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Should you build a backyard cottage?

Should you build a backyard cottage?

If you are a Seattle homeowner with a sizable lot, you may wonder about the possibility of building a backyard cottage of some sort. These structures go by many names: Mother-in-law apartment, tiny house, Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU). Cottages can be free-standing structures or built above a garage. Whether or not you are able to legally rent out such a dwelling depends upon the permits obtained and the features of the unit itself.

Recognizing the need to increase affordable housing options, City of Seattle officials are exploring ways to reduce some of the barriers to building backyard cottages.

Here are some of the current restrictions that must be overcome.

• Development regulations such as height limits, setbacks, and minimum lot size

>DADUs can only be constructed in Single Family Residential zones on lots that are at least 4,000 square feet in area.

>Backyard cottages can be at most 800 gross square feet, including any garage or storage space in the structure. Currently, an attached ADU can be 1,000 square feet.

>DADUs are not permitted within 200 feet of shorelines in the city. DADUs are also generally not allowed to be constructed within designated Environmentally Critical Areas (ECAs). This includes areas like wetlands, riparian corridors, and steep slopes.

• Requirement to provide off-street parking

>One off-street parking space is required for the DADU

• The owner-occupancy requirement

>Property owners are required to reside in either the cottage or the principal unit for six months of the year

• Costs of design, engineering, construction, financing and permitting fees

Here is a link to the City of Seattle website for more info on this topic.

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