Things to Know When Building Accessory Dwelling Unit in Denver
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Things to Know When Building Accessory Dwelling Unit in Denver

|May 7, 2023

As everyone tries to adjust to the housing crisis, the popularity of alternative developments is growing in all major cities, including Denver. And within those developments, one of the most popular and effective ones is the increasing trend of Denver accessory dwelling units or ADUs.

To put it plainly, these are small, independent living cabins or pods constructed on the same lot as an existing property, allowing the landowner to generate revenue, increase living space and property value, or accommodate loved ones without compromising privacy and at a low cost.

And while they are a great way to improve your real estate game, building an adu in Denver can be a complex process with tons of legal requirements, zoning regulations, and construction considerations that a prospective builder has to navigate. In this article, we will cover some of these key things that you have to know when building an ADU in Denver.

Design Considerations

The first thing you need to know when getting into the world of Denver ADUs is what ADUs are in the first place and how they work.

Now, as we just mentioned, ADUs, also known as Guest Houses, Granny Pods, and Living-Sheds, are self-contained residences constructed alongside the main building on a property with their own entrance, kitchen, bath, and in most cases, their own water, gas, and electric.

All of this allows the tenants to enjoy the comforts of having their own residence while earning the landowner a sizable rent at a shockingly affordable cost. That being said, like all building projects, ADUs can come in all shapes and sizes, and as such, their costs, requirements, and building processes can vary wildly.

Design Considerations

The most basic and expensive kind is the standard backyard guest house which is a proper, often multi-story cabin/lodge with proper building foundations. But as you can guess, constructing these needs a lot of space and can only happen on a few plots.

A much more effective alternative is a much more compact prefab guest house, which comes with all the basic parts manufactured. It can be put together in less than a week in some cases, saving you time and money without compromising on quality.

And finally, the most advanced approach is the construction of modular ADUs, which combine the speed and technology of prefab options with the versatility of a proper cabin. And apart from these basic construction considerations, you can implement any manner of shed house ideas to help you make the dwelling of your dreams.

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Legal Requirements

Once you've considered the particular ADU type you want to construct on your plot, you have to contend with the first major hurdle, the legal requirements, because as building projects, not only do ADUs have to conform to all building codes, constructing them in the first place requires permits of all different kinds. So let's take a look at some of the Denver ADU requirements:

  • Zoning: DUs As anyone in the city can tell you, Denver, like most cities, is undergoing a housing crisis and, as such, wants to promote the creation of new dwellings across the city. As a result, the city allows ADU construction in most areas. That being said, we recommend you consult local authorities, contractors, and the Denver Zoning Code before starting your project for the latest zoning regulations.
  • Building Specifications: Once your zoning requirements are satisfied, you must consider the kind of dwelling you want to make. Not only do regulations specify the ground coverage your ADU is allowed to have, which falls around 35 percent of your free lot with a minimum 15ft separation from the main dwelling, but exact dimensions and the number of stories are also subject to regulations. As a result, most clients should consult local contractors, homeowner's organizations, and online guides to check the major building requirements.
  • Building Codes: Besides the ADU-specific regulations, any Denver accessory dwelling unit must comply with the general building codes for safety, as well as electrical, plumbing, and other systems. This also applies to rental codes, which must be satisfied before a building can be rented out.
  • Permits: If all of these requirements are met, clients can start drafting detailed guest house plans, which they will submit to the city authorities to obtain the applicable permits, including construction, electric, plumbing, etc.

Now, all of that sounds daunting, but with just a little research, the entire process can be done in a fraction of the time it takes for a proper building. And once done, you can start consulting any ADU builders in Denver to start the fun part of your journey.

Legal Requirements

The Building Process

Like any other construction project, building an ADU in Denver involves making a budget estimate, consulting a contractor, and commencing construction.

But, since ADUs can take so many forms, the shed house ideas and guest house plans you can implement are endless, as are the ways of constructing these projects. As we mentioned earlier, you can go with your local contractors for larger projects. Or, if you want to go for the pre-fab options, you can get small house kits or modular kits from companies like Autonomous ADUs.

And while the budget is a big consideration, by choosing such options, you can save tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention a ton of time. All of which is to say that once you have gotten through the legal requirements, the process of building an ADU in Denver is much easier than you think, given you have paid attention to all the details.

The Building Process

Bottom Line

Building an ADU in this economy in a city such as Denver can be a complex process, but with advanced modular and prefab techniques, the process is becoming easier day by day. There is even news that the city will loosen restrictions on ADU construction to combat the housing crisis.

So if you're looking for a place to invest or want to improve your own living situation or for your family, you can't go wrong with an ADU in Denver, as long as you keep in mind everything we've told you in this article.

And that covers our talk about everything you should know before constructing an ADU in Denver. We hope you found the article helpful, and if you did, remember to share this with your friends. With that, stay curious, guys, and thanks for reading.

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