There are several reasons why. First, for context, it should be noted that prior to August 15, 2022, ADUs were not permitted by Wheat Ridge City Code. It is understood, however, that ADUs may exist in the community for one reason or another. For that reason, City Council approved a two-year grace period granting owners the right to apply to the City for approval of an ADU. For applications received PRIOR to August 15, 2024 there is increased flexibility. After August 15, 2024 there will be reduced flexibility and/or penalties.
There are two likely paths for existing ADUs and specific reasons to seek legal approval now:
- If there is evidence that the ADU is legally nonconforming, no building permit will be required, and a CO will be issued for a legal ADU. If an ADU of this kind does not apply for legal ADU status before August 15, 2024, then building codes will apply after this date. This is a simple process allowing existing legally nonconforming ADUs to gain legal status without any required permits or fees.
- If there is no evidence of an ADU being legally nonconforming, this is often indicative that work may have been completed at some point without a building permit. A courtesy inspection will be required and a building permit will likely be required to ensure that life safety and separation between the units exist if attached. If an ADU of this kind does not apply for legal ADU status before August 15, 2024, then these will be treated like illegal work; double permit fees will apply and the applicability of building codes may expand beyond life/safety considerations.
Other unique scenarios will have additional flexibility during grace period between now and August 15, 2024:
- If there are multiple existing ADUs on a property, then it may be possible for them all to remain if legal status is obtained prior to August 15, 2024.
- Regarding the owner occupancy requirement, the City acknowledges there may be some existing ADUs for which the property owner is not residing in the primary home or in the ADU. If owners submit an application to legalize the ADU prior to August 15, 2024, then it may be possible to approve a temporary waiver of the owner occupancy requirement; such waiver will not be offered after that date.