At the end of last year, City Council reauthorized the building of coach houses, as well as basement and attic apartments, collectively referred to as accessory dwelling units (ADUs), for the first time since 1957. It goes into effect in May — nearly a year after the legislation was first introduced, after a delay to ensure they end up as housing and not AirBnBs — and rolls out a pilot program that covers a significant swath of the city.

Don’t expect a flood of ADUs right away. It took Los Angeles several years to get over a thousand ADU permits a year. In the unlikely event that Chicago quickly scaled to Los Angeles’s level, it would make up a big share of the city’s new housing, which was 18,000 new units for the Chicago area as a whole in 2019.

If you want to build an ADU, Chicago Cityscape’s guide has you covered. The rules are jargony but fairly straightforward. And for now you have to live in one of the pilot areas, and you still have to wait four and a half months to build.

Until then, here are a few ADU properties to tide you over and see what we’ve been missing.

4121 W. 78th Street, $210,000

This cute raised ranch is just 900 square feet, so you might not guess it stuffs four beds and two full baths inside its modest exterior. It’s even more than that though: it has a separate entrance to its well-lit raised basement, which also features a kitchen to go with its full bath for an in-law arrangement. It’s the kind of subtle density that accessory dwelling units can add, a tiny little two-flat that looks like a house at just $210,000.


2662 W. Washington Street, $375,000

Obviously image doesn’t show the actual ADU, but I wasn’t not going to post one of the best built-ins I’ve ever seen in a Chicago house. The iron-grated fireplace — one of four in the house — on the other side of the room is equally spectacular. This 1882 rowhouse has five beds and 3.5 baths for $375,000, with a bedroom and full bath in the basement for a plain but well-renovated in-law suite.


1436 W. Henderson, Unit CHSE, $650,000

Like the address says, it’s a coach house — but at 2,200 square feet, it’s bigger than most houses in Chicago, and priced like it at $650,000 plus HOA dues of $275 a month. It’s built to feel spacious, with the living room opening onto a large deck, 33-foot-wide floors, and high ceilings, including cathedral ceilings on the second floor. If you can’t decide between a house and a condo, this is what you want.


5327 N. Natoma Avenue, $415,000

On the outside, it looks like a normal house, and very much of the year (1947) it was built. But it’s practically an ADU compound. The structure is actually a two-flat, and there’s a cute coach house in back, plus a garage, fit into an oversize lot with room to spare, all for $415,000 for six beds and three baths. It’s another example of the subtle density ADUs can bring: three small families could live in reasonable comfort in one building that looks like a house from the street.


1125 W. Montana Street, $1.69 million

If you want to upgrade your au pair’s residence, this unusual $1.69 million Lincoln Park home has a coach house with a cathedral ceiling, two-sided marble fireplace, full kitchen, and full bath — though they’ll have to settle for a Murphy bed — above its three-car garage. It amounts to a luxury studio, but it’s about as well appointed as the handsomely classic main house itself, and unlike the residence, it’s got a front yard.