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Kevin Ahern

By: Kevin Ahern on March 21st, 2024

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Legal and Zoning Considerations: Navigating ADU Regulations in Connecticut

Residential | Residential Remodeling

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a small living unit constructed on a lot with a larger primary home. ADUs have been slow to take off in Connecticut because of strict rules that prevented homeowners from building ADUs that met their needs. In recent years, changes in Connecticut law and a relaxation of the rules in many townships has lead to a boom of ADU construction amid a housing crisis. ADUs are a practical housing solution for multi-generational family groups living together on one property.

If you're considering building an ADU on your property, there are many things to know before you get started. The good news is that building an ADU is becoming easier as rules and laws change to become more permissive of ADU construction on residential properties in CT. Finding a skilled contractor with experience navigating the permitting and zoning process in Connecticut is important. Here's what to know about building an ADU. 

Rules Vary from One Township to the Next

Every township has its own rules for ADU construction. Anyone who decides to build an ADU on their property must find out the rules for ADU construction in their town. There are multiple ways that you can find out what's acceptable for ADU construction on your property:

  • Contact your town's Zoning Department. Your town's Zoning Department can give you the most up-to-date rules on ADUs in your area, so you can make planning decisions for your upcoming remodel. 
  • Search your Zoning Department's webpage. Your local Zoning Department may have their rules on their website. 
  • Look up your town's ADU regulations in the search engine of your choice. Often, simply typing the name of your town name and "ADU regulations" into a search engine will bring up rules as they appear on your Zoning Department's webpage. 

How the Rules and Laws Have Changed

Connecticut rules around ADUs were very restrictive for many years. Few people were able to build ADUs because many townships either would not allow them, or had very tight controls that prevented many people from choosing to build. In recent years, those rules and laws have relaxed significantly. 

While each township is different, permitted ADU sizes have grown generally larger, the location of the ADU is more flexible, and overall, rules about ADU construction have become more relaxed. This allows homeowners to do more with their ADUs and use their property to better suit their needs.

ADUs are quickly becoming a go-to property improvement for homeowners who would like to live with a senior relative or an adult child. For many, Connecticut's real estate is prohibitively expensive. In recent months, high mortgage rates have driven many people out of the housing market all together. ADUs are an excellent option for multi-generation family groups who would like to live in close proximity, help one another in day to day life, and save money at the same time. 

A 2021 Law Made ADUs Legal Statewide

HB 6107 from the 2021 legislative session made ADUs legal statewide. The law allows ADUs to be built as of right (without a zoning variance) or without a public hearing. Municipalities can opt out of the act's as-of-right ADU provision, but those that are opting out generally choose to do so because they would like to have their own ADU provisions in place. Around the state, HB 6107 has established a pathway for ADU construction. 

Want to Build An ADU? What to Do Next

While every construction project is unique, these are the typical steps for building an ADU. 

1. Contact your town Zoning Department to learn more about your town's ADU rules. Once you know the rules and laws in your town, you can decide if an ADU is right for your individual circumstance. 

2. Find a contractor to build your ADU. Finding the right CT builder for your home improvement project is key. Look for a builder with extensive experience building homes and ADUs. 

  • Vet each contractor thoroughly. Meet in person and ask questions as you discuss your home improvement. 
  • Check to ensure that the builder you select is properly licensed in Connecticut.
  • Read the contract carefully and don't sign unless you're comfortable with the terms. If you're having a hard time understanding something, never hesitate to ask. If you and the contractor can't come to an agreement on the terms, be ready to move on. 
  • Check references before signing a contract with a builder. 

Work with the contractor to create a design. Design build contractors are capable of designing an ADU without help from an architect. If you have special design needs or would like an added level of customer service, your contractor may refer you to an architect. 

Apply for the permit to build the ADU. In a typical ADU construction, the zoning department will want to speak to the taxpayer rather than the builder. Once you have a permit, you can proceed with the construction of the ADU. 

Find the Right Home Builder For Your ADU Construction

Finding the right home builder for your ADU construction is very important. To get started with your search, take a look at Litchfield Builder's free Guide to Choosing a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor. To find out more about how to build an ADU or what you need to know about how Connecticut ADU regulations affect your home improvement project, contact Litchfield Builders. We'll be happy to answer your questions and help you plan your upcoming ADU construction.  

How to Choose a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor


About Kevin Ahern

Kevin is the Co-Founder of Litchfield Builders, an award-winning, industry leader with a reputation for managing projects others shy away from. They are known for their high-quality work, customer service, and reliability and though still relatively small in size, Litchfield Builders now competes with some of the areas largest firms in both the residential and commercial arenas.