In the past, most homeowners focused on building large homes with an attached garage, but there is a growing trend to build two structures: a main home and a detached garage with a living space. We offer several of these detached garage plans on our website and have many more in our archives if you don’t see what you’re looking for.

These living spaces are typically called accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and can be used for mother-in-law suites, apartments, or living spaces or even vacation units that can generate rental income.

If you are thinking about building a detached garage to create a living space or apartment, the information that follows is a good place to start.

Many Types of Accessory Dwelling Units

The actual concept of creating an accessory dwelling unit is nothing new and has been around for decades. A typical accessory dwelling unit can also be a basement apartment, backyard cottage, or any other type of dwelling unit that’s built on the main property.

An accessory dwelling unit cannot be sold or bought separately, like with a condominium, or a tiny home on wheels might be, since an ADU is also considered to be a part of the main house.

The history of accessory dwelling units actually dates back over 100 years, and evidence of older ADU’s can be found in the form of Carriage Houses in many cities across United States, including Washington DC and Seattle.

Construction of accessory dwelling units actually fell out of favor toward the end of the 20th century but, times have changed. With an aging Baby Boomer population and the fact that older children are living with their parents longer than ever before, some homeowners are choosing to add these types of living spaces onto their homes. One of the most common places where a granny flat, apartment or rental apartment is built these days is over a detached garage.

In addition to offering flexibility and potential rental income, some homeowners are choosing to live in their accessory dwelling units while they rent out their main homes so they can enjoy the rental income, and peace of mind in knowing that they don’t have to burdened with the regular maintenance of their home as they grow older.

Know the Rules First Before Building an ADU

Before moving forward with construction of an accessory dwelling unit, you should first verify if the zoning and planning department in your city has approved the construction of ADUs. This can be done online by visiting where you will find a list of regulations by city and state.

You should also consult with your homeowner’s association (if applicable), to verify if there are any building restrictions regarding the construction of accessory dwelling units in your neighborhood before moving forward with your project

In the State of Oregon accessory dwelling units are certainly nothing new, these types of living spaces have been popping up across the Pacific Northwest in rapid numbers over the last two years, especially in Portland and Seattle. They are also becoming more common in other cities as urban density becomes more important and, often, the only way to make building affordable.

A recent example in the Pacific Northwest is in Bend, Oregon, a growing city that has embraced accessory dwelling units, Bend’s Senior Code Planner, Pauline Hardie says, “we’ve seen 200 built in Bend over the last 15 years alone, but there still are major obstacles to seeing more built here, including expensive permits, which can amounts to thousands of dollars that homeowners have to pay before they can start their ADU projects.”

How to Choose the Right ADU for Your Needs

Regardless if you plan on living in the ADU yourself, or renting it out to someone else, you’ll want to consider the most likely use(s) for the long-term success of your accessory dwelling unit. Here are several tips that you should follow before choosing your garage plan with living space.

Tip #1 – Think About the Lifestyle of Who Will Be Living There

When deciding upon the right garage plan for your accessory dwelling unit, you should choose a living space floor plan that best fits the lifestyle of the individual or couple, who will be living there. For example, if you plan on building an ADU for your parents you should choose a floor plan that has larger doorways because this would also make the ADU wheelchair assessable, or easy for someone to move around if they used an electric scooter or walker.

Tip #2 – Always Balance both Budget and Comfort

Planning a budget and schedule with your builder ahead of time and doing your best to stick to it, will help with construction timeframe and headache in the long run. Try to balance considerations of both comfort and your budget, especially if you are committed to getting your ADU finished on time, to rent it out, or for your parents or other family to live in.

Tip #3 – Make Storage a Priority

Since an accessory dwelling unit is often a space that’s 1000 square feet or smaller, you should think about storage space when choosing a floor plan and confirm that the ADU will have plenty of storage areas including the option of hanging items for storage from the ceiling (if needed), or storing items under the floor.

Tip #4 – Add the Features You Would Want In the Kitchen and Bathroom

Last of all, but most important, when building an ADU you should have the features that you would want to use in the kitchen and bathroom because, even though an accessory dwelling unit has small square footage, that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice comfort. Most floor plans can incorporate comforts like a full size fridge, or full size oven in the kitchen.

Learn More about Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit

To learn more about building an accessory dwelling unit (garage apartment plans) call 1-206-257-3911 to speak with one of our designers or click here to connect with us online.