Accessory Dwelling Units

provided by AARP

In November 2022, the Golden Valley City Council voted to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Golden Valley. An ADU is a self-contained residential unit that meets the requirements of the Minnesota State Building Code. ADUs are permanent installations that are legally part of a larger property that includes a standard single-family house.

ADUs can sometimes be referred to as carriage or coach houses, accessory apartments, backyard cottages, secondary dwelling units, granny flats, mother-in-law suites, second suites, or garden apartments. These units may be located inside the principal building on a lot, or may be located in a detached accessory building on the same parcel. ADUs are different from renting a room in your home since they come with their own kitchen and bathroom. They are also different from a twin home or duplex unit, due to the size of the ADU being smaller than the main home.

If you own your single-family home and it is your sole or primary residence, then you may be able to add an ADU to your property. Different properties will have their own considerations that impact feasible designs and locations. City staff is available to meet with you or your project team to help navigate zoning restrictions. See general ADU regulations below.

  • You cannot exceed the impervious surface and hard cover limits already in place for the R-1 and R-2 zoning districts.
  • All ADUs must meet the zoning code definition of a dwelling unit, providing secure and independent living facilities for purpose of sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation. 
  • ADUs must be a minimum of 250 square feet, and not exceed either 35 percent of the home’s livable floor area or 950 square feet, whichever is less.
  • Attached and internal ADUs which are part of the main home’s structure must meet the same setback, height, and other standards from the relevant zoning district.
  • Detached ADUs are only permitted on lots over 10,000 square feet, and are restricted to 12 feet in height from floor to top plate or highest horizontal component.
  • Detached ADUs must be located to the side or rear of the main home, and have a minimum setback of 10 feet from rear and side property lines.
    • At 10 feet from property lines, a conditional use permit (CUP) and review is required. However, if a detached ADU can meet the same setback requirements as for a principal structure, this CUP requirement is waived.

An ADU is a significant home project, and it pays to have a good plan. Residents may find some of the items below under “Additional Resources” helpful – especially the two publications from the Family Housing Fund, the Twin Cities ADU Guidebook and ADU Idea Book for Mid-Century Homes.