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Recent Changes to Colorado Springs ADU Regulations

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ADU’s (additional dwelling units) come in all shapes, sizes, and functions. Generally speaking, any secondary housing unit is legally considered an ADU. Whether you want to call it your guest house, your granny flat, your casita, or your carriage unit, having an ADU on your property can be an excellent source of income, and will help to appreciate the value of your property.

ADU’s have two general configurations…

ADU’s have two general configurations that dictate which set of rules they must follow. As the name implies, an attached unit is one that is connected to the main single-family dwelling unit. Converted garages and basements fall into this category, as well as bump out guest houses, which are constructed as additions to the preexisting structure. Detached ADU’s are just that, detached from the main dwelling unit. Modular or pre-built guest houses, detached new construction, and converted detached garages are all good examples of this style of ADU.

Both styles of ADU have their benefits and best uses, and both have been allowed in much of Colorado Springs since 2003, but until recently both were relegated only to specific zoning districts that allow more than one family.

Pervasive need for affordable housing…

Because of the pervasive need for affordable housing, as well as the common familial need to provide housing for aging parents, dependent or disabled adult children, or other family members, the city of Colorado Springs recently changed its restrictive zoning laws to accommodate more non-traditional housing, such as ADU’s. From the Colorado Springs Office of Building and Development:

“Expanding the use of ADUs in single-family zoned neighborhoods will give property owners in all residential zone districts the same opportunity to provide accessible, and semi-independent, housing for family members or as an investment in the property.”

Ordinance changes loosened regulations…

The ordinance changes loosened regulations on where you can build an ADU. Detached ADU’s are allowed in two-family and multi-family zoning districts only, per the 2003 legislation, and this has not changed. Under the new ordinance, attached ADU’s can now be installed in single-family residential zoning districts, opening up a huge swath of Colorado Springs to potential ADU use.

But before you start building, there are a few things you should be aware of:


You are required to obtain a permit before you break ground on your ADU, and everything that goes along with it. This means having finance, planning, and development organized before you apply for approval from the city.

Owner Occupancy.

The new ordinance requires owner occupancy and primary residence in either the main dwelling unit or ADU in a single-family zoning district. Currently there is no owner occupancy requirement for ADU’s constructed in two-family and multi-family zoning districts.

Parking Allowance.

The ADU will need to have one off-street parking space designated for its occupant in order to be approved by the city.


Integrated (attached) units cannot propose design modifications to the exterior of the principal structure that indicates their presence from the front of the principal structure, including exterior staircase. Detached ADU’s cannot exceed 28 feet in height, and integrated ADU’s cannot exceed the height of the principal structure.


Make sure to check the zoning designation of your property, and always call 811 (Colorado Springs Code Enforcement) to have any gas, water, or electric lines that run through your yard marked as early as possible.

Because the changes to these regulations are still being assessed the city is continuing to take input from citizens. If you are looking for additional information, specific regulations, or conditions of approval, you can contact the Colorado Springs Department of Planning and Development at (719) 385-5905. If you just want to share your opinion of the changes, you can contact the city council at (719) 385-5986 or attend a city council meeting at 10 AM on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month.

For more information…

For more information about ADU regulations, or recommendations or advice regarding anything Real Estate, feel free to reach out to the knowledgeable professionals at Sellstate Alliance Realty to have your questions answered.

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