Arkansas Accessory Dwelling Unit | Ultimate Guide

We can all agree that finding housing is not easy, especially if we are trying to help someone else! If you are tired of looking at houses that are above your budget, we may have a solution for you. Accessory dwelling units can give a housing solution without blowing out the budget. More importantly, it can give the feeling of independence without the responsibility of maintaining a large property. 

In this blog, we will take a look at how we can make an ADU fit the needs you have all while complying with the requirements of Arkansas.

What Is An Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, is a secondary housing unit on a single-family residential lot that is separate from the main house. An ADU is a fully functional living space that typically includes a bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette, and living area. ADUs are intended to provide additional housing options, promote affordability, and make more efficient use of existing urban infrastructure. Other names given to accessory dwelling units are granny flats, in-law units, secondary suites, or backyard cottages, depending on the region.

In Arkansas, Can My ADU Be Attached To My House Or Does It Need To Be Detached?

In Arkansas, your ADU can be attached or detached from the primary residence. However, to be a true ADU, they need to be separate units, with their own utilities and living areas. This is why we think that it is best to have your ADU separated from the house. To accommodate this, we offer several styles of sheds and cabins that can be converted to an ADU. If you want to get started as quickly as possible, we would recommend that you check out our available inventory.

How Large Can My Accessory Dwelling Unit Be In Arkansas?

In Arkansas, Accessory dwelling units can be up to 50% of the size of the primary home, or 1200 sq. ft., whichever one is larger. If the primary residence is 1400 sq. ft., you can have up to a 1200 sq. ft. accessory dwelling on your property. If the home is 3000 sq. ft., you can add up to a 1500 sq. ft. unit. 

Overall, 600 to 1000 square feet make a nice-sized house for one or two people. If you are considering an ADU for yourself or someone that you love, this size is a good balance between functionality and low maintenance.

Can I have Multiple ADUS On My Arkansas Property?

No. Specifically in northwest Arkansas, you may only have one accessory dwelling area on your lot. Some areas around the country allow more than one, but most local governments restrict it to one unit per property to prevent multiple ADUs on a property that can’t handle it. To find the best answer we would recommend that you check your local zoning laws.

Are there limitations to Where Can I Place My Accessory Dwelling Unit In Arkansas?

Yes, there are certain restrictions as to where you can set your ADU if it is detached from your home. For example, in Washington County, Arkansas your ADU must be 20′ from the rear property line, 10′ from the side property lines, and 25′ from the front of the property line/ and road right of way. (You can find more information on the website for the ADU code for Washington County, AR.

However, there are other things that you may want to take into consideration about the location of your ADU. If your ADU is for a family member, you may want it close to your primary house. And desire to follow the guidelines of the minimum requirement for ADUs in your area. If you plan to use your ADU as a rental, you may want it further away. 

For a full list of requirements, read the ADU code for Washington County, AR. If you live outside of this area, check your local municipality to determine the restrictions that apply to you.

Can I Rent Out My ADU in Arkansas?

Yes. In many areas of Arkansas, you can rent out your accessory dwelling unit. In fact, ADUs can make excellent rental units for long-term rentals or even for short-term rentals like Airbnb or VRBO. This can bring in some extra income for you and your family. 

Check your local municipal codes to make sure that you are allowed to have an Airbnb or rental on your property. Some areas ban some short-term rentals, so Airbnb may not be an option, depending on where you live.

What Should I Consider When Building An ADU In Arkansas?

Whenever you are adding an addition or building to your property, there are multiple factors to consider. If you want to add an accessory dwelling unit to your property, here are several things to keep in mind as you go about the process.


When living near others, privacy can become a problem. Even if the people living in your accessory dwelling unit are family, it is still important to have privacy in your home. We recommend a few things to allow you to maintain a good level of privacy with an ADU on your property.

Your ADU should be detached. Even a small distance such as 10 feet can make a big difference. If possible, place your ADU in a way that the windows and doors are facing away from the primary house. 

Use barriers effectively. Build a privacy fence between the two living units to break the line of sight. Small trees and shrubbery can also give a barrier feel if placed correctly. Both of these options can give the feel of separate properties, even if they are very close in proximity.

Consider using separate driveways for the ADU and primary residence. Even if they connect before they reach the road, it is a good idea to have separate areas to park. Obviously, things such as placement and driveways must follow the local township regulations.


The size of your accessory dwelling unit can vary from 600 square feet to 1500, depending on the size of your primary residence and the size of the building that you want. However, 1500 square feet is the size of small to medium houses, making that a large building to add to your property. For one or two people, 600 to 1000 square feet is often optimal. At Ozark Premier Buildings, we build a cabin-style building that works well for this application and can be up to 640 square feet making for a lovely cottage style ADU.

Building Purpose

Many of the decisions made about your ADU are based on the building’s purpose. Who lives in the building will determine how large you build it and how much effort you will take to add privacy. Once you know who will live in it, you can decide on the other factors. If you would like to use it as an off-grid setup, check out our article on “51 Things You Need For Your Off-Grid Cabin”.

Accessory Costs

It is important to consider what features you are going to add to your building. If you are going to add high-end accessories to your kitchen or bathroom, the costs will be significantly higher than standard features.

