The Ultimate Guide to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Arlington, VA

Looking for an affordable solution to your housing needs in Arlington, VA and Alexandria, VA and Montgomery County, MD? Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) might just be the answer. ADUs have been trending recently as a viable option for homeowners looking to expand their space or generate rental income. In this post, we’ll explore what exactly ADUs are, why they’re becoming increasingly popular, how you can build one, and the benefits of owning one.

What are ADUs?

ADUs, or accessory dwelling units, are independent and secondary small living spaces that can be built on the same property as an existing single-family home. These units are also commonly referred to as granny flats, cottages, in-law suites, backyard cottages, or backyard apartments and have become a popular solution for affordable housing in many cities.

ADUs, also known as granny flats or backyard apartments, offer homeowners the opportunity to create additional rental income or provide extra space for family members.

There are two types of ADUs: attached and detached. Attached ADUs share a wall with the main house and have their own separate entrance, while detached ADUs are completely separate structures located in the backyard. Both types of ADUs offer homeowners the opportunity to create additional rental income or provide extra space for family members.


An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a self-contained living space within a property that has its own entrance, kitchen and bathroom facilities. ADUs are becoming increasingly popular as they offer homeowners the opportunity to generate additional income by renting them out, or house family members in close proximity while maintaining privacy.

While often used interchangeably with terms like in-law suites and tiny homes, ADUs have distinct differences. In-law suites generally refer to an extra bedroom or living area within an existing home, whereas tiny homes are typically standalone residences that can be moved from place to place.

For homeowners looking to generate income or provide affordable housing options for renters, ADUs provide numerous benefits. They allow homeowners to maximize the use of their property without having to purchase new land or build additional apartments elsewhere; they also increase property value and offer flexibility for changing needs such as accommodating aging parents or adult children returning home.

Overall, accessory dwelling units represent a cost-effective way of providing additional rental opportunities while offering renters more affordable housing options in areas where traditional apartment buildings may not be available – all while remaining hidden away at the back of your backyard!


ADUs, or accessory dwelling units, come in different types such as attached, detached or basement or garage conversions. When building an ADU on your property, design considerations play a crucial role in ensuring that it complements your existing home while providing additional space for living. Understanding the legal requirements for constructing an ADU is also important to avoid any setbacks during the construction process. Whether you are looking for extra living space or rental income through apartments, backyard ADUs offer a flexible and affordable housing solution.

Why ADUs are Trending?

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are becoming increasingly popular due to their affordability and flexibility. Many homeowners are building ADUs to provide additional living space for family members or as a source of rental income. In addition, ADUs are environmentally sustainable and can increase property value. As housing costs continue to rise in many cities, the trend towards ADU construction is likely to grow even more.


Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are a cost-effective alternative to traditional housing, providing homeowners with an opportunity to earn potential rental income. ADUs are smaller in square footage compared to conventional homes, which translates into lower utility bills for both the homeowner and tenant.

Not only do ADUs offer financial benefits, but they also provide flexibility in their design and usage. Homeowners can use them as a guest house or office space while still maintaining privacy within their property. Additionally, building an ADU is environmentally sustainable as it requires fewer resources than constructing a larger home.

Overall, ADUs have become a trending solution for affordable housing due to its multiple advantages such as affordability, flexibility and sustainability while also increasing the value of the property.


An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a flexible living space that can serve multiple purposes. It can be used as a home office, guest house, or in-law suite which makes it an ideal solution for those who work from home or have frequent visitors. ADUs also allow for multi-generational living arrangements, providing affordable housing options to families with aging parents or adult children.

In addition to their versatility, ADUs are easier and quicker to construct than traditional homes. They are typically smaller in size and can be built on existing properties without the need for major renovations. This not only saves time but also reduces construction costs making ADUs an attractive option for those looking for affordable housing solutions. Overall, the flexibility of ADUs make them a trending solution in today’s housing market.


