One of the hottest trends in real estate right now is ADUs, or Accessory Dwelling Units. Some people call them Granny Flats, Mother-In-Law Units or Casitas, though if you’re familiar with the movie “Encanto”, this is not THAT kind of casita. Call it what you want, we expect this trend to stay hot in 2023.

Simply put, an ADU is extra space that is livable. It could be an over the garage apartment, a cottage connected to the back of the house or a free-standing dwelling on your property. ADU space has been used for years as a place where a grandparent can live close by and still have privacy or a source of extra income from renting it out. 

Clients ask us all the time if the benefits of building an ADU outweigh the cost. The answer is a resounding yes. If built properly and up to code, an ADU can increase the value of your home by adding square footage or HLA (heated living area). 

And since 2020, ADU space has gotten wildly popular. The housing supply is low and the pandemic has shifted some of our real estate priorities. Buyers just light up when they see ADU space. I mean, who wouldn’t want extra space to work, play, host or rent out? The possibilities are endless.


In 2016, Cassee Cunningham and Kurt Knaak husband and wife 5PR real estate team had planned to tear down an old stick built garage/shed that was not in good shape. They intended to replace it with a revved up carport. But they also needed extra studio space. They had already planned to pour a concrete pad, add a roof, lights and plumbing for just a carport; they figured why not add a little more space and create a fully functional, comfortable studio/office space. So, they added a mini-split heating and cooling system and voila! They had a super cool ADU. When it came time to sell the property, the studio ADU space was the star of the show, according to listing feedback. Plus, they got multiple offers over the asking price.

Last year, Cassee’s clients Kelly and Michael were starting their young family and needed lots of space for their busy life. They wanted office space, storage, a work-out area plus room for their baby boy and the one on the way. Cassee showed them houses with lots of square feet that also came with huge price tags. She then floated the idea of opting for a less expensive home with room on the property for an ADU.

Kelly and Michael took that suggestion and have built a super cool ADU that acts as a gym and storage just in time for baby number two. They love it, and it will be valuable when they decide to sell. 


Some areas of the country are turning to ADUs to help ease the housing crisis. California is offering some homeowners grants of up to $25,000 for ADU development. Raleigh has even launched an ADU gallery, with photos of several code-compliant plans. You choose the one you like and contact the designer directly. It simplifies and fast-tracks the whole process.


If you’re thinking about adding an ADU to your property, there are several things you need to consider. 

  • COST: Bankrate reports the average cost of constructing an ADU is $25,000 to $150,000. If you are looking to finance, many people use a cash-out refinance, home equity loan or home equity line of credit. But be sure to budget for the relatively high interest rates.
  • COMPLIANCE: Charlotte has standards for ADUs as do homeowners associations. Make sure your plans are approved before getting started. Hiring a good contractor will help with this.
  • CONVENIENCE: Who is going to be using this space? Keep them in mind when making your plans. You’ll need a separate entry, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen as well as heating and cooling. But if you’re finishing an area attached to your home like an attic or basement, you’ll also want nice thick walls to buffer sound. 

Accessory dwelling units can add functionality and value to your current home or, as with Kelly and Michael, it can open up more options when looking for a new one. Want to learn more about 

Granny Flats, Mother-In-Law Units or Casitas? Ask any of our 5 Point Realty brokers.