What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

    An ADU is a self-contained residential unit with its own living room, kitchen, and bathroom on the same parcel of land as a single-family dwelling. An ADU can be located within, attached to or detached from the main residence. ADUs are known by many other names, including accessory apartment, backyard cottage, coach house, granny flat, guest house in-law suite and secondary dwelling unit, among others. An ADU must be attached to a permanent foundation. Mobile homes, RVs, campers, and trailers are not considered ADUs.

    Why is the City considering allowing ADUs?

    ADUs have been identified in several of the City’s guiding documents, including the Comprehensive Plan, Climate Action Plan and the Affordable Housing Strategy Task Force Report, as a potential tool to further housing and sustainability goals. The Planning Commission was directed to study ADUs as part of its 2022 work plan. City Staff and a subcommittee of the Planning Commission met regularly over the course of 2022 to research ADUs and how other cities regulate them.  The Planning Commission ultimately recommended that the City of Edina pursue an ordinance that would allow ADUs within the city.

    What are the benefits of ADUs?

    Several benefits associated with ADUs have been identified, including but not limited to:

    • Flexibility for homeowners to meet the needs of their family, including the option for multigenerational living, aging in place and caring for someone in a semi-independent living situation, such as an elderly parent or person with special needs. 
    • Meeting a growing need for housing for smaller households, including childless couples, single professionals and empty nesters.
    • Compatibility with single-family neighborhoods. Most cities require the appearance of a single-family neighborhood be maintained by restricting the location of second entrances and exterior stairways and requiring detached units be located in rear yards. 
    • A more affordable housing type not requiring subsidy. According to AARP, ADUs can be built for as little as one-third the cost of a traditional multi-family unit of the same size and with comparable amenities. 
    • If rented, can provide homeowners with extra income to help meet rising homeownership costs.

    The graphic below provides an example of the potential lifecycle of an ADU (graphic credit Christopher Strom Architects).

    How much does it cost to build an ADU?

    Since there is wide variability in the types of ADUs, minimum costs typically range from $100,000 to $350,000 with internal units typically on the lower end and detached units on the higher end of the spectrum.

    What are the barriers to building ADUs?

    Cost – The minimum cost to construct an ADU is typically between $100,000 and $350,000. 

    Financing – Financing the construction of an ADU may be a barrier for some people. Many people use a combination of savings, personal loan and a home equity line of credit. Some cities offer financial assistance, waive fees or offer other incentives to support ADU development. 

    Local regulations – In some communities, local regulations can make construction of an ADU very difficult or impossible for some properties. A challenging permitting process can also discourage ADU development. 

    Do other cities allow ADUs?

    Yes, there are at least 25 other Twin Cities metro area communities allowing ADUs, including Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Burnsville, Crystal, Eagan, Fridley, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Long Lake, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Mounds View, Orono, Plymouth, Richfield, Roseville, Shoreview, Stillwater, St. Louis Park, St. Paul, Wayzata and White Bear Lake.

    Can an ADU be used as a short-term rental?

    Short-term rentals are currently prohibited within Edina. Allowing short-term rentals is a separate policy decision from whether to allow ADUs. Most surrounding communities that allow ADUs prohibit them from being used as short-term rentals.

    Will ADUs be a burden on infrastructure?

    ADUs make efficient use of existing infrastructure and contribute to the taxbase. Given the low volume of ADUs experienced in other communities, ADUs are not expected to have a significant impact on infrastructure. For example, the City of Portland, Oregon, which is considered a nationwide leader in ADUs, has an ADU on just 1.5% of all lots where they are allowed. If Edina experienced a similar volume, this would equate to a little over 200 ADUs spread throughout the city over many years.