Housing shortages are a thing in California.
Enter Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Small homes that exist on the same property as single-family residences. Including detached backyard cottages, converted garages, and attached portions or design/build additions to the primary home.
ADUs are built for multi-generational and multi-family living, aging in place, rental income, and office, guest, and studio space. Considerations: integrating the ADU with your existing home and backyard, complying with zoning ordinances and state laws, budget, privacy, use case, site location, and the neighborhood.
- *For single-family lots: One ADU (attached or detached) up to 1200 sq. ft. and one Junior ADU (JADU) up to 500 sq. ft.
- *For multi-family lots: Multiple ADUs attached to the existing multi-family structures and two detached ADUs.
Additional parking spaces are not required for new ADUs and JADUs.
Assembly Bill 1033 provides California property owners – in participating cities – with the opportunity to buy and sell their ADUs as condominiums. Repealing an existing law that prohibits the separate sale of ADUs and making it easier for homeowners to qualify for loans to build ADUs, and recoup their investment faster (as opposed to repaying loans gradually through rental income).
1) *Detached new construction ADUs (backyard cottages, casitas, granny flats) are complete stand-alone homes. Requiring their own foundation, framing, roofing, HVAC, electrical, fixtures, finishes, appliances, flooring, permits, plumbing, the works. The living room and bedroom(s) are not as expensive as kitchens and baths, so they help spread out the cost per square foot. One in five new homes built in California is an ADU. Easing the state’s housing woes and providing new income streams for property owners.
You can build an 800 sq. ft. ADU – or larger – on your residential property (with some exceptions). Choosing (1) a customizable predesigned architectural plan set as a starting place with an array of distinct shapes, sizes, and configurations; (2) developing your ADU from scratch with original architectural plans; (3) selecting a modular panelized kit; or (4) going with an offsite pre-constructed modular cottage. We can help.
2) *Garage conversion ADUs are sometimes easier and less expensive to transform into guest houses, workout spaces, and Airbnbs. A conversion can save money on the foundation, framing, and roofing portions of the construction project. There are no setback requirements from the side and rear property lines if the footprint doesn’t change.
If the existing garage is demolished, an ADU with the same exact dimensions, including height, can be built on the same footprint. Your garage conversion ADU must include a kitchen and full bath, and an exterior entrance separate from the main house.
Your garage’s structural characteristics must meet modern building code requirements sufficient for occupation. If your garage was built after 1985, you might be okay. If your garage is older and/or you see cracks in the floor and deterioration, repairs and upgrades may be more costly than a new ADU. We can help.
3) *Attached ADUs (bump-out ADUs) are either part of or added onto the home’s existing foundational structure, benefitting from shared walls and easier access to utilities and appliances. Attached ADUs make use of the main home’s infrastructure and design, and blend in nicely with the neighborhood.
Homeowners must decide whether to share utilities or install separate connections. Attached ADUs can be up to 25 feet or as tall as the primary residence, whichever is lower. ADUs within a ½ mile of public transit can be up to 18 feet. ADUs count as additional livable square footage and increase property value. We can help.
*For the most accurate and up-to-date information, read the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) ADU policies, and research your local building and land use regulations. Permits are required.
Benefits of ADUs
According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development:
- ADUs are an affordable type of home to construct in California because they do not require paying for land, major new infrastructure, structured parking, or elevators.
- ADUs can provide a source of income for homeowners.
- ADUs are built with cost-effective wood frame construction, which is significantly less costly than homes in new multifamily infill buildings.
- ADUs allow extended families to be near one another while maintaining privacy.
- ADUs can provide as much living space as many newly-built apartments and condominiums, and they’re suited well for couples, small families, friends, young people, and seniors.
- ADUs give homeowners the flexibility to share independent living areas with family members and others, allowing seniors to age in place as they require more care.
*Photo Above: Complete ADU garage conversion for our client’s mother. Cabinetry, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, fixtures, finishes, appliances, windows, flooring, everything. Pleasant Hill, California. By Beckner Contracting & Management.