Consider building ADU for your aging parents
What Is An ADU?
An ADU is typically a small, standalone structure with its own bathroom, sleeping quarters and kitchen, placed in a homeowner’s backyard.
In a recent AARP survey of adults 50 and older, 31 percent said they’d be willing to consider building one, perhaps to help them provide caregiving to their parent there.
“I was surprised the numbers were so high,” says Danielle Arigoni, director of livable communities at AARP.
Accessory Dwelling Units Are Spreading
Increasingly, cities and towns are updating their zoning rules to permit the construction of ADUs, especially in places where housing costs are high.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is backing a plan to build 10,000 backyard units by 2021. Austin, Texas, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Portland, Oregon, Seattle and Washington, D.C., are updating their housing codes for ADUs, too, says Eli Spevak, a Portland developer who co- founded the site accessorydwellings.org.
The Limitations of ADUs
But ADUs have a few limitations that have prevented them from becoming mainstream. For instance, even when ADUs are legal locally, other barriers exist, says Arigoni. Certain communities consider them eyesores, making construction difficult.
Another obstacle: Although ADUs are generally small, they’re rarely inexpensive. Spevak says many cost $150,000 or more.
How to Get An Accessory Dwelling Unit Built
If you’re contemplating having an ADU built for your parent, check with your town’s planning or building department for its rules. Next Avenue’s Richard Eisenberg, Emily Gurnon and Shayla Stern write rotating columns on money, health and lifestyle.