What Is “Accessory Living Space”, And Can It Help Make Ends Meet?
In today's times, counting every penny is probably more important than ever. Even earning enough of those same pennies can be a challenge to help cover the costs of everyday life. Perhaps you've considered opening up that space that used to be occupied by a child that had to have his own space above the garage for a little extra cash? It may seem like a great idea, but is it allowed in the city to do so?
Checking codes for Great Falls can be a little challenging. Digging in, I came upon the specific area for the accessory living space areas with Article 7 - Special Standards For Accessory Uses. After even more digging, Section 17.20.7.010 - Accessory Living Space started to give a few more answers. Spoiler alert, you may not like what I am about to tell you.
In that specific section, the garage type area or even the mother-in-law suites are addressed. After scrolling through the portions covering applicability, intent and requirements, things got a little dicey. Enough so that I called in the pros. For clarification on Section D, which is the Prohibited section and what they shall not be, I spoke with Commissioner Rick Tryon. He affirmed to me that yes, the code does in fact limit what an accessory building can or can't be.
According to the code, accessory living spaces shall not be rented, leased or sold separately for the lot's principal single-family home. Meaning, that she shed or bedroom type area above the garage is a no no to be renting out! The code further states that it shall not be used by any person other than the occupant of the principal residential home or the occupant's immediate family, or by temporary guests. They also may not accommodate a stove or range, or other fully independent kitchen facilities. Plus, they can only be 750sq. feet! Phew!
When asked about "code-breakers" across the Electric City, Commissioner Tryon stated that "law enforcement probably have more immediate concerns" than attempting to locate any of these rentals. I have to agree. My thanks to Mr. Tryon for taking time out to help explain what is sometimes incredibly weird to try and interpret. As always, make sure you find out the codes in your neighborhood, zone, city, county and state agencies before just posting that sign out front because the kids are off to college.
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