Friday, November 11, 2011

Granny Flats

Hopefully the slow trend of states and communities becoming more open to the creation of 2nd dwellings on existing lots continues.

But even in communities that have liberalized their rules, there can still be several challenges at the local level. Parking is a big one because many areas require the unit to have an extra space off the street, and there may be rules as to where the spot can sit on the property. Many locales also require minimum lot sizes; in Berkeley, Calif., for instance, the property must be at least 4,500 square feet, according to a research paper that studied secondary units in the East Bay area. Others might require the unit to be a certain number of feet from the rear and side property lines. In fact, all the rules have driven many homeowners to just roll the dice and add the units without their community’s blessing.

Advocates of in-law units say they also address the changing face of families and their economic circumstances. They can provide an extra income source, or allow elderly people to remain in their communities. They can also create a source of affordable housing, they say, at no cost to the government.