Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
What are Accessory Dwelling Units?
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are independent secondary units typically on single-family residential parcels. ADUs may also be referred to as accessory apartments, granny flats, in-law suites, supplemental dwelling units, or second units. Typically of limited square footage, ADUs can provide housing for a senior to live in proximity to family, for an in-home caretaker, or can provide a source of income for a senior homeowner after retirement. ADUs can enable municipalities to expand their housing stock in a manner that fits into existing neighborhoods.
Help seniors age-in-place
ADUs can provide smaller, lower maintenance dwellings on properties where seniors live. Rented out to others, ADUs can provide a source of income for seniors, enabling them to remain in their homes. ADUs can also be used to provide a living space for caregivers.
Develop housing options for seniors to age-in-community
Allowance and constriction of ADUs can create more affordable and lower maintenance housing options in existing senior communities.
Facilitate multigenerational and shared housing
ADUs are a form of shared housing, allowing for private personal space on the same parcel. Family members can build ADUs to house their aging relatives.
Keep seniors physically and socially connected
ADUs can keep seniors socially connected to the ADU or primary dwelling residence. If new construction, ADUs can be designed and built with accessibility and universal design elements to better serve senior needs.
Create a range of price options for housing
ADUs are smaller dwellings, which can improve their affordability.
Make it Happen
Municipalities can encourage development of ADUs through inclusion in their planning policies, zoning ordinances, subdivision and land development ordinances, and design guidelines as well as through education of the public regarding their benefits. Allowing ADUs by right, and relaxing parking minimums and setback requirements can assist in encouraging ADUs.
ADUs in Practice
Pre-fabricated backyard suites — MEDCottage and Home Care Suites
Companies such as MEDCottage and Home Care Suites have created pre-fabricated temporary health care structures, which can be placed in the backyards of homes. These units serve as alternatives to nursing homes, offering accessibility and safety features such as soft floors, medical monitoring systems, handrails, and first aid. The units can cost as little as $40,000, making them an affordable housing option, and MEDCottage will buy back the units when they are no longer needed.
Section 170-1603(A) of the Westtown Township Zoning Ordinance provides standards for the construction of family-occupied ADUs that are permitted by special exception in most residential districts. The township has additional standards under Section 170-1619 to allow for an ADU to be converted, by special exception, into a rental unit that does not have the restriction of only being occupied by family members.
Find Out More
- Accessory Dwelling Units, American Planning Association General knowledge and information on ADUs.
- Accessorydwellings.org General knowledge and information on ADUs.
- The ABCs of ADUs, AARP A 20-page primer on best practices for enabling ADUs in communities.
- ADU eTool, Chester County Planning Commission A toolkit to assist municipalities in encouraging ADUs.
- Promoting Workforce Housing, Montgomery Planning Commission Model ordinance language for incorporating ADUs into municipal zoning ordinances.
- Zoning to Promote Garage Apartments, American Planning Association Zoning recommendations to support garage apartment style ADUs.