ADUs and Tiny Houses

Posted May 15, 2023 in Real Estate Trends

tracie demars, Clark County WA real estate agent

This week I want to talk a bit about some hot terms in real estate. With the market being so lopsided right now, many people are looking into alternative housing options.

Let’s start with the ADU (aka Attached Dwelling Unit). Most of these ADU’s are really called RADU’s as they are in rural areas. The RADU is called Rural Attached Dwelling Unit because one wall of the RADU MUST be attached to the main dwelling. The size of the ADU can be no more than 40% of size of the main structure/home. You will hear some people still call them ADU, but it does get confusing.

An ADU, like the RADU, can be a full home with full kitchen, bathroom, laundry, etc. The difference is your area. Rural (attached dwelling) vs Urban (accessory dwelling). This is a terrific option for converting what is already there, or you can build a new one.

The 3rd option is a guesthouse. There is no size limit on guesthouses, but there are a few limitations. A guest house is usually a detached structure that is a full home in every way except for the kitchen. A guest home cannot have an exterior stove exhaust and has a smaller kitchen sink area.  A guesthouse can have any size fridge. It can have a microwave. It can have a countertop convection oven. It can be a full house with laundry, dishwasher, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc…. it just can’t have a stove. So… that is the downside to the guesthouse, but the plus size again is that there isn’t a size restriction to the guesthouse, and that is pretty cool.

So what about ‘tiny homes’? Well, I spent some time with Derek at Wolf Industries in Battle Ground, and the name ‘tiny home’ can be really deceiving. Yes, a few of their homes are pretty small at only 300 & 400 square feet, but they have a 3-bedroom 1230 square foot home as well! One thing Derek really emphasized was that these are NOT a manufactured home. They are modular homes that are built entirely in their huge shop in Battle Ground in an assembly line type process. The buyer is part of the process still of choosing flooring, cabinets, etc. The homes are then brought to your property where they are placed on a foundation and hooked up to utilities. This is a great option for many people for an ADU, or a guesthouse especially if they aren’t considering converting what is already on the property.

Multi-generational living is something that we are seeing more and more of as the housing market is pretty unsettled still. One of my clients who lives in a rural area has a daylight basement home. The upstairs is your typical 3 bedrooms, 2 bath home, but the downstairs (when they bought it) had a huge bonus room with a wet bar, an office, a bedroom, and a bathroom. They remodeled the downstairs into a 2nd home with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, and added the kitchen. The garage on the main floor leads to the mud room/laundry which has the interior door to the basement, so they share the laundry. Another one of my clients just converted their garage into a one-bedroom apartment for his aging parents. Another client just added a studio apartment on top of their garage for their son.

Whether you are thinking about bringing in a ‘Tiny Home’ for a guest house or ADU, or if you are thinking about building a RADU, ADU, or guesthouse one thing to consider is land development. You would also be looking at additional plumbing, electrical, water, and sewer/septic concerns. If you have a septic, you need to be aware where your drain field is located at, and what your septic is sized for.
When you are remodeling a floor plan, or converting a space that is already there, the costs will be different. Both options will have permits costs, so while these are all options that people are utilizing for muti-generational living, it isn’t as cut and dried as it looks.

If this is something you are considering, talk with a Realtor who has some knowledge with it. I am always open for your questions!