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this is a thread to discuss dwelling that are built on residential lots with existing houses. The upside (rental income / property value / etc) makes this a very intriguing proposition
I saw a beautiful 600 sq. ft. two bedroom installation in IKEA the other day. Really well planned and perfect for two (actually it is designed to accommodate two adults with two kids.) It feels much better than the photographs.
Particularly as my parents, as well as my kids, age, this becomes more and more interesting to me as well. I want my parents to be able to spend as much time as possible with their grandkids, and I worry that I currently live too far from my parents to provide them help if they should need it. A granny flat seems well scaled to their lifestyle and would also provide needed help around the house to my wife and me who both have demanding professional lives.
Clearly the challenge is more zoning than it is design, but nonetheless I think it's a great 21st century residential living model that needs greater attention.
Actually I'm working on a hipster granny flat at the moment. Biggest problem is how do I manage to keep her entry private enough so when her boyfriends come and go the grandsons aren't chasing them with their star war swords.
Seattle implemented a DADU (detached accessory dwelling unit) ordinance a few years ago, and a bunch of them have been built here. The local CORA chapter has done a lot of work on this. http://seattleslandusecode.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/dadu-da-done-seattles-cottage-experiment-a-success/
I live in Seattle and am looking to buy a house in the near future. The idea of putting a rental unit on my property (4000+ sq ft lot needed) is intriguing. If done properly, one of these units could really help offset a mortgage, etc
Snook, be careful not to break a hipster!
mdler, if you're going to go that route, be aware that DADUs are only allowed in certain areas, and DPD has a cap on how many are allowed to be permitted each year.
Another use for the granny flat is an alternative to an assisted living facility. We are selling these in the Central Florida region. Our 3 units are here: http://homecaresuites.com/pricing-floor-plans.html
Unfortunately, most Florida cities don't permit these structures as rental units, but there are huge incentives with this type of senior housing through cost savings as an alternative to assisted living facilities
Be darn careful about ADUs. In some municipalities, they are NOT allowed by the zoning. I know of one municipality in the West where they are not allowed. I am sure there are others, all across the country. Generally, it is upper-middle class smaller municipalities where they want to keep SFD housing stock the norm - actually, the ONLY option in certain areas/subdivisions.
Karen Chapple from UC Berkeley has done some really cool research on ADU's and adding density in existing neighborhoods (especially adding affordable housing). She gave an interesting lecture to my planning class this past summer, which I really enjoyed. Here's a link to her work.