Accessory Dwelling Unit Guide

Welcome to the world of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU)

HouseIn October of 2021, a new Annapolis City law took effect that permits homeowners to build “granny flats,” also known as backyard homes, tiny homes, secondary units, garage apartments, and the name we will use in this brochure: Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs. 

In passing its recent ADU law, Annapolis joins a growing list of communities across the country looking for both sensible and creative ways to provide more housing options. ADUs may be used for a variety of purposes: on-site housing for an elderly relative, an apartment for a grown child living at home, or a rental unit to generate extra income. The planning and building process can be complicated. For that reason the City of Annapolis Department of Planning and Zoning has created this informational pamphlet to answer preliminary questions and show the steps the City requires to design and build an ADU. 

In Annapolis, there are architects, builders, and planners ready to help you at every stage. This information does not replace such services, but we hope to provide helpful information to get you started on your journey. Since every ADU is unique, there are important questions that can’t be answered in a one-size-fits-all pamphlet. This guide is not a substitute for the required review by City agencies. All questions should be directed to the Annapolis Department of Planning and Zoning. 

Good luck designing and building your ADU! 

Annapolis City Code: "an accessory building, or portion of a building, designed or used exclusively for residential occupancy that is located in a single family dwelling or on the same lot and is subject to the use standards in section 21.64.010 of the Annapolis City Zoning Code and the bulk regulations for buildings accessory to single family dwellings."

Why are ADUs important?

  • ADUs provide new housing options while maintaining the character of the City.
  • ADUs are often priced more moderately than other housing options.
  • ADUs help young and old and people with disabilities stay in the City while their needs change.
  • ADUs can increase revenue for homeowners through rental income and for the City through tax revenue generated when value is added to a home
  • ADUs can decrease isolation and depression in older adults by allowing them to remain in the city close to family and friends.

rulerI’d love to add an ADU. What’s next?


  1. Take photos of your lot
  2. Make a sketch
  3. Bring your information and a site plan to a pre-development meeting with the Department of Planning and Zoning


  1. Begin preliminary design and determine financing
  2. Complete construction drawings
  3. Submit a special exception application to the Department of Planning and Zoning, if applicable (based on your zoning district)
  4. Submit a building permit application to the Department of Planning and Zoning
  5. Revise drawings based on comments received from the Department of Planning and Zoning.
  6. Department of Planning and Zoning issues building permit
  7. Obtain bids from qualified contractors


  1. Select a contractor
  2. Begin construction
  3. Schedule building inspections with the Department of Planning and Zoning
  4. Receive Certificate of Occupancy from the Department of Planning and Zoning
  5. ADU is done! You may now apply for a rental license if you wish to do a short-term or long-term rental

For more information, contact the City of Annapolis Department of Planning and Zoning: