Laws
April 18, 2024

ADU Laws and Regulations in Aurora - 2024

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Overview of ADU Laws in Aurora

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Aurora, Colorado are governed by a specific set of regulations which reflect the city's commitment to offering flexible housing options to residents. The City of Aurora has adapted its zoning code to better accommodate ADUs, recognizing their potential to provide additional income, housing, and versatility for property owners.

ADUs are independent residential units that share the same lot as a primary residence. They can either be attached to the main house, such as a basement unit, or detached, like a backyard cottage. In 2018, notable changes to ADU regulations were made, aiming to streamline the process and encourage the development of these units.

Under the Aurora Unified Development Ordinance, there are certain use-specific standards for ADUs. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Zoning: ADUs are permissible in various residential zones subject to compliance with certain conditions.
  • Occupancy: Only one family group is usually allowed to reside in an ADU.
  • Size: Restrictions may apply to the size and expansion of the unit.
  • Location-Specific Regulations: The standards may vary based on the location within the municipality, particularly in areas of special concern like the Accident Potential Zone District.

The Aurora City Council regularly reviews and updates these ordinances to reflect the evolving housing needs of the city. Property owners within Aurora are expected to adhere to these regulations to ensure their ADU projects align with the municipal requirements. For more detailed information, one can review the dedicated sections of the Aurora Unified Development Ordinance tailored to residential and accessory uses.

Zoning Requirements for ADUs in Aurora

Aurora's zoning requirements for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are explicit, affecting the permissible locations, lot specifications, and placement within a property.

Applicable Zoning Districts

In Aurora, ADUs are subject to specific zoning districts regulations. While the Unified Development Ordinance details the exact districts, it is important to note that not all zones permit ADUs. Property owners must verify that their land is within a zone that allows for the construction or addition of an ADU.

Lot Size and Density Regulations

Aurora's zoning regulations have clear guidelines on lot size and density for ADUs. These regulations help preserve the character of neighborhoods while accommodating growth. Owners must adhere to minimum lot sizes, which influence the ability to build ADUs, and density requirements, which determine the number of dwelling units allowed per acre.

Setbacks and Location Restrictions

Setbacks and location play a crucial role in where ADUs can be placed on a property. These restrictions ensure that ADUs do not encroach upon neighboring properties or affect the general appearance of the neighborhood. Specific distances from property lines and the main residence must be maintained, and these measurements are defined within the Building & Zoning Code of the city of Aurora.

ADU Design and Size Standards in Aurora

In Aurora, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are subject to specific regulations to maintain community aesthetics and functionality. Size and design standards are central to these regulations, ensuring ADUs blend in with existing neighborhoods while providing versatile living spaces.

Maximum Size Limitations

Aurora's ADU regulations stipulate clear maximum size limitations to ensure these structures are complementary to the primary dwelling. Here are the key points regarding size:

  • Detached ADUs cannot exceed 800 square feet or be taller than 20 feet.
  • Attached ADUs must be smaller than the main residence and are often limited by lot coverage ratios.

These limits are designed to keep ADUs as secondary to the primary structure, both in function and in form.

Design Compatibility

When it comes to design compatibility, Aurora places importance on the aesthetic integration of ADUs within their local neighborhoods. Here's what to remember:

  • Exterior finish materials must substantially match the primary dwelling.
  • Roof pitch and style should be complementary to surrounding structures.

This careful attention to design helps preserve neighborhood character and property values while accommodating the practical needs for ADUs.

Building and Safety Codes in Aurora

When constructing or modifying an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Aurora, the City of Aurora's Building Department ensures that building and safety codes are rigorously followed to maintain community standards and safety.

Inspections and Compliance

The Inspection process for ADUs in Aurora is conducted by the Department of Building Safety to assess compliance with various building regulations. To initiate this process, compliance with the 2021 International Residential Code (IRC) is essential, particularly for areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom facilities. The department oversees regular inspections during different stages of construction to verify that all aspects of the physical structure align with prescribed safety codes.

During the construction process, inspections are required at various stages to ensure compliance and safety. This includes a plans review during the pre-construction stage, an inspection for footings and foundation in the foundation stage, a review of structural integrity during framing, and a final inspection for overall safety and compliance before sign-off. Each of these checkpoints helps to guarantee that the construction meets necessary standards and regulations.

Health and Safety Requirements

The codes governing health and safety are stringent, with the IRC detailing minimum standards for various room types within an ADU. The kitchen must meet requirements for food preparation safety, and bedrooms must have proper egress windows. To ensure standards are met, the International Building Code (IBC) and its specific regulations are taken into account. Health and safety are paramount, and any deficiencies can lead to non-compliance, necessitating further inspection or adjustment in the construction approach.

