What is a backyard cottage?
As one homeowner describes it, a backyard cottage is a “mother-in-law unit with a little more breathing room.”
In other words, a backyard cottage is a small dwelling unit that is on the same lot as, but physically separate from, a single-family house. The owner must live in either the primary home or the backyard cottage. Backyard cottages became legal citywide on Dec. 4, 2009.
Since 1994, the city of Seattle has allowed accessory dwelling units that are inside, or attached to the main house. Backyard cottages (which are officially known as detached accessory dwelling units) are detached from the main house and typically found in either the backyard or above a garage.
“We designed everything to be small, but it’s designed for the whole family to be together.”
“It’s a nice thing to do on my property because now I have options; the space can be rented, or my mother can stay there when she comes to visit. And if I had to, I could move in and rent out the main house. It could be a financial lifeboat.”
“Lynn and I love our little cottage. It’s like a tree house...It gives us a warm, bright and separate space to live, while still staying close and being a part of the upbringing of our 15 month old godson. Having my godson, his family, and a family friend living in the big house, we find ourselves sharing at least one dinner a week.”
“Backyard cottages are one of the only ways to preserve this kind of quality of life...”