Building a Backyard Accessory Dwelling Unit | Tips for DIY Enthusiasts
Workplace Inspiration

Building a Backyard Accessory Dwelling Unit | Tips for DIY Enthusiasts

|Aug 31, 2022

It is a worthwhile investment to have an extra backyard accessory dwelling unit on your property. Not only will this give you some extra living space in case you have visitors or your family members need a place to stay, but it will also increase the value of your property. 

These days, a lot of families are taking the time to add some extra structures to their properties for work, leisure, or as a guest-house for visitors. This has resulted in a growing interest in owning an outdoor office pod, insulated backyard shed, or wooden pod for a garden

Building an ADU in your backyard is no longer as complicated or expensive as it used to be. You do not even need specialized skills in construction to build yourself a DIY backyard office shed

Thanks to the many available prefabricated ADUs, you can buy all the stuff that you need and have your backyard accessory dwelling unit set up in no time at all. If this sounds like something you would want to try out for your backyard, then read on and learn everything you need to know about how to build an ADU. 

What Is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

What Is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An accessory dwelling unit can best be described as a secondary structure that is built on the same building lot as a larger residence. ADUs are often called by many different names, such as: 

  • Tiny house
  • Mother-in-law unit
  • Granny flat
  • Garage conversion
  • Basement apartment
  • Backyard cottage
  • Secondary dwelling unit
  • Mother-in-law suite
  • Garden cottage
  • Carriage house
  • Backyard house
  • Attic apartment

Types of ADUs

ADUs can be divided into four main categories, based on their function and how they are designed. They can either be: 

1. Interior Conversion

Interior Conversion

If an ADU is not visible from the outside, it can be referred to as an interior conversion. However, this should not be mistaken for a spare bedroom or an extension of the main house. Interior conversion is self-sustained, allowing the occupants to reside independently from the rest of the house. 

2. Attached ADU

An attached ADU has to be physically connected to the main building, usually by sharing a wall. However, no doorway connects the two, meaning you will have to exit the house to get to the attached ADU. These ADUs may share the same utilities as the rest of the building or have their own connections, but they must be able to exist separately. 

3. Garage Conversion

Garage Conversion

Depending on the type of garage you have, the garage conversion ADU may be detached or attached. This type of backyard accessory dwelling unit is simply a garage space that has been turned into a separate living area. This might mean removing the parking space entirely or finding a way to accommodate both the cars and the living areas. 

4. Detached ADU

The most accurate example of a backyard accessory dwelling unit is a detached ADU that is located away from the main building. This is a freestanding building that comes with its own complete set of utilities. It allows its occupants to live with more or less the same kind of freedom that is enjoyed by those in the main building. 

Why Build a Backyard Tiny House ADU?

Having a backyard office pod used to be considered an indulgence, but these days it is fast becoming a necessity for most families. 

Great Elderly Residence

If you want to keep your parents close by but at the same time you both need some kind of independence, then having a backyard ADU is a great way to fix that. You can both live fairly separate lives while keeping them close enough for you to check up on them when needed. 

Kids Can Live There Too

Kids Can Live There Too

These days, with the rising cost of living, one of the biggest concerns that parents share is figuring out how their children will be able to afford to live on their own. However, with a backyard ADU on your property, your kids can enjoy the freedom of moving out while at the same time not having to worry about paying high rentals before they have a stable income. 

Good Source of Extra Income

If you decide to let out your backyard accessory dwelling unit, it can be a major source of extra income. Depending on how well you have kitted out the cottage, it can attract very high rentals which can go a long way in reducing the impact of the global economic downturn. 

Increases Your Property Value

Increases Your Property Value

When the time comes that you need to sell your property and move on, having an extra building or two will significantly boost its commercial value. In fact, real estate agents estimate that a well-constructed ADU can boost your property value by up to 30%. 

Works Well as a Guest House

Having your friends or relatives over for a visit is always a great way to spend some quality time. However, one thing that puts many people off is the thought of imposing on each other's personal space or having to deal with uncomfortable sleeping arrangements. A backyard

Can Be Used as a Home Office

Can Be Used as a Home Office

With the right ADU construction and design, you can use your backyard accessory dwelling unit as a home work pod. Working from home has a lot of advantages, including cutting down on transport costs and giving yourself some extra time to spend with your family. A lot of people are deciding to substitute daily commuting for working from home, and having an ADU is the first step to achieving that. 

How Much Does an Accessory Dwelling Unit Cost?


