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2 Homes, 1 Lot: A Secondary Home

These secondary homes have quite a few names such as carriage house, mother-in-law suite, casita, backyard cottage but their technical name is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) and they are smaller homes built within the property lines of the main/primary house. There has been a recent surge in ADU's being built and it's probably due to the many benefits they provide! However, before jumping in head first, a lot of thought, consideration, and planning needs to be constructed. I will start you off with outlining various pros, cons, and tips to bringing your ADU dreams to reality!


  • Provide Flexibility: They can start out as a home for a nanny, move into a home for your aging parents, house your older kids while going to college (save money), and can even be your own home when you're retired, ready to downsize, or traveling (while renting out the primary residence to pay the bills).

  • Additional Income: The ADU can be used as an investment property for short term rental (via AirBNB or VRBO) or long term rental (30+ days).

  • Help with Affordable Housing: There are a lot of 1 or 2 person households that don't need a ton of space and also can't afford a big house payment so this could help those people while also helping you pay off the loan from building the ADU. In addition, they don't have as significant impact on the city infrastructure as building a new condo/apartment complex.


  • Cost: Yep, they take some money to build considering they require all the same foundations (water, electricity, etc.) as a primary residence.

  • Buy/Sell: They cannot be bought or sold separately from the primary residence. Even though they are physically separate (and should have separate addresses), they are considered 'together' in resale.

  • Land Space: It reduces your amount of space to have grass and landscaping.


  • Design: Make sure the design is very well thought-out to ensure it will provide the benefits of flexibility (mentioned in pros) i.e. make any hallways/stairs oversized in case of wheelchairs/chair lifts.

  • Windows: Place windows as high as possible to let in as much natural light as possible.

  • Vaulted Ceiling: Taller ceilings make spaces seem larger and more open, which really helps in smaller areas.

  • Functionality: Use space saving techniques to utilize the space well and get the most functionality out of it.

  • Exterior: Match the primary homes exterior so the ADU doesn't stick out like a sore thumb.


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