While accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and guest houses appear to be the same at first glance, they have a few major differences that can determine which one you decide to build on your property. 

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU)  is an independent residential unit located on the same property as a single-family home. This structure must have a complete kitchen, bathroom, living space, and separate entrance from the main house.

ADUs can be attached to the main house or detached. They’re designed for longer-term living vs. overnight or a few days.

a graphic showcasing the different types of ADUs: interior attached (basement or attic), attached ADU (addition), and detached ADU.

Related Content: What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

What is a Guest House?

A guest house is a detached structure like an ADU, but instead of offering a permanent residence, it’s meant to temporarily house guests. Guest houses can also be attached to the main house. Unlike an ADU, a guest house does not need to contain a kitchen or bathroom – although, most will typically include at least a quarter bath and kitchenette. Unlike an ADU, they don’t always have a private, separate entrance either. These also cannot legally be rented.

Is an Accessory Dwelling Unit the Same Thing as a Guest House?

As we’ve covered: nope! While an accessory dwelling unit and guest house share similarities in appearance, they’re designed for different purposes and subject to different rules. A guest house is designed for short overnight stays, for a variety of people. An ADU is intended to provide a more permanent housing option and functions as an independent dwelling.

Guest houses are better if…

  • You would use the phrases “staying” or “visiting” to describe the person(s) in the structure.
  • You have limited space in your main house and frequently host guests.
  • You are not looking for longer-term living options or age-in-place options.
  • The person(s) staying in the guest houses still have access to the main house.

Accessory dwelling units are better if…

  • You would use the phrases “living” or “renting” to describe the person(s) in the structure.
  • You’re exploring options for multi-generational living: such as grandparents or college-aged children.
  • You want to generate revenue through renting out a property.
  • The persons(s) living in the ADU don’t need access to the main house (or you don’t want them to have access at all).

On top of that, depending on how the building is defined, it can be subject to different rules and regulations. An ADU needs to meet certain requirements, set by your city. 

Related Content: Are ADUs Allowed in Minnesota?

ADU or Guest House: How to Choose

Choosing whether you add on an ADU or guest house comes down to your own needs. Do you often have guests over for the weekend who need a place to sleep and have their own space? Do you intend to rent the space? Do you need extra room for someone in your family permanently? An accessory dwelling unit is ideal for long-term use while a guest house is more practical for short-term purposes.

Related Content: Do ADUs Add Value to a Home?

Titus Contracting and Accessory Dwelling Units 

Considering adding an ADU to your property? There are a lot of factors in play: zoning requirements, building codes, form and function, budget, and timeline. Our expert home remodelers at Titus Contracting are your advocates throughout the entire design and remodeling process. We take pride in our work from start to finish, and at the end of the project, you’ll have your perfect ADU.

Call for a design consultation today at 952-746-7817 or contact us online for a project estimate.

Download Now: Discover ADUsADU eBook Cover Mockup 3D

Your Guide to Unlocking Your Home’s Potential

Love your home, but need more livable space? Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) may be your answer. These additions combine the best elements of apartment and tiny home living, to create independent spaces on your property.

Accessory dwelling units are perfect for:

  • Grandparents/parents who need their own space
  • College-age and young adult children living at home
  • Adding a fully rentable unit to your property, for extra revenue

Discover the power of ADUs with our free guide.

Get the Guide

Titus Contracting is a full-service remodeling company offering commercial and residential construction. We have an office in Burnsville, Minnesota and work throughout the Twin Cities.