What Is ADU Housing, and Why Should You Consider One for Your Backyard?
Workplace Inspiration

What Is ADU Housing, and Why Should You Consider One for Your Backyard?

|Apr 12, 2024

Modern real estate trends favor homes that offer more space and versatility. One of the ways people do this is through an ADU. ADU housing is increasingly popular for many reasons, and building one in your backyard could do wonders for your family and finances.

Below, you can find more information about what an ADU is, how it can be used, the advantages of having one, and a few other things to consider. I have also reviewed the incredible selection of ADU pods available at Autonomous to help inspire you and get you excited about the possibilities for your property.

What Is ADU Housing?

What is ADU in real estate? The term ADU means additional dwelling unit. In other words, it is a secondary structure built within the parameters of an existing property. There are many varieties and many names given to these types of structures. Some examples include backyard studio shed, prefabricated guest house, granny shed, and modular ADU.

ADU housing specifically must meet the safety standards and habitability requirements to be its own independent living space - including cooking, sleeping, and sanitation facilities. If it does not have this, it can’t be considered a housing unit, but you can still have an ADU pod for alternative use. However, you won’t be able to define or market it as a living space in terms of real estate.

What Is ADU Housing?

Different Types of ADUs

Before moving forward with plans for an ADU, it is important to understand the options available. There are several types of ADUs that vary in style and setup. This doesn’t mean style and shape - that list of differences is far more substantial. Right now, let’s talk about the main classifications that set most ADUs apart.

Detached vs. Attached

There are no prizes for guessing this one. An attached ADU is a standalone structure built independently of the primary home. A detached ADU is built onto the main house as an extension. The two are connected - and you can move from one to the other without going outside.

People opt for attached ADUs if they want more living space for their families or to increase the square footage of their homes for sale value purposes. Detached ADUs are more versatile and offer a separate area for remote working, rental, or an independent living space.

The best solution depends on the property owner’s goals and requirements - and what they are allowed to do based on local regulations.

Detached vs. Attached

Prefab vs. New Build

A prefab ADU is a ready-made unit that comes partially built and is then constructed onsite. Some even come completely made up - particularly if they are smaller units. Alternatively, you can have an ADU designed and built from scratch to your specifications.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both. Prefab units are convenient, fast to install, and come with everything you need already worked out. They can work out cheaper because you don’t need to pay a designer and building team for extensive work - all you need is an installation team (which is often included in the price). The upfront cost, however, can be higher - and you are restricted to the designs available.

Designing and building a custom ADU gives you more flexibility and control over the size, shape, appearance, and accessories - but there is a lot more work (and potentially cost) involved. You also have more to consider regarding regulations, safety, and building codes. They take longer but may offer a more tailored addition to your home.

Prefab vs. New Build adu housing

How Can You Use an ADU?

One of the most exciting things about ADU housing plans is deciding how you will use the extra space. Some people have a clear vision of what they want to get out of their additional housing unit, but others seek a little inspiration to get started.

Here are five possible uses for an ADU to consider. Remember, this list is far from exhaustive - the possibilities are far more extensive!

1. Home Office

One of the most popular uses for ADU modular homes is a remote working space. A studio office is incredibly beneficial for anyone who works from home - which is a more and more common occurrence these days. It can be challenging to find a quiet and private spot in a home to work productively and maintain professional focus - especially if there are children around.

An ADU office pod is an excellent way to separate work and home - even if you work remotely. It gives you the feeling of stepping out of the house and going to work - helping you change your mindset and remove yourself from the many distractions and comforts of being in your home.

Home Office

2. Art Studio or Creative Space

Feeling creative? Turn your ADU manufactured home into an artistic space, such as a home pottery studio, painting room, or think space. A lot of prefab ADU pods have floor-to-ceiling glass - perfect for natural lighting and inspiring creativity.

3. Guest House

ADU tiny homes won’t really cut it for long-term living, but they make excellent guest houses. If you opt for a larger studio pod or design an ADU tiny house from scratch, you can turn it into a private and comfortable space for visitors.

This works well for those who often have family or friends over to stay - or (as long as you meet the requirements and follow habitability regulations) for homeowners interested in generating a little extra income through short-term rental.

4. Games or Entertainment Room

Kids of all ages (especially the grown-up kind) dream of having their own private gaming room, movie theater, or space to kick back and relax with friends. An ADU can be all these things and more.

Build the perfect streaming setup to upgrade your gamer life, build a home movie theatre for the family to enjoy, or create a warm and inviting entertainment space tailored to your needs and enjoyments.

workpod for gamer

5. Private Gym

Ever dreamed of having your own home gym but don’t have space in your house? An ADU home gym is the perfect solution. You can find many prefab ADUs with ideal layouts for versatile gym setups - with the proper floor, enough strength to support your choice of machines, and electricity outlets to get things powered up.

