ADUs are a massively popular trend here in the Denver neighborhoods. Homeowners want to add more livable space with just the right amount of separation on their property. Some homeowners would like to increase their equity or passive income potential by renting out an ADU. Even community council members are pushing to rezone entire neighborhoods to allow more ADU construction in an effort to ease Denver’s housing crisis. ADUs seem like the perfect option for many reasons but unfortunately are not viable projects for most properties. One of the main reasons we at SDB have to steer homeowners away from ADUs is because of a misconception regarding garage ADU conversions. Straight to the point, you as a homeowner in Denver, cannot convert your current garage into an ADU.
Your garage was not engineered to be a livable space.
Homes in Denver have a common trait with their detached garages; they are all built on concrete slabs. You might be thinking, that is a great base for building a second home on the property. But according to the building code in Denver, a livable space needs to be placed on a concrete foundation one that has been engineered to prevent frost and other elements from affecting water, utilities, and temperature/moisture. This is the main reason a garage ADU conversion in Denver is a misconception.
No homeowner in Denver has a property that has a detached garage with a concrete foundation. They will all have a concrete slab. So in order to build an ADU in place of your detached garage, you will have to tear it down and rebuild it from the ground up. This already increases the cost of construction by a large amount and ultimately dissuades homeowners from moving forward on the project.
You can build an ADU where your garage was.
Now that the major misconception and nuances with turning a detached garage into an ADU are out the way, you might be asking yourself: Can I still build an ADU? The answer is: Yes! There are just a couple more stages and trades involved with construction. As discussed, you will need to demolish your existing garage, then build a concrete foundation, and rebuild the garage space with an ADU above or build a standard ADU instead. If you are not deterred by the process of demolishing and rebuilding your garage then you are well on your way to building an ADU.
Be Aware, Time To Permit Approvals are Long
As a forewarning, Denver is experiencing a high volume of plan reviews in order to release building permits. So much so, that in recent months Denver’s website stated an estimated 200+ days was expected for a large residential project to clear the building permit approval process. At the time of writing, that number is now around 176 days. In addition to this time for permitting, ADUs will need concept drawing, plan drafting, and engineering. Homeowners who are looking to convert their garage might be surprised by the long process time.
Is an ADU worth the trouble?
Absolutely! Building an ADU is a challenging project but the possibilities for return on investment are endless. Appraisal for the brand new construction alone is an amazing boost to your home. The ADU can function for any type of need whether it be housing relatives and family, renting long-term or short. Maybe you want a home office with a special type of commute through the backyard. The bottom line is that an ADU is an amazing option to improve your property and with Denver allowing more construction of these types of build you are bound to find something worth your investment. Just make sure you work with a knowledgeable GC or design-build construction like Sustainable Design Build to build your ADU. Otherwise, you might be managing a larger project than you imagined. If you have any questions about the ADU construction process or to see if your home would fit an ADU, contact us anytime!
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