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What is an ADU? How is it Different from a Tiny Home?


As the need for alternative housing options and secondary income means continue to escalate, homeowners are getting creative with their properties, and are simultaneously finding new ways to increase the resale value of their properties while they are at it. One of the most popular methods for homeowners to solve their housing situations while increasing their resale value is to add an ADU or a tiny home. When people reach out to builders to learn, what is an ADU, they discover that, even though the terms are interchangeable, there are some important differences between the two. If you are exploring which building type is right for you, then you have come to the right place.

What is an ADU and Why Work with Adore Homes?

An ADU, also known as an accessory dwelling unit or auxiliary dwelling unit, is built on a pre-existing single-family lot and serves as a secondary home on the property. While an ADU can be attached to the primary house to serve as an extra bedroom suite, home office, garage, or even a basement, they are generally stand-alone structures. In fact, many ADU builders only construct them as stand-alone dwellings.

ADU designs are always very practical, and most will be built to share architectural similarities to the primary residence. An ADU also offers a highly functional space that fills all the needs a standard-sized home would, meaning it has a designated general living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and some even have additional spaces like laundry rooms, walk-in closets, and other bonus spaces. In the state of California, a dwelling must be at least 150 square feet to be deemed an ADU, and it can possess a square footage significantly higher than that of a tiny home.

What is a Tiny Home?

Chances are you have probably heard more about tiny homes than you have about ADUs, especially because HGTV has several TV shows that focus on designing these little dwellings. Unlike ADUs, tiny homes focus on “minimalist living” and, by definition, they are known as micro-dwellings with 400 square feet or less, and most of them are mobile. In some cases, homeowners will invest in a “tiny home”, that is larger than 400 square feet and built on the property on its own foundation, but such a dwelling is classified as an ADU. Like ADUs, tiny homes can be highly customizable, but unlike ADUs, a tiny home’s features will cram a great degree of storage into the design so that the interior can lose its comfort. For example, most two-story tiny homes will have a staircase that also serves as storage, or that folds out into a bed–odd features that may serve a use, but that add busy layers to the design that tend to detract from the traditional, comfortable vibe that matters to thousands of people.

What are Common Uses of ADUs?

While tiny homes have limited uses due to their restricted size, ADUs have a wide range of uses that include the following:

  • Rental income / rental property
  • Mother-in-law flat or “granny flat”
  • Home office
  • Game room
  • Art studio
  • Yoga studio
  • Pool house
  • Guest house
  • Airbnb property
  • Living space for teens or grown children
  • “Man cave” or “she shed”
  • Housing for ill family member in need of ongoing care at home

While tiny homes can, technically, be used in some of these same manners, they are not ideal. For example, they are not suitable dwellings for elderly family members or people requiring medical care, and they don’t offer enough space for enough functionality to perform general activities like painting, exercising, and they certainly don’t offer the adequate room to serve as a home office, especially if one intends to have clients visit the space. While tiny homes are appropriate for people who love the minimalist lifestyle with few possessions and who don’t require ample space for moving around, those who want the same ease of lifestyle they are used to from traditional homes will benefit more from an ADU, and ADUs add more value to a property than tiny homes do.

Tiny homes

Contact Adore Homes Today and Learn How We Can Improve Your Lifestyle and Increase Your Property Value with a Beautiful, Functional ADU

For more than a decade, Adore Homes has been serving homeowners in the San Jose area and Northern California by building custom ADU homes serving several functions that meet family needs. The design process and building process is the quickest in the industry, and we make the entire processes a breeze, working with our clients to ensure every detail is just as they desire. Adore Homes offers high-quality affordable ADUs with luxury upgrades, and our design will be predicated entirely on your needs, your property’s dimensions, and on achieving all the goals you may have in place for adding an ADU to your property.


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