Utah cities are clearing the way for backyard homes

Jun 11, 2024, 1:00 PM

Utah backyard homes may become more abundant. (Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)...

Utah backyard homes may become more abundant. (Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

(Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Several cities along the Wasatch Front are reportedly loosening their restrictions on so-called backyard homes.

An article in Buildingsaltlake.com lists several cities that have recently changed regulations to make it more convenient for people to construct external accessory dwelling units or ADUs. But this change doesn’t mean people should just start digging a foundation.

Cate Klundt, the director of government affairs for the Utah Association of Realtors, said there is not one set of rules for ADUs. 

“We recommend going to your city directly to see what the rules and regulations are going to be where your home or your piece of property is. The regulations and the requirements vary widely [from] city to city,” said Klundt.  

Even when dealing with architects and contractors, she said it’s a good idea to talk to city officials first. 

Restrictions and limitations

Klundt said that cities often have different, specific restrictions on external ADUs.

Some yards may not have adequate room for an ADU to sit within the property line or accommodate parking requirements.

Hookup requirements are another variable to consider and discuss with the city before breaking ground. 

“Some require that you have different meters. Some require that you have different hookups altogether, [and] some don’t. It varies between whether or not it’s an internal accessory dwelling unit or an external,” said Klundt. 

Financial benefits

 The regulations can be quite confusing, so you may have not seen a lot of people build ADUs yet. But Klundt said that if home prices continue to stay high, people will view it as an attractive option. 

“One of the biggest costs when it comes to developing, particularly starter homes … is the land. The land is really, really expensive. Backyard units … you’re taking the cost of land out of the equation and then you’re just talking about the structure and the additional utilities. And so that can make it a lot more cost-effective than trying to build a smaller home somewhere else,” said Klundt.

Family benefits

Klundt says that these backyard homes often make a lot of sense for families. 

“People have children and family members, maybe aging parents, that need a place to live that is not as costly as it might be to rent an apartment or even to rent a single-family home. And so it can be a better alternative for them,” she said. 

Klundt also said that the family members staying in backyard homes can also help supplement the mortgage and other home expenses while saving for their own homes. 

Other states

In other states, the practice is already common. 

“In other states where it can be more difficult or more costly to build a basement. Like I’m thinking of Nevada for instance. They have some like really interesting rock that makes it very difficult to build basements … mothers-in-law and apartments are much more common,” said Klundt.

She said in Utah we usually have basement apartments, or sometimes, apartments over garages. 

Klundt thinks that people are leaning into ADUs as a solution because it doesn’t require new infrastructure to be built. 

Although it would put some additional burden on our infrastructure, Klundt said, “It’s still much less expensive than building new infrastructure.”


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


people celebrate the opening of the new facility in millcreek...

Eric Cabrera

New facility in Millcreek gives young adults a new beginning

Salt Lake County Youth Services opened a new facility. The new facility in Millcreek is the largest they have to date, with an additional 18 beds.

28 minutes ago

View of Salt Lake City pictured, governor is cracking down on denver sending immigrants to utah...

Aimee Cobabe

Utah governor’s office pushing back against Denver for bussing immigrants to Utah

Gov. Spencer Cox's office says that the City of Denver did not consult with them about sending immigrants to Utah.

1 hour ago

two participants at the National Veterans Golden Age Games are shown saluting...

Michael Martinez

Around 2,000 volunteers needed for National Veterans Golden Age Games

Up to 2,000 volunteers are needed for the National Veterans Golden Age Games. This is the first time the games have been held in Utah.

3 hours ago

A Biden-Harris campaign sign is seen among signs for other Utah Democratic Party candidates during ...

Eric Cabrera

Stealing campaign signs could get you a misdemeanor charge

Police say stealing campaign signs from your neighbor's lawn could cost you a misdemeanor, or even the right to vote.

9 hours ago

Tony Hawk is set to make an appearance at the Tony Hawk's Vert Alert skating competition....

Josuee Sanchez

Tony Hawk event sparking a desire to skate

Tony Hawk is visiting Utah for the Tony Hawk's Vert Alert skating competition, and it' sparking a desire for people to learn to skate.

10 hours ago

two people sit in the summer heat...

Adam Small

Salt Lake registers hottest daily overnight low temperature Friday

Salt Lake City registered its hottest overnight low temperature ever recorded on Friday, June 14.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Utah cities are clearing the way for backyard homes