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What is a Granny Flat?

Designed for one or two persons, a granny flat is a self-contained living area usually located on the grounds of a single-family home. A granny flat can be detached, or it can be attached to the other dwelling. Commonly called a granny flat because families can accommodate aging parents, it is more appropriately called an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).


Many granny flats fall into the tiny house category, and the surge in interest in tiny house living has been a boon to older parents interested in this type of housing.


Some granny flats are miniature versions of full-sized housing units with complete kitchens. In others, kitchen facilities are limited, perhaps to a mini-fridge and microwave, which involve fewer safety issues than full kitchens.

The Granny Pod 

The newest wrinkle in the granny flat business is popularly called a granny pod. It offers high-tech monitoring capabilities so the inhabitant can be checked on via remote access. Other devices include a timed medication dispenser. The amenities that can be installed include a toilet that checks the temperature and does simple urinalysis.


Barriers to the growth of granny flats include municipal statutes, zoning laws, building restrictions, neighborhood covenants, and other regulations. 


In many cases, homeowners ignore or circumvent such rules, which is relatively easy when converting a garage or other existing structure but less so when building a new one.


New construction is also more expensive, and homeowners may find it challenging to get financing. Connecting utilities can also be costly. Some municipalities require that driveways and off-street parking be provided for the granny flat occupant, which can add to expenses or be entirely unfeasible for specific properties.

Overview of ADU Laws in Baltimore


In Baltimore, an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a secondary housing unit on a single-family residential lot. The development of ADUs is governed by state law and local ordinances. These regulations are established to address the growing need for affordable housing and to provide more housing options within existing neighborhoods.


Baltimore County has set forth specific requirements for ADUs. These include size limitations where a unit can be up to 1,200 square feet on lots greater than one acre, and up to 800 square feet on lots smaller than one acre, as part of the guidelines to maintain neighborhood livability.


Local jurisdictions within Maryland, including Baltimore, have autonomy to tailor ADU ordinances. However, they are required to conform to the overarching Maryland's ADU regulations, which encourage the creation of ADUs to meet diverse housing needs.


The permitting process is a critical step in establishing an ADU. Homeowners must secure necessary permits to ensure that all codes and safety standards are met. This includes adhering to building codes, zoning requirements, and potentially also historical preservation codes. Baltimore County ADU permitting.



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