Plumbing/Septic Needs

One of the most important considerations when adding a living space is the water and septic needs. You may be able to tie in the plumbing of your ADU with your primary house, or you may be required to add a separate septic system. This is dependent on what your septic system is rated for and where you live. It is cheaper and easier to tie into an existing system or public sewer. However, if you will have to add one to your property, read more information about the requirements for septic systems in Washington County, AR. Contact the Arkansas Department of Health to apply for a septic system permit.

Can A Portable Shed Or Portable Cabin Be Used As An ADU In Arkansas?

Yes, a portable shed or cabin is an excellent option as an excellent accessory dwelling unit. They are easy to install and can be ordered in several different sizes and styles. Portable buildings often are 500 to 750 square feet in size, giving you a comfortable living area.

Even if you purchase a portable shed or portable cabin, you will most likely need a permit to use it as an ADU, depending on where you live. For questions, contact the Washington County Planning Office to find out what you need for your situation.

What Portable Shed Is The Most Popular For ADUs In Arkansas?

We have found that the most popular ADU in Arkansas is our Cottage Shed. At Ozark Premier Buildings, our Cottage Sheds have a cozy feel and are built durably, designed to last for the time to come. The sizes most optimal for an ADU range from 14X32 to 16X40 and can be finished inside, including spray foam insulation and electrical. 

What Portable Cabin Is the Most Popular For ADUs In Arkansas?

Our Lofted Barn Cabin is the most popular cabin for those who are adding an accessory dwelling unit. The lofted ceiling gives a more open feeling while featuring a barn-style look and a built-in porch. This style of building is also very popular as the lofted space creates an extra sleeping or storage area. Because of these features, we believe the Lofted Barn Cabins make the ultimate ADU for your property.  

Take a look at our products to find which one fits your style, and ask for a free quote. For any questions, contact us, and we will be happy to talk to you! We are a family-operated business, and we are dedicated to providing our customers with the best service possible.

What Kind of Foundations Do ADUS need in Arkansas?

A concrete foundation is the post option for your ADU, especially if it is a full-time living space. This will provide maximum stability for your accessory dwelling unit. Additionally, concrete will last longer than other types of foundations and will prevent twisting from taking place as your building settles.

If your ADU will be used as guest quarters or a short-term rental or if you are looking to save a bit of money, a gravel foundation will also work well. If installed correctly, gravel provides the structure a portable building needs while providing good drainage.  Before installing either foundation, your sewer, water, and electrical hookups must be considered. For more in-depth insight on foundation installation, read the following article on Concrete Foundations installation or the one on Gravel Foundation Installation Guide.

Are ADUS Totally Customizable?

Yes, ADUs can be customized to fit your specific needs. As long as the state and local regulations are met, you can make your structure however you please. 

Ozark Premier Buildings has structures designed to be used as accessory dwelling units. We offer two types of portable cabins, the Standard cabin and the Lofted cabin, that can be customized to your liking. We also have Portable sheds that make excellent options for ADUs.

These structures are made in various sizes up to 16′ x 52’. If you have a specific size that you want, call or email us, and we will be happy to discuss it with you! 

All of our buildings come with an allotted amount of features, such as windows and doors. If you desire extra doors or windows, we can add them to give you a more open feeling. 

We add a porch to all of our Portable Cabins. This porch can be moved from the front to the side of the cabin. However, depending on how large you would like your porch to be, it will change the price of the overall cost of the building.    

If you are hoping for color choices, we have a wide range of colors to choose from. We want you to have colors that match well with your property without standing out like a sore thumb. 

If you are just looking for the shell of a cabin, we can provide you with that at an affordable price. We can add options for like lighting and electricity to the shell if you would like.

What Is The Largest Size of Available ADUs In Arkansas?

At Ozark Premier Buildings, the largest ADU available is 16′ x 52′, which gives 832 square feet.  We believe that this makes an optimal size for your ADU, giving enough roof for the basics, without the hassle of a full house. We build all of our quality structures up to the size of 16’ x 52’, so you can have the style you want in this size. There are other companies that may offer larger building styles. However, keep in mind in the case of an ADU bigger may not always be better as you need to keep the regulations in mind as you make your design process.

If you want something even larger than this, we also offer onsite builds.

What Is The Smallest Size Of Available ADU?

For most areas, the smallest size of ADU is regulated at 160 to 200 sq. ft., which is equivalent to a 10’ x 16’ or 12’x16′ building. However, if your ADU is going to be used as a living area and not a “bonus guest room,” we recommend using a structure that has at least 450 sq. ft., or 16’x 28’. We offer several sizes of buildings that fall in the range of 450 and 650 sq. ft.Check out our Quality Cabins that make excellent ADUs!

Can My Entire ADU Be Finished Before Purchase?

Yes. At Ozark Premier Buildings, we can provide fully finished ADUs for our customer.

When you place an order, we will build and finish your ADU. Once it is completed, it will be delivered to your property, where it is set on an already-prepared foundation. (For foundation ideas, read “The All-Inclusive Portable Cabin Foundation Guide”)

When your ADU is firmly grounded, the plumbing can be done, and the electrical connections will need to be made. From there, your ADU is ready for you to live in, rent out, or move your family member into!

At Ozark Premier Buildings, our priority is customer satisfaction. That is why we build top-quality buildings at affordable prices. We want to bring the people in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma a reasonable solutions for their backyard!

We have a wide range of products designed to cover any scenario you may find yourself in. If you are looking for any type of structure, we are happy to accommodate your needs!