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Thinking about building an ADU (Guest House)? Avoid these 3 missteps

Construction law is relevant to everyone. In response to shortages of affordable housing in cities across the U.S., some cities are looking for new ways to increase access to affordable housing. One solution that is gaining popularity is the option for homeowners to build accessory dwelling units on their property, which are attached or freestanding complete residences that can be rented out.

ADUs can be great options for elderly family members and individuals living on fixed incomes, as they are traditionally small units available for much less money than the primary residence. They can also provide a steady source of income for the homeowner. If you are thinking of building or renting out an ADU in Florida, there are some missteps you will want to be aware of so you can avoid them.

Florida construction law contains traps for the unwary. You need a guest house or mother -in law house on your property? Think it through and get legal advice before making an expensive mistake.

Misstep #1: Not knowing the lay of your land

It is crucial that you build an ADU on land that you know you own. Be sure you understand the boundaries in place, as well as any easements that may affect your property. You would also be wise to think about zoning laws, restrictions if you are part of a Homeowners' Association and other limitations that might prevent you from building an ADU or other structure on the property.  Find out well in advance whether there are still open permits pertaining to your real property on file with local county or municipality.  An unclosed permit may prevent you from obtaining a new permit for the guest house.

Misstep #2: Cutting construction corners

Whether you hire someone to build an ADU or you are going to build it yourself, you must be aware of the codes associated with these structures. Even though they are small, ADUs are still subject to ordinances and rules that specify elements like size, parking spaces and design requirements with which property owners must comply. 

Misstep #3: Not taking the landlord-tenant roles seriously

There are numerous responsibilities that come with renting out property, even if it's in your backyard and/or to a family member. Take the time to understand your legal obligations as a landlord in terms of establishing rent, providing certain services and maintaining a unit appropriately. 

These missteps could ultimately cause more legal issues than a homeowner or renter is prepared for. Thankfully, you can minimize complications or avoid them altogether by talking to an attorney before building anything or signing any agreements.

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