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Accessory Dwelling Units

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The Town of Dedham and Livable Dedham have come together with AARP Massachusetts to discuss how accessory dwelling units (ADUs) could work in Dedham, how they are working in other communities, and what Dedham can do to help older residents who are interested in staying in their homes.


ADUs are a simple and old idea: having a second small dwelling right on the same grounds (or attached to ) your regular single-family house, such as:

  • An apartment over the garage;
  • A tiny house (on a foundation) in the backyard;
  • A basement or upper level apartment;
  • A garage conversion; or
  • An attached apartment.

While ADUs are an old idea, in the middle of the 20th century they fell out of favor. Now, they're back, and they have received many names, such as granny flats, in-law suits, laneway houses, and more. ADUs may be tiny houses, but tiny houses aren't always ADUs.

People create ADUs for a variety of reasons, but the most common goal is earning income through rent.

Having flexibility in housing is beneficial for several reasons, including environmental, lifestyle, and financial. Although many people buy houses and live in them for decades, their needs do change over time. Many houses are too big for 1- or 2- person households.

In Dedham, 41% of residents are projected to be age 55 or older by 2030. 71% of Dedham's older adults want to stay in Dedham as they age. We know that of the Dedham residents who want to stay in their homes as they age, 24% would need financial assistance to modify their homes to continue living in them.


The overarching goals of this discussion are:

  • Provide additional flexibility to homeowners;
  • Allow for options that may create supplemental revenue sources;
  • Allow aging in place on the property; and
  • Increase long-term rental housing opportunities while balancing potential impacts to existing neighborhoods.


For more information, please contact Planning Director, Jeremy Rosenberger, (781) 751-9241.