Accessory Dwelling Units


Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are efficiency or 1-bedroom apartments located within or on the same property as a single-family, owner-occupied home. ADUs are often located above a garage, in a basement, or as a backyard cottage, and have been utilized widely in cities across the US and here in Burlington as a tool for older adults to remain in their homes as they age, to create housing for an elder or a dependent, and provide homeowners with a way to offset housing costs.



Burlington's Housing Action Plan

In 2015, City Council adopted the Housing Action Plan, which contained 22 strategies for building a more affordable, inclusive, livable, walkable, sustainable and vibrant Burlington. Among these strategies was a call for a review of Accessory Dwelling Units in the city, to "evaluate the consequences of incentivizing this kind of construction and establish clear protections that prevent abuse of this type of unit." As a result, the Community & Economic Development Office and Planning & Zoning Department collaborated on the preparation of a white paper to review current ADU creation, policies, and best practices and to offer a series of recommendations for policy and programs to support the creation of more ADUs throughout the city. 



ADU Recommendations & Status

The white paper includes a number of recommendations that the City of Burlington and area partners can advance to encourage the creation of ADUs. These recommendations include:

  • Clarify and provide consistency in permitting for ADUs

    • Permit ADU's through administrative review - referred to Planning Commission

    • Consider eliminating parking requirement - referred to Planning Commission

    • Ensure ADU's may be permitted with new single-family homes and accessory to single-family homes in all zoning districts- referred to Planning Commission

  • Non-regulatory efforts to reduce barriers

    • Develop a comprehensive ADU Guide - developed FAQ's below; additional resource development underway by CEDO & Planning Dept; HomeShareVT is spring 2019 recipient of Housing Innovation Fund grant from VHCB to provide technical assistance to HomeshareVT Members interested in creating an ADU

    • Create online resources for ADU's - underway

    • Survey single-family homeowners interested in developing an ADU - working with AARP to organize outreach and education efforts

    • Create an ADU Pilot Program - HomeShare Vermont will work with the City of Burlington's Community Economic Development Office (CEDO), using $75,000 in Housing Revenue Bond funds on a 3-year pilot program to facilitate development of accessory apartments to serve low-income and senior housing needs. Together, HomeShare and CEDO will develop an outreach and educational campaign, provide technical assistance to homeowners, develop standard designs for one-bedroom or efficiency apartments, and perform marketing, screening, and matching of prospective tenants with the homeowners. The pilot program is still under development but is modeled after a successful Apartments in Homes program in Brattleboro.

  • Reduce potential impacts and prevent abuse

    • Establish Design Guidelines - will be part of a comprehensive ADU Guide underway by CEDO & Planning Dept

    • Create a policy regarding ADU use for short-term rental (i.e. AirBnb, VRBO, etc) - policy will be referred to Planning Commission late spring/summer 2019


More info about ADUs in Burlington

Interested in the ADU White Paper or considering an ADU on your property? Check out these resources for more information: