|Read this book!|
I'm giving a hearty tip of my hat to Michael Litchfield for his 2011 book In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats: Your Guide to Turning One House into Two Homes. This book introduces the concept of an in-law dwelling unit (a.k.a. an accessory dwelling unit or ADU), gives lots of great practical advice on how to get one built, and uses lots of wonderful case studies to make the concept come alive. The case studies are really the book's greatest strength. They focus on real people who have built ADUs and why they chose to do so, from the desire to take care of an aging parent, to helping a young adult child navigate a rough patch, to bringing in some extra income by providing housing to a renter, to thinking about one's own needs as an older adult. The book is full of beautiful photographs and floor plans that show in a very concrete way how ADUs can be designed to be functional, affordable, accessible to the disabled, beautiful, and respectful of neighbors' privacy.
ADUs are one of those ideas that we "forgot" in the post World War Two period and then had to rediscover as a country. As many U.S. metropolitan areas get more expensive and exclusive, the need for senior care with a dash of independence grows and we better understand the benefits of infill development (less land consumption, less driving/pollution, more efficient use of infrastructure, etc.), ADUs are poised to be more relevant now than they have ever been. They point the way to a suburbia that is more flexible and sustainable, but still a relatively low-density environment. Do yourself a favor and pick up Litchfield's book today.