Accessory Dwelling Units – A Hot New Trend

accessory dwelling units

Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway and ACUs

They used to be called “backyard cottages,” “mother-in-law apartments,” “granny flats…” but today property owners are building accessory dwelling units – ADUs – to make a little extra cash courtesy of the explosion of demand for vacation rentals on platforms like Homeaway, Airbnb, VRBO, and other online short-term accommodation marketplaces.

Are ADUs for you? Yes!  If you’re a roofing contractor – especially one that engages in a variety of new construction skills, siding, windows, carports, garage conversions, etc., there are new business opportunities galore in ACUs.

roofer projects
A standalone structure like this pool house makes a great option for an ADU.

Different Types of ADUs

  • Stand-alone structures located on the same property as the main residence.
  • An attached, self-contained living space with all the basic amenities and private entrance(s).
  • A converted space originally a basement or garage, now retrofitted with sleeping, cooking, dining, and lavatory quarters.

Of course, property owners can’t just slap together an ADU without going through all the proper building permitting – rules which vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Likewise, if a property is under the governance of an HOA (homeowners association), their rules and restrictions will apply, as well. If you want to learn more, one of the best resources on ADUs can be found on

contractors home projects
Finished basements with private entrances, like the one above, make for popular and affordable vacation rentals.

What Property Owners Consider in Planning an ADU

Property owners are seeking out the right building professionals to help them establish their accessory dwelling unit: 

  • Design: The property owner may have a vision for what their ADU will look like, how it will complement the architecture of the main residence. The roof and siding are likely to be the top considerations for consistent design into  their home and property. They may also feel that getting an architect involved is overkill and be perfectly comfortable with a general contractor familiar with neighborhood building codes.
  • Construction: There are several ready-made designs and plans for tiny homes and cottage-like dwellings. Pinterest and Houzz are great websites to peruse for ideas and plans. There, property owners may find standard, pre-approved building plans that can breeze through local zoning board red tape. With this in mind, a versatile roofing company may be the perfect general contractor for an ADU project.
  • Site work: Installing the various water, sewage, gas and electric needs for an ADU is also an area in which your contracting company can serve as a helpful resource of knowledge and project coordination to the homeowner. 

So… as a capable contractor, why not start to add ADUs to your list of specialized services.  You might be able to do the roof and gutters, siding, windows, carpentry and whatever else fits your licensing and skillset as a builder! 

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