April 25, 2024

ADU Laws and Regulations in Tacoma - 2024

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Understanding ADU Regulations in Tacoma

In Tacoma, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are governed by a set of regulations crafted to streamline their approval and construction. The City Council of Tacoma adopted Amended Ordinance No. 28756, which came into effect on May 1, 2019, marking a significant shift toward more ADU-friendly policies.

The Tacoma Municipal Code Section 13.06.150 pertains specifically to ADUs, covering both attached and detached units. These are often referred to as "mother-in-law apartments" and can serve as additional living space on a property. The regulations detail the standards for size, location, and design that ensure ADUs integrate seamlessly into the surrounding community.

Permitted in various zoning districts across Tacoma, ADUs must comply with certain zoning regulations. Some key points include:

  • The property must be owner-occupied.
  • One ADU is permitted per lot.
  • ADUs cannot exceed a certain percentage of the primary residence's size.

For homeowners interested in constructing an ADU, the Tacoma municipal website offers a Design Guide to assist with understanding standards and the permit process. Additionally, an ADU Tip Sheet is provided, simplifying the complex process.

Navigating the ADU Code can be intricate, but the city aims to encourage the development of these units through the provided materials and more lenient regulations. This reflects a confident step toward addressing housing issues through diversification of residential offerings.

Eligibility and Zoning District Criteria in Tacoma

In Tacoma, the regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) define specific eligibility and zoning district requirements. Property owners considering the construction of an ADU must adhere to these to ensure legal compliance and approval.

ADU Zoning

Zoning District: ADUs are allowed in single-family and mixed-residential zoning districts including R-1, R-2, R-2SRD, and HMR-SRD Districts. This expansion permits Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs) in areas not previously covered except through special programs.

Design Review: While ADUs typically do not require extensive design reviews, compliance with existing neighborhood character and design guidelines is imperative.

Criteria for Eligibility

Property Requirements: Each site must meet minimum standards relating to lot size and layout to be considered eligible for ADU construction.

Owner Occupancy: In many cases, one of the units, either the primary or the ADU, must be owner-occupied to satisfy local ordinances. This requirement underlines the intent of ADUs to supplement rather than transform the nature of residential neighborhoods.

Compliance: All proposed ADUs must fully comply with the applicable sections of the Tacoma Municipal Code, including but not limited to Section 13.06.150 on Accessory Dwelling Units. This section addresses various other criteria such as aesthetics, utilities, and access, which must be taken into consideration for a property to be eligible.

ADU Permitting Process in Tacoma

In Tacoma, acquiring the necessary permits for an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is an essential step in the construction process. There are specific requirements and a set building permit process that applicants must navigate successfully.

Permit Requirements

The permit requirements for ADUs in Tacoma are structured to comply with local building standards and land use policies. Prior to permit issuance, applicants must ensure that their ADU design adheres to Tacoma Municipal Code requirements. Key prerequisites include:

  • Complying with Accessory Dwelling Units section 13.06.150
  • Adhering to Accessory Building Standards section 13.06.100.F
  • Observing General Restrictions under section 13.06.602
  • Meeting Electronic File Standards for submitted documents
  • Calculating Permit Fees, which are based on the project's valuation

Building Permit Process

To navigate the building permit process for an ADU in Tacoma, the following steps are typically involved:

  1. Pre-Application: Applicants may submit a pre-application inquiry to Tacoma's Planning and Development Services to discuss potential designs and compliance with the applicable regulations.
  2. Application Submission: Submit permit applications electronically through the Tacoma Permits portal, ensuring that plans adhere to the stipulated building code and zoning laws.
  3. Review Process: City staff thoroughly review the application to verify compliance with all ADU regulations, and applicants may be required to address any comments or requested changes before approval is granted.
  4. Approval and Issuance: Once the ADU permit application is found compliant, it receives approval, enabling the legal construction of the ADU while ensuring adherence to all relevant construction permit guidelines.

It is essential to follow these steps carefully to avoid delays and ensure that the ADU is constructed lawfully and safely.

ADU Design and Construction Guidelines in Tacoma

When planning to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Tacoma, specific guidelines on design and construction must be adhered to, ensuring that these structures meet both square footage and height restrictions, conform to design and aesthetic standards, and follow the appropriate building codes using approved materials.

Square Footage and Height Limits

In Tacoma, ADUs are restricted in size and height to maintain the character of residential neighborhoods. Detached ADUs must not exceed a certain square footage, which is determined by the lot size. Meanwhile, the height limits are designed to prevent ADUs from overshadowing principal dwellings or neighboring properties. For instance, a common limit is that ADUs should not be taller than the main house. It's essential to consult the local building codes for the specific numbers.

Design and Aesthetics

Tacoma's guidelines for ADU design ensure they blend into the existing neighborhood fabric. ADUs should reflect the design of the primary residence, including roof pitch, trim, and color schemes. Details such as window styles, lighting, and entryways are important for aesthetic compatibility. Backyard units also need to respect existing yard patterns and not significantly intrude on outdoor living spaces.

Materials and Building Codes

The selection of materials for an ADU in Tacoma is not just a matter of aesthetics but also compliance with building codes. ADUs must be built with materials that meet safety standards and are durable enough to withstand the local climate. To proceed with construction, obtaining a building permit is mandatory, which will require proof that the plans are in accordance with Tacoma's building codes. This includes structural integrity, utilities, and other construction elements, ensuring safe and lawful completion of the ADU.

