The Ins and Outs of Accessory Dwelling Units in Arlington, VA

Are you a homeowner in Arlington, VA looking to increase your property value and create additional living space? Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) may be the solution for you. In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about ADUs, including regulations, costs, design considerations and choosing the right builder. Let’s get started!

What are Accessory Dwelling Units?

An accessory dwelling unit, or ADU for short, is a small secondary residence that is located on the same property as a primary home. These units are typically located in the backyard of a property and can range in size up to 560 square feet. In Arlington, VA, ADUs have become increasingly popular due to their ability to provide additional living space without having to purchase new land or move out of an existing home.

Makara ADU has helped homeowners in Arlington realize the benefits of ADUs, from increased rental income potential to providing independent living spaces.

Organizations, such as Alliance for Housing Solutions, has been advocating for greater acceptance and use of ADUs since 2003. The organization provides assistance with zoning changes and works closely with local governments to help streamline the process. With Alliance’s help, together with firms such as Makara ADU, more homeowners in Arlington are realizing the benefits of adding an Accessory Dwelling Unit to their properties – from increased rental income potential to providing family members with independent living spaces while staying close by.

Size and Features

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Arlington, VA usually range in size from 200 to 560 square feet. Despite their small size, they offer a full suite of amenities including kitchens and bathrooms, making them a self-contained living space. Some ADUs also come with additional features like an outdoor patio or deck that expands the living area.

Homeowners who are interested in building an accessory dwelling unit can choose from a variety of styles and designs depending on their preferences and budget. There are options for both traditional-looking cottages as well as modern structures that feature sleek lines and contemporary finishes. With so many customizable designs available today, homeowners can create an ADU that perfectly fits their needs while adding value to their property at the same time.

Benefits of Building an ADU in Arlington, VA

Building an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in Arlington, VA can provide homeowners with a range of benefits. Firstly, ADUs offer additional living space for family members or rental income for homeowners. Secondly, they increase property value and help to maximize the use of underutilized backyard spaces. Finally, since 2020 Arlington County has had a dedicated Accessory Dwelling Unit building firm (i.e. Makara ADU) which supports homeowners throughout the entire process from design to construction and permits. With these benefits in mind, building an ADU is a smart investment for many homeowners in Arlington County.

Regulations for Building an ADU in Arlington, VA

When building an ADU in Arlington, VA, it is important to follow the proper regulations and obtain the necessary permits before starting construction. The permitting process includes submitting plans to the county for review and obtaining approval from various departments such as zoning, utilities and environmental services.

In addition to obtaining permits, it is crucial to adhere to zoning requirements when constructing an ADU in Arlington. These requirements include factors such as setback distances from property lines and neighboring structures, maximum height limitations, parking availability and more. It’s important to work with a knowledgeable contractor or architect who can guide you through these regulations during the design phase of your project.

Permitting Process

Understanding the application process for an ADU permit can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, with a company like Makara ADU that handles the entire process, its extremely easy and manageable. The first step is to research and understand the zoning requirements in Arlington, VA. Once you have a clear understanding of these requirements, you can begin preparing your application.

Documentation required to apply for a permit in Arlington, VA includes:

  • A site plan indicating where the ADU will be located
  • Floor plans and elevations of the proposed structure
  • A completed building permit application
  • Proof of ownership or authorization from the owner
  • Payment for associated fees

Common mistakes to avoid during the permitting process include:

  • Failing to accurately measure setbacks or lot coverage
  • Not obtaining proper approvals from neighbors or homeowner’s associations
  • Using non-compliant materials or designs that do not meet local building codes

By taking care to follow all necessary steps and avoiding common pitfalls during this process, homeowners can successfully obtain permits for their ADUs in Arlington, VA.

Zoning Requirements

How to identify if your property is eligible for building an ADU:

  • Call a firm, such as Makara ADU, that can quickly and easily identify if our property is feasible for an ADU.
  • Check with the Arlington County Zoning Office to determine if your property is zoned for residential use.
  • Review the zoning regulations to confirm that there are no restrictions on ADUs in your area.

Compliance with setback and height requirements of ADUs in Arlington, VA:

  • Setback requirements:
  • The minimum distance between the primary dwelling and the proposed ADU must be 5 feet from each side yard, 10 feet from the rear yard or alley, and adhere to any unique setbacks determined by local jurisdiction.
  • Height requirements:
  • The maximum height of an accessory structure cannot exceed 20ft, which includes both stories (if applicable).

Additional zoning regulations that you need to be aware of before building an ADU:

  • Occupancy limits:
  • An ADU can only house up to three people at a time.
  • Parking Requirements:
  • You may have specific parking space requirements depending on your location within Arlington County.

It’s important to consult with a professional team, such as Makara ADU, who specializes in building accessory dwelling units in order to ensure compliance with all applicable codes and guidelines. Note that changes may have been made to requirements since this blog was written so please contact Makara ADU for up to date information.

Costs and Financing Options

When it comes to financing your accessory dwelling unit in Arlington, VA, you have several options. Many homeowners opt for a home equity line of credit (HELOC), which allows them to borrow against the equity they’ve built up in their primary residence. Another option is a construction loan specifically designed for ADUs. Additionally, some jurisdictions offer grants or other financial incentives for building ADUs.

