Heard of the housing crisis in Seattle? Big employers such as Amazon have been bringing in massive amounts of people into the Seattle area, more than the many new condos can handle. The cost to rent a one bed room apartment in the city averages $1917.00 month. The cost to purchase a house has increased 16.7% over the last 12 months. I was told by a realtor that many home owners are reluctant to sell, even at the high prices and even when they want to downsize, because ‘they are afraid they will not find another place to live.’ (in Seattle of course)
SEATTLE ENCOURAGING mother in laws – After decades of policing illegal mother in law apartments, the city of Seattle decided that adding rental units in existing housing plots is one of the only places left to densify the city.
Some TYPES of ‘legal’ living spaces that you can add to your home:
a) ADU is Accessory Dwelling Unit. This is an independent home with kitchen, bathroom(s) separate electrical panel and separate secure entrance. This is attached to the existing home and is separated by a fire rated wall
b) DADU (or a backyard Cottage) is the same except it is detached from your home, often at the far 20’ setback of your lot. The average size of most ADU/DADUs is 632 sf.
REACTIONS - There are several reactions to these types of ‘improvements.’ There is the neighbor who does not want ‘transient’ people in the neighborhood taking up parking spaces and having loud parties. And there is the home owner who has concerns about giving up some privacy in the shared yard and walkways. Both are valid concerns. However, an ADU or DADU can supplement a home owner’s income making it easier to pay the mortgage and increasing property taxes. It can be a retirement nest egg of continuing income. It can also provide a place for someone to live in the city that they work; offering a place to rent. It can also reduce traffic – the theory being that if people can walk to take mass transit to work, they will not drive, thus decreasing the amount of cars on the road.
RESTRICTIONS – currently the most contested regulations have to do with providing parking and owner occupation both of which have had recent changes. One off street parking space is required to be provided EXCEPT in designated urban villages and urban centers. You may be granted a parking waiver if the site’s topography or location of the structure makes it an undue burden. Owner occupancy is required for at least 6 months of the year and the owner occupant must have at least 50% ownership. HOWEVER, the owner may SUBMIT EVIDENCE to obtain a waiver of this requirement for up to three years for job relocation, illness or similar reasons not to occupy the home.
FINANCING – typically a home owner would need to refinance their existing home to obtain the funds to build an ADU/DADU. Costs vary but there is a consensus that to build a new adu/dadu structure would cost around $200,000. How long do you need to rent the space to break even? Eight ½ years? LET’S RETHINK THIS…