What are: Accessory Dwelling Units

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are self-contained residential units that are secondary to the main dwelling on a property. They can be attached or detached and typically include a separate entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and living space. ADUs have gained popularity due to their numerous benefits. Firstly, they provide homeowners with the opportunity to generate additional rental income, helping to offset mortgage payments or supplement their finances. ADUs are an excellent choice for homeowners seeking financial stability, flexible living arrangements, increased property value, and making a positive impact on their community.

Increase Your Property Value

Having an ADU on the property can increase its overall value. The presence of an ADU adds versatility, making it more appealing to potential buyers. The option of generating rental income from an ADU can be a significant selling point in the real estate market.

Sustainable Development & Flexibility

ADUs promote sustainable development by making efficient use of existing resources. They minimize the need for urban sprawl and reduce the environmental impact associated with new construction. By utilizing available land and infrastructure, ADUs contribute to more sustainable and compact communities. They also offer flexibility in living arrangements. They can be used to accommodate extended family members, such as aging parents or adult children, allowing for multigenerational living. ADUs also provide a flexible space that can be used for various purposes, such as a home office, studio, or guest house.

How To Build An ADU: Step-By-Step Guide To The Building Process

Step 1. Make a Plan

Begin by envisioning the layout and design of your ADU. Determine the size, number of rooms, and desired features. Consider your budget, local regulations, and the needs of potential occupants.

Step 2. Decide Who You'll Be Working With:

Engage professionals such as architects, contractors, and engineers who specialize in ADU construction. Collaborate with them to refine your plan, ensure compliance with building codes, and create a realistic timeline.

Step 3. Permitting

To begin the process of building an ADU, obtaining approval and permits from city or county is essential. This is done to guarantee adherence to local building codes, zoning regulations, and safety standards, ensuring the integrity of the project. In certain jurisdictions, you might be required to seek approvals from both city and county. For stick-built or DIY ADU construction, it is mandatory to submit detailed plans to the relevant departments for review. This step allows the Planning Department to evaluate the design, provide feedback, and suggest any necessary adjustments. Once the plans are approved, the required permits will be issued, allowing you to proceed with construction. It is important to consider the timeline for the plan review process and be prepared for potential modifications based on the feedback received.

Step 4. Preparing the Site

Clear the construction site of any existing structures or debris. Grade the land as needed and ensure proper drainage. Install necessary utilities such as water, sewer, and electricity connections.

Step 6. System Installation:

Install plumbing, electrical, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems according to local building codes and industry standards. Engage licensed professionals for these installations to ensure safety and compliance.

Step 5. Framing and Structure:

Begin construction by framing the ADU's exterior walls, roof, and floor. Ensure that the structure is sturdy, plumb, and meets engineering specifications. Install doors, windows, and insulation to maintain energy efficiency.

Step 7. Interior Finishing and Landscaping:

Complete the interior of the ADU with flooring, wall finishes, fixtures, and appliances. Install cabinets, countertops, and other desired features. Simultaneously, plan and execute landscaping around the ADU, considering functionality and aesthetics.

  1. Building Department: This department oversees the enforcement of building codes and regulations. They review the construction plans, inspect the site during different stages of construction, and issue building permits.

  2. Zoning Department: The zoning department is responsible for enforcing zoning regulations and land use requirements. They review the proposed ADU plans to ensure compliance with zoning ordinances, setback requirements, and other land use restrictions.

  3. Planning Department: The planning department focuses on land use planning and development. They review ADU plans from a broader planning perspective, considering factors such as neighborhood compatibility, density, and urban design.

  4. Housing Department: In some jurisdictions, a housing department or agency may be involved in the ADU permitting process. They may have specific regulations or incentives related to affordable housing, density bonuses, or other housing-related policies.

Common Questions

Does an ADU need a kitchen ?

Yes, an ADU typically includes a kitchen as it is designed to be a self-contained living space. The presence of a kitchen is one of the defining features of an ADU, allowing occupants to have their own cooking facilities and independence. Having a kitchen enables residents of the ADU to prepare meals and have a complete living experience within the unit.

Do I need a permit to build a guest house ?

If a guest house is considered habitable, it is highly likely that a permit will be required to build it. The habitability of a structure typically involves having basic amenities such as plumbing, electricity, and living spaces. Local building codes and regulations often mandate that habitable structures, including guest houses or accessory dwelling units (ADUs), comply with safety standards and zoning guidelines. Obtaining the necessary permits ensures that the construction meets the legal requirements and is inspected for compliance with building codes, ensuring the safety and habitability of the guest house. It is crucial to consult with the local building department or zoning department to determine the specific permitting process and requirements for constructing a habitable guest house.

Is it legal to build a house or an in-law suite in your backyard?

The legality of building a habitable house or in-law suite in your backyard, also known as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), is subject to local zoning and building regulations. While some jurisdictions permit the construction of habitable ADUs, others may have restrictions or requirements in place. These regulations typically govern factors such as property size, setback requirements, building codes, and permits. It is crucial to consult with the local planning department or zoning department to understand the specific rules regarding habitable structures in backyards. Seeking guidance from professionals such as architects or contractors familiar with local laws can help navigate the process and ensure compliance with regulations.

What is considered an illegal apartment?

An illegal apartment refers to a residential unit that does not comply with local housing regulations and zoning laws. It can encompass various situations, such as converting a garage or basement into a living space without obtaining proper permits, renting out portions of a property that are not designated for residential use, or exceeding occupancy limits. Illegal apartments often lack the necessary safety features, such as proper exits, fire safety measures, or adequate ventilation. Living in an illegal apartment can pose risks to occupants and may result in legal consequences for both landlords and tenants. It is important to consult with local governmental departments to ensure compliance with regulations and to prioritize the safety and legality of residential units.

Streamline The Process

Share Your Vision

Streamline the process of creating your dream ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit)! We're here to guide you every step of the way. To expedite the process and provide you with the most accurate solutions, please share as much information as possible about your plans for your ADU. Whether you have specific design preferences, budget considerations, or any unique requirements, let us know. Your input will enable us to customize our services to align perfectly with your vision.