Accessory Dwelling Units
In November 2022, the Golden Valley City Council voted to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Golden Valley. An ADU is a self-contained residential unit that meets the requirements of the Minnesota State Building Code. ADUs are permanent installations that are legally part of a larger property that includes a standard single-family house.
ADUs can sometimes be referred to as carriage or coach houses, accessory apartments, backyard cottages, secondary dwelling units, granny flats, mother-in-law suites, second suites, or garden apartments. These units may be located inside the principal building on a lot, or may be located in a detached accessory building on the same parcel. ADUs are different from renting a room in your home since they come with their own kitchen and bathroom. They are also different from a twin home or duplex unit, due to the size of the ADU being smaller than the main home.
If you own your single-family home and it is your sole or primary residence, then you may be able to add an ADU to your property. Different properties will have their own considerations that impact feasible designs and locations. City staff is available to meet with you or your project team to help navigate zoning restrictions. See general ADU regulations below.
- You cannot exceed the impervious surface and hard cover limits already in place for the R-1 and R-2 zoning districts.
- All ADUs must meet the zoning code definition of a dwelling unit, providing secure and independent living facilities for purpose of sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation.
- ADUs must be a minimum of 250 square feet, and not exceed either 35 percent of the home’s livable floor area or 950 square feet, whichever is less.
- Attached and internal ADUs which are part of the main home’s structure must meet the same setback, height, and other standards from the relevant zoning district.
- Detached ADUs are only permitted on lots over 10,000 square feet, and are restricted to 12 feet in height from floor to top plate or highest horizontal component.
- Detached ADUs must be located to the side or rear of the main home, and have a minimum setback of 10 feet from rear and side property lines.
- At 10 feet from property lines, a conditional use permit (CUP) and review is required. However, if a detached ADU can meet the same setback requirements as for a principal structure, this CUP requirement is waived.
An ADU is a significant home project, and it pays to have a good plan. Residents may find some of the items below under “Additional Resources” helpful – especially the two publications from the Family Housing Fund, the Twin Cities ADU Guidebook and ADU Idea Book for Mid-Century Homes.
1. Consult with staff on zoning and building code requirements. ADUs must meet the same requirements as any other apartment or residential unit.
2. Apply for your Accessory Dwelling Unit (PDF) and include:
- Administrative Review: Attached and Internal ADUs, as well as Detached ADUs meeting the same setback standards as for the principal home
- Conditional Use Permit: Detached ADUs that only meet the minimum setbacks
- Please note that a conditional use approval involves a public hearing at Planning Commission and City Council. This is usually at least a two-month process so plan accordingly.
3. After approval, apply for permits online:
- If demolition is part of the project, you may need an interior demolition permit.
- All ADUs will require a building permit and may require electrical, mechanical, and/or plumbing permits.
- A stormwater management permit is required if the project will disturb 4,000 cubic feet of soil if a building foundation wall is modified or expanded, and in other cases. See the application packet for more details.
4. Once all permits are finalized, a certificate of occupancy will be issued for detached ADUs.
5. Apply for a rental license if the ADU will be rented out.
|Number of ADUs Allowed||One ADU per lot. An ADU is only allowed in conjunction with a single-family home.|
|Owner-Occupancy||The property owner must reside in either the principal dwelling or ADU as either their sole or primary residence.|
|Minimum Floor Area||250 square feet|
|Maximum Floor Area||950 square feet or 35 percent of the home's livable floor area, whichever is less. The area being converted for the ADU shall be included in this calculation of gross living area.||950 square feet or 35 percent of the home's livable floor area, whichever is less.|
|Height||Governed by the maximum height allowed for the principal structure.||12 feet measured from the structure floor to the top plate or highest horizontal component of the frame building.|
|Front Yard||35 feet||Located completely to the side or rear of the principal structure, and built no closer to the front setback than the principal structure.|
|Corner Lot Secondary Front Yard||35 feet||No closer to the front setback than the principal structure.|
|Side Yard||Zoning district setbacks for principal structures apply.||10 feet with a conditional use permit. Otherwise, a detached ADU meeting the same setback as the principal structure is allowed with an administrative review.|
|Rear Yard||25 feet||10 feet with a conditional use permit. Otherwise, a detached ADU meeting the same setback as the principal structure is allowed with an administrative review.|
|Distance From House||N/A||10 feet|
|Exterior Materials||Exterior changes shall not substantially alter the single-family character of the structure.||Designed and use materials that complement and match the principal dwelling.|
|Entrances||Entrances shall only face the side or rear yard.||N/A|
|Dormers||N/A||Not facing adjacent lots to the side or rear.|
|Decks||N/A||Rooftop decks prohibited.|
|Parking||One additional off-street parking space is required for the ADU above the minimum required for single-family homes. The creation of an ADU by conversion of garage space shall not reduce the home's provide off-street parking below the minimum requirements.|
|Utilities||Utility connections for the ADU shall be provided from the existing principal structure so long as adequate capacity exists or can be provided.|
This table provides a Zoning Code summary of some of the applicable standards for ADUs. Please refer to the Golden Valley Code of Ordinances, Section 113-159 for the complete requirements. All ADUs must meet current residential, building, mechanical, and electrical code standards. Please contact the City of Golden Valley if you have any questions.
ADU Information Resources
- AARP – The ABCs of ADUs
- AARP – More ADU Information and Resources
- Family Housing Fund – Twin Cities ADU Guidebook
- Family Housing Fund – ADU Idea Book for Mid-Century Homes
Soliciting public input has been a major component of the Golden Valley Planning Commission’s consideration of ADUs.
The survey was active from May 25–July 2, 2022, was limited to one response per IP address, and had 307 responses. Click the link below for the full report on the survey results.
The City's Planning Commission held an informal public hearing as part of their regular meeting Mon, Oct 10, 2022. Public comments were accepted at this hearing and written comments were accepted using the new Golden Valley Speaks tool. Read the comments here.