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Does Your Sarasota Home Need an ADU?

November 3, 2021
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When households need more room, some families move while others choose to build. If you’re attached to your property but need room to grow, building an ADU may be the ideal option. It’s a big project, but in the end, you’ll have an all-new space on your own property. Imagine the convenience! With a new residential structure on your property, members of your household and guests can enjoy their own private space while on your property. Here’s what you need to know about building this kind of structure on your property.

What Is an ADU?

The term “ADU” stands for “Accessory dwelling unit.” An ADU is a residence that’s separate from the primary residence but located on the same land. An example of an ADU is an in-law apartment or a guest house. Some ADU’s are built above the garage while others are constructed in the backyard.

Why Build an ADU On Your Property?

Although ADU’s are practical and can increase the value of your home, most people don’t choose to build an ADU unless there’s a good reason.

  • Space for guests. If you frequently entertain out-of-town guests, building an ADU makes it easier to accommodate longer visits without the stress of sharing space in your primary residence.
  • A dwelling for an adult child. Multigenerational homes are more common than ever. With a second house on your property, your adult child can live with you while still enjoying their own privacy.
  • Age in place residence for an older relative. An ADU is a perfect place for an older relative who wants to live independently but still needs help from time to time.

A well-built, well-designed ADU gives you the flexibility to grow and expand your household without relocating. If you have a need for extra space – more than just a simple addition – then an ADU may be for you.

What Features Should You Include In Your ADU?

Smart design features will increase the value of your ADU. A good quality well-conceived ADU construction can improve your life while you’re living in your house and can help your home sell for more money when the time comes. Here’s what we recommend.

Universal Design

Universal design is a style of construction that can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s accessible for people with disabilities, seniors, and people with special needs. Wide hallways, wide doorways, ramps, easy-to-grasp knobs and switches, and grab bars are all common features in universal design.

Whether you’re building your ADU for a senior relative or not, the next people to buy your home may wish to use the extra house for a senior relative. If the home you build is already set up to accommodate someone with limited mobility, buyers may pay more for your property. By folding universal design into your construction plans, you can increase the value of your ADU. To learn more about the latest trends in universal design, RSVP to our seminar: “Exploring the Trends of Living in Place”.

Standard Home Amenities

If you need it in your home, then you should probably include it in your ADU. Climate control, a half-or full-bath, space for entertaining, and a separate space for sleeping are all the types of features that adult residents of your ADU are likely to want. Work with your contractor to ensure that your ADU is comfortable for people who stay there.

Tips for Your ADU Construction Project

  • Investigate zoning and permitting. Zoning restrictions may dictate some of the features of the ADU that you wish to construct, so work with your local zoning officials to create a construction design that works for your home.
  • Choose the right contractor. It’s critically important to choose the right contractor for your construction project. Start by interviewing at least three professionals, and check references before making your final decision.
  • Collaborate with involved parties. Are you building your ADU for a senior relative or an adult child? Collaborate with them to ensure that the home you build will meet their needs.

Now that we’ve covered most of the ins and outs of building mother-in-law suite pods or ADUs in Florida, let’s talk about the logistics, the legalities, and other important things you should know.

Can I Build an ADU on My Property?

Many people make the mistake of building a minor structure like a shed only to find out too late that there are zoning laws regulating or prohibiting it. This can be quite frustrating, especially if you’ve already completed your build- and it can even lead to fines and fees that can easily break your budget.

That’s why it’s so important to find out what the Sarasota county zoning municode says about building ADUs in your neighborhood and on your specific property. Zoning is a form of urban planning in which municipalities divide the land into zones, each of which has regulations concerning land use and development. It’s a way to ensure that residential areas don’t turn into clandestine strip malls. How would you like it if your next-door neighbor turned his house into a gas station? That’s what the Sarasota county building code is for.

To find out whether or not you are permitted to build an ADU, you should check the zoning maps which should be on your city’s website. If not, you’ll have to dig deeper and request the information yourself. It is public information, so that shouldn’t be a problem. You should be able to obtain a legal description of your property including the tax map, owner’s name, and address, and parcel number.

Zoning laws are subject to change and frequently are changed with little to no fanfare. So if you’ve looked into zoning laws in your area before, you should still check up on them.

Is It Worth It to Build an ADU?

In sheer economic terms, building an ADU looks like quite a bargain compared to the usual alternatives. The ordinary alternatives are moving to a larger house and acquiring a rental space nearby. The most common reason to build an ADU is you’ve got aging parents moving out of the city looking for cheaper accommodations to retire in. This is why they are often referred to as mother-in-law quarters.

In the final analysis, we think you’ll find that the number one determining factor in the value of the ADU will be how long it will actually be used. Oftentimes, we fail to foresee the intended occupant growing tired of the small space and deciding to move again. Then the ADU goes unused, gets converted to a shed, and the costs we were looking to avoid from the start again become an issue.

If your home has equity, you may be able to qualify for refinancing and get cash to build the new unit. You may also be able to qualify for a renovation loan to pay for construction. Keep in mind that if you need to have your property rezoned, there may be applicable fees.

But at the end of the day, your ADU is only really worthwhile if you get the use out of it that you expect. If it turns out to be a temporary shelter for a relocating family member, the actual value may not be long-lasting. On the other hand, you may be able to rent the space out if it becomes unoccupied.

Before You Build Checklist

1. Check the local development standards including occupancy limits, maximum structure height, utility easements, and other zoning concerns.

2. Determine if you’ll need additional parking. Public transit, the width of the street you live on, and its shoulder space are important parts of the equation.

3. Plan ADU Access. Does the intended occupant intend or expect to have outside access to their unit? Poor planning could mean they have to walk through your house.

4. Privacy considerations should be well planned for. This includes outside access to the unit and possible privacy barriers such as a hedge or wall. You should also take into account whether or not you will permit access to your home bathroom until a toileting unit can be installed in the ADU.

5. Know the conditions of the building site. These include flooding potential, sloped terrain, and undisturbed or filled soil.

6. Find out whether you can tap into existing utility connections. If so, this can be either for long-term use, or it can be temporary until new utility connections can be established.

7. Verify the guidelines of your design are in accordance with residential code including Sarasota county building setbacks. Check your state building standards code before breaking ground.

There are many different considerations to be made when you’re looking to build an ADU. These include the specific use case of the person who will be living in the unit. It also includes the placement of underground utility lines, the property rights of your neighbors, and more. All this means that you need to work with Sarasota builders and remodelers. Get in touch with Gilbert Design & Build today to learn more.