Backyard Cottages, ADU, mother-in-law, garage apartment
Are you interested in learning more about backyard cottages and adding an ADU on your property?
Alternative Dwelling Units (ADUs) are commonly known as backyard cottages, garage apartments and mother-in-law apartments. They can have a variety of different floor plans, but they all have a self-contained dwelling within, adjacent or attached to a single-family home. Access to the ADU is through a separate entrance and each ADU will have its own living, kitchen, bathroom and sleeping facilities. The four main ways to build an ADU include:

  • Converting an existing living area
  • Finishing an existing attic or basement
  • Building a new freestanding structure
  • Rebuilding an existing detached garage

In addition to the benefits of increasing your property value and rental income, ADUs have received praise by adding affordable housing in over-heated housing markets, like Seattle, in ways that preserve and maintain the existing neighborhood’s character and culture. Seattle’s City Council is looking at a number of zoning changes that will make it more affordable and easy for homeowners to add a backyard cottage to their property. Cherry Design + Build has the experience and expertise to help you design and build an ADU for your property.

If you are interested in adding a backyard cottage to your property, you can give us a call at 206 550 6026. You may also find the following resources helpful in evaluating whether your house is able to add an ADU to the property.

The City of Seattle published an informational pamphlet that covers many of your questions and also has a thorough guide that take you through the process from start to finish.  Some new changes to the existing building code may not be included in these documents.  CD+B is up to date on all the recent changes in regards to permits and ADU’s.

FAQ’s for Backyard Cottages

Here are some of the initial questions that we often answer about ADU’s.

Q: How large does my lot need to be to allow a Backyard Cottage?

A: At least 4000 square feet.

Q: Do I have to provide parking for my ADU or Backyard Cottage?

A: Yes, one off-street parking space is required, except in some residential zones (urban villages, urban centers, lowrise zones). However, the City of Seattle is considering a revision to this policy that would allow a parking exemption in order to increase the number of Backyard Cottages.

Q: Do I have to live in the ADU/Backyard Cottage or in the house?

A: Yes, For at least six months of the year, either the main house or the ADU/Backyard Cottage need to be your main and permanent residence.

Q: How big can my ADU or Backyard Cottage be?

A: Attached ADUs can be up to 1000 square feet (with a couple exceptions) for single family homes.  Rowhouses and townhomes cannot have attached ADUs that are larger than 650 square feet and may not exceed 40% of gross floor area. Backyard Cottages can be 800 square feet or smaller, including garage and storage areas.

Q: How much does it cost to build an ADU or Backyard Cottage in Seattle?

A: We’ll need more information about your property and an idea of what you’d like to build before we could calculate an estimate for you. Give us a call today!

The Cherry Design + Build team turned a dilapidated outbuilding into an incredibly sweet cottage for us. I would highly recommend them.