADU

Installing web cams and two-way communication systems keeps the caregiver and the loved one in touch. Other smart home features can automate temperature control, security systems and lights. Granny pods usually have a small kitchen area with a microwave and mini refrigerator. A gas fireplace, craft/puzzle table and family photos on the wall help make a granny pod feel more like a home.

A small front porch with room for a comfy chair and a view of the surroundings expands the living space during nice weather. Depending on the location, an extended porch or patio could be shared with the main house.

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Built On-Site or Prefab

Granny pods can be built from scratch or manufactured off-site and placed wherever needed. Compare prices for building on-site versus buying pre-made and also consider timing. Depending on the situation, you may not have time to wait for the home to be built.

Another option is to turn an existing building into an ADU. A shed, detached garage or other outbuilding may require a lot of upgrading, but this can be a viable alternative to building from scratch or buying something pre-made.