Reduced carbon footprint is a significant benefit of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) due to their smaller size and efficient design. ADUs are built with sustainability in mind, using less energy for heating and cooling, resulting in reduced emissions. Furthermore, the increased use of renewable energy sources such as solar panels further reduces the carbon footprint of these units.

In addition to reducing emissions during use, there is also potential for eco-friendly materials to be used during construction. This includes recycled or sustainably sourced building materials such as bamboo flooring or reclaimed wood siding. These measures not only benefit the environment but also create a healthier living space for homeowners and tenants alike.

Increased Property Value

ADUs, or accessory dwelling units, can increase the property value of a home due to their added living space. This makes them attractive to potential buyers or renters who are looking for flexibility and affordability. “ADU-ready” properties may also see an increase in demand as more people become interested in this housing trend. Overall, investing in an ADU can be a smart financial decision that not only provides additional income but also boosts the resale value of your property.

How to Build an ADU?

Before diving into the process of building an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), it’s important to research and understand the permitting and zoning regulations in your area. This will ensure that your ADU complies with local laws and requirements, allowing for a smooth construction process. Additionally, considering design elements such as size, layout, and accessibility can improve functionality while increasing property value. Once these factors are accounted for, the actual construction process involves securing financing options, choosing materials and hiring contractors to bring your ADU vision to life. While costs vary depending on location and specific preferences, building an ADU can provide a cost-effective solution for additional living space or rental income potential.

Permitting and Zoning Regulations

Understanding local regulations is crucial when considering building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). It’s important to research and comprehend the specific permitting process required in your area. Securing necessary permits can be a time-consuming and complicated process, but it must be done before beginning any construction.

Zoning requirements are also essential to keep in mind when designing or constructing ADUs. These vary by locality and can significantly impact where you build, what type of ADU you construct, and how large it can be. Understanding these regulations is critical for ensuring that your project complies with all zoning laws.

Design Considerations

Choosing the right ADU style for your needs is an important design consideration. Consider factors such as budget, space limitations, and personal preferences to determine which style will work best for you. Additionally, maximizing available space is crucial when designing an ADU. Use creative storage solutions and consider multi-purpose furniture to make the most of every inch.

Ensuring accessibility features should also be a top priority during the design process. Consider implementing features such as wheelchair ramps, grab bars in bathrooms, wider doorways and hallways if needed. Overall, a thoughtful approach to design will help create a comfortable living space that meets all of your unique needs.

  • Choose an ADU style based on budget & preferences
  • Maximize available space with creative storage solutions
  • Ensure accessibility features are incorporated into the design

Construction Process

When building an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), the construction process is crucial for ensuring a successful and safe outcome. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Hiring a reputable builder or contractor:
  • It’s important to work with professionals who have experience in ADU construction and can provide references from previous clients.
  • Sourcing quality materials within budget constraints:
  • Finding the right balance between cost and quality is essential for staying within your budget while still creating a well-built structure.
  • Adhering to building codes and safety standards:
  • Compliance with local regulations ensures that your ADU meets all necessary safety requirements, protecting you as well as future occupants of the space.


Estimating total project costs for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) can be tricky, but it’s important to have a clear understanding of expenses before diving into construction. Costs will vary depending on factors such as size, location, and materials used. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering the costs of building an ADU:

  • Hiring professionals like architects and contractors can significantly add to overall costs.
  • Consider all necessary permits and fees required by your local government.
  • Material choices will affect budget – using eco-friendly or high-end finishes may increase costs.

Considering financing options like loans or grants is another important step when planning for ADU construction. Financial assistance could include low-interest loans from banks or credit unions, as well as grants offered by various organizations. It’s wise to research different options available in your area.

Comparing cost benefits with long-term rental income is also crucial when contemplating the investment of building an ADU. While constructing an ADU requires financial resources upfront, renting out that space can provide additional income stream over time. This added benefit should be taken into account while calculating the complete return on investment (ROI).

