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Can I build a second house on my property?

Only one residence is allowed per tract.

A recent change to the zoning regulations has allowed an option to create additional housing while maintaining the rural character of unincorporated Douglas County. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) are intended to provide an independent living area for residents with health issues or disabilities, in close proximity to a caretaker, and provide housing for persons employed on a farm.  6 acres on rural water is required for a Detached ADU.  10 acres on well water is required for a Detached ADU. 

To determine if you qualify for an ADU, we recommend calling our office so staff can meet with you individually to determine if your property qualifies. For general questions, you can call or email us.

General ADU information:

• Douglas County allows one accessory dwelling unit (ADU) used for habitation by a farm employee, a relative/family member, a caregiver providing care for a member of the primary dwelling, or if the caregiver lives in the primary dwelling, the care recipient can live in the ADU. The two latter circumstances are designed to address medical care situations.

• An ADU is meant to maintain the look and appearance of a single family residential home site, therefore requires a shared entrance.

• Size requirements can’t exceed 1000 square feet.

o The maximum area may be increased to 1400 square feet, provided it does not exceed 80% of the primary dwelling.

• A detached ADU requires a minimum of 6 acres on rural water and 10 acres on well water.

o Four of those acres must be located outside the floodplain,

o the utility meters and wastewater system must be signed off on by the appropriate agency.

• Detached ADUs can be placed no closer than 25’ to the primary dwelling.

o Exceptions can be made if the ADU is within an already existing structure through the board of zoning appeals.

• An attached ADU must have shared utilities.

• The health department must approve the potable water supply as well.

Application and Affidavit: CERTIFICATION OF Accessory Dwelling - (


Attached ADU General Information:

  • Attached ADUs need to be via a fully enclosed and conditioned space such as a hallway (not a breezeway) or simply transition from one part of the house to the next as a simple addition.
  • The bedroom of the ADU is required to have an egress window. 
  • The ADU can have its own separate man-door for primary ingress/egress. 
  • The ADU cannot be separate from the rest of the house via lockable doors. 
  • ADU Regulations