Building A Guest House 101: Get Your Accessory Dwelling Unit Up & Running

Building A Guest House 101

There are many benefits in adding a guest house to your property. If you are selling a home with an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), the feature can improve the value of your house by up to 30% depending on your property and location. They offer alternative living arrangements for families as many use guest homes as a solution to multi-generational housing. Having an added living space can also boost your income stream if a tenant pays rent or leases it for a period of time. Whatever the reason, guest homes are always a smart addition, and the trend is quickly on the rise.

So what exactly defines a guest home? Guest houses can be categorized as either: 1) a living space subordinate to the main property that lacks the necessary features to make it an independent unit or 2) an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) which includes a kitchen and a bathroom and serves as an independent living space. This article will look more at ADUs and the steps to building this particular type of guest house.

Step One: Check The Laws & Restrictions In Your Area

Before building it’s important to know the local laws of your land to understand what is possible in your area. Zoning laws can impact your ADUs height, size, maximum guests per unit, utilities, parking, and permit requirements. Keep in mind that the homeowners association can deny your ADU plans so double check the HOA rules before getting started.

Step Two: Define The Purpose & Make A Plan

Consider the purpose of your guest house. Ask yourself why you are building it and who you are building it for. What can your property accommodate? What is your  timeline and how much are you willing to spend?

Step Three: Choose Building Type & Budget

When planning, it’s important to know which ADU aligns with your current home, land, laws, and budget. The cost of building a guest home differs based on location and building type. Though basic garage conversions can range from $30,000 to $100,000, many ADUs or detached units fall between $200,000 to $350,000 or more.

  • Detached ADU or DADU: Freestanding independent living space that is often built in the backyard of a home. This option offers privacy, serving as great spaces for Airbnb guests, renters, or family members.
  • Attached ADU: Shares one wall with the primary home but includes a separate entrance from the main house. Though this is less private than a detached unit, it is easier to construct.
  • Garage ADU: An existing garage that is converted into a dwelling unit. This is one of the most affordable ways to build a guest house.
  • Interior ADU: Similar to an attached ADU but exists inside the main house in either a basement or an attic.
  • Prefab: Prefabricated units eliminate the hassle and financial unpredictability of building an ADU, but you may need to add a kitchen and bathroom to the space.

Step Four: Decide Who You’re Working With

If you are constructing your guest home, you’ll need to decide whether to hire professional help. If there are certain size restrictions in place, consider hiring a company or contractor who specializes in small units. An ADU specialist will also have knowledge of project costs and building codes.

Step Five: Prepare The Site & Start Building

The construction for guest homes can last months so choose a time when you can handle a little noise and disruption. Once permits are in hand, building can begin. Remember, ADUs can add substantially if you are selling your home. Boost your income stream by renting out your ADU or save daycare expenses or childcare costs when you have parents or family close by to assist you. The cost and planning of guest homes can seem overwhelming, but the reward is often worth it.

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