Navajo ADU Denver, CO
What motivated you to build an ADU?
After doing some traveling, it's hard not to fall in love with the way Europe is able to efficiently and beautifully tie in all these small interesting houses to make really wonderful walk-able neighborhoods. As we were lucky to have a typical American large lot somewhat close to Denver's downtown and lohi neighborhood, we thought we would take a look at doing something similar with what Denver zoning calls an ADU (accessory dwelling unit also known as a carriage house or mother in law apartment).
What research did you do before you decided to build?
I have a little bit of experience with building small houses in the past and we were able to go into the process with eyes wide open as to how difficult Denver's zoning rules and the process for building anything other than a single family home can be. Just be ready for many arbitrary rules pushing for 1990's Highlands Ranch type suburban development despite trying to build in a much more downtown adjacent location. Financing can also be a sticking point, as the appraisal industry and banking industry in America again aren't really geared toward financing anything except single family homes, but luckily we found Troy Williams who was able to get our project financed and underway!
What would you have done differently during the ADU process?
Initially we had a lot of really interesting design ideas that would have tied in better with the existing neighborhood and made the house more usable and interesting, but unfortunately with the strict Denver zoning rules, we were forced to water down the plans many times. Working with an ADU experienced architect (like L&D construction & Simple Homes - they are great!) and getting familiar with the zoning rules as early as possible can help manage expectations and potential disappointments early on!
How would you rate your satisfaction level with your ADU?
10/10 We love it! Having additional housing in a neat neighborhood (in the middle of a housing crisis) is great for our city, the nearby walk-able shops and restaurants, and the extra income from renting it out is nice too!
Do you have any comments that you would like to share with someone considering and ADU project?
It was well worth it in the end for our project! The planning process and city regulation for an ADU is not for the faint of heart, but hang in there!