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Accessory Dwelling Unit Follow Up!

          The State of Rhode Island Senate and House has passed a bill for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) which has now been signed by the Governor!

          We have posted about ADU’s before as In-Law Apartments or “Granny Flats”. This new law is different. The Law permits an ADU in every town and house in the State of Rhode Island. The Owner must be a Rhode Island Resident but does not have to live in the house where the ADU is to be built. The people in the ADU no longer have to be related to the Homeowner. The building still needs to be conforming with the City or Town setbacks, egress and the requirements for utilities such as water and sewer. There is also a clause restricting short-term rentals so that there are not different people sleeping there day by day or week by week. (I am not an Attorney, so I advise that you do your own independent research to see the requirements that must be met in your town.)


          Let’s talk about the possibilities and types of ADUs. There a five basic types of ADUs that Calyx has built over the years as In-Law Apartments. The first is to make the ADU in the basement. The second is to convert an existing attached garage. The third is to convert an existing detached garage. The fourth is to construct an attached addition to the main house. There are many ways to do this. Right now, we are building an ADU in Burrillville. We are constructing a mudroom to be utilized as a common entrance and connect the ADU to the original house. The last option is to be a standalone building that is not connected to the house at all.


          The ADU can be used as a place for Mom and Dad to downsize and to help with the grandkids or to serve as an alternative to Assisted Living. It can be a place for children to come back as “bounce backs” between semesters, jobs or just a way to save money for a downpayment or because of a life event. It also opens the possibility for the home to become a generational asset that is passed down. The parents can move into the smaller ADU and the Children into the main house when the time comes. It can be a rental for College Students, Naval War College Students or Doctoral Students etc. Rhode Island is brimming with student life and the rental market is slim. In this circumstance, this gives you the opportunity to generate another stream of income.  


          One of the issues that was not addressed in the bill is how the design of the ADU fits with the character of the existing house and neighborhood. When we have an addition designed, we stress that the new work needs to look like it has always been a part of the house. This ensures continuity and shows a level of fabrication that our team is skilled in. 


Calyx can help you with identifying the local town issues, design and budgeting your ADU. Email us at to setup a complementary consultation.

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