Brit Builds an ADU: Spring (and the Home Tour) Is Here!

I survived the winter!

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A few weeks’ accumulation of snow on my container garden, before the big melt.

Back in early April, it was hard to think about building a whole new space, what with the blizzard and all. Looking ahead to the coming summer and the warmer weather this past week has kept up my spirits, plus the accessory dwelling units (ADUs) that other people have built will be available soon to be toured!

The Family Housing Fund has released a new ADU Guidebook for the Twin Cities, which I learned about from the MSP Home Tours guide for the event this Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28. Apparently some nice Minnesotans are willing to show off the latest updates to their homes for the rest of us to admire. Two ADUs are on the tour this year: number 24 on the list, an attached version, and number 25, a detached ADU.

After the winter isolation, I’m looking forward to getting out and meeting some folks who have already gone through the process we are embarking on this year.

ADU and other housing updates

  • White Crane Design Build has a helpful build blog of a detached ADU that feels like both a process guide and tour of a lovely building.
  • We’re finally getting our basement back in order after a major water intrusion shortly after we bought the house. (That is a post for another day.)
  • The ice dams have also been bad, and we now have a major hole in our living room ceiling and my home office (boo, ice; yay, insurance). That will be getting fixed shortly.

These issues have given us the opportunity to work with a contractor to get things fixed, and perhaps we will work with them again on the ADU build. We’ll have to get a few quotes once the plans are settled. For now, they are doing quality work and are great to work with. Thanks, WonderWoman!

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Perhaps my next post will look at zoning. Like the garden planning I’ve got coming up soon, you’ve got to know the metes and bounds of possibility before choosing the orientation and materials. Sometimes they both involve graph paper.



Brit Anbacht

About Brit Anbacht

Brit Anbacht is a millenial policy wonk and general nerd. They work from home full time. Brit sometimes drives but ever more frequently takes the bus for errands. They live in south Minneapolis, and can be found occasionally on twitter @britvulcan.

10 thoughts on “Brit Builds an ADU: Spring (and the Home Tour) Is Here!

  1. Tom Quinn

    This is an interesting article. Thanks for posting.

    One question though. The article says the ADU can be used for rentals, including AirBnB’s. I was under the impression that ADU’s can only be occupied by family members.

    1. Brit AnbachtBrit Anbacht Post author

      ADUs are often built for family members but are treated by the city as any other kind of rental property. It is essentially a duplex conversion with extra rules you can build outside of the main structure (or inside).

    2. Wilj


      AFAIK you are correct, the ADU ordinance specifically required that it be occupied by the owner/family. It’s possible that I’m remembering this incorrectly and the ordinance stated that the property be occupied, but not the ADU specifically, but I’m pretty sure it was the ADU itself that had to be occupied..

      I think, however, that with Minneapolis 2040 this changed. Specifically 2040 was silent with respect to ADU’s, which basically implies that what /was/ an ADU pre-2040, is now simply 1 of 3 allowed units, post-2040.

      My open question on the matter was always whether the silence in the code for ADU’s was actually a sneaky way to achieve their desired 4-unit limit, rather than the 3-unit compromise (ie 3 units, with an ADU ordinance that will follow shortly after 2040 is baked into the cake). If this were the case, it may be possible that the ordinance could revert to having some sort of covenant on owner occupation.

      In general, the ADU ordinance hasn’t really been around long enough to have been thoroughly tested. I mean, obviously it makes no sense to require the owner to live there, if that owner was simply the buyer of a property with an existing ADU on it. In which case the obvious legal remedy for an owner would simply be to build the ADU, then do an ownership swap, similar to those done for tax maneuvers on rental properties (I believe in these transactions an arms-length lawyer party technically owns the property for a short period of time).. Etc. The titling fees would be minor in the context of building a $150,000 ADU.. or, as the case may be – ownerships swap, build the ADU, then swap back..

      But yea, functionally I think the ownership requirement is gone for the time being..

      1. Wilj

        Oops, typo I mean “occupancy requirement” not “ownership requirement” obviously in that last sentence.


      2. Stuart Munson

        I don’t believe you have everything correct here. I am not an expert, but I will give my understanding.

        The property with an ADU has an owner-occupancy requirement. This is written into a property covenant with the county land record. This is the same type of legal tool used in racial covenants that prevented future sales to non-white people. Racial covenants are unconstitutional, but other land covenants are not. I am not sure of the county enforcement tool, but it is legally binding.

        That said, the owner doesn’t need to live in the ADU. They can live in the main house or the ADU. This would not change if the home changes ownership. Whoever bought the property would be required to live there (in either unit) because of the covenant. The second unit can be rented out, used as an AirBnB, or used by friends/family for free.

        I believe the MPLS2040 plan was silent about ADUs because there is no change to the ADU ordinance. If you built a triplex and rented out all three units, that would be fine. You can also build a triplex with an additional ADU, but then the owner would be legally required to live in one of the four units on the property. The ADU is separate from the triplex zoning, but comes with additional requirements and responsibilities.

        1. Janne

          Minneapolis 2040 Policy 35 Innovative Housing Types does mention ADUs. Item d. reads “Allow Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on both owner occupied and non-owner occupied property, develop a set of ADU templates that meet City codes to ease ADU construction and allow the use of tiny homes and other alternative housing as ADUs.”

          It hasn’t changed, but 2040 does name it as something that will be changed.

  2. David Wade

    Thanks for mentioning our ADU Guide, Brit! We’re looking forward to your post on the ADUs on the MSP Home Tour and can’t wait to hear what you have in store for your ADU!

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