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ADU FAQs

You've got questions about Accessory Dwelling Units, we've got answers!


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What is an ADU? What do ADUs look like? Can I build in a Historic Overlay District (HOD)? Is additional parking required? I am part of a Homeowners Association (HOA), can I build an ADU? What zoning districts allow ADUs? What type of "use" is an ADU? What are the size requirements? How many ADUs can I have on my property? Can my ADU be on wheels? Can I sell my ADU?

What is an ADU?

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) rules and regulations apply to a independent dwelling unit that is located on the same lot as an existing principal (detached or attached) dwelling for single-unit living. ADUs should be independent of and smaller than the main dwelling.

ADUs include a living room, sleeping area, kitchen, bathroom, and have a lockable external entrance. An ADU may be located above a garage. ADUs may be detached, attached, or internal to the principal dwelling.

What do ADUs look like?

Types of ADU Graphic

ADUs are typically between 450-800 square feet. ADUs of 1000 sq. ft. are allowed on specific sites. The type and design of an ADU can vary depending on your property size and surrounding structures. 

Can I build in a Historic Overlay District (HOD)?

Yes! Residents who want to build in an HOD should follow the Raleigh Historic Development Commission (RHDC) design guidelines for their HOD and need to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) before beginning construction. 

Is additional parking required?

No. Additional parking does not have to be provided with an ADU.

I am part of a Homeowners Association (HOA), can I build an ADU?

Maybe. Contact your HOA and ask if ADUs are permissible in your neighborhood and if there are any additional design requirements.

What zoning districts allow ADUs?

The ADU text change was adopted by the Raleigh City Council on July 7, 2020. It is effective on July 22, 2020.  As a result of this text change, ADUs are allowed in the following zoning districts: R-1, R-2, R-4, R-6, R-10, RX, OX, NX, DX, and CX.

Read the full text change ordinance.

What type of "use" is an ADU?

Only residential uses are permitted in ADUs, and they must meet the requirements of Section 2.6.3 of the UDO.

What are the size requirements?

ADUs shall be located on the same lot as a principal dwelling and meet one of the following:

  1. The gross floor area of the accessory dwelling shall be less than the gross floor area of the total principal dwelling.
  2. Shall be affixed to or constructed on a permanent foundation and not be a manufactured home or moveable structure.

See the accessory structures section in the TC-16-19 text change for size restrictions.

How many ADUs can I have on my property?

Only one ADU is allowed per single lot. 

Can my ADU be on wheels?

No. It must have a permanent foundation.

Can I sell my ADU?

No. ADUs cannot be sold apart from its principal dwelling unit.