If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you know there’s a price to pay to live in Paradise. Real estate is some of the most expensive in the country – if not the world. The Hawaiians have always lived as multigenerational families, and they’ve come up with their own way to make more space.

While the rest of the country might call them Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), in Hawaii they’re called “Ohana Houses.” The word for ‘family’ in Hawaii is Ohana. And there on the islands, you won’t hear anybody refer to these backyard dwellings as ADUs.

A Simple Idea

An Accessory Dwelling Unit – or Ohana House – is a simple and old idea. It’s a second, small dwelling unit on the same property as your existing single-family house. Legally it’s the same property as your main house, so it can never be bought or sold separately.

Many homeowners use this as a way to accommodate a multigenerational family. It’s a way to help adult children who are starting their own families, or yes, a place for the previous generation, such as your mother-in-law. Some homeowners, however build these dwellings to generate rental income.

Growing in Popularity

No matter what you call them – and in some places they’re even known as “Granny Flats” – these dwellings are growing in popularity. This is especially the case now that zoning laws are being rethought and revised to accommodate for the changing way we want to use property that we own.

The argument is that tiny houses on wheels might be an option, but people want to be close to their families – or friends. The size is okay, but there’s far less pushback in general when it comes to ADUs than to tiny houses on wheels.

Cities such as Austin, Denver, and Seattle have seen an explosion in permit requests to build ADUs.

Design Best Practices

Given the small size of an Ohana House, ADU, Granny Flat – or whatever you choose to call it – you’ll want to pick out a design that compensates for the small footprint. Keep in mind that it often fits comfortably behind an existing home.

Designers recommend a “great room” approach, allowing you to have a living room, dining room, and a kitchen in a contiguous space. High ceilings in this area will make the space feel bigger than it is. Miracle Truss® designs are perfect for this approach. The clear span truss design does away with low, flat ceilings because there are no low-hanging rafters. You have significantly more usable interior space.

Check your local zoning regulations to see if you can put up an ADU. Then check out our growing collection of metal and steel residences built by customers. Miracle Truss® buildings offer a lifetime of low maintenance, affordability, and design options you just won’t find anyplace else.

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