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Everything there is to know about building an Additional Dwelling Unit in Covington
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As urban housing demands continue to soar, ADUs and home additions are gaining popularity as innovative and sustainable solutions for increasing living spaces. Whether detached, garage conversion, or basement apartments, these versatile units provide an affordable and efficient way to accommodate multi-generational families, earn rental income, or create a cozy retreat. Navigating zoning regulations, design considerations, and construction permits can be daunting. From understanding the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and local zoning ordinances to securing financing and selecting the ideal layout, we’ll help your ADU journey be successful and hassle-free. Unlock your property’s full potential and embrace a more innovative way to live and invest in the Evergreen State.

This is a photo of a modern and sleek ADU with a stunning view of the surrounding landscape in Covington. The ADU is perched on a hilltop with a clear view of the mountains in the distance. The photo shows a minimalist design with a black exterior and large windows that provide panoramic views. The surrounding landscape is a mix of grassy hills and trees, with a clear blue sky above. The photo perfectly captures the natural beauty and contemporary style of this ADU.

Getting Started

Starting Your ADU Project in Covington, WA: Key Steps
Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit may seem like a minor project. Still, in reality, it involves the same level of planning and execution as constructing a small house. To help you understand what to expect and kickstart your project, here are some essential steps to follow:

  1. Determine the purpose of the unit: Will it be used for rental income or to accommodate family members?
  2. Perform a pre-check: Use our free ADU Property Check tool.
  3. Consult your local municipal zoning office: Inquire about your project’s regulations and potential obstacles.
  4. Engage a professional designer: Collaborate with a professional to develop several preliminary design concepts.
  5. Find local general contractors: Seek experienced contractors familiar with your area’s regulations and requirements.
  6. Create permit-ready plans: Work with your contractor to produce detailed sketches that meet zoning and construction requirements.
  7. Submit permit applications and pay fees: Ensure your plans comply with building code criteria and pay the necessary permit fees.
  8. Commence construction: Once permits are granted, begin the construction process to bring your vision to life.

Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance and Opportunity in King County

In Covington, the rising demand for affordable housing has prompted local governments to explore alternative solutions like Additional Dwelling Units. Authorities have introduced ordinances to streamline the construction of various types of units. These regulations facilitate homeowners in capitalizing on their existing properties, offering additional living spaces for relatives or rental tenants. By promoting ADU development, Washington aims to alleviate housing shortages while providing homeowners valuable opportunities to supplement their income through rental earnings.

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Why Start Building Today?

Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit presents several advantages for homeowners and communities around King County. Here are some key reasons to consider:

  1. Rising housing demand: With increasing urbanization and population growth, the need for affordable housing options in Covington is rising.
  2. Financial benefits: Additional Dwelling Units can be an additional source of income for homeowners who choose to rent them out. This rental income can help offset mortgage payments or other expenses, making homeownership more affordable.
  3. Multi-generational living: It can accommodate family members, such as elderly parents or adult children, providing them with a separate, independent living space while maintaining close family connections.
  4. Flexible living arrangements: Home additions can be adapted to various needs, serving as a home office, guest suite, or even a short-term rental, depending on the homeowner’s preferences and local regulations.
  5. Increased property value: Building an additional unit can enhance the overall value of your property by adding usable square footage and improving its utility.
  6. Supportive legislation: In recent years, local governments in Washington State have recognized the benefits and have tried to streamline the permitting process and relax specific regulations to encourage development.
  7. Environmental benefits: Contribute to urban infill development, which reduces urban sprawl and promotes more sustainable land use patterns. Moreover, their smaller size typically results in lower energy consumption and a smaller carbon footprint.
  8. Community benefits: Accessory Dwelling units can help maintain diverse and inclusive communities by providing additional housing options, ensuring that people of various income levels can continue to live and work in the area.

Given these advantages, investing in a granny flat around Covington can be a wise investment for homeowners and a valuable contribution to addressing housing needs in the region.

