So, Just What is an ADU?

So, Just What is an ADU?

Have you ever thought about how you could maximize the use of your property? Or perhaps you've wondered how to create additional living space for a family member or caregiver? If so, let me introduce you to a housing solution that's gaining traction nationwide: Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs. These versatile units are transforming how we think about living spaces, providing innovative solutions for multigenerational living, in-home caregiving, and even rental opportunities. But what exactly are ADUs, and how can they fit into your life? Let's explore this exciting topic together.

Remember, your property and needs are unique, so it's crucial to involve professional guidance when considering an ADU. They'll help you navigate local regulations, construction possibilities, and ensure your ADU journey is a success. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into ADUs and their impact in Chester County in upcoming articles. As your local real estate expert, I'm here to keep you informed about developments that matter to you. So, let's embark on this ADU adventure together!

One of the ways ADUs are being used today is to accommodate an in-home caregiver. From childcare to adult care to elder care, an in-home aid is becoming an increasingly popular, if not needed, part of many health care plans. Finding the right space for caregivers can be an unexpected extra challenge to ensuring proper care, though that shouldn’t stop people from getting the care they need.

Live-in-care professionals are invited in to live with and care for the family, though should still be afforded personal space and privacy. At the same time, the nature of the situation means that the live-in-care professional needs to be close at hand. Converting a basement or side room to a full living residence often provides that balance of proximity and privacy.

Sometimes, the live-in caregiver is also a family member who wants a little more personal space. Or, maybe there is a multigenerational living situation, and a little separation could be good for the whole family. Converting a garage, pool house, or other existing auxiliary structure can be the least intensive solution to accommodating a big family situation.

The conversion of an existing space is one of the 3 major types of ADUs that are common these days. It tends to be the least time and resource intensive, and usually requires the least amount of paperwork to get approval from the local municipality.

While converting an existing space can be a great solution, it may not be feasible for every home or homeowner. Sometimes, there simply isn't space available to convert. When this happens, exploring other options, such as add-ons and independent structures, becomes essential.

Add-ons, such as an extra apartment over an existing garage or an extension built off the side of a home, can expand your living space without significantly altering your home's overall footprint. These additions can serve as ideal ADU with minimal disruption to your current living conditions. However, it's important to keep in mind that modifications to your home usually need municipal approval. This varies from municipality to municipality, making it vital to consult with local experts before beginning any projects.

If adding on isn't viable or if you anticipate a future need for an ADU for family members or caregivers, constructing an entirely new structure could be the best way forward. Despite requiring extensive permitting, this option can offer an incredible solution to space needs. What's more, if you're not immediately using the ADU, you can rent it out until needed, effectively covering some or all of its construction costs. However you choose to proceed, remember that every ADU journey is unique and should be planned with professional guidance.

If you’re starting to get the idea that ADUs, while versatile solutions to many living solutions, are a bit complicated in how their rules change from municipality to municipality, you’re absolutely correct. There are a few areas in Chester County with regulations on the books for how ADUs are to be handles, though most of the county is still trying to figure it out. As of the writing of this article, there are 4 “Example Ordinances” posted on the website: Westtown Township, West Vincent Township, Malvern Borough, and East Brandywine Township. As of July 19, 2023, the Borough of West Chester adopted an ordinance regarding ADUs.

As ADUs continue to increase in use around our area, they’re sure to spark plenty of neighborly debate. I’ll be staying on top of this developing situation, so tune in each month as I dive deeper into the topic of ADUs around Chester County.


As always, I strive to bring you information that’s interesting and relevant to you. If you know someone who would be interested in my perspective, please share this article with them. I’m always looking to connect with our community and make new friends!



Links to the other articles in my ADU series:
ADUs are Coming to Town
The How Tos of ADUs
Case Study: Malvern Garage Conversion

So, Just What is an ADU?

Work With Jon

His extensive knowledge of Chester County and broad experience in real estate is an invaluable advantage to his clients. Representing and consulting with clients either buying or selling new or resale homes, residential investment properties, building lots, and raw ground, he is dedicated to accomplishing his clients’ goals ahead of all others.