Accessory Dwelling Units in Maryland: What You Need to Know

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There has been an increased demand for affordable housing all over the country. As a result, more and more homeowners are building accessory dwelling units in Maryland.

If you’re looking to build one in your property, you might be wondering if it’s worth the investment. This article will give you the information you need to help you decide whether you need one.

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a residential unit that can be built inside single-family homes already on the property, as an attached or detached addition to a single-family home. This may be a garage conversion or an entirely new structure. It is a separate dwelling with a private door, kitchen, toilet, and living space.

ADUs are also known as granny flats, in-law suites, accessory apartments, carriage houses, and backyard cottages.

There are three types of ADUs:

  • Detached ADU – This type of ADU is separate from the existing home.
  • Attached ADU – This is an addition or expansion to the home and is attached to the existing dwelling by at least one wall.
  • Garage Conversion – As the name suggests, this is when an existing garage is converted into an accessory dwelling unit.

Why Build an ADU?

Should you add an ADU to your property? Here are some good reasons to do so:

1. You can keep your elderly parents close by so that you can keep an eye on them while still allowing them to live independently. This will also help you save money in the long run. The going rate for assisted living is $180,000 per year. The cost of building an ADU could be just a fraction of that cost.

2. You can build an ADU to help out your adult child who just graduated from college. A recent study reveals that 50% of college students under the age of 30 plan to move back with their parents once they graduate. With the housing prices going through the roof, it’s difficult for young adults to find a place they can afford. Plus, they have their student debts to worry about.

You can charge a minimal rent for your child’s stay to encourage them to be independent and teach them to budget their expenses while helping them get on their feet.

3. You can have a place for your guests and visiting family members. You can accommodate them and still maintain your privacy. They’ll enjoy some privacy, too, since they’re going to have a separate space all to themselves.

4. You can increase the value of your property by building an ADU. Some home buyers are willing to pay more for properties with ADUs because of the benefits these units offer.

5. You can generate passive income by renting out the space. An accessory dwelling unit has its own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and living space. It’s practically like an apartment. It’s a good way to create an additional income stream whether the rental agreement is long-term or short-term.

Rules and Regulations on Accessory Dwelling Units in Maryland

Most residential zoning districts allow ADUs, but these are subject to certain rules and regulations. Each county has its own set of rules on accessory dwelling units in Maryland, but here are some common points:

  • A single lot may have only one accessory dwelling unit.
  • An ADU must have its own entrance.
  • Owners must live in either the main dwelling or the ADU of the property.
  • The maximum living area allowed for ADUs varies. In Montgomery County, the size of an ADU is limited to 1,200 square feet (unless the basement footprint is bigger and the basement is intended as an ADU).
  • If the construction of an ADU adds an impervious surface on the property, storm water treatment or management must be estimated. There must also be a mitigation plan in place. There may be additional requirements especially if trees are cut down or vegetation is removed.
  • Rented ADUs usually require a license and inspection. The rental period for a property may be short-term or long-term.
  • You won’t usually need additional parking, but check the rules first.

It’s best to contact your county’s Department of Planning and Zoning for more information about the rules in your area.

For more information about the rules on ADUs in Montgomery Country, you can refer to this fact sheet.

How Much Does It Cost to Build an Accessory Dwelling Unit in Maryland?

The cost to build an ADU can vary depending on the type and size of the structure as well as the cost of labor and material in a given area. You’ll also need to factor in the costs associated with permits, design costs, and utility connection.

A detached ADU costs more than an attached ADU or a garage conversion. However, if you’re building an ADU for investment purposes, especially if you intend to sell your existing house later, a detached ADU will increase the value of your property more than any of the other two types of ADUs. That’s because appraisers see a detached ADU as an additional livable square footage on your lot.

If you’re looking to build an accessory dwelling unit in Maryland, Winthorpe can help you make sure that it will be well worth your investment. You can count on us for everything, from planning to construction. Call us today!

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