Each area of the ADU must adhere to specific health and safety criteria:

  • Kitchen: Proper ventilation, electrical and plumbing codes
  • Bathroom: Adequate sanitation facilities, non-slip flooring, sufficient ventilation
  • Bedroom: Fire safety measures, smoke detectors, escape routes

Adherence to these codes promotes the well-being of residents and supports the commitment of the City of Aurora to maintain a safe and compliant living environment.

ADU Permitting Process in Aurora

When pursuing the development of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Aurora, property owners need to understand the specifics of the permitting process. Awareness of application requirements and anticipated timelines are pivotal for an effective and efficient approval process.

Permit Application Requirements

The first step in the permitting process for an ADU in Aurora is to submit a detailed application. Applicants must register the proposed ADU on their property to ensure adherence to local zoning laws. The application must include:

  • A completed ADU permit application form, available from Aurora's municipal website or the local zoning office.
  • A site plan showing the location of the main dwelling and the proposed ADU in relation to property boundaries.
  • Architectural drawings that detail the design, dimensions, and utilities for the ADU.
  • Proof of property ownership.
  • Necessary fee payment, as determined by the current fee schedule.

An important note to consider is that the proposed ADU must meet specific building codes and zoning requirements.

Review and Approval Timeline

Once an application is submitted, the review process begins. This phase is critical and can vary in length, but applicants should expect it to take several weeks. The timeline includes:

  1. Initial Review: City staff will conduct a preliminary review to identify any glaring omissions or issues with the application.
  2. Detailed Assessment: If the initial review is passed, a thorough assessment of the plans against local zoning and construction codes happens next.
  3. Notification of Deficiencies: Applicants will be notified of any deficiencies and will be given an opportunity to make amendments.
  4. Final Decision: After all requirements are met, a decision will be rendered.

The city endeavors to conduct these steps as swiftly as possible while also ensuring that all regulations are thoroughly upheld. Communication with the permitting office throughout the process can provide applicants with status updates and additional guidance.

Parking and Accessibility in Aurora

The city of Aurora provides specific regulations for off-street parking and ensures accessibility accommodations through strategic urban planning and adherence to ADA guidelines.

Off-Street Parking Regulations

In Aurora, off-street parking management is governed by rules that cater to the needs of residents and visitors alike. The Aurora Municipal Center Off-Street Parking Management outlines these rules and includes a 2024 Parking Violation Schedule for missteps. These regulations are particularly pertinent during city holidays, when payment is not required at on-street parking meters and non-safety related parking restrictions are not enforced.

Furthermore, specific districts such as the MU-N districts require conditional use approval for all accessory uses operating between midnight and 6:00 am, ensuring that traffic and parking do not interfere with neighborhood tranquility during these hours.

Transit and Accessibility

Public transit in Aurora complements the parking system by offering alternative means of travel that can alleviate parking congestion and improve overall traffic conditions. The City's commitment to accessibility in parking is evident as they honor Valid out-of-state disabled placards/license plates and also ensure that Colorado placards are recognized across all states. Explicit requirements are in place to make parking accessible for every individual. For instance, parking spaces must be wide enough, accompanied by access aisles, and maintain a stable surface, in accordance with ADA standards stated in Accessible Parking Spaces | ADA.gov.

Ownership and Use Conditions in Aurora

In Aurora, the ownership and use conditions for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are defined by specific requirements focusing on who may occupy these units and the terms under which they can be rented out.

Owner-Occupancy Requirements

Accessory Dwelling Units in Aurora must meet owner-occupancy requirements. This means that either the primary residence or the ADU must be occupied by the homeowner. These regulations are in place to ensure that the property remains under the careful watch of the owner, thereby upholding the standards of the neighborhood and the intent behind allowing ADUs.

Renting and Leasing Terms

When it comes to renting out an ADU, homeowners must adhere to the stipulations set by local codes. Aurora's regulations permit homeowners to lease either their primary residence or the ADU, but not both simultaneously. Leasing terms should align with the standards for residential lets in the area, ensuring that homeowners and tenants fully understand their rights and responsibilities.

Financial Considerations in Aurora

When developing an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Aurora, financial factors play a pivotal role. Builders and homeowners must account for various costs and consider the potential impact on property value, as well as explore diverse financing avenues for the construction process.

Cost Elements of ADU Development

Building an ADU in Aurora involves several cost components. First, construction materials and labor are significant expenses that fluctuate based on the ADU's size and design complexity. Water and sewer hook-up fees form another portion of the total cost, which can be substantial if the existing infrastructure needs upgrading. In addition, city permits and fees are mandatory and variable. One must not overlook these expenses:

  • Construction materials and labor
  • Utility connection charges (water and sewer)
  • Permits and city fees

Property Value Impact

The addition of an ADU can have a tangible effect on a property’s overall value. While an ADU can contribute positively by offering an additional living space or a potential source of rental income, market reactions can vary. Affordability concerns may also influence how ADUs are perceived value-wise. Specific numbers will differ, but homeowners can generally anticipate an increase in property values due to the expanded functionality of their property.

