What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit or ADU?
In 2010 changes were made to Denver’s zoning code to allowed Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) — also known as granny flats, carriage houses or casitas. As Denver struggles with growth, ADUs are an option to add housing without scraping existing homes and changing the architecture of neighborhoods. They are smaller homes built in the alley that have proved to be a successful strategy in other booming cities such as Seattle, Austin, and DC facing housing shortages and rising prices.
Finding ADU Zoned Properties in Denver
LivingRoomDenver.com is the only website that identifies ADU zoned properties. To qualify for to be able to build an ADU, your property must have the right zoning and lot size. There are 26 zoning codes and for each zoning code there is a specified lot size requirement that must be met. Most real estate agents don’t even know what an ADU is, let alone the specific zoning codes and lot size. On this website, we’ve done that work on the backend to sort through all 26 zoning codes and cross referenced them to the lot size to give you all ADU zoned properties for sale in Denver county.View Listings Zoned for an ADU
BluePrint Denver and ADU Zoning
In 2018 the city went through a large scale planning process with the community to inform the future of Denver’s land use. The outreach resulted in a visioning document and recommendations. Recommendation number four says “Diversify housing choice through the expansion of Accessory Dwelling Units throughout all residential areas”. For now, the city will approach this recommendation by allowing variances for ADUs not properly zoned on a case by case basis. The BluePrint Denver plan states, “Until a holistic approach is in place, individual rezonings to enable ADUs in all residential areas, especially where adjacent to transit, are appropriate. These rezonings should be small in area in order to minimize impacts to the surrounding residential area.”
Uses for ADUS
There are many benefits of buying a property that enables you to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit. You can use the unit to generate rental income with long term tenants or short term AirBnB guests. ADUs are a great option for aging parents or teens who you want to keep a close eye on, but still need their own space. For some families, an ADU may help them accommodate loving grandparents or a nanny who assists with childcare. While others may use the additional space as an office or studio for art and hobbies.
Interested in Purchasing an ADU Zoned Property?
There are many intriquises about ADUs that a buyer should beaware of when purchasing a property zoned for an ADU. Working with a Living Room agent who specializes in these properties will protect you. Living Room also offers a special “feasibility study” by a licensed architect who also specializes in ADU to verify that the lot will accommodate your dream ADU before purchasing.
- ADUs must be built 5 ft from the southern lot line if it is over 17 ft tall to minimize the shadow on your neighbors property.
- The second level of an ADU must be 75% of the ground level.
- Depending on lot and design, your ADU can only cover 37.5% to 50% of the lot.
- The city will require you to repair or build sidewalks when you pull a building permit for an ADU.
- Building an ADU usually costs $200K to $300K depending on the size and finish level.
- Traditional 30 year loans are not available to finance ADUs. Common ways to finance ADUs include cash, HELOC, Home Renovation Loan, or a one year construction loan.
- In most cases, you cannot repurpose an existing garage and utilize it as an ADU depending on the foundation. Foundations requirements on habitable space are different than requirements for garage
- In order to be approved for a permit, the request to build an ADU must come from the primary resident who lives in the main dwelling in single unit zoned districts.
- Most of the city does not allow decks on ADUs.
- There are no parking requirements for ADUs unless you want the lot coverage exception (if you want to cover 50% of your lot, 80% of the ground level needs to be parking).
Helpful Articles about ADUs
Check out this article to understand the history of Denver’s zoning changes, learn about Kassidy’s ADU journey, and other people and initiative around building ADUs in Denver.
5280 Magazine does an annual issues about Real Estate. Their 2019 reporting included 11 predictions about the Denver real estate market. Prediction #8 said, “Granny flats—also called mother-in-law suites or accessory apartments—will become more popular, as long as local municipalities ease up on regulations.” The journalist showcased Kassidy’s vision for the future of Denver.
Realtor magazine’s July 2019 article showcased how Realtors are working to make a dent in the housing gap using multiple approaches: teaming with builders to create more inventory, overcoming not-in-my-backyard mindsets, or becoming stronger voices for the zoning and regulatory changes many governments are weighing as a way to increase housing density and affordability.
L&D Construction – Sarah Senderhauf
Troy Williams – Loan Officer, NMLS 1526857
C: 303-359-5156, O: 720-577-4103
Will & Annie Martin