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ADUs Come of Age: Not So Little After All
Last week, we hosted over 100 participants on a webinar to learn more about accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. That’s a lot of interest in a state where ADUs haven’t yet become a significant tool for affordable housing. Check out the presentations on our webinar summary page.
Last week, Freddie Mac released a national look at ADUs, the first large scale research on this topic. The study found 1.4 million ADUs in the US with construction of new ADUs rising rapidly. Further, this total dramatically undercounts the actual number, since many ADUs were built without a permit and are still “illegal” in zoning codes. A study in California’s Bay Area found that nearly 90% of all accessory dwellings lacked required building permits.
As you might expect, ADUs are most commonly found in high cost areas where shortages of affordable housing are intense, and in areas where land use controls are less restrictive. Four states — California, Texas, Florida and Georgia — account for half of the 1.4 million ADUs identified in the study. Virginia is beginning to move in that direction. The Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News MSA has been the tenth-fastest growing metro region for ADUs in the past three years.
Beyond their contributions to the affordable housing stock, ADUs appeal to homeowners in a new way as the nation endures the sixth month of the coronavirus pandemic. ADUs can provide additional income to help weather economic challenges. As well, healthcare professionals and other front-line workers can use their unoccupied ADU to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus.
Interested in promoting ADUs in your community? Contact us for resources.