The Grand Rapids Planning Department is exploring proposing changes to zoning which would allow more Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and recommendations to increase the number of unrelated residents allowed in a household from 4 to 6.

Ana Teressa Sola at CNBC reported last week the results of a Zillow survey showing that these types of rule changes are quite popular. Almost 40% of all recent buyers approve of various types of “house hacking” to decrease costs and increase living spaces.    

While there are a variety of density-related issues to discuss, like impacts on parking, I’ve always thought the limit of 4 people per unit was low. There are many large houses in this city that can easily accommodate six or more people.

If it’s allowed for families, why not roommates? Heck, I get along better with some of my old tenants than I do with my own family. Just kidding. But you get the idea. 

ADUs seem like they will be a more complicated conversation. There will be lot size and structure limits to wade through and potential concerns from neighbors.

As a longtime landlord, I’m a fan of the idea. My house is built on a double lot and there is quite a bit of unused yard for extra buildings.

However, I can imagine that some of my neighbors might not like how a two-story she-shed/apartment combo with a chicken coop might change their view and quality of life.


So how will ADUs and capacity limits impact you? Here are a few thoughts:

Thinking about buying a house? I’m starting to sound like a broken record but inventory is still near all-time lows and interest rates are high. There are currently 499 single-family homes for sale in Kent County. That makes it trickier to find a house but not impossible.

Trying to sell a house? It’s still a seller’s market, but, as we’ve discussed regularly, there are many forces actively at work to increase inventory and bring down costs. The average is 18 days on the market for recent listings.

Trying to find an apartment for rent? These measures are being explored precisely for their ability to increase the number of available units and bring down housing costs. If approved, some relief may be in your future. Though, if you are not into sharing living spaces, these solutions may not work for you.

If you’d like to talk further or have questions about your particular circumstances, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Let me know what you think about ADUs and the 4 person rule. Do the limits make sense? Or is it time for an update?