DC Debuts Pre-Approved Plans for Accessory Dwelling Units

  • November 10th 2021

by Nena Perry-Brown

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Pre-approved ADU schematic, courtesy of Ileana Schinder Architecture. Click to enlarge.

Two years ago, architect Ileana Schinder shared insight with UrbanTurf about why so few detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) were being built in DC, and it largely came down to inefficiencies during the city review process. Now, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is offering a means to make the ADU approval process more efficient — in part, with a Schinder design.

On Tuesday, DCRA debuted a new platform to order building inspections on-demand, along with other updates to some of its services, including pre-approved plans for homeowner construction projects. These "pre-approved" plans have already been deemed to be code-compliant, which essentially cuts out that part of the review process.

Among those plans are a pair of one-bedroom ADUs.

Pre-approved ADU rendering, courtesy of Backyard Container. Click to enlarge.

The first is Backyard Container's 320 square-foot one-bedroom unit, a shipping container structure. Travis Price Architects is one of the partners in Backyard Container, and the plans for the one-bedroom unit cost $3,500.

The other pre-approved plan is a 416 square-foot one-bedroom unit designed by Schinder's firm, for which plans cost $4,000-$6,000 depending on how the unit is customized. 

In order to take advantage of the pre-approved plans, a homeowner would contact the architecture firm directly to get the plans and ensure that they work as-is for the proposed site. Minor modifications can be made to the plans, although this would add time to DCRA's approval process. The homeowner can then submit those plans through DCRA's permit wizard to start the permitting process. 

The subject site also has to meet zoning requirements for an ADU, and each homeowner would still have to secure a construction contractor and pay the costs of permitting, materials, construction, and inspections. These plans also only cover DCRA's approval process — there are still other agencies' approvals to worry about (e.g. DC Water, Pepco, the Department of Energy and the Environment, etc.).

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc-debuts-pre-approved-plans-for-accessory-dwelling-units/18936.

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