Skip Main Navigation
Skip to Content

Accessory Dwelling Unit

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), sometimes called an "in-law apartment" or "carriage house," is typically an additional housing unit within, or on the same lot as, a single-family home with entries and amenities that are separate from the primary residence. Please review the information below to see what's required for different types of ADUs before submitting your application.

Getting Started

Review the list of required documents and steps below before beginning the application process.  Once you are ready to apply, you will login to our permitting system, www.arvadapermits.org, enter the required information and upload PDF plans and related documents to your application.  

 

  eTRAKIT Online Application

 

Types of Accessory Dwelling Units

The City of Arvada has three categories for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) more details about these categories are listed below. If your address is in a Homeowner's Association (HOA) you must gain approval from the HOA in addition to permits and approvals from the City of Arvada. An approval and permit issued by the City of Arvada does not overrule HOA approval.

Type A

An Accessory Dwelling Unit which is detached from the principal dwelling.  It is considered lockable and rentable.

Type B

An Accessory Dwelling Unit with the following characteristics:

  • Located inside a single family dwelling, or
  • Attached to a single family dwelling
  • Whose occupants and the occupants of the principal dwelling do not live together as a single household unit and which is rented.
  • Typically have a separate access from the principal dwelling.
  • Which is locked off from the principal dwelling.

Both Type A and B Accessory Dwelling Units are considered a separate dwelling unit under the building code.  Fire separations and a separate HVAC system are required.

Type C

An Accessory Dwelling Unit with the following characteristics:

  • Located inside a single family dwelling, or
  • Attached to a single family dwelling.
  • Whose occupants and the occupants of the principal dwelling live together as a single household unit and which is neither rented nor locked off from the principal dwelling.

The Type C Accessory Dwelling Unit and principal dwelling shall be considered part of one dwelling unit under the building code. The HVAC system may be shared and fire separation requirements are treated differently.

Who Can Do the Work?

ADU type A and B permits are issued to Licensed Contractors with a type 1B or 2B license, ADU Type C can be issued to the homeowner or a contractor. If applying as the homeowner, you must own and live on premise and must be completing the work. To ensure your permit is issued in a timely manner please make sure to submit the correct documentation for all subcontractors. Permits without sub-contractors listed will be placed into a hold and will not be allowed to start construction. Please review contractor qualifications prior to submitting your application.

Zoning Requirements

While the City of Arvada allows ADUs in all residential zone districts, each zone district has different development standards such as the maximum lot coverage you are allowed, and where structures can be located on individual lots. Please use this link to find your zone district, and compare it to this table to find your development standards. In addition, while the City allows ADUs in all residential zone districts, some Home Owners Associations (HOAs) prohibit ADUs. If your home is part of an HOA, you will need HOA approval before the City can issue a permit.

Size restrictions for Type A and Type B ADUs are generally related to the size of your existing single-family residence. For single-family homes 1000 square feet or larger,  the maximum size for an ADU is 800 square feet OR 40% of the gross floor area of the existing home, which ever is smaller. Homes under 1000 square feet have a maximum ADU size of 400 square feet. The minimum size of an ADU is 200 square feet. Exemptions to the maximum ADU size are available if the ADU is located in a basement. ADUs are limited to studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units. 

Additional zoning requirements related to architectural compatibility, parking, landscaping, and a required deed restriction are available in Article 5 of the Land Development Code.  

Review Timelines

The City of Arvada is committed to providing plan reviews within our timelines, however, workload of the current development environment in the City of Arvada can affect these timelines. Complete submittals will help with keeping within this timeframe. If your application package is incomplete your project may not be accepted and can cause delay in approving your application.

Review timeline for ADU permits
Type Review Time Required
A 3-4 weeks
B 1-2 Weeks
C Counter Review (30-40 minutes) depending on permit demand

Required Submittal Documents

Permit applications that are submitted with complete information will be reviewed. If you have questions about items that are required please contact buildingpermits@arvada.org.