Accessory Dwellings

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is an independent, residential living area that is on the same property as a larger, primary dwelling unit.

The term accessory describes the unit as secondary to the primary unit, in the same way a garage is of secondary importance to a home. These units are typically limited in size to help reduce impacts on neighbors and blend in with the surrounding homes.

Benefits of Accessory Dwelling Units

  • Provides supplemental income to homeowners
  • Offers an affordable housing option for smaller households
  • Provides seniors, especially those living alone, with another housing option and allows older owners to age in place
  • Provides a lower-cost housing for younger residents
  • Offers a quicker and easier way to boost housing production
  • Diversifies the range of housing types available in the City of Roanoke
Learn more about the benefits of ADUs from the City of Seattle:

Accessory Dwelling Unit Guidelines

Accessory Dwellings must meet the following guidelines:

  1. Located in a building that is accessory to, and is located on the same lot as a single-family detached dwelling
  2. Only one accessory apartment shall be permitted on any 1 lot
  3. An accessory building cannot be separately metered for utilities from the principal single-family detached dwelling
  4. The floor area of the accessory apartment cannot exceed 800 square feet 80% of the gross floor area of the principal residential use with which it is associated
  5. Notwithstanding the minimum lot area per dwelling unit specified in Table 36.2-312 of the Code of Ordinances, an accessory apartment cannot be considered as a dwelling unit for purposes of determining the minimum lot area per dwelling unit.
Reference Sec. 36.2-402 and Sec. 36.2-403 in the Code of Ordinances for more information

ADU Guide

Examples of Acceptable ADUs
Two Before and After Guides depicting Single Family Dwelling with one street frontage, one Accessory Dwelling adjacent, and one Accessory Dwelling Unit behind and Single Family Dwelling with two street frontages with Accessory Dwelling Unit closer to secondary street
Examples of Unacceptable ADUs
Guides depicting Single Family dwelling with one street frontage and ADU closer to the street and Single Family Dwelling with two street frontages with larger ADU

How Do I Obtain a Permit?

    1. Determine if your lot will meet the minimum requirements for an accessory structure
    2. Create a budget for your project
    3. Choose a design (An architect can assist you with designing your own plan)
    4. Prepare a site plan
    5. Submit an Accessory Structure Permit
    6. Submit a Certificate of Occupancy

Special Districts

Lots located in special districts may be subject to additional guidelines to obtain a permit.

Visit the City of Roanoke GIS website to find out if your property is in a Special District. Either search for your address or toggle each Special District in Layers. Visit each website to learn more information:

Contact Us

If you have questions or concerns email us at Planning@roanoke.va.gov

Permit/Zoning Questions: 540-853-1090
Project Assistance: 540-853-5550

ADU Guide

Acceptable ADU Examples

Acceptable ADU Examples

Two Before and After Guides depicting Single Family Dwelling with one street frontage, one Accessory Dwelling adjacent, and one Accessory Dwelling Unit behind and Single Family Dwelling with two street frontages with Accessory Dwelling Unit closer to secondary street

Unacceptable ADU Examples

Unacceptable ADU Examples

2D Guides depicting Single Family dwelling with one street frontage and ADU closer to the street and Single Family Dwelling with two street frontages with larger ADU
Learn More

Interested in Building an ADU?

Start by reading the City of Roanoke Code of Ordinances to learn more.
Learn More

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2022-09-27T21:02:36+00:00
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