Backyard Cottages in Seattle

We are very excited about the fact that the Seattle City Council voted this month to carry over the development standards of Backyard Cottages from Southeast Seattle to the rest of the city! Backyard Cottages, also referred to as “detached accessory dwelling units” or “DADUs”, have been allowed in Southeast Seattle since 2006, with approximately 18 being permitted since that time.

So, let’s start with the basics…

Backyard Cottages provide a surprising number of benefits to communities, homeowners, and renters. Because of their small scale, Backyard Cottages can create attractive and affordable rental opportunities for Seattle residents without changing the neighborhood or quality of life for other residents. They can provide greater financial flexibility for homeowners by allowing for the collection of rent from a portion of their existing property, or help accommodate larger or multi-generational families. Backyard Cottages also offer a new housing type to Seattle that is desirable, quiet, and compatible with other homes in single-family neighborhoods.

ADU Above Garage by Kelley Roy of Sassafras Green Building

You can build a Backyard Cottage if you meet the following requirements:

• You are a homeowner living in Seattle
• Your Property is located in a single-family residential zone (SF 5000, SF 7200 or SF 9600 zoned area)
• Your lot is not in a Shoreline District
• Your lot is at least 4,000 square feet in area (with 25ft min width, 70ft min depth)
• You or your property co-owner(s) will occupy either the main house or the Backyard Cottage as a permanent and principal residence
• You or your property co-owner(s) plan to live in the main home or the Backyard Cottage for more than 6 months of each calendar year
• You or your property co-owner(s) who live on the property have a 50% or greater interest in the property

Additionally, the Backyard Cottage must meet the following requirements:

• Be 800sf or less, including garage and storage areas
• Be a maximum of 12-16ft in height (15-23ft with pitched roof) depending on lot width
• Have a side yard setback of at least 5ft (10ft on corner lots)
• Have its own off-street parking space
• And, total lot coverage of all residences & accessory structures does not exceed 40%

There are exceptions and other conditions that may apply to your property. For more information visit DPD Backyard Cottages.

This newly expanded potential for Backyard Cottages will also be an interesting market driver, so if you’d like to learn more about searching for, or the marketing of, Backyard Cottage eligible properties, give us a call today.

Next up! An interview with Bob Scott of The Little Building Company, who specializes in building green Backyard Cottages, or as he calls it DADUgreen.

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