How Changes in Zoning Laws Impact ADUs in Salt Lake County

June 16, 2023

In recent years, the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) has faced numerous challenges due to restrictive zoning and planning regulations. However, with the implementation of new zoning laws, property owners can now benefit from greater flexibility when it comes to building ADUs on non-residential properties. This article explores the implications of the change in zoning laws and how it can positively impact real estate investors, owners of non-residential properties, and the typical homeowner.

Previously, ADUs could only be constructed on single-family home lots and limited areas of the city. However, the new zoning code allows property owners to add ADUs to existing multifamily properties and commercially zoned areas. This expansion of opportunities opens up new possibilities for real estate investors, individuals with non-residential properties, and the typical homeowner.

Under the old regulations, property owners seeking to build an ADU had to obtain approval from the Planning Commission. This process involved submitting preliminary drawings, notifying neighbors, and addressing concerns at community council meetings. Unfortunately, this often resulted in a lengthy approval timeline of up to three months. The new zoning code streamlines the process by treating ADUs like other construction projects such as garages, additions, and remodels. This change eliminates unnecessary delays, allowing property owners to move forward with ADU construction more efficiently.

The previous Planning Commission process was time-consuming, leading to delays in ADU construction. To manage client expectations, construction professionals would set realistic timelines and communicate the waiting period involved in the approval process. Despite the long timeframe, clients were reassured that their ADUs would ultimately meet code requirements, enabling them to proceed with construction.

Before the new code, the maximum footprint for a garage was 720 square feet, while the ADU living space was limited to 650 square feet. This often required creative solutions such as building a larger garage with a smaller footprint for the ADU. However, the updated code is expected to allow the living space to extend over the garage, maximizing both the garage and living area. Although setbacks from neighboring properties will still apply, the new code provides more design options for property owners.

Under the previous regulations, there were several challenges in constructing ADUs. The lengthy approval process deterred some homeowners, while restrictions on ADU height and size based on the primary home's footprint limited design possibilities. With smaller homes becoming more prevalent, the limited size of ADUs posed a significant obstacle for homeowners.

Yes, it is possible to have a garage and ADU combination or separate structures on a property. However, the total footprint of all structures, including the primary home, cannot exceed 50% of the lot size. For instance, if the lot is 3,000 square feet, the total footprint of all structures combined cannot exceed 1,500 square feet.

Previously, detached ADUs were limited to a maximum size of 650 square feet. This constrained the number of bedrooms and limited occupancy options. However, with the new zoning laws, homeowners can now build ADUs up to 1,000 square feet, allowing for additional bedrooms and catering to small families or multiple tenants. This increase in square footage expands the rental market and provides more housing options.

With the changes in zoning laws, homeowners planning to construct ADUs this year can expect a significantly reduced timeline. Previously, the approval process alone would take around 4-5 months before construction could begin. Now, property owners can start construction within approximately 1-3 months, depending on the design phase.

The recent changes in zoning laws have brought about a positive shift in the construction of ADUs on non-residential properties. The expanded opportunities and streamlined approval process benefit real estate investors and property owners, providing greater flexibility in constructing ADUs. The increased square footage for detached ADUs and the ability to combine garages with ADUs offer more options for living space. Overall, these changes promote housing affordability and diversity, benefiting both homeowners and the community.

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