There’s been a lot of buzz about the City of Phoenix and their upcoming vote to change zoning to allow all single-family homeowners to add an ADU to their property. But what exactly is an ADU and why would a homeowner want one? We asked Zander Diamont and Jared Amzallag, the co-founders of Arizona’s number one builder of ADUs, Minimal Living Concepts, to share.
What is an ADU?
ADU stands for accessory dwelling unit. You may know them by one of their many other names — guest home, casita, pool house, granny flat, she shed, man cave – and possibly a few more we’re forgetting. Essentially, ADUs are small homes typically found in the backyard of a single-family residence. An ADU differs from an ADB (accessory dwelling building) because it has a stove, making it a fully livable space.
How are people using their ADUs?
By far the most popular use case we’ve seen for the ADUs we have built is multigenerational living. Specifically, homeowners are adding ADUs to their property for aging parents as a preferable and more affordable alternative to senior living facilities. Our clients love the peace of mind that comes from having the grandparents on their property, while still providing separate living spaces. And in many cases, the older parents are actually selling their homes and paying cash for the ADU as a gift for their children, which automatically increases the value of their home. Additionally, some people are using ADUs as traditional guest homes, which is great to add square footage to their home without having to move into a larger home and take on a new higher mortgage rate. Some are using them as rental properties as well.
How much do they cost?
There is a wide range of pricing when it comes to ADUs. From kits you can order from a home improvement store, to prefabricated container units, to ADUS like ours, built with traditional construction, pricing is all over the board. Keep in mind, you usually get what you pay for. That said, we keep our prices as low as possible by offering standard design packages, buying cabinets, fixtures, and appliances in large quantities and passing the savings on to our customers. Our most popular unit is the Live, a one bedroom one bathroom ADU, which has 576 square feet of livable space and starts at $175,000. With optional upgrades, the average cost for our customers ends up being around $220,000. This is an all-inclusive price that includes our site plan, handling permitting, construction, flooring, light fixtures, cabinetry, and appliances. Our website, minimallivingconcepts.com, has transparent pricing packages so you can easily browse plans and pricing.
How long does it take to build an ADU?
A typical project takes our company approximately seven months to complete – three months for permitting and four months to build. We have streamlined our timeline from our experience planning, permitting, and building 76+ units in the last 30 months and the efficiencies we’ve found through specializing in this product and process.
What are the proposed City of Phoenix changes regarding ADUs and when are they set to go into effect?
In an effort to add more housing to meet the great demand and address the housing shortage, the City of Phoenix has introduced a proposed text amendment that would allow an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) to be constructed on a lot with a detached single-family home by providing reasonable increases in permitted lot coverage, and by allowing an ADU to be required
within the rear yard, with conditions. For up to lots 10,000 square feet in area, the maximum size of the ADU would be 1000 square feet. For lots over 10,000 square feet in area, the maximum size of the ADU would be 3000 square feet, or 10% of the net lot area, whichever is less. In no case would an ADU exceed 75% of the gross floor area of the primary dwelling unit.
The City of Phoenix is set to vote on the proposed ADU changes at the September 6 City Council meeting. Based on the majority of positive feedback the City received at Village Planning Committee meetings held over the past few months, we’re encouraged that these changes will be passed, enabling anyone who resides in Phoenix to add an ADU to their property.
Authors: Zander Diamont and Jared Amzallag are co-founders of Minimal Living Concepts, Arizona’s number one builder of ADUs. Since they started the company in 2021, they have built more than 75 guest homes in Arizona.