Is an Accessory Dwelling Unit Right for You?

Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, also known as granny flats or in-law suites, are part of a shift toward smaller, more affordable, and energy-efficient homes. Where permitted,  ADUs can be residences for elderly parents or adult children to live in or utilized as home offices and guest homes. In some areas, they can be rented out or provide housing for the owners, renting out the main house.

As a home buyer or homeowner, you may consider adding an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to your property. For example, you could create an ADU by converting a detached garage or building an apartment above an attached garage. It could be part of a basement, with a separate entrance or a new structure (if the property is big enough).

How ADUs Benefit Homeowners

How ADUs Benefit Homeowners

ADUs Can Increase Property Value

Increasing a property's value or utility is always a primary consideration for homeowners and residential real estate agents. One way to achieve this is by adding an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). These additional living spaces can significantly boost rental income or offer the homeowner's family more space. The financial benefits of ADUs, whether through rental income or increased property value, make them an attractive and potentially lucrative option for property investment.

Accessory Dwelling Unit

Above: A 1977 Stuart, FL residence shown with an original attached ADU

An ADU could be a critical decision, depending on your situation. A home with an ADU (or the potential to add one) can benefit families with elderly parents or grandparents, adult children with disabilities, adult children returning home, live-in caregivers, or those needing supplemental income through renting out the space. For instance, a basement apartment in a high-demand area could generate [specific amount] per month. ADUs allow families to offer certain family members or caregivers the privacy they need while remaining together. They can also be an excellent option for those who want to rent out part of their home to help pay their mortgage. Some types of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) that bring additional utility and value to homes:

Basement apartment: This involves a separate walk-out or walk-up basement entrance. It may not be accessible to the main home from the inside but is usually less expensive to construct.

Garage conversion: These can be detached or attached. This option deducts parking value, so other parking solutions should be considered. Clients should know it may be expensive if the existing structure needs to be heavily modified.

-Detached ADU: This stand-alone facility can offer homeowners the most flexibility and value, allowing you to maximize the potential of your property. While constructing a new structure can be more expensive, the long-term benefits and versatility of a detached ADU make it a compelling option.

Junior ADU: These are attached to the main home but smaller. A typical example is a sun porch or home addition. These may share some spaces and utilities with the rest of the house.

Research ADU Regulations

Determine if your area is ADU-friendly by visiting your city’s planning and zoning website or calling or visiting the local office. Some areas encourage ADUs, and others don’t. Even if your city’s regulations seem to discourage ADU construction, you may be able to secure a waiver to build one. Ask. Study: ADUs Can Add 35% to Your Home’s Value. Get the Report

Do a Cost Evaluation

If you want an ADU to bring in rental income, look at the total cost for permits, construction, and the increase in annual property taxes. Compare this to the monthly payment you expect to receive to determine how long it will take for the ADU to pay for itself before you realize any income.

Consider Your Lifestyle and Needs

Important considerations include:

Privacy vs. Company – If you are a private person, having a renter on your property may present difficulties. However, you may need to find the right renter if you are looking for more social interaction. Assistance – If you have special needs, consider trading maintenance, cleaning, or personal services for part or all of the rent on your ADU. It may be economical to retain your independence, even with physical limitations.

Aging in Place – If you want to age in place, an ADU built with universal design concepts may help you stay on your property while improving your financial situation. For example, you could rent out a house that is too large or unsuitable for aging in place while staying in the ADU and the neighborhood you know and love.

Adult Children – If you have adult children who have returned home to live with you, an ADU may be economical to keep your children (and possibly grandchildren) close while maintaining privacy.

Talk to Your Real Estate Specialist

ADUs may not be suitable for everyone, but adding an accessory dwelling unit to your property can increase its value and utility. These additional living spaces can provide extra income through rentals or offer more space for your family. For more perspectives,  talk to an SRES® in your area who knows the rules in their local market and can help you determine if this is a good option for you!


This post is by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach Eric at 772-288-1765.



Eric Slifkin, Broker Associate

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