How to Navigate the Obstacles of Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit


Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a dwelling, either attached or detached, that exists on a lot with another house.

At Strong Towns, we write a lot about them—and rightfully so: they’re a bottom-up, decentralized, incremental, scalable and adaptable approach to urban growth and affordability issues that aligns with our approach to building strong cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

Plus, the benefits for the neighborhood, the homeowner, and the tenant residing in the ADU are huge. ADUs increase housing options in the neighborhood; provide extra income for a homeowner; and allow housing for people of diverse ages, especially seniors or young people.

However, there’s a sobering truth: ADUs are challenging (if not illegal) to construct. Between navigating your City’s regulations, conducting site visits, and finding general contractors who understand your vision, prospective homeowners could abandon the project the altogether.

Enter Caitlin Bigelow: this episode’s guest and Founder at Maxable Space.

Maxable, a San Diego-based company, helps homeowners navigate the obstacles of building an ADU so they can meet their goals, such as adding housing units to the neighborhood, keeping family close, or finding financial security.

In addition, Maxable offers free tools—including a look book, free cost estimator, and a break-even calculator—to give homeowners the knowledge, inspiration, and confidence they need to build an ADU.

In this episode, you’ll learn from Caitlin how you can build an ADU, including how to ensure you meet the necessary zoning requirements, encourage your peers that ADUs are a strong way to build your neighborhood, and discover the benefits—beyond passive rental income.

(Top photo via flickr.)