Real Estate Report

(May 31, 2019) Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are smaller units added to a property, sometimes called “in-law suites” or “granny-flats.”

There is an increasing need for these apartment-style additions with the cost of housing on the rise. Adding an ADU is a way for families with aging parents to share in the cost of housing, yet allow everyone to retain their independence.

But, these accessory apartments can be pricey to build. According to a new survey released by the National Association of Home Builders, only 6 percent of remodeling contractors report completing an ADU project for less than $25,000.

Twenty-three percent say costs fell between $50,000 and $99,999. The highest percentage, 30 percent, of remodelers reporting figures say costs came in between $100,000 to $149,999.

ADUs, referred to locally as “accessory apartments,” also come with various restrictions based on local zoning.

In Worcester County for example, the purpose and intent for these units states: It is the specific purpose and intent to allow no more than one accessory apartment per lot of record through conversion of existing residential structures or construction of new residential facilities so as to provide the opportunity and encouragement to meet the special housing needs of persons of low and moderate income as well as relatives of families currently residing in the county.

The following standards are a summary from Worcester County’s page:

• Accessory apartments shall only be permitted where adequate wastewater disposal capacity has been determined to be available.

• The owner of the residential dwelling unit in which the accessory apartment is to be located shall occupy at least one of the dwelling units on the site.

• An accessory apartment may be located either in the principal dwelling or in an accessory building. No manufactured or mobile homes.

• The minimum floor area for an accessory apartment within the principal building shall be 500 square feet, but in no case shall it exceed 35 percent of the gross floor area, exclusive of any garage, of the dwelling in which it is located or nine hundred square feet, whichever is less.

• For accessory apartment located in an accessory building, the minimum floor area shall also be 500 square feet, but in no case shall it exceed 35 percent of the gross floor area of the principal dwelling or 900 square feet, whichever is less.

• No accessory apartment shall contain more than two bedrooms.

– Lauren Bunting is an Associate Broker with Bunting Realty, Inc. in Berlin.

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