If you’re a longtime resident of Nashville, you’ve no doubt noticed an increase in the number of Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs), especially in some of our historic neighborhoods. DADUs—along with Attached Accessory Dwelling Units (AADUs), Owner Accessory Units (OAUs), and secondary apartment units—have “becme popular ways to add density … and provide extra income for homeowners” in Davidson County.

A typical DADU in Nashville is a two-story, multi-functional building with a garage on the lower level and a second floor with livable space—usually a studio or one bedroom apartment, or sometimes a home office. Done right, a DADU is both functional and aesthetically pleasing, and can provide lifestyle and/or financial benefits.

With all the above in mind, following are frequently asked questions about DADUs in Nashville and Davidson County at-large.


What is a DADU?

According to Nashville.gov, a detached accessory dwelling unit, (sometimes referred to as an “Accessory Dwelling, Detached”), is a detached dwelling separate from the principal structure.

Most importantly, the dwelling must be “clearly subordinate” in size, height, and purpose as compared to the principal structure. “It can be an independent structure or it can be a dwelling unit above a garage, or it can be attached to a workshop or other accessory structure on the same lot as the principal structure.” It may also be served by its own utility meter(s).

What is an accessory structure?

An accessory structure is one that is on the same plot of land as the principal structure (house), and the use of the structure is incidental to the home. Common examples of accessory structures are carports, detached garages, and storage sheds. A DADU is an example of an accessory structure. 

Why would a homeowner want a DADU?

It’s a great way to provide more livable space and enhance the value of the property.

What is the typical process for constructing a DADU in Nashville?

  1. Consider your needs and determine the primary function of the DADU.

  2. Review your zoning and zoning regulations.

  3. Determine your budget.

  4. Hire an experienced design professional and contractor.