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further adu.


Look Up Your Property

Look Up Your Property

We did the hard work of digesting Newton's zoning codes, checking the relevant restrictions, and analyzing the dimensions of each individual lot to determine what you can build.  Enter your address and try it!  

Based on your individual property, we’ll generate a personalized pre-feasibility report that details your options and what you may be eligible to build.

We know this stuff can be complex. That’s why we're offering a free consult to help review and explain your report.

Review Your Report

Review Your Report

Choose a Path!

Choose a Path

Whether you want a custom, architect-designed space, a factory-built cottage, or a renovation within the existing structure, we can introduce you to our network of vetted professionals to design, build, and finance your project.


Have questions or not sure how to proceed? Regardless of where you are in your journey, we would welcome a conversation with you to explore together.

Who are we?

 About Us 

We are a small team of your neighbors. Yes, we are local! 


When we’re not chasing our young children, we drink plenty of coffee (especially Blue Bottle in Chestnut Hill) and enthusiastically embrace things like urban infill development and housing affordability.


Our team has decades of experience across real estate, web technology, and data analytics. We are combining our skills to create tools and services to help our community build a stronger future. 


We aspire to a future where cities are inclusive, with a variety of housing options. We envision communities that are robust, equitable, and environmentally sustainable. A future where our teachers and other civil servants can live in the communities they serve. 


It’s our mission to make our community stronger by helping homeowners build ADUs on their property: for family, for caregivers, for guests—or for rental income.