Financing Options for ADU Construction

For financing the construction of an ADU, homeowners have multiple options at their disposal. Traditional financing methods include home equity loans or lines of credit, reflecting a safe and customary route. For those seeking alternatives, specialized ADU construction loan programs might be accessible, providing tailored solutions catered to this specific type of development. Moreover, some individuals might qualify for local grants aimed at promoting affordability and housing availability.

  • Home equity loans or lines of credit
  • ADU-specific loan programs
  • Local grants for housing development

ADU Rental and Hosting Regulations in Aurora

When dealing with Accessory Dwelling Units in Aurora, homeowners must adhere to distinct regulations based on the duration of the rental: long-term or short-term.

Long-Term Rental Policies

Aurora's long-term rental policy mainly applies to rentals exceeding 30 days. Landlords are generally required to register their rental units with the city, and ensure they meet all building and safety codes. These regulations are designed to maintain the quality of housing and to ensure the tenants' rights are protected.

  • Registration: Mandatory for all long-term rental units.
  • Safety Compliance: Units must meet health and safety regulations.

Short-Term Rental Guidelines

Short-term rentals, like those listed on Airbnb or VRBO, are subject to more nuanced regulations. Hosts must be aware of the various rules that pertain to properties listed for shorter periods, often less than 30 days.

Key Points:

  • Licensing is typically required for short-term rental operation.
  • There may be exemptions or special considerations for certain types of rentals, like those in accessory dwelling units or secondary rentals.

Advertising & Hosting Details:

  • Listings must reflect accurate information about the rental unit.
  • Home occupation regulations may affect how ADUs can be used for short-term rentals.

Local Impact of ADUs in Aurora

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have become a notable solution in Aurora to the pressing housing shortage, providing an innovative approach to increasing the housing supply while offering various community advantages.

Effect on Housing Supply

The introduction of ADUs in Aurora, often referred to as mother-in-law apartments, granny flats, or secondary suites, has proven to be a strategic response to the housing crisis. By allowing homeowners to convert garages or basements or construct a separate unit on their property, Aurora is addressing the housing supply issue. In Colorado, cities like Denver and Colorado Springs on the Front Range have also adopted ADU regulations, which have added much-needed inventory to the Denver metro area's constricted housing market. Reports have shown that a majority of newly constructed ADUs are indeed contributing to the diversification of available housing options, hereby easing the housing supply constraints.

Community Benefits and Considerations

ADUs offer several community benefits that extend beyond expanding housing choices. They provide homeowners with the opportunity for additional rental income, which can help with mortgage payments and property upkeep, creating a positive economic ripple effect. In addition, ADUs can serve as viable living spaces for family members, such as offering a separate but proximate housing solution for aging relatives, which can strengthen family support systems. However, there remain important considerations for communities. The increase in density can strain local infrastructure, and there is an ongoing need to balance neighborhood character with new development. Despite these challenges, ADUs stand as a largely popular and pragmatic housing solution when executed with careful planning and stakeholder cooperation.

Published studies and local ordinances underscore the necessity to monitor ADU development closely, ensuring that they continue to provide benefits without overwhelming existing community resources or altering the neighborhood dynamics significantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

When exploring the potential of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Aurora, numerous regulations must be considered. This section addresses common inquiries about the size, zoning, design, parking, rental use, and permitting process for ADUs in Aurora.

What are the size and height restrictions for ADUs in Aurora?

In Aurora, ADUs have specific size and height limitations to ensure they fit within the character of the neighborhood. It's important to consult the local zoning code or speak with city planning officials for the most current restrictions.

What zoning districts in Aurora allow for the construction of accessory dwelling units?

Not all zoning districts may permit ADUs. Prospective builders should verify with the City of Aurora's zoning regulations to determine where ADUs are allowed.

Are there specific design or architectural guidelines for ADUs in Aurora?

The City of Aurora may have design and architectural guidelines to ensure that ADUs complement the existing community's aesthetic. Builders should review the ADU rules or contact the city's planning department for detailed requirements.

How does the City of Aurora regulate parking for properties with an ADU?

Parking requirements vary and may depend on the size and location of the ADU. It's essential for homeowners to understand Aurora's parking regulations to comply adequately with city requirements.

Can an ADU be used for rental purposes in Aurora, and are there any restrictions?

ADUs can often be used for rental purposes, offering owners a source of income. However, there may be restrictions around short-term rentals and tenant qualifications that need to be acknowledged.

What is the process for obtaining a permit to build an ADU in Aurora?

The permitting process involves submitting plans, ensuring compliance with local codes, and possibly engaging with neighbors. Prospective builders should start at the City of Aurora's website or with a planning official to navigate the permitting process.

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