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What is an ADU? Although many people have never heard the term, accessory dwelling units are timeless and may be associated with different names: granny flat, granny pod, secondary dwelling, or in-law apartment.

To be clear: An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a small residence that shares a residential lot with a larger, primary dwelling. As an independent living space, an ADU is self-contained, with its own kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area. An ADU can be attached or separate from a primary residence, including basement apartments and garage conversions.  

As you can see in the imagery on these pages and in many of the resource materials that we are making available, accessory dwellings come in many styles, shapes, and sizes. The Buncombe area’s HOAP: ADU Program 2020 is concerned with promoting ADUs primarily for housing older adults. As such, the universal design of the dwellings is a top priority. But as a national trend, only some ADUs that have been built are adequately rendered as appropriate places for older adults to live.  The ADUs that you are likely to see are located over garages, in basements, or otherwise only accessible via stairs. Furthermore, many of the available examples have two stories and inaccessible bathrooms.  While these designs don’t properly accommodate older residents, they might offer pointers for pricing, location, permitting, or general design. This is what we have included them. We’ll try to highlight the examples that best demonstrate home designs that work better for older adults. Check out our helpful guide to age-friendly design features here.

Since ADUs make use of the existing infrastructure and housing stock, they are also environmentally friendly and respectful of a neighborhood’s pace and style.

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