What are they? Auxiliary Dwelling Units, AUDs, sometimes known as “granny flats,” are annexes to existing homes, usually in the form of a small apartment fashioned out of a garage, basement, outbuilding or an addition to the main home.
How do they help? Typically, ADUs are associated with an efficiency apartment to house an aging parent. But they can also suit a single person or a couple who may not be able to afford a full-size home, or even as a temporary home for people moving to the area while they look for permanent housing.
Are there other benefits? Yes, since Auxiliary Dwelling Units are small and easy to care for, they are suitable for aging people who may no longer be able to maintain or pay for heat in a large home they no longer need. In turn, these larger homes are freed up for growing families, who move out of smaller, starter homes, which then become available to first-time homebuyers.
What’s the catch? ADUs aren’t always legal, depending on local zoning laws. This isn’t necessarily because anyone thought ADUs were a bad thing — the concept as it’s being pitched today didn’t exist when most local zoning laws were drawn — but they can get caught up in laws that, say, prevent people from building a second home on their half-acre lot. As such, advocates are pressing for zoning changes that would accommodate ADUs.
Is the state on board? Yes, the 2022-2023 Capital Budget included $85 million to create and upgrade auxiliary dwelling units across New York State, as part of a five-year housing plan. This Plus One ADU Program is an initiative to create and improve ADUs, (also called Accessory Dwelling Units) across the state. For more information, visit hcr.ny.gov/adu
— Tim Rowland
About this series
Adirondack Explorer is highlighting the region’s housing challenges, with a multi-part series running in our magazine, online and in a regular newsletter you can sign up for here. Award-winning Freelance Journalist Tim Rowland investigates causes of the housing shortage, housing’s effects on other aspects of Adirondack life, hacks that people use to get into a home and potential solutions being tried here and elsewhere. His reporting is based on review of real estate data, documents and extensive interviews.