Rehabilitating existing buildings isn’t much faster. A recent project to renovate a six-unit apartment building took 15 months from start to finish (I was the architect). It seems paradoxical that Dayton could have so many vacant homes and apartment buildings and still have a supply problem, but our vacant housing is typically in disrepair. The six-unit had to be fully gutted, required extensive structural repairs, a new roof, and all the mechanical systems were replaced. Homes and apartments can’t be renovated profitably for resale or often for rent in many Dayton neighborhoods, leaving the task of renovation to intrepid homeowners and do-it-yourselfers. Neighborhoods where appraisals do support extensive renovations, like some of our historic districts, have dwindling numbers of fixer-upper candidates. Renovations aren’t answer to the housing shortage, at least in the short term.
What may be able to fill the gap is the ADU. ADU stands for accessory dwelling unit, which is a secondary home or apartment constructed on an existing residential property. Typically these are small standalone buildings sited behind the existing house. ADUs are often limited by the municipality to a fixed maximum square footage, or to a percentage of the size of the existing house. The ADU has its own kitchen and bathroom as any other apartment, and as many bedrooms as comfortably fit in the limited area.