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 be considering 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).

Study: ADUs Can Add 35% to Your Home’s Value. Get the Report

Accessory Dwelling Unit

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


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.


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.


Important considerations include:

Privacy vs. Company – If you are a private person, having a renter on your property may present difficulties. However, finding the right renter may be what you need 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 an economical way 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.


An accessory dwelling unit may be just what you need. For additional perspectives, talk to an SRES® in your area to 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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