House hacking vs. ADUs

In the realm of real estate investment, two strategies have gained significant traction among homeowners and investors alike: house hacking and building accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Both approaches offer unique advantages and drawbacks that can greatly influence one's decision-making process. In this article, we will delve into the pros and cons of each strategy, presenting relevant statistics to help individuals make informed choices tailored to their financial goals and preferences.


House Hacking: Maximizing Income Through Shared Living

House hacking involves purchasing a property and renting out a portion of it while living in another part. This strategy can significantly offset living expenses, leading to potential long-term financial gains.



  1. Income Generation: House hacking enables homeowners to generate income by renting out a portion of their property. According to a report by Zillow, Nearly half (48%) of Gen Z buyers and 40% of millennial buyers who purchased a home in the past year say the opportunity to rent out the entire home for future rental income is very or extremely important to them, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report.
  2. Lower Living Costs: Sharing expenses with tenants can substantially reduce living costs. This is particularly beneficial in expensive housing markets, where rent can contribute significantly to one's monthly budget.
  3. Easier Management: Managing a single property is often less time-consuming than overseeing multiple units, simplifying property management for new investors.



  1. Privacy and Space: Living in close proximity to tenants might encroach on personal privacy and space.
  2. Tenant Challenges: Dealing with tenant issues, such as late payments or conflicts, can be stressful and time-consuming.
  3. Limited Scalability: The potential for scaling this strategy is somewhat constrained by the size of the property and local zoning regulations.

Building an ADU: Expanding Property Value Through Accessory Dwelling Units

An ADU, or accessory dwelling unit, is a separate living space built on the same property as the main residence. ADUs have gained popularity for their potential to boost property value and offer flexible living arrangements.



  1. Rental Income: ADUs provide a reliable stream of rental income. Data from Attom Solutions reveals that properties with ADUs tend to yield higher returns on investment compared to single-family homes.
  2. Increased Property Value: According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, homes with ADUs have a higher median sales price (35%) and sell faster than those without. This can lead to significant wealth accumulation over time.
  3. Flexibility: ADUs offer flexibility in usage, serving as a rental property, a guest suite, or even accommodation for aging parents. AARP reports that ADUs can be a valuable solution for multigenerational households.



  1. Construction Costs: Building an ADU can involve significant upfront costs. These expenses can include permits, design fees, construction materials, and labor. A study by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation indicates that construction costs for 37% of ADUs cost less than $100,000 to construct. 
  2. Regulatory Hurdles: Zoning and building regulations vary widely by location, and obtaining permits for an ADU can be complex and time-consuming.
  3. Property Management: Managing an additional dwelling unit requires more effort and time than managing a single-family home. This includes maintenance, tenant selection, and ongoing upkeep.


Comparing the Two Strategies: A Data-Driven Perspective

A comparison of house hacking and building ADUs requires a thorough consideration of their financial implications. According to a study by Roofstock, house hacking can reduce living expenses by up to 75%, significantly impacting homeowners' financial positions. Additionally, the report suggests that homeowners can accumulate savings of up to $71,000 over a five-year period by implementing a house hacking strategy.

On the other hand, building an ADU offers potential property value appreciation. A survey conducted by AARP found that 75% of homeowners with ADUs reported an increase in property value, averaging around 51%. Moreover, ADUs can provide substantial rental income, with a study by SmartAsset revealing that the median monthly rent for an ADU is $1,393.


Both house hacking and building ADUs present enticing opportunities for homeowners and investors to generate rental income and enhance property value. While house hacking offers immediate income and reduced living costs, ADUs contribute to long-term wealth accumulation and property appreciation. The decision ultimately hinges on individual goals, risk tolerance, and local market conditions. Regardless of the chosen strategy, a well-informed approach and diligent research are crucial for successful implementation and financial prosperity.

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