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What is an ADU? Accessory Dwelling Units Explained

The term ADU is becoming increasingly popular among contractors and homeowners alike, and for good reason. More and more, ADU’s are piquing people’s interest, especially with states like California and Vermont making them easier than ever to build. But you might be wondering, “what the heck is an ADU anyway?” and that’s a great question. Let’s take a deeper dive!

What is an accessory dwelling unit?


An accessory dwelling unit, better known as an ADU, serves as secondary housing on an already existing piece of residential property. Examples include guest houses, granny flats, she-sheds, backyard studios, and more. ADU’s often vary in size, structure, and utility. Depending on the type of ADU you choose to build, it can serve a variety of purposes. Most often ADU’s are used to house friends, relatives, or as a rental unit.

Types of ADU’s

1. Detached ADU

Sometimes referred to as a guest house or granny flat, a detached ADU can serve as a companion structure to a residential home. Detached ADU’s are newly constructed, and provide a space that’s entirely separate and secluded from the main residence.

2. Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit

A junior ADU is one that is built within the established residential home. In other words, simply converting a room or space within your home into its own private residence. This space must have its own separate entry, as well as a few other basic living requirements to be classified as a JADU.

3. Garage or Above Garage Conversions

Also known as garage apartments or carriage houses, an above garage ADU is just that, added living space above a home’s garage. Others choose to convert their actual garage into its own living quarters. The additional space can serve as an office, an at-home gym, or even a rental for those looking to make some extra money.

4. Bump Out or Addition ADU

While a bump out ADU does involve adding to your home’s foundation and roofline, it’s less of a commitment than a full on room addition. Bump outs are often used to extend spaces, such as a living or dining room.

Benefits of Building an ADU

  • Increase your monthly income.

In many cases, building an ADU on your property can be a worthwhile investment that yields fruitful returns. You can choose to use the space as a rental, and make some extra money in the process. You’ll be helping someone find safe and affordable housing, all while supplementing your own income and easing the burden of an expensive mortgage.

  • Expand your living space.

Many folks are working from home these days, which can pose some distractions. After all, it’s tough to stay focused with kids, pets, and all of your creature comforts calling your name. Having a secluded office space where you can work, or a studio where you can escape after a busy day is invaluable.

  • Make your property stand out on the market.

Ask any realtor today, and they’ll tell you that the housing market is hot. Buyers are on the hunt for homes that are functional and will fit their family’s needs. So, how is a seller to make their home stand out? Having an ADU on your property not only will add to the overall square footage of your home, it’ll also add to the value. This is going to help set your property apart from the others, and earn you the most bang for your buck.

  • Live with friends and family.

As the cost of living continues to rise, multi-family homes are becoming more commonplace. But this can present its own set of challenges. Building an ADU provides that added living space that would allow you to welcome a friend or relative into your home, while keeping them at a comfortable distance.

Interested in building an ADU? Volstrukt can help!

Volstrukt makes framing an ADU easy with our pre-assembled steel frame kits. Your steel frame will be shipped to you in panels that are ready to stand, secure, and anchor to a foundation of your choosing. Our frames are ICC certified, and backed by a 25-year warranty, so you can have confidence in the quality and durability of your home.

Topics: volstrukt lightweight steel framing steel framing ADU