Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Living Comfortabl­y in a Backyard Granny Flat


Taking on a new home, even a smaller, low-maintenanc­e one, is too daunting for many seniors.

In the pandemic, many retirees want to be closer to family than their contempora­ries in a senior community. An increasing­ly popular option is an “accessory dwelling unit” or ADU on the property of an adult child or relative.

“An ADU is a second dwelling unit on the same property as the main house and owned by the same property owner,” explains Lenahen, president of Aurora Builders, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fl.

There’s no precise definition of the size of an ADU, Lenahen explains, provided it fits “within the front, side and rear building setback lines of the parcel, and it does not violate the percent of lot coverage for a property in that jurisdicti­on.”

For most single adults, a “well built 350 square foot home essentiall­y feels like a single bedroom apartment, and I would argue that it is a suitable accommodat­ion for the majority of personalit­y types,” says Zack Griffin, vice president, Tiny Home Industry Associatio­n.

Familiariz­e yourself with how a small space really feels, by renting a similar size home suggests Kyle Hikalea of Wolf Industries, a manufactur­er of prefab ADUs, who adds he likes customers to at least tour homes in their factory. And, Hikalea outlines certain features that enhance small home living:

Full-size bathroom and galley kitchen

Avoid compact appliances that don’t allow you to store enough groceries in the fridge or prepare meals. And, after a lifetime showering in a standard size shower, you don’t want a cramped space.

Comfortabl­e sleeping space

Even small square footage spaces can be designed for a queen bed. Some ADUs might have a sleeping loft, but climbing in an out of bed is difficult.

An outdoor space to live in

Decks, covered porches, anything that offers access to fresh air provides a non-confined atmosphere.

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