There are just too many different types of ADUs available for us to give the exact cost of building or buying an accessory dwelling unit. There are a lot of important factors that will determine the overall cost, such as: 

  • Size of the dwelling
  • The choice of materials and design
  • Amount of DIY you put into the project
  • Any land preparation that needs to be done
  • Type of company you hire for the job
  • Whether you decide to buy a prefabricated ADU or build one yourself
  • The intended purpose of the ADU
  • Any additional requirements, such as insulation 

When all these factors have been considered, only then can you begin to calculate how much the entire project is likely to cost. At this stage, it is important to find ways to perhaps cut back on the construction costs, such as buying cheaper material, choosing DIY for most of the work, and buying from a more affordable outlet. 

At Autonomous, you will find a wide range of DIY backyard office sheds and prefabricated ADUs that will suit your budget, are easy to construct, and come with great warranty deals. 

The Building Process

The Building Process

Before you start building an ADU, you have to have a good idea of the things you will need to do to get the job done. Having such a checklist will help you avoid any surprises and also identify the areas where you can cut construction costs significantly. 

With that in mind, here are the important considerations you need to make when constructing a backyard ADU: 

Building Regulations

Certain building regulations regarding building an extra building on your property may prevent you from owning an ADU. You will have to consult the authorities first before starting the project. 


backyard accessory dwelling unit Design

The design that you choose will have a big impact on the look, construction time, difficulty of the project, and overall cost. Always choose a design that you can manage. 

Type of Material

Select the right material for your climate to avoid suffering from extreme weather conditions. Also, choose materials that are easy to source locally. 


The size of your project will determine how long you will need to dedicate to working on your ADU. Always make sure you set realistic targets for finishing your project. 


backyard accessory dwelling unit Budget

When you are clear on the type of ADU you want, the material required, as well as the cost of labor, you can create a proper budget analysis to prevent running out of money mid-project. 

Level of Construction Experience Required

The more complicated your backyard accessory dwelling unit is, the less DIY you will be able to do on it. In such a case, you will have to invest a lot more in hiring professional people for the job. 

Some Great Options To Consider

There are a lot of great options for you to choose from as long as you know the required purpose of your ADU. You can take a look at the following options available on the Autonomous website: 

1. WorkPod

WorkPod backyard accessory dwelling unit

If you are looking for an easy-to-install prefabricated ADU then the WorkPod is a great choice. It comes with all the necessary office accessories to create a good working environment for you. It was created to be the ultimate distraction-free space to help you reach your peak levels of productivity while in the comfort of your own home.

2. StudioPod


Another great option from Autonomous is the StudioPod. The only major difference from the WorkPod is the window design, which is a lot more open than the StudioPod. Without the huge floor-to-ceiling windows, you have a lot more privacy when working in the StudioPod. It is a great place to get creative and isolate yourself from the outside world when you need to.

3. Yard Pod

If you are looking for a great-looking pod that comes with all the latest accessories and is made from quality material, then the Yard Pod is a great choice. Inside, you will find a lot of open space for adding a few furniture items. The downside of the Yard Pod is that it is expensive. You can expect to fork out $28,000 for one of these units, so it is not a great option if you are on a tight budget. 

4. ArchiPod


The great combination of “modern on the inside and traditional on the outside” makes the ArchiPod a very unique backyard accessory dwelling unit that will add a lot of character to your property. Its simplistic design means it is easy to set up while also providing the perfect place to work, meditate, play, or use as a hobby room. It is rated as one of the best outdoor office pod in the market.

5. Kiwi Room From Kanga Room Systems

One of the first things that will catch your eye is how solid the Kiwi Room looks. This is because Kanga Room Systems uses nothing but the very best materials to make their Pods. You can easily spend days working comfortably in your Kiwi Room without feeling the need to go back to the office thanks to the modern design features. 

6. ÖÖD Home Office

If you have the time, patience, and money to invest in a really big backyard project then you should definitely consider the ÖÖD Home Office. It comes loaded with all the luxuries you can think of. However, it is a very big unit, so you will need a lot of space to build on. It also needs a foundation, meaning this is not a temporary pod that you can change at any time. 

7. Rotating Luxury Pod

Users of the Rotating Luxury Pod absolutely love the futuristic design elements included in this ADU. You can easily rotate the entire pod, allowing you to enjoy the best of your surroundings. It is also big enough to comfortably sit seven people, which is a definite bonus if you need a home office. 


Whether you intend to build one or buy one, a backyard accessory dwelling unit will make a great addition to your property. There are a lot of benefits to this type of investment, and thanks to the wide range of options available at Autonomous, you can choose the perfect backyard ADU for your needs.

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