At least 42% of people over the age of 65 live alone. Many seniors enjoy this freedom. After all, they can come and go as they please and decide how to spend their time.
But, without plenty of meaningful social relationships, that independence can turn into loneliness. Whether you have aging parents or an in-law who lives alone, it’s normal to worry about their happiness, health, and safety.
The good news is, a backyard ADU can ease your worries and give your loved ones the independence they deserve.
We’ve collected some of the best ADU floor plans below. Read on to learn more about these small backyard homes and find a floor plan that suits your home, lifestyle, and the needs of your family.
What Is an ADU?
ADU stands for accessory dwelling unit. It’s a secondary home or apartment that sits on the same lot as an existing house. To count as a separate living space, an ADU has to have its own bathroom, kitchen, and living space.
They’re also called by other names like granny flat, mother-in-law suite, carriage house, backyard cottage, or even a mini house for inlaws.
These small homes provide a private and independent living arrangement for aging parents, in-laws, and adult children. You can even rent these spaces out to tenants, just like you’d rent an apartment. If you live in a popular tourist area, they’re also great for vacation rentals.
Types of ADU Floor Plans: The Four Main Options
There are four different types of ADU floor plans. There are pros and cons with each one.
- Interior Conversion – a basement, attic, or wing of the house that’s converted into a complete apartment that offers close contact
- Detached ADU – a freestanding home that offers the most privacy, but it’s the most expensive to build
- Attached ADU – an attached addition with its own entrance, but still shares a wall and takes up yard space
- Garage Conversion – a garage converted into an apartment or an addition added above it, but sacrifices some garage space
Think about your budget and the pros and cons of each floor plan to narrow down your options.
Questions to Answer Before Browsing ADU Floor Plans
Before you start looking for floor plans, you need to answer some basic questions. This will help narrow the focus of your search. If you know your intentions before you start, you’ll be happier with the results.
1. Who Are You Building the Space For?
Think about the needs of the person who will live there. If you’re making space for an aging parent, you might choose a one-story floor plan that’s ADA compliant. That includes things like wider doorways, lower countertops, and a ramp outside.
If you’re trying to get higher rental income, you might opt for higher-end appliances or a dedicated office space.
2. How Much Space Do You Have to Work With?
The size of your lot will determine your floor plan options. If you have a large backyard, you can spring for a detached ADU. If you have a small yard, an attached suite or a garage conversion might work better.
3. What Level of Separation Do You Want?
If you have an aging parent who needs some care, you might prefer an interior conversion suite. If your in-laws don’t need any assistance, a standalone home would give them privacy and independence. If you’d like to use it as rental property at some point, a detached ADU is the best option.
A Detached House with Lots of Natural Light
This standalone shotgun-style house has a simple rectangular design. It would look great with a modern or mid-century style home.
Its angled roof allows for additional windows that let in plenty of natural light. This small house has less than 400 square feet, so it has a relatively small footprint.
Despite its small size, it has a dedicated bedroom area tucked at the back. In the front, it features an open concept kitchen and living space. Since it’s all on one level, the design lends itself well to any ADA compliance needs.
A Spacious 2-Car Garage Carriage House
If you already have a detached garage on your property, consider getting more bang for your buck with this carriage house. It boasts a 2-car garage and a 2-bedroom apartment above. You won’t lose any square footage in your yard since this ADU is combined with a garage.
It has a separate entry for the garage and the upstairs apartment. That will come in handy whether or not you decide to rent out one of the garage stalls.
This 700 square foot apartment offers enough space for your in-laws, a young family, or a young couple. It has a master bedroom as well as a second bedroom that they could use as an office. It even has a balcony on the front to enjoy the outdoors.
A Cozy Multi-Level Detached Carriage House
This creative ADU layout features a one stall garage with living space above and beside it. To the side, there’s an entrance to the kitchen and living room. Above the garage stall, you’ll find a bedroom and a full bathroom.
At over 500 square feet, this small detached house truly looks like a room of one’s own. It’s great for a single person or your mother-in-law. Plus, they’ll have their very own garage stall.
This cozy home combines the natural look of a woodsy cabin with the sophistication of a modern home. This charming home features a balcony off the bedroom to enjoy fresh air in the mornings.
A Standalone Country Farmhouse with a Porch
This welcoming country house is perfect for enjoying some time outside. It offers a large front porch with enough room for a porch swing and chairs. Its large picture windows let in plenty of natural light.
On the first floor of this 700 square foot house you’ll find a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. There’s another porch on the side of the house off the bedroom. On the second floor, there’s a larger bedroom with vaulted ceilings and a walk-in closet.
This house would look at home on the property of an existing farmhouse. Plus, with its ample porch space, there’s plenty of room to enjoy some fresh air. But, since there’s a second story, it might not be the best option if your tenant has mobility issues.
A Modern Home with a Garden Guest Wing
This creative design adds a tranquil guest house or in-law suite to an existing modern home. The home and guest wing are separated by a small outdoor walkway. This is a great floor plan for an older parent since there’s easy access between the main and guest house.
The guest house features large sliding glass doors that open onto a garden. Since there aren’t any windows on the sides of the house that face the street, the tenant will enjoy a peaceful living space.
Floor to ceiling frosted glass doors separate the bedroom from the kitchen and dining area. For more air flow, you can slide these open to enjoy a nice breeze.
A Beachy Backyard Bungalow with 360-Degree Views
If you have beach front property or you live in a beach town, this bungalow is a great way to get rental income. This 500 square foot house has a small, but mighty footprint.
The first floor has a full-sized kitchen, a bathroom, and a small living area. On the second floor, there’s a loft with ladder access. It can hold a queen-sized bed and has a closet.
The wraparound porch is the real star of this house. There’s plenty of room for chairs so your guests can relax and enjoy the sound of the waves. There’s even a ceiling fan on the porch to enjoy cool breezes.
Whether you’re looking to add a vacation rental or a fun place for friends to stay, this ADU floor plan makes the most of beachfront property.
A Three-Story Home with a Lower-Level In-Law Suite
This unique layout takes a large three story home and breaks it into two separate living spaces. There’s a first floor entry to the lower-level in-law suite. It’s complete with a living area, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.
The second and third floor make up the main house. A modern wrought iron staircase leads to the home’s main entrance.
The second floor of the home (the first floor of the main house) has space for a guest bedroom and an office. That’s in addition to the kitchen and living areas. The third floor is home to a large master bedroom and bathroom.
If you currently live in a split-level or two story house, you could convert the lower area into an in-law suite. You’ll still get the privacy you’re looking for without the added expense of building a new structure.
Start Planning Your In-Law Suite Today
Whether you need a place for your active in-laws, your aging parents, or renters, there are ADU floor plans to match.
No matter which floor plan you choose, friends and family will appreciate the extra living space when they visit. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing there’s a space for aging loved ones when the time comes.
If you’re looking for more ways to make your home work for you, browse our articles on home decor.