Private Gym

Why Is ADU Housing a Good Option for Your Backyard?

Now we know what ADUs are and what you could possibly do with them, let’s talk about why you would want to. There are many benefits to having an additional dwelling unit in your backyard if it is a viable option for your property. Here are some of the top reasons to consider ADU housing.

  • They increase the available living space in your home. As families grow, finding enough space for everyone to live comfortably can become challenging. The home office becomes a baby room. That game room you always dreamed of has to be converted into a bedroom for an older relative or grown-up child. Things happen, and moving house is not always an option. Building an ADU gives you more room to work with and can let you hold onto important spaces in the home while still accommodating the new demands of your family.
  • An ADU can increase the value of your property. Real estate stats show that having an ADU can add a significant amount of money to the sale value of a property - especially if it is a fully kitted-out living space. Even just a backyard pod is an incredibly attractive feature for modern buyers, and your property will stand out from the competition if you have one.
  • You could use it to generate extra income. If you create a fully independent living space, you can rent it to short-term guests - or even to a long-term tenant if local regulations allow it. Every little bit helps - and the income generated by your ADU could lead to an excellent return on investment.

Why Is ADU Housing a Good Option for Your Backyard?

Zoning and Building Code Regulations to Consider

The first thing most homeowners wonder is - "Can I build an ADU on my property?". That depends on a few things, including your location, the size of your property, how much land you have, and the specific zoning laws in your area.

Some of the key considerations include:

  • Building codes
  • Permits
  • ADU size and height
  • Habitability
  • Safety standards
  • Specific municipality rules

It is worth checking what states allow ADU structures in backyards - and the specific rules and regulations in each one. For example, when it comes to ADU homes, California residents can build a structure up to 25 feet tall, while Texas allows ADUs up to 30 feet. This is just one example of how codes and laws vary between states.

Zoning and Building Code Regulations to Consider

Autonomous ADUs: The Perfect Solutions for Versatile and Value-Adding Property Enhancement

Autonomous is always at the forefront of smart home and working solutions - and the world of ADUs is no different. The Autonomous ADU collection is a stunning example of how quality materials, creative design, and sleek modern finishes can revolutionize how people use and enjoy their homes.

I have reviewed all three of the products available and shared some insight into which model is best suited to different situations.

Autonomous WorkPod

If you are considering an ADU for the purpose of building a work shed for remote working, the Autonomous WorkPod is the best choice. This stunning design prioritizes comfort, privacy, and productivity.

The first thing I thought when I saw the WorkPod was wow. It looks fantastic - with large, full-length glass windows that optimize natural light and help with heat control. Made using high-quality, eco-conscious materials, the pod feels luxurious and professional - perfect for a remote office, gym, or relaxation space. It is the perfect size for a home office, but would also work very well as a game room, workout studio, or home theater. There is also plenty of space to make a small bedroom setup if you want a simple guest house for visitors.

It feels like a little sanctuary when you are inside - even without any furniture or décor. Sound insulation blocks out distractions, but you still feel connected to nature - thanks to the glass features. It is also fully weatherproof and feels cozy even in cooler temperatures.

This is prefab ADU design at its best. Everything is ready to go - including lighting, electrical sockets, and insulated heating. Installation is incredibly simple and easy on all kinds of terrain. If you live in California, the team can assemble it for you.

Autonomous WorkPod Lite

If you love the WorkPod but want something a little more compact, the WorkPod Lite is a great choice. I love the layout and how versatile it is - there is so much you can do with it. It is very similar to the best-selling WorkPod but with slightly less floor space and a simpler shape. The Lite has all the same comfort and privacy features - and is still big enough to offer a versatile space that can be turned into many different things.

It is also a slightly cheaper option if you are considering the budget. You can save a little money and still get an excellent backyard haven - be it an office, reading nook, art studio, or gaming zone. I recommend this option if you have a smaller backyard and don’t want to take up too much space.

Autonomous StudioPod

The Autonomous StudioPod is the biggest of the bunch - ideal if you want an extra bedroom or entertainment space. It is incredibly well-made and feels incredibly cozy and comfortable. There is also a higher wattage capacity than the smaller pods, so it is the best choice if you want to use it more substantially as an extra living space.

This model is the perfect simple backyard studio  - with ample floor space for a double bed, large seating area, or executive office. I would happily turn this into my bedroom, and think it has great potential as a granny shed or a more private living quarter for an older child. It would also make a great home gym - especially if you want multiple fitness machines. Another excellent use would be a special entertainment space for guests if you don’t always have the weather to dine and relax outdoors.


An ADU brings increased property value, a potential source of extra income, and an extra living or working space for your home. It is an excellent solution for people who need more space but don’t want to move - or who want to do more with the space they have available in their backyard.

Autonomous ADUs are high-quality, fully compliant with safety standards and habitability codes, and look fantastic. If you are considering this exciting project for your property, these products are a great way to do it.

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