Need more info? Try our FAQs

  • What property types in Newton can build ADUs?
    In Newton, single-family and two-family homes generally have the right to build an ADU. Click here to read the Newton ADU by-law.
  • How does NewtonADU make money?
    Under certain circumstances we receive a referral fee when we successfully match qualified homeowners with vetted professionals.
  • How much does it cost?
    The cost of building an ADU varies significantly based on several factors including size, site conditions, design complexity, materials used, and labor costs. After factoring in all the costs, custom designed, new construction Backyard Cottages (Detached ADUs) typically cost in the range of $400 to $500 per square foot. Modular (factory built) housing can lower the cost of construction to as low as $300 to $350 per square foot, if you limit the degree of customization. Converting an existing space in your home, like a basement or attic, is significantly less expensive. These projects often range from $30,000 to $100,000. These are just ballpark figures to help set expectations. It's certainly possible to spend far less, or far more, depending on the specifics of your project. N.b. When getting quotes, it’s important to consider what each one does and does not include. For example, if you ask a builder for their typical cost, they will likely include only their component of the project (the actual construction), and might not include design services, surveying, permitting, site work, or other costs.
  • Why build an ADU?
    Common motivations include to generate rental income, to provide an independent but close living space for elders, caregivers, or adult children, or simply to create a welcoming and flexible space for guests.
  • Can I take down trees on my property?
    Here you can read more about the latest tree preservation ordinance:
  • What are the ADU Rules for Newton?
    The rules of what you can build in Newton are very complicated. We’ve gathered relevant links and resources here. The current Zoning Ordinance is available here, which outlines what may be built: In particular, these sections are especially pertinent to ADUs: Section 1.5 Rules of Measurement Section 3.4.3 Accessory Buildings Section 6.7 Accessory Uses This is the page from the City of Newton provides a partial overview of the requirements, although not all the links are up-to-date: FAR (Floor Area Ratio) is a key factor that determines how much can be built on your lot. (Also referred to as your “building capacity”). Here is a packet from the city on how to measure and calculate your FAR (Floor Area Ratio): And here is an FAQ from the city about FAR: Generally, if you own a single-family or two-family house in Newton, you can build an In-Home Apartment (aka Internal ADU) by right of up to 1,000 square feet or 33% of the total Habitable Space, whichever is less. Or, with a Special Permit, you could build up to 1,200 square feet or 40% of the total Habitable Space, whichever is less. The minimum size is 250 square feet. If your lot has capacity, you can build a Backyard Cottage (aka Detached ADU), of up to 900 square feet or 50% of the total Habitable Space of the principal dwelling, whichever is less. Or, with Special Permit, up to 1,500 square feet. The minimum size is 250 square feet. Keep in mind, the footprint is limited to 700 square feet though. Or, if you happen to have an Historic Carriage House on your property, you have the right to convert it to an ADU. Only one ADU is allowed per lot. The owner, or indirect property owner, must live on the lot. Any construction has to meet the other requirements of the zoning by-law, and there may be historical or environmental restrictions as well. To find out more, the first step is to check your free pre-feasibility report on our site, and then reach out to us for a conversation.
  • Why are you doing this?
    We believe in strengthening our community by helping our neighbors explore these development opportunities. Read more about us in the Newton Beacon:
  • Other questions?
    Please reach out! We’d be happy to discuss with you: Write to us at or Call us at 617-795-4938 or Schedule a Call
  • I am a builder / architect / surveyor / other potential partner. How can I work with you?
    Please reach out! We are always looking for high quality, reliable, trustworthy professionals. If that describes you, we would welcome a conversation.
  • What’s an ADU?
    ADU stands for “Accessory Dwelling Unit” or “Additional Dwelling Unit.” You may know them as backyard cottages, in-law suites, granny flats, basement apartments, or another name. Put simply, an ADU is an independent apartment on the same lot as another home.
  • What does “By Right” mean?
    When something is allowed “by right”, that means that as long as your proposal is within the guidelines, your building permit will be approved. It’s not up to the discretion of local officials. You don’t need permission from your neighbors. You don’t have to petition the City Council.
  • How does NewtonADU work?
    Enter your home address We did the hard work of digesting Newton's zoning code, checking relevant restrictions, and analyzing the dimensions of your lot to determine what you can build. Review your report Based on your individual property, we generate a pre-feasibility report that outlines what you may be eligible to build. Choose a path! Whether you want a custom, architect-designed space, a factory-built cottage, or a renovation within the existing structure, we can introduce you to our network of vetted professionals to design, build, and finance your project. Have questions or not sure how to proceed? Regardless of where you are in your journey, we would welcome a conversation with you to explore together. Contact us today.
  • What is FAR? What is my lot’s capacity?
    FAR stands for “Floor Area Ratio.” It is calculated by taking the gross floor area of all buildings on the lot and dividing by the total lot area. For example, a building of 2,000 square feet on a lot of 10,000 square feet would have an FAR of 0.2. That is: 2,000 ÷ 10,000 = 0.2 Newton’s Zoning Ordinance sets out Floor Area Ratio limits for residential lots, with different limits based on the lot’s size and zone. In other words, your lot’s FAR dictates your lot’s capacity, or how much may be built. FAR is one of the key calculations we estimate for your lot to inform you of your ability to build a Backyard Cottage (Detached ADU) or to build an Addition to your home for us as an Internal ADU.
  • How do I find a reputable builder with the right skills and experience in Newton?
    The best next step is for us to have a conversation about your goals and timeline. Then we can help you build the right team to meet those goals. Our vetted network includes experienced architects, builders, design-build firms, modular housing companies, surveyors, and more. We can also share information with you on the rent potential of an ADU in your particular neighborhood, and connect you with financing options.
  • How long does it take to build an ADU?
    The time it takes to build an ADU can vary widely based on several factors. On average, the entire process, from planning to completion, can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. At a high level, these are the key stages and their typical timeframes: Design and Planning (1-4 months): This involves selecting the ADU type, designing the floor plan, and getting the necessary approvals and permits. The complexity of the design greatly influences this duration. If a Special Permit is needed, this phase can easily double. Construction (3-9 months): The actual building time depends on the ADU type. For example, converting an existing structure, like a basement, may take less time than building a new structure.
  • What is a Special Permit?
    A special permit is an additional approval that is required for projects that are beyond what is allowed by right. The special permit/site plan approval process requires an application to the City Council, which is Newton's special permitting authority, and a public hearing before the Land Use Committee, a subcommittee of the City Council. Prior to the public hearing, abutters within 300 feet of the subject property are notified in writing by the City. If you need a Special Permit, that will often extend the approval timeline by 3-5 months, or sometimes more. You may need to spend more money on the design phase, and you may feel compelled to compromise or negotiate with your neighbors and local officials to get approval.
  • Where in my property can I build an ADU?
    An ADU may be: Backyard Cottage. A free-standing structure that’s officially known as a Detached ADU. In-Home Apartment. An apartment you carve out from existing space in your home. For example, by finishing a basement, an attic, or even a garage. Also called an Internal ADU. An Addition. This is another form of the In-Home Apartment. Instead of converting existing space, you can build an addition to serve as an ADU.
  • Can I build a Backyard Cottage or Addition using modular (factory built) housing?
    Yes, and this can be a great choice to control costs and ensure high quality—if your project falls within their design options. We work with several excellent modular home companies and would be happy to talk to you more about this.
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