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For the last few years, Denver has been making steps towards encouraging gentle development for its neighborhoods. Homeowners and residents are facing a crisis with housing inventory and availability. While developers struggle with economic conditions, Denver wants to support residential property owners. The process and requirements for building an ADU are already demanding. But when building in a historic neighborhood, more rules and regulations are needed. Fortunately, Denver’s Neighborhood Development Department has planned to update the Landmark Design Guidelines this year with accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in historic districts and landmark properties.

Can I build an ADU in Denver’s Historic District?

Yes, property owners can build an ADU to complement their existing homes in Denver Historic Districts. However, there are a large number of considerations and restrictions in place that make that project idea even more difficult than a standard home with no historic designation. An ADU will require the right amount of available square footage, setbacks, and bulk plane (height). Not to mention the ADU will need to conform almost identically to the existing home structure and that of the neighborhood. This alone might limit some ADUs to older and more artisan-type building methods, which will greatly increase the cost of both labor and materials. There will likely be a community design review or meeting, to allow neighbors to voice their concerns and opinions on whether or not the home should be allowed to build an ADU. These and so many more points are required to build an ADU. Without a seasoned general contractor or design-build firm like SDB, many homeowners will be scared away from such an undertaking. The city of Denver recognizes this, along with the popularity of ADUs growing. So they have been hard at work brainstorming new ways to make building an ADU easier. Just recently, they have begun to look at the historic district requirements to see what major pain points can be identified and adjusted.

In-Person Community Meeting For ADUs

Starting on February 27th, Landmark planners will begin the conversation and investigation to help better define the regulations and requirements for ADUs to meet historic property designs. Following that community conversation, the landmark planners will be available to discuss the new guidelines in person at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. The meeting will be held in the Studio Loft of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver’s Performing Arts Complex located on 14th St and Curtis St. The Landmark Design guidelines update MEetings for ADUs will be open to the public. Still, those interested in participating should come prepared with the basics. That is why the City of Denver has created a short video series to act as an informational primer.

Still, have questions about ADUs?

Sustainable Design Build has been developing and building in the city of Denver since 2016. A good portion of the projects built by SDB are in fact ADUs or Accessory Dwelling Units. Our team of professionals is very knowledgeable about the neighborhood zoning, city approval, and overall build costs for an ADU. Regardless, if whether your home is in a historic district or not, feel free to reach out to SDB for the best and most insightful information about your ADU possibilities.

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