ADU Zoning and Legal Considerations in Covington

Zoning rules and legal considerations can vary significantly among cities and counties. However, there are some common elements that homeowners should be aware of when planning a project:

  1. Zoning: Verify if your property is in a zone permitting ADUs and additions. Local zoning ordinances dictate the units allowed, such as attached, detached, or conversions.
  2. Setbacks: Projects must adhere to setback requirements, which define the minimum distance between the tiny home and property lines. These requirements may differ for front, side, and rear yard setbacks.
  3. Maximum unit size: Local ordinances often impose limitations on the full scope of the addition. These limits can be expressed as a percentage of the primary dwelling unit’s size or an absolute square footage cap.
  4. Height restrictions: Some jurisdictions impose height limits, particularly for detached units, to maintain neighborhood aesthetics and privacy.
  5. Parking: Homeowners may be required to provide additional off-street parking spaces for occupants. However, some cities may waive this requirement if the property is near public transit.
  6. Owner occupancy: Certain jurisdictions mandate that the property owner resides in either the primary dwelling or the Accessory Dwelling Units, ensuring that at least one of the units is owner-occupied.
  7. Building code compliance: Must meet local and state building codes, including energy efficiency, fire safety, and accessibility standards.
  8. Utility connections: Homeowners should consider the costs and requirements of connecting to existing or separate utility services, such as water, sewer, and electricity.
  9. Permitting: Obtain necessary permits from your local planning department, which may include design review, building permits, and inspections during and after construction.
  10. Rental restrictions: Some jurisdictions may impose restrictions on rentals, such as minimum or maximum rental periods, to prevent short-term rentals and maintain neighborhood stability.

It’s crucial to consult your local municipal zoning office or planning department for accurate and up-to-date information on regulations and requirements specific to your area. Engaging professionals experienced in Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinances around Covington Washington, can further streamline the process and ensure compliance with all zoning rules and legal considerations.

This is a photo of the interior of a well-lit ADU located in Covington, WA. The photo shows a spacious and modern living area with a comfortable sofa, a coffee table, and a stylish area rug. The ADU is tastefully decorated with a mix of warm colors and bright accents that create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. The large windows on both sides of the living area provide plenty of natural light, and the hardwood floors add a touch of elegance to the space.

Parking Requirements for ADUs

Parking requirements for Accessory Dwelling Units in King County vary depending on the specific city in which the property is located. Local zoning ordinances will dictate the parking requirements, ranging from no additional parking to one or more off-street parking spaces per addition.

In some cases, local governments may waive or reduce parking requirements under certain conditions, such as:

  1. Proximity to public transit: The local jurisdiction may reduce or eliminate the parking requirement if the property is located within a certain distance from a public transit stop or station.
  2. On-street parking availability: Some cities may consider the availability of on-street parking.
  3. Car-sharing programs: In certain areas, participation in a car-sharing program may allow homeowners to reduce the parking requirements for their ADUs.
  4. Existing parking: Some jurisdictions may not require additional parking if the primary dwelling already has sufficient off-street parking.
  5. Historic or conservation districts: Properties within historic or preservation districts may be subject to different parking requirements or exemptions.

ADU Financing Options

Financing an Accessory Dwelling Unit in WA can be accomplished through various means. Here are some options to consider when planning your project:
  1. Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit (HELOC): If you have built up equity in your home, you can leverage it to finance your project. Home equity loans offer a lump sum, while HELOCs provide a revolving line of credit, allowing you to borrow as needed during construction.
  2. Cash-out Refinance: Another option is to refinance your existing mortgage, taking out a new loan for a higher amount than the remaining balance on your current mortgage. The difference in cash can be used to fund your project.
  3. Construction Loan: Some lenders offer construction loans designed specifically for home improvement projects. These loans are typically short-term and may have higher interest rates than traditional mortgage loans. Still, they can provide the necessary funds for your project.
  4. Personal Loans: Unsecured personal loans can also finance an Accessory Dwelling Unit. While they may have higher interest rates and shorter repayment terms than secured loans, they can be an option for homeowners who do not wish to use their homes as collateral.
  5. Savings and Investments: If you have adequate savings or investments, using these funds to finance your backyard home can help you avoid loan interest charges.
  6. Government Programs and Grants: Depending on your location and circumstances, you may be eligible for government programs, grants, or low-interest loans to promote affordable housing or energy-efficient construction. These programs may have specific requirements and application processes, so it is essential to research and verify your eligibility.
  7. Family Loans or Partnerships: Sometimes, family members or friends may be willing to lend you money for your project as a loan or a partnership agreement where they share in the rental income or increased property value.
Researching and comparing different financing options is essential to determine the best fit for your specific situation and needs. Consult with financial professionals or mortgage brokers to explore the various financing avenues.

