Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

Create an independent living space on your home’s lot

Technically speaking, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are additional living quarters located on the same lot as, or even attached to, a single-family home. They include all the necessities — living room, sleeping area, kitchen, bathroom, dedicated and lockable external entrance — which means they create an entirely independent living space to host guests and loved ones. What used to be called a guest house addition or in-law suite addition is now the ADU addition.

Not sure if you have room for an accessory dwelling unit? You have options! Our team can walk you through the many locations and strategies for adding:

  • Detached ADU or attached ADU
  • Above-garage ADU or converted garage ADU
  • Basement ADU
  • Upper floor ADU
accessory dwelling unit in progress construction

Estimate ADU construction cost on your lot

An ADU addition can be a wonderful solution to hosting guests (and can even be a source of income as rental space!), but is a complex project requiring careful attention not only to the build itself, but also to critical details involving homeowners’ associations (HOAs), zoning and permitting. Our design-build team can help walk you through the many, many factors to consider as well as rough cost estimates, empowering you to make a well-informed decision about adding an ADU to your property.

Accessory Dwelling Unit Plans

Designing a comfortable space that complements your home

Whether you’ve found the perfect accessory dwelling unit plans already or you need help designing a custom ADU to complement your property, our design-build team has the expertise to bring your vision to life. Whether it’s a backyard guest house addition or an attached in-law suite addition, we’ll ensure everything flows properly with your existing home — from nitty-gritty details of properly expanding your utilities and (in the case of attached ADUs) building into your existing structure, to creating a seamless style and appearance that makes it feel like your ADU has always been a part of your home. Plus, we have the ADU experience to know what functional add-ons and extra touches can make your ADU feel like a true home for your guests.


Before pool house addition


Completed Pool House Sunroom and New Retractable Awning Exterior


pool house remodel with small kitchen and sitting area

Michael and Petra's Pool House Addition and Sauna

Gary and his team are an absolute joy to work with and the quality of his work is outstanding.

We built a pool house with sauna, bathroom and an open living room. Gary was great turning a concept idea into reality. He and Patti were always available, evening and weekends. They were very responsive to last minute changes and their crews delivered a high-quality product on time and on budget. While working on this project, he also fixed a number of small repair jobs around the house without any hesitation. We are very impressed, and we would definitely recommend Palmer Custom Builders for any building project.”

M. Schofer's Pool House Construction

“Best contractor I worked with. On time, on budget, high quality, super customer service.

Accessory Dwelling Units: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU?

A: Accessory dwelling units, also called ADUs, are additional self-contained living spaces located on the same lot as a primary single-family home. In some cases, the ADU may be attached to the main residence. Regardless of where it is on the property, an ADU includes all the elements of a self-contained living space. That means a family or living area, bedroom and bathroom, a kitchen, and a lockable external entrance. These spaces are not new ideas – they used to be called guest houses or in-law suites, but they are getting updated in terms of both functionality and appearances.

Q: Who are ADUs designed for?

A: As family dynamics evolve, more homeowners are embracing the concept of an ADU for multiple family members. Aging parents, college-age or adult children, young families who often stay with grandparents, and even close friends or future renters are all potential residents of an ADU.

Q: Is an ADU permissible on my lot?

A: That’s a question best answered by a licensed, professional remodeler who is adept at building these types of additions. Municipal zoning laws, neighborhood restrictions, and HOA covenants all must be considered early in the planning process.

Q: Can an ADU be built on my lot?

A: Consult with a licensed, professional remodeler who is experienced at building ADUs. They will look at everything from required setbacks to the value of comparable homes in your area. They should be able to tell you not only whether an ADU can be built on your lot – and the answer is almost always yes, it may just require some outside of the box thinking – but whether it’s an investment that makes sense for your home in your particular neighborhood. This is a decision you will need to make.

Q: Do ADUs add value to a property?

A: According to Freddie Mac, an ADU can increase the value of a property by as much as 35%, but the real value far exceeds that number. For example, if properly designed, you can rent the space out, adding a stream of income. Perhaps more importantly, an ADU can give you options for aging in place – either for yourself or a family member – that could potentially reduce retirement expenses. It also can provide a comfortable home for transitioning family members that reduces stress in a time of need.

Q: Are ADUs a major construction project?

A: They can be, depending on where they are on your property. An addition above an existing garage, for example, may require less time and construction resources than building an entirely new structure from scratch. Bear in mind, however, that since they require bathrooms, kitchens and more, these projects generally take the skilled expertise of many tradespeople to bring to fruition.

Q: How long do ADUs take to complete?

A: Since every project is different, there is no single timeline for ADU construction. The timeline will be dictated by the scope of the project. As you can imagine, finishing an existing attic will take far less time than building a guest house. Have an honest conversation with a licensed, professional remodeler who is experienced at building ADUs to get a feel for the time your project will require.

Q: How do you finance an ADU?

A: Depending on the scope and particulars of your project, there are varied options for financing an ADU. Home equity and new construction loans are among the most popular choices, but it is always best to talk with your financial professional to find the option that will work best for you.

Q: What are some things I should think about before building an ADU for a family member?

A: Make certain that you talk with both your family member and experienced legal and financial advisors to address any issues surrounding property ownership, inheritance laws, and shared expenses. While these discussions might not be the easiest to have, they will help eliminate future miscommunications and misunderstandings. Particularly in the case of aging parents or caring for adult children with disabilities, think about how all of your needs will evolve.

Q: What are some construction factors to consider?

A: There are so many that we actually wrote a blog about them all! Among those to consider are zoning and regulations, budgeting, design and layout, and selecting the right contractor for your home remodeling project. However, don’t let this project intimidate you. When you work with a licensed, professional remodeler who is experienced at building ADUs, they can simplify the process and ensure that the result is a beautiful reflection of what your family needs!

Accessory Dwelling Unit Idea Gallery

exterior view of home with accessory dwelling unit to the side of primary residence
pool house addition - outside
home addition over garage
Home, garage remodeling & bonus room
New pool house addition
Two-car Carport With Bonus Room

Charlotte Accessory Dwelling Units

We are proud to serve the following communities in and surrounding Charlotte, NC

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