Building Department provides ADU update


By Rachel Whitehouse Oct. 31, 2023


It’s been almost one year since Winchester Town Meeting voted to adopt the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) bylaw. The bylaw allows for the creation of ADUs in order to one, provide Winchester property owners with an opportunity to age in place by creating an independent living space for persons over the age of 62 and two, provide a living space for persons with disabilities that will allow them to live independently and also qualify for financial assistance that depends on the presence of a separate entrance, a bathroom, and cooking facilities within their residence.


The bylaw allows interior, attached, and detached ADUs to be built in Winchester on single-family and two-family lots. 

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Since that November 2022 vote, the Winchester Building Department has received three ADU applications and approved two ADU building permits, according to Tom Kennedy, Winchester Building Commissioner and Zoning Enforcement Officer. According to Kennedy, the ADU permits were issued in June for a detached ADU on Hemingway Street, and in October for an interior ADU on Pine Street.


Winchester residency requirements require at least one person age 62+ and/or disabled to reside in either the ADU or the primary dwelling. This qualifying person does not have to be a family member. Winchester further requires that the property must be the primary residence of either the owner of the property or the beneficiary of the trust that owns the property. The property owner may rent out either the primary dwelling or the certified ADU as long as all Winchester Zoning Bylaws are met.


Further to the building permit, an initial ADU certification and annual recertification by the Building Department are also required. The owner must attest yearly that the bylaw’s requirements are being met. In the event the owner doesn’t qualify or doesn’t want the unit to be recertified, it can be used for any normal home use, such as for an office or a home gym, but it can’t be rented out.  There have been no ADU certifications as of yet, Kennedy said.

Cover photo courtesy of the Housing Solutions Network 


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