The Benefits of ADUs

ADUs provide homeowners with a unique opportunity to generate additional income by renting out the space. This can be especially helpful for those looking to offset the cost of their mortgage or simply earn some extra cash. With more and more people seeking affordable rental options, ADUs are becoming an increasingly popular solution.

In addition to providing extra income, ADUs can also increase housing affordability in urban areas where housing is scarce and expensive. By creating smaller, more affordable living spaces within existing neighborhoods, cities can help address the growing demand for affordable housing options while preserving community character and reducing urban sprawl. Overall, investing in an ADU is a financially sound decision that offers both long-term benefits and potential financial gain.

Additional Income

Maximizing your property’s potential is a great way to earn additional income. Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs, are small homes and apartments located on the same lot as an existing dwelling. These can be rented out for extra revenue, making it a smart investment for homeowners looking to generate more money.

If you live in a popular tourist destination, renting out your home through Airbnb or other short-term rental platforms can also provide additional income. Hosting guests allows you to utilize unused space without committing long-term leases.

Short term rentals like Airbnb offer flexibility and convenience which makes them ideal for tourists who prefer authentic experiences when travelling. This trend continues to rise with many hosts earning substantial profits from their properties.

Housing Affordability

Alternative housing options such as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are becoming increasingly popular due to their lower cost than traditional housing options. ADUs also offer a potential increase in property value and equity, making them an attractive investment opportunity. In addition, the affordability of ADUs presents an opportunity for low-income families to become homeowners and build wealth through real estate ownership.

Aging in Place

Downsizing can be a daunting task for anyone, but it becomes especially challenging as we age. ADUs offer a practical solution that allows seniors to downsize while still staying close to family and community. This not only provides emotional support but also opens up opportunities for increased social interaction.

Accessible living spaces are essential in maintaining independence as we age. ADUs allow for customizable design options that meet individual needs, ensuring maximum comfort and mobility. From wheelchair ramps to grab bars in the bathroom, these small yet significant changes make all the difference in promoting autonomy and self-sufficiency for aging adults.

Family Living

Multigenerational living options for extended families are becoming more popular as housing affordability becomes a major issue. Accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs, offer the perfect solution to accommodate multiple generations within the same property while maintaining privacy and autonomy. Granny flats or in-law units can serve as separate living quarters complete with their own kitchen and bathroom facilities.

With an ADU on your property, you have the flexibility to invite relatives to live with you without sacrificing personal space or privacy. This trend has become increasingly popular among millennials who are looking for affordable housing solutions that allow them to stay close to family members while still maintaining their independence. An ADU provides a win-win situation by offering additional income from rental opportunities and providing safe and comfortable accommodations for loved ones who need care or support.


The increasing demand for affordable housing has become a critical issue in many urban areas. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are emerging as a viable solution that offers multiple benefits. ADUs provide affordable housing options for renters and homeowners, especially in high-cost areas such as Arlington, VA and Alexandria, VA and Montgomery County, MD where traditional housing may be out of reach. Additionally, they offer an opportunity to increase rental income and add value to residential properties.

In addition to addressing the need for affordable housing, ADUs can also have positive impacts on local communities. They can help address issues such as urban sprawl by allowing more people to live closer together while still maintaining their privacy and independence.   They also provide a fantastic option for families and older members of the family to live in close proximity of one another.   This benefit spans across multiple generations.     Furthermore, the construction of these units creates jobs and supports local businesses within the community. Overall, ADUs present an innovative approach that could make significant progress towards meeting the growing need for affordable housing while contributing positively to communities’ growth and development.

Makara ADU specializes in Accessory Dwelling Unit construction and is an expert in ADU feasibility, design and construction in the Washington, DC metro region.   We have built ADUs in Arlington, VA, Alexandria, VA, Montgomery County, MD and Washington, DC.  We handle everything that is involved including the architecture and engineering which will save thousands of dollars and reduce overall time to complete.   Call us today to learn more.

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