If you’ve been toying with the idea of adding an accessory building to your Atlanta home, you might be wondering if it will add value once you decide to put your house on the market. The answer is not necessarily, especially factoring in the time and trouble it will consume, not to mention the hidden costs that often rear their ugly heads.

Permits and regulations

An accessory building is any type of structure not attached to your house. It could be a garage, storage unit, shed, pool house or similar-type structure — any type of unit that isn’t lived in.

In the city of Atlanta, if you want to add an accessory unit to your property, you’re required to obtain a building permit. Also, the proposed unit cannot

  • be taller than 20 feet
  • be larger than 30 percent of the total area of the main structure
  • take over more than one-third of the backyard

In addition to obtaining a building permit, which costs $5 for every $1,000 of the project, permits are also required for any electrical, plumbing or HVAC work on the project.

Project costs

Let’s assume you’re thinking about adding a detached garage. The average cost of building a garage in the Atlanta area is $21,565, according to HomeAdvisor. Most Atlanta homeowners spend between about $18,000 and $24,000. Seventeen cost profiles were taken into account to determine the figures.

A detached garage will, in most cases, cost more than an attached garage because you have to build four walls versus three. Plus, you’ll likely need to add a driveway. The materials you use will also play a role in the total cost of the project. Every feature you decide to include, whether it’s windows, accents, upgraded flooring, special doors or anything else, will increase the price.

Risk of detracting potential buyers

If you build a detached garage, you’ll add total square footage to your home. Because it’s not livable space, you risk the possibility that the addition is not as attractive to would-be buyers. Some people might prefer an attached garage for convenience and for staying out of the rain or other harsh weather elements while they’re going to and from their car.

Perhaps the biggest downfall of building an accessory building when you plan to sell in the near future is deterring potential buyers. While some people might appreciate the garage or woodshed you’ve built, others might have preferred having the yard space instead, ultimately considering it a “strike” against your house. This can be extremely dangerous when an increasing number of houses are hitting the market, favoring buyers.

And like cosmetic surgery gone bad, an accessory building might not turn out to be what it was intended to be – functionally or aesthetically.

If you have any questions about an existing accessory building or one you’re thinking about adding, talk to a real estate agent first. She can help you determine whether it’s worth the investment when it’s time to sell.

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