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Moab Happenings Home

Southeast Utah
Real Estate Happenings

August 2017

Housing & Economic Development

Apartment and Accessory Dwelling Unit Construction
Grand County Building Department by Jeff Whitney, Chief Building Inspector and Flood Plain Administrator

Due, in great part, to the housing crunch in our area, we have seen an enormous interest in adding rentable (long- or short-term) spaces to our properties. This may take the form of constructing new living area or changing the use of a basement, garage, or other portion of your existing home. An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) could be created by constructing a separate building up to 1000 square feet. An apartment could be created in your home only by converting the existing space into a duplex.

This is a great way to make your property work for you and help alleviate the housing pickle we are in. The building department would like to help you in your efforts.

The first thing that you should know is that none of these efforts may be legally accomplished without first obtaining a building permit. In the case of constructing an ADU, the permitting process is almost always completed and a permit is obtained. However, in the case of the interior remodel, more often than not, the work gets done without a permit and, of course, no inspections of the work.

This is problematic on a number of fronts, not the least of which is that it is simply illegal. What is most concerning to the building department is that there are specific ways to separate spaces for different tenants. The separation of electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and fire rating help to make sure that one tenant is protected from the carelessness of the other.
We should also remember that the addition of new living units must include the paying of impact fees so that those people who are already here and on the sewer and water systems do not have to pay for the new impacts to those systems caused by the addition of new dwelling units.

This is also problematic when you decide to sell your home. A sale could be quickly lost when a potential buyer, financial assessor, or responsible realtor researches the property for building permits that have been issued and the accompanying inspection reports only to find spaces that were added illegally.

The county’s departments continually monitor the websites such as Air B&B and social media to find new rentals, whether long or short term, which have not been through the proper processes to create these units.

If you are considering adding a rentable space (or have done so without going through the approval process), please first contact the planning offices of Grand County or Moab City to determine what you can build in your zone and then contact the building department at 435-259-4134 to discuss how to build. We will do our best to assist you in your efforts. More information is available at

Grand County Utah

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