As far as construction costs go, the price tag will vary depending on factors such as size, materials used, and whether you choose to hire a builder or tackle the project yourself. According to recent estimates from, most homeowners can expect to spend anywhere from $150-$300 per square foot on an accessory dwelling unit build project in Arlington County. However, keep in mind that these figures do not include permits, architecture and engineering, utility connections and other fees associated with building an ADU.

Construction Costs

When it comes to building accessory dwelling units in Arlington, VA, construction costs can vary depending on a range of factors. Permits and fees are an important consideration, as local regulations may require specific permits or impact fees for new construction. Additionally, materials and labor costs will play a significant role in the final price tag for your ADU build.

Architectural and design services are also an important cost factor to take into account when constructing an accessory dwelling unit. It’s important to work with professionals who understand the unique challenges of designing for small spaces while still maximizing functionality and aesthetics. With careful planning and attention to detail on these key elements, you can create a beautiful ADU that meets your needs without breaking the bank.

The pricing for a Makara ADU includes all the costs to design, permit and construct the ADU. Makara ADU will work with you to value engineer the backyard cottage in Arlington, VA to meet your needs and your budget.

Financing Options

Homeowners have several financing options to consider when they want to build an accessory dwelling unit in Arlington, VA. Home equity loans are a popular choice for those who have built up significant equity in their primary home. Personal loans are another option that can provide quick access to funds without having to use your home as collateral. Government grants and programs may also be available for low-income homeowners or those who plan on renting out the ADU.

Here are some of the main points you should keep in mind about each financing option:

  • Home Equity Loans:
  • This type of loan lets you borrow against the value of your home, usually at a fixed interest rate. The amount you can borrow will depend on how much equity you have built up.
  • Personal Loans:
  • These unsecured loans typically come with higher interest rates than home equity loans but don’t require any collateral. They’re best suited for smaller projects where borrowing amounts aren’t too high.
  • Government Grants and Programs:
  • Check with local agencies such as Arlington County’s Housing Division or Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to see if there are any financial assistance programs available that could help offset construction costs.

Design Considerations for ADUs in Arlington, VA

When designing an ADU in Arlington, VA, it’s important to consider the architectural style of both the main house and surrounding neighborhood. A cohesive design can increase property value and enhance curb appeal. Additionally, landscaping and outdoor space should be carefully planned to maximize privacy for both the primary home and ADU occupants while also providing functional areas for entertaining or relaxation. Thoughtful consideration of these design elements can create a harmonious living experience for all residents.

Architectural Style

When it comes to the architectural style of an accessory dwelling unit, there are various options to choose from. One popular approach is matching the style of the main house, which can create a cohesive and complementary aesthetic. However, for those looking for a more modern and sleek design, there are plenty of options available as well.

If preserving historic features is important to you, consider incorporating them into your ADU’s design. This can include using reclaimed materials or mimicking architectural details from the main house. With careful attention to detail and expert craftsmanship, your ADU can seamlessly blend with its surroundings while still standing out as a unique and stylish addition to your property.

Landscaping and Outdoor Space

Maximizing outdoor living space for both units is crucial in designing your accessory dwelling unit (ADU). By creating separate entrances and private outdoor areas, each unit can have a sense of privacy and individuality. Incorporating greenery such as trees, shrubs, and flowers not only enhances the curb appeal but also creates a natural barrier between the two units.

By carefully planning the landscaping and outdoor space of your ADU, you can create a comfortable living area that maximizes every inch of available land. With separate entrances and private outdoor areas designed with greenery to enhance their aesthetic appeal, homeowners can enjoy their own tranquil sanctuaries while still being close enough to share communal spaces when desired.

Choosing the Right Builder for Your ADU (Makara ADU)

When choosing a builder for your ADU, experience and expertise are crucial factors to consider. Look for a company that specializes in building these types of units and has a track record of successful projects. Additionally, make sure the builder is familiar with Arlington’s zoning regulations and can navigate any necessary permits or approvals.

Customer service and communication are also important aspects to consider when selecting a builder for your ADU. Choose a company that values clear communication and prioritizes customer satisfaction throughout the entire building process. A responsive team that addresses your concerns promptly can help ensure that your project runs smoothly from start to finish.

Experience and Expertise

With several years of experience dedicated to building ADUs, our team possesses unmatched expertise in navigating zoning regulations and building codes. We specialize in designing custom ADUs that match the unique needs and preferences of our clients. From initial design to final construction, we pay close attention to detail every step of the way to ensure your vision is brought to life with precision and excellence.

Customer Service and Communication

Clear communication throughout the entire construction process is crucial to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience for homeowners. We make sure to keep our clients informed every step of the way, from initial design concepts through final inspection. This includes regular updates on timelines, budgets, and any unexpected issues that may arise.

We understand that accommodating our clients’ schedules is important in creating a positive experience. That’s why we offer flexible scheduling options to work around their needs and preferences. Our commitment to customer satisfaction has earned us a track record of positive reviews from satisfied homeowners who appreciate our attention to detail and personalized approach to each project.

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