Accessory Dwellings

Accessory Dwelling Units are one of Washoe County’s best kept secrets.  Our zoning code allows for a full 2nd unit including kitchen on all lot sizes of 12,000 or more, as long as certain conditions are met.   Reno and the Reno Sphere of Influence do not.

This is huge.

–        You can flex your large family home for a variety of future uses.

–        You can provide independent living quarter for boomerang kids.

–        You can provide independent living quarters for boomerang parents.

–        You can just build a rental unit.  The rental value in a prime school district like Roy Gomm where housing prices are high can’t be underestimated.

ADUs come in 2 flavors.  An attached ADU is physically part of the primary dwelling.  Access can be through the primary unit or independent of it.  The maximum size is of an attached ADU is 1000 SF, or 40% of the primary dwelling area, whichever is less.  NO SPECIAL APPROVALS are required for attached ADUs in zoning districts LDS2 (17,500 SF lot) or greater.  An Administrative Review is required on MDS (12,000 SF) lots and the maximum ADU size is 800 SF in that district

Detached ADUs all require Administrative Review.  The maximum size of a detached ADU is 1500 SF, or 50% of the SF of the primary dwelling, whichever is less.  Detached ADUs are allowed in LDS2 and greater zoning districts, and require Board of Adjustment approval in the MSD zone.

The Administrative Review process is pretty simple – sort of a streamlines Special Use Permit.  You file an application, neighbors within 500 feet are noticed and have 15 days to comment, and the administrator makes a ruling.  No public hearing is required unless the decision is appealed.  Most neighbors will prefer 2 discrete buildings over one monster house.

Reno allowed ADUs until a 6 month moratorium was imposed in 2005.  This moratorium keeps getting extended and there is no indication it will ever be lifted.  The last time I saw the issue come before the Planning Commission, all sorts of conditions and restrictions on renting out ADUs were being discuss.  Washoe County DOES NOT impose any rental restrictions on ADUs.

Some caveats.  Most HOAs do not allow ADUs, so check out your CCRs.  Reno regulations govern Washoe properties within their SOI.

4305 Canyon, and 5270 and 5070 Mayberry are all approved/approvable for ADUs.  Let me know if I can answer any questions on this value added development strategy.

Detached ADU #1 – 1000 SF

Detached ADU #2 – 1060 SF

4305 Canyon Drive w/ ADU



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