Accessory Dwelling Units

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an accessory dwelling unit?

An ADU is a separate and complete dwelling unit having its own kitchen, bathroom, and living space sharing the same lot as a primary dwelling unit. An ADU can be a detached ADU, such as a stand-alone cottage or it can be an attached ADU, which means that it exists with the primary structure, like a basement or attic apartment.

Why does Asheville permit ADUs?

ADUs have always been allowed in Asheville. They provide practical housing options for the elderly, empty nesters, young students, and new families, and can provide additional rental income for homeowners. ADUs can help to provide needed housing and do not require the extra expense of purchasing land, can be developed by converting existing structures, and do not usually require the extension of city infrastructure for the additional housing units.


Can I build one?

If you live in a residential zoning district, one ADU is allowed on each lot that contains or will contain a single-family home. Be sure there are no private restrictive covenants that disallow ADUs on your parcel, which may be recorded with the deed. The issuance of a permit does not eliminate the responsibility of a property owner to comply with applicable private covenant restrictions.


Do I need a permit?

Yes! You are required to get a permit through the Development Services Department before any work begins. We also recommend that you get a professional survey to be sure you comply with setback requirements and to understand the precise location of utilities (gas, sewer, water, etc).


I’m in a Historic District. Can I build an ADU?

Yes, ADUs are permitted in local historic districts. In addition to any other necessary permits, ADUs in historic districts require a Major Work Certificate of Appropriateness with review by the Historic Resources Commission (HRC). The design would be reviewed based on the guidelines set forth by the district, which may be more restrictive than the underlying zoning. Get to know your local historic district guidelines before developing ADU plans. Learn more or contact HRC staff by phone at 828-259-5638 or online at


What is the Process?

Step 1

Submit an application and building & site plans to the Development Services Department via the Development Portal. The application and plans will be reviewed for compliance with the applicable standards for ADU’s. You will be notified of any potential issues.

Step 2

Once plans are approved and a permit is issued, you may begin work. Regular inspections will be required as you complete the various phases of your project.




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