Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are small homes in back gardens, sometimes called granny flats. They can be built in many parts of America and in New Zealand. In places such as California, homeowners can apply for a permit to construct small, visually unobtrusive homes that they can then use for their own family or rent out. ADUs have proven to be highly effective at increasing rental supply: ADUs accounted for 21% of Los Angeles’ new rental homes built in 2021. ADUs could work here in Ireland too, wherever a homeowner has a neglected part of a large garden, a disused old garage, or other wasted space. ADUs could help tackle Ireland’s housing crisis.
By allowing ADUs up to a limited size, subject to a fast permitting procedure each homeowner could add an unobtrusive, low cost new home for their own family or to be rented out.
- A quick solution
Permission is granted quickly, which will start to address the housing crisis much faster than with other proposals.
- Easy to build
Ireland could pre-approve national standards for ADUs, which could then be bought off-the-shelf at much lower cost. In the USA, we see modular ADUs which can be built in less than two months. Legalising ADUs in Ireland could see a similar new industry emerge.
- Creating win-wins
ADUs are small-scale and visually unobtrusive, so they avoid many of the concerns raised by large-scale development. They can provide a steady income stream for homeowners who do not need them for their own family. Because of their low cost to build, ADUs could be cheaper and more accessible than Ireland’s existing, over-stretched housing stock.
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