Seattle Backyard Cottages: “Why a backyard cottage?”

If creating additional living space on your property is something you’ve put off doing – the Seattle City Council’s recent bill just made it easier to do so, and might provide the spark needed to build the additional area you were thinking about. Here’s a primer on what the updated rules for Backyard Cottage Units or Detached Accessory Dwelling Units/Attached Accessory Units might mean for your family.

What’s A Backyard Cottage?​ The city describes a backyard cottage as “a small residential structure that shares the same lot as your home, but is one that’s self-contained and physically separate from your primary house”. For example, you might think of it as a the mother-in-law dwelling complete with its own entrance, bathroom, living room, sleeping area and stand-alone kitchen. Under the Seattle Municipal Code, this dwelling is referred to as a detached Accessory Dwelling Unit.

Reasons For Backyard Cottages.​ There isn’t a one reason homeowners add them to their properties, but because of their size and they often represent a creative and attractive way to put additional rental units into a neighborhood without altering life for their neighbors. Additional benefits might include the opportunity to accommodate larger or multigenerational families on the same lot, and the ability for the homeowner to add a rental unit to a portion of their existing property.