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'A great option': Accessory housing could help relieve Charlotte's housing crisis, developer says

Charlotte's recently passed Unified Development Ordinance changes the rules for building ADUs such as guest houses.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As Charlotte leaders continue seeking solutions to increase affordable housing inventory, one option may be to build more accessory dwelling units. 

ADUs are apartments or guest houses typically built over someone’s garage or as a separate building in the backyard. In the recently adopted Unified Development Ordinance, the city of Charlotte is looking to relax regulations on ADUs so more can be built. 

"It's certainly gaining in popularity over the last few years,” Brad Little, the CEO of Revision Design and Remodeling, said. 

Little said ADU revamps typically cost homeowners anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000. He says Revision Design and Remodeling does about three ADU revamps per year. 

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

“It’s a great way for folks to utilize additional space on their lot,” Little added.  

Some homeowners build ADUs to create space for their visiting families, or to rent them out, which creates more housing options for tenants. 

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“As supply continues to tighten up and there are fewer spaces to build, using ADUs is a great option,” Little said. 

The new regulations for ADUs in the Unified Development Ordinance allow developers to make them bigger than the current rules. Right now, the size of an ADU is limited to 35% of the total floor area of the main house. 

The updated regulations change that limit to 40% if the ADU is attached to the house, and 50% if it's a stand-alone structure. 

The new regulations also allow duplexes to have ADUs and relax the rules for how close they can be to a property line. 

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham told WCNC Charlotte she supports ADUs and has spoken with developers that are looking to build more houses with them. 

"In the past, they had limited opportunities to add these onto homes, and if they had more opportunities that would help,” Cotham said. 

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ADUs can help create more housing density and Cotham added that they are just one tool to help build affordable housing. 

“There’s not just one answer," Cotham said. "We gotta do a lot of different things." 

The new regulations for ADUs go into effect with the Unified Development Ordinance in June 2023.

Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.  

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