Granny units or accessory dwelling units (ADU) are a hot-button issue in Sonoma County. With nearly 5,300 homes lost in last October’s wildfires, county and Santa Rosa legislators have lessened restrictions on the construction of new units and permitting of existing ones.

Last December the Santa Rosa city council waived fees for the construction of new units 750 square feet or smaller and reduced fees on those reaching a maximum of 1,200 square feet. They also incentivized homeowners with illegal units to step forward and properly permit them by waiving fines for those who voluntarily complied.

Earlier this month, Sonoma County got in the game with revised rules for properties in unincorporated areas that fell under their domain. Supervisors raised the maximum size of a granny unit from 1,000 to 1,200 square feet for properties of at least two-acres with well and septic. In addition, rural properties as small as one-acre can now get permits for one-bedroom “grannies” provided that they are no larger than 640 square feet and served by public sewers.

For prospective home buyers, a granny unit can be a big draw for multi-generation families looking for a place for grandma and gramps.  With the cost of nursing homes and assisted living facilities increasingly on the rise, having room for an aging parent can be an asset when considering a new home. Although rules are changing for vacation rentals, an bonus apartment can also provide a little extra income to help defray mortgage costs.

Curious to see some of the homes currently on the market with grandmother units? Click through our gallery above.