Washington State ADU Grant Programs

While there may not be specific statewide government programs or grants dedicated solely to Additional Dwelling Unit development, some programs and resources could be utilized for construction, depending on the project’s goals and eligibility requirements. Some of these programs include:

  1. Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP): This federally-funded program aims to improve the energy efficiency of homes occupied by low-income families. While the primary focus is weatherization, some ADU construction or renovation aspects could qualify for assistance if they meet energy efficiency requirements and are part of a low-income household. More information on Washington WAP can be found at the Department of Commerce’s website: https://www.commerce.wa.gov/growing-the-economy/energy/weatherization-and-energy-efficiency/
  2. Housing Trust Fund (HTF): The Washington State Housing Trust Fund funds affordable housing projects, including new construction, rehabilitation, and acquisition. While the program mainly targets larger-scale housing projects, specific projects designed to provide affordable housing for low-income households might be eligible for funding. More information on the Housing Trust Fund can be found at the Department of Commerce’s website: https://www.commerce.wa.gov/building-infrastructure/housing/housing-trust-fund/
  3. Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): While this program focuses on helping low-income households with their energy bills, it also offers energy-related home repairs and improvements in some cases. Depending on the eligibility requirements and the specific project, obtaining assistance for energy-efficient enhancements might be possible. More information on LIHEAP in Washington can be found at the Department of Commerce’s website: https://www.commerce.wa.gov/growing-the-economy/energy/low-income-home-energy-assistance-program/
  4. Local Incentives: Some cities or counties in Washington State may offer local incentives, grants, or programs for Additional Dwelling Units development, particularly those that promote affordable housing, sustainable development, or energy efficiency. It’s essential to local research programs in your area and consult with your local planning department to explore potential opportunities.
This is a photo of a charming ADU located in a lush green backyard in Covington Washington. The ADU is a standalone structure with a simple and elegant design. The photo shows a light gray exterior with white trim and a charming covered porch. The surrounding trees and shrubs provide privacy and a serene atmosphere. The ADU is situated on a well-manicured lawn with a gravel walkway leading up to the front door. The photo perfectly captures the beauty and tranquility of this ADU.

Types of ADU

Attached ADU

A small apartment unit built as an add-on to your home, sharing at least one wall with the primary building. An attached unit usually connects to the primary structure’s water and power lines, but it provides for all independent living needs. The best thing about a detached ADU is its separate entrance. As such, if you live on a property with limited available space, an attached ADU could be a great solution.

Detached ADU

A detached ADU is an independent structure that stands and functions as its own house, albeit smaller than the primary home. It includes all the necessary amenities for its inhabitants. Most ADU laws, stipulate that if you wish to build a detached ADU, you need to set aside an area of your property and create good boundaries to provide the unit’s residents with privacy. Large detached ADUs can often earn high rental rates because they offer renters more flexibility.

Garage Conversion

Garage conversions are trendy ideas for maximizing your property's earning potential. As the name suggests, a garage conversion is simply a remake of what already exists - namely, an attached or detached garage. Converting your garage area can give you much-needed living space or gain you regular extra income!

Above Garage ADU

An Above Garage-Attached Dwelling Unit (ADU) provides an affordable option for homeowners looking to rent out their space while still being able to use their garage. By installing an ADU on top of your current garage, you'll have plenty of extra room for tenants without giving up the much-needed parking and storage space.

Interior Conversion

A converted space inside your house, letting you create your own tiny home within a home. Interior ADUs are, as with all ADUs, meant to be independent living quarters. Therefore, these spaces require plumbing and ventilation for the unit's separate kitchen and bath, and they will most likely share utility services and mechanical appliances with the central unit. Currently, these units are the most common form of ADU homes as they're easy to maintain and affordable. So don't hesitate to think about building one!

Junior ADU (JADU)

A Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) is the Single Family ADU’s (the standard ADU) little sibling but has different restrictions to help keep costs down while ensuring that they provide adequate living facilities. For example, a JADU can only be built as part of a single-family home, existing or proposed single-family home, or within an accessory structure, such as a detached garage or carport. A JADU shares utilities and mechanical appliances with the main house.