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5 Helpful Tips When Planning for an ADU in Snohomish County

ADUs or “accessory dwelling units” have become increasingly popular over the last decade. Both attached and detached ADUs provide extra living space and can even offer homeowners much-needed passive income. In densely populated cities like Los Angeles and Seattle, ADUs have provided some relief from the affordable housing crisis. Despite their many benefits, ADUs are not permitted in all areas of the country. Thankfully, they are allowed in most Snohomish County neighborhoods. Some parts of the county allow property owners to build multiple ADUs on a single lot. Have you conducted research on ADUs but are unsure where to start, or what is allowed in your area? As Snohomish County remodelers with over 40 years’ experience, we design ADUs for elderly parents hoping to age in place, renters and more. From determining which design works for your family to researching local laws, here are five helpful tips when planning an ADU in Snohomish County. Follow below to learn all you need to know about building an accessory dwelling unit.

Here Are 5 Helpful Tips When Planning for an ADU in Snohomish County

#1 Check Local Restrictions

ADU and DADU in Snohomish CountyFirst on our list of ADU planning tips is to check local restrictions. Some areas do not allow ADUs, while others restrict how you can use ADUs. As we explain in this resource on our website, Snohomish County once limited homeowners to a single ADU per lot. It also required extra off-street parking, demanded evidence of owner-occupancy and restricted where rural homeowners could build ADUs on their properties.

In 2021, the Snohomish County Council altered existing ADU regulations in urban, suburban and rural areas of the county. Property owners can now have one attached ADU and one detached ADU per single family lot. Of course, the lot must be large enough to accommodate both units while observing setback requirements.

While ADUs are now fairly common across Washington State, your neighborhood might have its own rules. For example, homes in gated communities are often required to match the appearance of their ADU to the original house. This is especially common in communities subject to HOAs -- also known as homeowners associations.

well and septic system requirements for ADUs

Ensure Wells and Septic Systems Can Accommodate Additional Bedrooms

Homeowners must also make sure their property's septic system, well and other on-site utilities can handle an extra home. Most septic systems are designed to accommodate a certain number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms. Homeowners should work alongside a design-build remodeler to ensure their site and utilities can service their new ADU.

In some cases, homeowners might need to upgrade their septic system. This is more common when building onto the existing house. For whole home remodeling in Snohomish County, reach out to the team at Vanderbeken Remodel.

#2 Determine Which Type of ADU Works for Your Family

Our next tip for planning an ADU is to determine which type of ADU best serves your family. There are two common types of accessory dwelling units: attached and detached ADUs. An attached ADU shares one or more walls with the main residence, whereas a detached ADU is an entirely separate building. A JADU is a type of attached ADU that does not require a separate kitchen or bathroom.

An attached ADU might work perfectly if your goal is to move elderly parents into the ADU or provide them with a live-in caregiver. Similarly, an attached ADU can give teenaged or young adult children independence without entirely eliminating supervision.

Design build remodeler with ADU plans

A detached ADU might be better if you hope to make passive income off a short- or long-term rental. Detached ADUs are typically more expensive to design and build, but offer both renters and property owners far more privacy. Before designing the space, taking out loans or applying for permits, pin down exactly how you will use the ADU. This will impact what you can build, what you choose to build and how you will build it.

#3 Hire a Design-Build Remodeler Before Buying Plans

Third on our list of ADU tips is to hire a design-build remodeler before buying plans. When planning an ADU, some homeowners opt for a prefabricated kit or plan. These ready-made kits and architectural drawings can cost quite a bit less than commissioning custom plans.

However, these kits and plans are not designed to meet local Snohomish County permitting laws. Homeowners who buy these plans must still have pre-fab plans customized to local building requirements. Working with local Snohomish County remodelers eliminates these redundancies, thereby saving homeowners valuable time and money.

#4 Research Deductions and Rebates in Your Area

Some local governments, utilities and private companies offer rebates for solar panels, eco-friendly building materials and other green initiatives. Other areas provide grants and tax deductions if you use your ADU to provide affordable housing.

Solar panel rebates for ADUsFor example, the State of Washington offers state sales tax credits and pre-construction grants for certain ADU projects. As Dan Bertolet notes in an article for Sightline, Washington State House Bill 1337 provides grants of up to $10,000 per ADU.

#5 Secure Financing

After consulting with an experienced team of Snohomish County remodelers, homeowners should secure financing for their ADU. Your design-build team will help you create a budget, draw architectural plans and submit permit applications. But how can a homeowner in Snohomish County pay for his or her new ADU?

If a homeowner does not have the funds already saved, or the ability to cash flow the project, one may choose to finance their ADU with a construction loan, home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). Cash-out refinancing is another option. The financing option you choose will depend on how much equity you currently have in your home. If you have owned your home for quite a while, you might opt for a HELOC or home equity loan.

Ready to Get Started on Your ADU in Snohomish County?

Are you ready to design the perfect ADU for your family? Whether your plans involve an attached ADU for aging parents or a detached ADU for renters, we can help. Our team has decades of experience working with Snohomish County homeowners on aging in place remodeling, whole home remodeling and more.

Schedule a call with us to begin the dialogue about your home remodel. Typically the call will last 15-20 minutes. During this call we will try and answer your questions as well as gather information about your unique project, such as:

  • location
  • length of time in your home
  • aspects of your space that are not working for you