Questions about accessory dwelling units? CAR has answers

by Emily Mack

In May of last year, the city began implementing a pilot program to bring Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) into compliance — but many real estate professionals still have questions. In Chicago, coach houses and conversion units (like attics or basements, constructed inside the existing principal residence) are both potential ADUs. But the process of declaring an ADU comes down to the details of residential zoning. That’s why the Chicago Association of REALTORS® (CAR) has answered a series of frequently asked zoning questions. “It is crucial you and your clients are mindful of zoning use restrictions when purchasing, renovating or developing real estate. Zoning violations are subject to large fines and legal action,” their website states.

In Chicago in particular, a large share of zoning, including ADU zoning, falls under the residential district. From there, the CAR site lists the initial steps for filing residential zoning applications. Whether you are looking for an opinion request or requesting zoning certification, variation or map amendments, the steps are laid out.

When it comes to zoning ADUs, the city maintains several provisions. Among them, the primary structure of the ADU residence must be at least 20 years old. Additionally, Chicago’s ADU Ordinance determines five pre-approved pilot zones where ADUs can be approved without any re-zoning or variance requests: North, Northwest, West, South and Southeast. If the residence does not fall into the defined pilot zones, homeowners looking to bring their ADU into compliance will need to file for zoning variation.

In general, the release from CAR refreshes the association’s initial stance in support of ADUs: a form of housing which they believe will encourage new construction. A fuller summary of CAR’s position on the ADU matter is available here.

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