Accessory Dwelling Unit

I’m a fan of many home improvement and style magazines and one of my favorite magazines is Dwell. On the cover of Dwell was the latest trend of accessory dwelling units being built in backyards of larger homes. I poured over the article looking for a reason as to what this new trend was because it looks like a tiny house and it is and it isn’t at the same time.


Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is an exterior “dwelling” so to speak that can be just about anything you want it to be and the article showed this beautiful ADU as an exterior home office complete with everything you would want in an actual office. It even had a front deck with chairs and a table.


Power was fed to the office by a 20 amp line buried underground that was able to support all the necessary office equipment. This was a beautiful space and it looked exactly like a tiny house in your backyard. It’s not attached to the main house and did not have running water but you’re only 50 feet from the kitchen and bathroom. The size of this little dwelling was 10′ x 15′, with a 9′ ceiling with tongue and groove boards to give the area a much bigger feel. The walls are wood as well and the floor was a luxury vinyl tile. The good kind!


So after reading the article I determined that this was a glorified shed made to look like a tiny house and called an accessory dwelling unit. Fancy! But I was wrong with my assessment. This little dwelling is built like a house with all the house building applicable codes so you can use it all year long. Insulation, roofing, and energy star windows and door give your ADU the look and feel of an addition to your home. Wall heaters are all you need to heat the room and a small portable A/C unit keeps it cool in the summer with little or no cost. Depending on where you put your ADU the option of solar power would amazing as you would only need a few solar panels. I like that idea. Completely self-sufficient with power from the sun. Very cool!


The foundation was poured cement and if you were so inclined to heat the floor you certainly could. Living in Wisconsin heating the floor would be a good idea especially if you’re going to use it daily.


After reading the article I had many ideas for what an ADU could be used for and the first ideas was a work out room. We use our guest bedroom for our workout room and it has a treadmill and a spinning bike in it but it’s cramped. An ADU would be the perfect place for that especially with the high ceiling. How about a sauna? Living in Wisconsin a sauna would be nice but I have heard that sauna’s are expensive to maintain and rarely get used even in the winter. Sauna’s sound much better than they are and for me a sauna is a vacation experience.


The idea of a detached home office sounds very nice but as humans we are creatures of habit. It’s a tough thing for us to change. We have a very nice home office and when I asked my wife about moving the office to an exterior building she balked and said that she loves the ability to go to the office at any time to work. But, we don’t have any children either. In her job she is constantly going in and out of our home office on the weekends and before she goes to work and when she comes home from owrk. She said she would not like getting up and going outside in the cold to work if she got up in the early morning hours. I had to agree with her on that point. I wouldn’t like that either as I get up in the middle of the night all the time to work. If you had a busy household with all kinds of things going on then getting away to your ADU to work would be ideal.


Any way you look at ADU’s this would be a wonderful addition to your backyard even if you just use it for storage.  ADU’s can be used for a long list of functions but the home office for busy families is definitely one to consider.