Saturday, November 5, 2016

"The ADU Is Visitable And Quite Versatile"

In recent years, the ADU has become a very popular addition to the urban landscape. The ADU - auxiliary or accessory  dwelling unit - is also known by such names as the tiny home, granny-pod, and transitional home.

This home comes in a variety or appearances and styles to fit most any architectural tastes and size requirements - from under 300 square feet on up.

The essence of the ADU is that it goes in the backyard of an existing home and provides full-time living accommodations for additional individuals - aging parents, for instance.

An ADU is accessible and visitable. It typically is at grade level although it might have a small elevated porch or deck with an inclined walkway to connect it with the ground level around it. Everything about it is designed for elderly people - with physical limitations or not, and regardless of the degree or severity of those limitations - to live on their own but literally within view of caring adult children or other relatives (siblings, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews, for instance).

It generally is a simple, livable, and easily accessible one-level floor plan that provides a living area, eating area, kitchen, bathroom, storage or closets, and sleeping area (sometimes a dedicated bedroom and sometimes using the living area).

The advantages to having and using an ADU are many, but first local jurisdictions have to embrace and accept them. The setbacks may have to be relaxed to allow ADU buildings to be closer to rear or side property lines - possibly right up against fences. The number of people that can occupy a building site, their relationship to each other, and the number of dwellings per acre may need to be revisited and modified as well.

ADUs can accommodate an aging parent, other relative, or close friend on the same property as the younger or responsible adult who is looking out for their relative, friend, or parent. The people living in the main home have full view of and easy access to the secondary home (ADU) which is located just behind them in their back yard. They can visually see the home, walk over it as needed, and call to check on those living in it as often as they like. The people living in the ADU can take their meals with the main home and visit regularly (throughout the day or at scheduled times) to eat, watch TV, talk, and interact with family members or friends.

This allows the people living in the ADU to retain and maintain the complete privacy and independence that will enhance their lives but know that help or assistance is just a quick phone call, intercom, or call button away from people a few feet away from them in the main home.

The ADU can even be rented out to people (of any age or ability) desiring an accessible, visitable dwelling - subject to being allowed by the local rules, codes, and regulations. In such cases, renters would have no relationship to the those in the main home from which they are leasing the ADU, but the social activities and interaction of joint meals and discussions in the main home could still apply if so desired by those in charge or creating the rental arrangement.

There are many other ways the ADUs can be used when not being needed as a rental dwelling or to provide accommodations for loved ones. It can be a study, den, workshop, home office, extra living space for a member of the family, or playroom. ADUs have a tremendous potential for creating quick, effective, affordable, and mostly inexpensive aging-in-place solutions.


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Steve HoffackerCAPS, C.E.A.C., MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.