Additional Dwelling Units
The Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) pilot program allows owner occupants in the City of Boston to carve out space within their homes. They can create smaller, independent units, known as Additional Dwelling Units (ADUs). In 2019 the City of Boston scaled the ADU pilot program citywide and made it permanent. Boston Zoning Commission approved a citywide zoning text amendment. For more information on the pilot program, please read about the ongoing ADU program.
Early Adopter Cohort Pilot
During the summer of 2021, the Housing Innovation Lab in collaboration with the Department of Neighborhood Development, Boston Planning & Development Agency, and the Inspectional Services Department co-hosted a pilot program for homeowners in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, and Roslindale interested in turning existing detached exterior structures like carriage houses, accessory buildings and underutilized garages into livable space. As an initial step, we partnered with individual homeowners to better understand the barriers, gaps, and opportunities of transforming existing exterior structures to an ADU. This exploration will build the foundation for future citywide ADU programming and efforts across Boston.
Over the course of four months, participants met with representatives from the collaborating departments to, through a series of workshops, begin to prepare a set of materials necessary for seeking building permits with the Inspectional Services Department and requesting variances (if needed) from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
- We did not fast track or streamline the approval process for ADUs in existing exterior structures
- We did not waive or bypass existing regulations around building and fire code
- We did not offering financial assistance for the creation of this type of ADU
WHY WE DID THIS
There are many existing structures that are underutilized in our neighborhoods that could play a role in achieving some of our citywide goals to reduce carbon emissions, promote resilient infrastructure and foster the creation of new affordable housing opportunities. This pilot aimed to create a pathway to turn these structures into livable spaces that could provide:
- More housing opportunities that are affordable
- Additional income for homeowners to be able to age in place
- Preservation opportunities for historic structures
- Create and green reuse of existing structures
GOALThe goal of participating in this four month program was to gain the following:
- Better understanding of project feasibility
- Better understanding of zoning and variance process for small scale residential projects
- List of zoning variances needed for ADU project in existing structure
- Preliminary plans for renovation of existing exterior structure
- Budget for renovation of existing exterior structure
A Look Back at ADUs in Boston
Additional Dwelling Unit Toolkit
As part of this program, we developed an Additional Dwelling Unit Toolkit. The toolkit is a guide for homeowners who would like to build their own unit. We walk homeowners through the:
- financing, and
- construction processes.
Additional Dwelling Unit Loan Program
We also plan to offer limited financial support to homeowners looking to build an Additional Dwelling Unit. A zero-interest, deferred equity loan up to $50,000 will be available for eligible homeowners. The loan is through the Boston Home Center's Additional Dwelling Unit Loan Program.