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What Do You Call a Small House in the Backyard?

A small house in the backyard is commonly referred to as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). Also known as backyard cottages, granny flats, or in-law suites, ADUs have gained popularity in recent years as a practical and efficient solution to address housing shortages and accommodate changing lifestyles. These compact dwellings are gaining recognition as a valuable addition to properties, providing flexibility and extra living space.

ADUs come in various forms, ranging from detached standalone structures to renovated basements or converted garages. They typically include living quarters, a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping areas, allowing for independent living while still being close to the main house. The idea behind ADUs is to maximize the use of available space in residential properties, especially in urban areas where land is limited and expensive.


1. Why would someone want an ADU in their backyard?
An ADU offers multiple benefits, including providing a living space for elderly family members, accommodating adult children, creating rental income, or serving as a home office or guesthouse.

2. Do ADUs require building permits?
Yes, building permits are typically required for constructing or converting an ADU. The specific requirements vary depending on local regulations, but obtaining the necessary permits is crucial to ensure compliance with building codes and safety standards.

3. How much does it cost to build an ADU?
The cost of building an ADU varies depending on factors such as the size, design, materials used, and location. On average, the cost can range from $80,000 to $300,000. However, it is essential to consult with local contractors and professionals to get accurate estimates.

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4. Can I rent out an ADU for additional income?
Yes, renting out an ADU can provide a significant source of additional income. Many homeowners choose to rent out their ADUs on long-term leases or even through platforms such as Airbnb.

5. Are ADUs only for residential properties?
ADUs are primarily designed for residential properties, but some local regulations may allow them in commercial or mixed-use areas as well.

6. Are there any size limitations for ADUs?
The size limitations for ADUs vary depending on local zoning regulations. Some areas have specific square footage restrictions, while others may impose height limitations or setbacks from property lines.

7. Can I build an ADU if I have a small backyard?
Yes, ADUs can be designed to fit in small backyards. There are various architectural designs and space-saving solutions available to maximize the use of limited space.

8. Can I build an ADU if I don’t have a backyard?
If you don’t have a backyard, you may still be able to build an ADU by utilizing other available spaces, such as converting a basement, garage, or even adding an additional floor to your existing home.

9. Do ADUs increase property value?
ADUs can increase property value, as they offer additional living space and potential rental income. However, the extent of the value increase depends on various factors such as location, design, and demand for ADUs in the area.

10. Are there any restrictions on renting out an ADU?
Some areas may have restrictions on renting out ADUs, such as limitations on the number of occupants or the duration of rental periods. It is essential to familiarize yourself with local regulations and obtain any necessary permits or licenses.

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11. Can I finance the construction of an ADU?
Yes, there are various financing options available for building an ADU, including traditional home equity loans, refinancing options, or specialized ADU financing programs offered by some lenders. It is advisable to consult with financial institutions or professionals to explore the best financing options for your specific situation.

In conclusion, a small house in the backyard is commonly known as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). It can serve multiple purposes, from accommodating family members to providing rental income or additional workspace. ADUs offer a flexible, cost-effective solution to address housing needs and make the most of available space. Understanding local regulations and consulting professionals is essential to ensure a smooth and successful ADU project.