Denver Updates Its Zoning Rules to Stimulate ADU Construction

Denver Updates Its Zoning Rules to Stimulate ADU ConstructionThe city of Denver has recently implemented changes to its rules regarding the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs). These changes come after a year-long process aimed at addressing some of the barriers preventing homeowners from building these secondary units, which are seen as a potential solution to the city’s affordable housing crisis. While there are still some hurdles that remain, the updated standards are viewed as a positive step towards increasing the city’s housing stock.

Two Key Updates Include:

1. No Minimum Lot Size Requirement

One of the key changes in the code is the removal of a minimum lot size requirement for building detached second housing units. This opens up thousands of properties that were previously ineligible due to their lot size. Additionally, the rules now allow for the conversion of garages into ADUs, which was not possible under the previous design standards. Even properties with duplexes and row homes can now add ADUs with some additional site review.

2. Inclusion of Suburban Neighborhoods in the ADU Design Standards

Another significant update is the inclusion of suburban neighborhoods in the ADU design standards. Previously, only the College View neighborhood in southwest Denver had the option for detached ADUs. Now, all suburban neighborhoods are zoned for these small units. However, the specific standards in suburban areas are more restrictive compared to urban neighborhoods. For example, the allowed height has been reduced from 24 feet to 17 feet, and minimum setbacks from the back of the property have increased from 5 feet to 10 feet.

Several Barriers Remain

Despite these positive changes, one barrier that still remains is the owner occupancy requirement. Homeowners are still required to live on the property if they want to add an ADU. This rule was viewed as a compromise to address the concerns of neighborhoods that were not ready to remove the requirement entirely. However, experts believe that lifting this requirement could greatly increase ADU construction.

Other barriers that were not addressed in the code changes include the cost of building a detached ADU, which is estimated to be around $300,000, and liability-based rules that restrict homeowners from acting as their own general contractors for the project. These barriers limit the feasibility of constructing ADUs for many homeowners.

While the updated rules are a step in the right direction, there is still more work to be done to truly address the city’s affordable housing crisis. Council members and city officials hope that future councils will continue to tackle these issues and further enhance the ADU construction process. Overall, the changes that have been implemented will gradually increase the number of ADUs throughout Denver and provide more housing options for residents.

Since 2006, Prospect 30 Eight Construction has been building top-quality custom homeshome additions, and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) throughout the Denver Metro Area and the Front Range. If you have any questions, please contact us for a free consultation.