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Creating an Accessory Dwelling Unit

In response to the urgent housing shortage, many communities on Cape Cod have recently amended their bylaws to allow for the creation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). ADUs alone will not solve the housing crisis, but they are an important tool for supporting year-round living and working on the Lower Cape.

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)? 

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is an addition to the main home that provides independent living for another household. It’s called an “accessory” because its purpose is secondary compared to the primary residence and can be added to your existing property or stand alone on the same lot. ADUs commonly go by other names like “in-law suite,” “granny flat,” or “basement apartment.” An ADU can be:

  • Created within the primary dwelling from existing, converted space (like an attic or basement);

  • A separate, standalone structure (like a cottage or detached garage); or

  • Built as an addition to an existing structure.

 

Regardless of its physical form, legally an ADU is part of the same property as the main home. It cannot be bought or sold separately, as a condominium or a dwelling on wheels might be. The owner of the ADU is the owner of the main home.

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Why Should I Build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

When building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), each town will have its own regulations to follow regarding size limits, setbacks, minimum rental length, etc. Regardless of how they are built, ADUs have the potential to protect and preserve our community. They provide important benefits to homeowners, renters, and the environment. ADUs can:

  • Increase the supply of year-round rental housing

  • Enable homeowners to generate income from what is likely their largest asset – their home

  • Can be permitted and built faster than a new home or multi-unit building

  • Be built within existing wastewater limitations and with minimal tree clearing

  • Optimize the use of existing single-family homes, so they blend into existing neighborhoods

  • Create flexibility in home use as a homeowner’s needs change throughout their life.

Homeowner Inquiry 

The Lower Cape Housing & ADU 
Resource Center will be offering free technical assistance to property owners who are contemplating the addition of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) to their home. Assistance will include helping homeowners understand Town requirements and permitting processes. We will also provide information about local lenders, architects, and builders.

Further Information

We will respond to your submission within two business days.

For more information you may contact Vicky Crea at vicky@capecdp.org.

Homeowner Inquiry Form
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Do you own the property where the proposed ADU will be built?
What "style" ADU are you intersted in building?