The conventional answer is “no.” However, that is not necessarily correct. There are exceptions for special circumstances and some jurisdictions actually allow them with some restrictions.
In Arlington County you have two options.
- Accessory Dwelling (AD). Per Arlington County “an accessory dwelling is a second dwelling with kitchen, bathroom, and separate entrance on a single family lot. In Arlington, ADs are only permitted inside single-family detached houses, e.g. in a basement, on the second floor, or in an addition to the home. Arlington requires owner occupancy and limits occupancy of the AD to no more than two persons. The Zoning Administrator will certify that the building code, Zoning Ordinance and parking requirements are met prior to issuing the AD permit. “
- Family/Caregiver Suite. Per Arlington County “A Family/Caregiver Suite is “not more than two rooms plus a bathroom and efficiency kitchen”. The maximum size is 500 sq. ft. It may only be occupied by up to two persons who may be either: • related to the occupants of the main dwelling by blood, marriage, adoption or foster care; or • unrelated to the occupants of the main dwelling, provided that one of the suite occupants is a caregiver for an elder, a person with a disability or a child who is an occupant of the main dwelling. “For more information about Accessory Dwellings in Arlington look at their brochure.
In Fairfax County the rules are generally a lot stricter. If you see a home for sale with a second kitchen odds are that it is either:
- illegal, or
- has been installed with a non-transferable permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals.
To get that permit the owner would have to have received a Special Permit Resolution – generally for someone elderly (55 years or older) or someone disabled living in a home with their family or caregiver(s.) However, as mentioned, the permit does not transfer to the new owner. If you think you qualify you would have to reapply for a new permit.
- Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance for Special Permits
- An example of a hearing that approved a second kitchen in Fairfax County
UPDATE 03/02/2018: I did hear from a contractor that spoke to Fairfax County recently. Apparently Fairfax County has changed their standing on second kitchens and they may now be allowable as long as they have an internal means of egress (you must be able to get to it from the main living area and not have to go outside.) So, would recommend calling Fairfax County to see what rules would apply in your situation.