More Homeowners in Seattle Can Build Backyard Cottages

As even more tech jobs move to the city, the demand for housing will continue, but a new move by the Seattle City Council could allow you to take in new tenants and make some extra cash.

Maybe you’re familiar with “mother-in-law” apartments, or backyard cottages. They haven’t been too common in Seattle, because until July 1 of this year, the rules around building them were fairly strict. The Seattle City Council voted to loosen regulations around these Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs).

If a home is zoned as SF5000, SF7200, and SF9600, the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is 0.5, meaning a newly constructed home can be as big as 50 percent of the lot size, to a minimum of 2,500 square feet. You can build one attached ADU and one DADU and they can be no larger than 1,000 square feet each.

If a home is zoned RSL (residential small lot,) the limits are like the above requirements, however, the FAR is 0.75, with only one Accessory Dwelling Unit. 

So, if you’re wondering how these new regulations to could get you some extra cash on the side? Consider building your own backyard cottage and renting it out. Among the ADU rules that were updated: you don’t have to live on the property to rent out an ADU, a restriction that stopped from some building tiny home-style living in their backyard before.

Anie Buckmelter