Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Eliesh O Lane


Researchers have explored the role of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as a form of housing since at least the 1970s. Such exploration has taken place across a number of different disciplines, including gerontology, housing affordability, and urban planning. The literature tends to focus on specific policies, however, rather than on the lived experience of the homeowners impacted by those policies. Ireland’s national and local governments have yet to acknowledge the potential use of ADUs as a contributing solution to ongoing problems with housing supply, housing affordability, and homelessness, despite a government-declared national housing crisis. Formal research on ADUs in the Irish context is in its infancy. This research explores the lived experience of seven homeowners who have developed and used ADUs in Ireland in order to better understand the positive and negative aspects of that experience. Semistructured interviews were used to collect qualitative data from volunteer research participants. Heidegger’s philosophy and the hermeneutic circle were applied, allowing for consideration of the contexts within which the research participants and the researcher made sense of the lived experience to be explored. Emerging themes included (a) pride and satisfaction, (b) need for affordable or elder housing, (c) impact on family relationships, (d) attitudes to and experiences with planning policy, (e) experiences with the construction process, and (f) role as an ADU landlord. The findings of this interpretive, phenomenological study may lead to positive social change by serving as a foundation for further studies and policy development in both the Irish and international contexts.