Site and Location Considerations in Tacoma

When planning an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Tacoma, it is essential to understand the specific site and location regulations. These rules ensure that ADUs integrate into existing neighborhoods effectively while maintaining safety and accessibility standards.

Setbacks and Footprint

In Tacoma, setbacks for ADUs are crucial to ensure appropriate spacing from property lines. According to the City of Tacoma's ADU regulations, these dwellings must maintain certain distances from the primary residence and property boundaries, often differing for detached versus attached ADUs. The footprint of the ADU is also regulated, with the total square footage of accessory buildings on a property not to exceed a certain percentage of the lot size.

Utilities and Connections

Utility connections for ADUs must be planned carefully. The City of Tacoma mandates that ADUs must have access to utilities, either by connecting to existing services or by adding new connections, ensuring they meet utility standards. Safe and reliable access to water, sewer, electricity, and other necessary services supports both the primary and accessory dwelling’s functionality.

Parking and Accessibility

ADUs require careful consideration of parking. Tacoma has specific parking requirements for ADUs, which often include one additional off-street parking space. Accessibility is another key consideration—ADUs should be easily accessible for occupants while adhering to local regulations to ensure their integration does not impact neighborhood traffic or parking situations negatively.

Financial and Investment Aspects in Tacoma

When exploring the financial and investment aspects of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Tacoma, homeowners are primarily focused on the potential for affordable housing initiatives and the added benefit of rental income. Additionally, securing funding through various mortgage and loan products can propel an ADU project from concept to reality.

Affordable Housing and Rental Income

ADUs in Tacoma represent a innovative solution to affordable housing challenges, as they provide lower-cost residential options within existing neighborhoods. Homeowners can harness ADUs for rental income, making them an attractive investment. By renting out these units, homeowners can not only contribute to the affordability in the community but also benefit from a consistent income stream, which can help offset mortgage payments and other housing costs.

  • Rental Income Potential: Varies based on unit size and location.
  • Affordability Contribution: ADUs often rent at below-market rates, supporting affordable housing goals.

Mortgage and Loan Options

Financing an ADU project in Tacoma can be approached through various channels. Homeowners often utilize

Homeowner and Community Impact in Tacoma

The addition of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Tacoma has a tangible effect on homeowners and the fabric of communities. These impacts manifest mainly through the enhancement of property values and the contribution to neighborhood stability alongside urban housing development.

Increased Property Value

Homeowners who construct ADUs may see an increase in property value due to the added potential for revenue through renting these units. The inclusion of a secondary unit on a property can make it more attractive to potential buyers looking for versatile housing options or opportunities for a supplemental income stream.

  • Urban Housing Demand: As urban areas grow denser, the demand for more efficient and flexible housing solutions rises. ADUs have been recognized as a cost-effective method to meet this demand.
  • Rental Market Efficiency: ADUs can make the rental market more efficient by providing affordable options that are integrated into established neighborhoods.

Neighborhood Stability and Urban Housing

The integration of ADUs into residential neighborhoods can help stabilize communities by adding density without compromising the traditional character of existing neighborhoods. This form of residential development is seen as a measure to prevent urban sprawl and make better use of the city's land resources.

  • Urban Housing Options: Creating ADUs contributes to a diverse range of housing options within the urban housing market, catering to varying income levels.
  • Neighborhood Stability: A stable neighborhood often reflects a mix of housing types that can accommodate singles, small families, and multi-generational households, promoting long-term residency and community cohesion.

Frequently Asked Questions

When considering the development of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Tacoma, residents must comply with local regulations designed to manage size, design, parking, and other requirements. These FAQs provide essential information about ADU laws in Tacoma.

What is the maximum size allowed for an ADU in Tacoma?

The maximum size for an Accessory Dwelling Unit in Tacoma is determined by the City's regulations, which allow ADUs to be up to 1,000 square feet or not to exceed 85% of the primary residence's size, whichever is less.

Are there specific design guidelines for ADUs in Tacoma?

Yes, there are design guidelines in place for ADUs in Tacoma that include style, materials, and other aesthetic considerations to ensure compatibility with the neighborhood.

What are the parking requirements for ADUs in the City of Tacoma?

ADUs in the City of Tacoma typically require one off-street parking space, but there are exceptions in certain areas or situations where public transit is readily available.

How do Tacoma’s ADU regulations differ from Pierce County’s rules?

Tacoma’s ADU regulations have been tailored specifically to the city's development goals and may differ in terms of size, design, and owner-occupancy requirements compared to Pierce County’s regulations.

What are the owner-occupancy requirements for ADUs in Tacoma?

The owner-occupancy requirements stipulate that either the primary residence or the ADU must be occupied by the property owner.

Can I convert an existing structure into an ADU in Tacoma?

Yes, it is possible to convert an existing structure into an ADU in Tacoma, provided the structure meets the city’s zoning and building standards for the same.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not serve as legal, financial, or tax advice. Consult your own legal, financial, or tax advisor for matters mentioned here. The information on this site is general in nature. Any description of coverage is necessarily simplified. Whether a particular loss is covered depends on the specific facts and the provisions, exclusions and limits of the actual policy. Nothing on this site alters the terms or conditions of any of our policies. You should read the policy for a complete description of coverage. Coverage options, limits, discounts, deductibles and other features are subject to individuals meeting our underwriting criteria and state availability. Not all features available in all states. Discounts may not apply to all coverages. Steadily is not liable for any actions taken based on this information. If you believe any of this information may be inaccurate please contact us.

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