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The latest development in the City and County of Denver’s efforts to tackle low housing inventory and availability is the newly launched Citywide ADUs Project. As it sounds, it aims to allow ADU construction for all the neighborhoods of Denver (HOA residences excluded). This is quite the turn of events and might open up a lot of opportunities for homeowners and property owners all over the city. Let’s take a look at what happened and what the next steps are as proposed by Denver officials.

Blueprint Denver Recommendations

Originally, the city and county of Denver embarked on a study and review of the infrastructure and building requirements for all types of construction back in 2002 and once more in 2019. Blueprint Denver reviews the city’s land use and transportation plan, covering an amazing 20-year period calling for a more inclusive city by completing neighborhood and transportation needs associated with them. It also closely records growth and population in Denver to more accurately gauge needs and restrictions that will help healthily grow the city. And so, with the following recommendations from Blueprint Denver, city officials have created a spin-off project dedicated to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) which has been named the Citywide ADUs project.

The Citywide ADUs Project

This new project builds upon the ADUs in Denver Project, which updated building standards for ADUs to make them better fit in different neighborhoods. Before those code changes, the zoning code considered ADUs through a one-size-fits-all approach with limited variations. Naturally, this made designing an ADU quite challenging even for general contractors and design-build firms due to the convoluted requirements. With the recent spike of interest in ADU construction throughout Denver, the need for revised guidelines was desperately needed. Now, each district zone has a specific design standard for ADU construction which is tied to their setbacks, building height, bulk plane, and other requirements that fit the overall aesthetics of their respective neighborhoods. 


This proposed zoning code text amendment is planned to be complemented by a proposed zoning code map amendment. The proposal is expected to go to the City Council for a vote this Summer of 2024.

Can anyone build ADUs?

Not everyone is going to be able to build an accessory dwelling unit even if the Citywide ADU Project is approved and moved forward with this Summer. Many homes are going to have the zoning changes in their favor but the actual physical requirements of their property might lack. Bulk planes and setbacks are typically out of the control of homeowners and architects might not have a solution for the design. However, this citywide adoption should make the task of starting an ADU construction project much easier or at least take down some of the existing barriers that made the type of project so difficult to navigate. Sustainable Design Build has been offering general contracting and home design services to the Denver neighborhoods since 2016. SDB also has a wealth of knowledge and experience in building ADUs, if you are interested in ADU construction but don’t know where to start – take some time to call or visit our website for more information!

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