Skip to main content

Accessory Dwelling Units

Marni Leikin in front of her Montpelier home. She built a one-bedroom ADU above the carriage barn in her backyard (see background).
 Marni Leikin and her one-bedroom ADU above the carriage barn in her backyard. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur. 

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a smaller, independent dwelling unit that is located on the same lot as an existing single-family home. Vermont’s law on equal treatment of housing and town bylaws requires municipalities to allow homeowners to add one ADU to their house as a permitted use as long as certain conditions are met.

The new VHIP-ADU program is a low-barrier way for Vermont homeowners to help solve the housing crisis one unit at a time. This program offers grants of up to $50,000 that can be used for expenses related to creating an accessory dwelling unit.

Vermont Housing Improvement Program (VHIP) is now accepting applications. This program offers grants up to $50,000 per unit for repairs needed to bring vacant rental units up to Vermont Rental Housing Health Code guidelines, add new units to an existing building, or create an accessory dwelling unit on an owner-occupied property. Application review and project oversight is conducted through the regional Homeownership Centers, listed below.

Program participants are required to provide a 20% match for VHIP project grants and maintain HUD Fair Market Rent prices. Property owners who are rehabilitating existing units or creating a new unit that is not an ADU must work with Coordinated Entry Lead Organizations to identify suitable tenants exiting homelessness.

Connect with your Homeownership Center to learn more about the VHIP-ADU program.

ADU Frequently Asked Questions

Additional ADU Resources

  • How-To Checklist for ADU's (PDF): This how-to checklist, developed by the Department of Housing and Community Development, outlines the considerations when developing and ADU so you can be sure you are moving through the process with confidence.
  • ADU Brochure for Homeowners (PDF): This tri-fold, developed by the Department of Housing and Community Development, provides a high-level overview of what an ADU is, the permitting process, and your responsibilities as a landlord.
  • Burlington City ADU Guide: The City of Burlington maintains a webpage dedicated to developing ADUs in the Burlington area. This page outlines changes to the ordinances surrounding ADU development and has helpful resources.
  • Brattleboro Area Affordable Housing (BAAH): BAAH provides technical assistance to homeowners in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls who want to add an apartment to their house. This organization has assisted in the creation of more than 50 new apartments.
  • HomeShare VermontThis link includes materials from a 2018 ADU workshop in Burlington co-sponsored by HomeShare Vermont, AARP-VT, and the Heineberg Community Senior Center.
  • Mad River Valley Housing Coalition (MRVHC): Serving the towns of Fayston, Warren, Waitsfield, Moretown, and Duxbury, MRVHC published a Guide to Creating & Renting Accessory Apartments in the Mad River Valley.
  • New Hampshire Housing: Publishes ADU guidebooks for homeowners and municipalities for residents of that state that includes many helpful ideas for design, construction, and budgeting as well as resources. Note that the statutes and regulations cited are not applicable in Vermont.
  • Vermont Natural Resource Council: This webpage includes a Community Planning Toolbox for persons interested in developing an ADU.
  • Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA): VSHA was awarded funds in 2019 to develop a two-year ADU Pilot (ADUP) program in Montpelier. "ADUP aims to assist with the building and initial leasing of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), including help with pre-construction design and securing of finances, permitting and compliance, contractor procurement and project management, and finally, tenant selection and lease up procedures."

Related Links

NoteLegislation enacted in 2020 made substantial changes to Vermont's planning and development law, including changes affecting how municipalities regulate ADU's. A helpful checklist and updated ADU brochure for homeowners interested in developing an ADU are included in the resources below.