For Homeowner, Real Estate Developer, Real Estate Investor, Architect
California ADU Program – What Is It and What Are Its Benefits?
Jan 04, 2020
Family taking a picture in their accessory dwelling unit (ADU)
Family taking a picture in their accessory dwelling unit (ADU)

When families grow, additional space and comfort become more of a necessity than a luxury. A home addition can address the needs of homeowners looking to maximize and optimize their existing living space. What if a homeowner, staying in California, needs another living space within his property? What if he wants to convert a part of his home into a money-spinner? An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is the perfect answer. A commonly used terminology, ADU refers to a secondary house or apartment within the same lot. ADUs are also known as granny flats, in-law apartments, and backyard cottages.

In legal parlance, an ADU is a residential structure that includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, cooking, eating, and sanitation on the same parcel where the single-family dwelling is situated.

California ADU Program

California has enacted a series of laws in support of the development of ADUs. This helps owners of residential properties to convert garages and backyard buildings into full-fledged living spaces for use by their own family members or tenants. Another objective of the program is to make the best use of the available urban space. Cities like San Francisco, San Diego, Inglewood, La Mesa, Pasadena, Lakewood, Shasta Lake, and Arcata offer privileges to those who are planning to create an ADU. Certain other cities place some restrictions on the construction due to the dearth of housing space. For instance, there are some regulations even for the maximum size of square footage inside an ADU. California’s Department of Housing and Community Development generally allows up to 1, 200 square feet for a single ADU. But this size could be different for certain cities; like Santa Monica and Glendale where it’s much lesser.

As per the new law (effective January 1, 2019), homeowners who had already built their ADUs without the essential permits may get the approval to make them compliant as of today.

It’s safer to check with a licensed contractor, or with the authorities directly, to gain a deeper understanding of the program, its limitations, benefits and whether it suits your requirements or not. This would help save time and money. Also, legal issues can be eschewed at a later stage. Any deviation spotted by the authorities after the construction of the building would turn out to be a huge hassle for the building owner. Furnished below are some of the prime benefits of the ADU program in California.

Minimizes Construction Costs

The cost of building an ADU would vary depending on multiple factors like size, type, materials, and location. There are attached and detached ADUs. Although a fully-detached structure is more expensive, it is definitely more affordable than building a new primary home. Homeowners who are more concerned about rental income have the option of using readymade components to reduce the cost of construction. The focus can be more on functionality rather than aesthetics and resale value of the overall property. Even the insurance and taxes would be comparatively lower. Also, there are some common amenities that can be shared by all the residents of the property. If there’s a fairly large garage, the residents of both homes can park their vehicles there. Furthermore, there’s no extra investment to be made for land, parking, elevators, etc.

Increases Property Value

The shortage of housing space in California has enhanced the value of the existing land and the properties that stand on them. Some properties might have lots of space, with most of it being already used for buildings and amenities. There are other properties with a lot of unused space. Since every square foot is worth its weight in gold, wasting space is not a good idea. Just think about the people who are struggling to find the right kind of living space in the cluttered cities of California. In a situation like this, the addition of an ADU becomes a silver lining to many.

It also has the potential to increase the overall resale value of the bigger property. Since an ADU is considered to be a part of a bigger structure, it cannot be bought or sold to anybody separately.

Ensures Resident Privacy

Privacy is one of the biggest merits of living in an ADU. Different people have different requirements depending on their age. Senior citizens and teenagers might require a living space of their own. Even guests and caregivers might require space for themselves. Since an ADU is a complete living space with all essential amenities, it serves all these purposes. As it is a standalone home, even tenants can feel comfortable while living in one. It can be a modified structure or one that is constructed newly. What’s more, security is an added advantage since the structure is on the same lot. In some cases, an ADU looks more like another floor. Some homeowners even decide to make an ADU out of an extra bedroom. It’s like enjoying the best of both worlds.

Concluding Notes

The use of an Accessory Dwelling Unit varies from person to person and family to family. Older people would want to complement their pension with a rental income, a youngster might choose to stay in an ADU that’s close to the workplace, and an enterprising homeowner would rent it out to rake in some extra money. The demand for this compact form of accommodation is definitely on the rise, though it’s uniform across the state. Owning an ADU is definitely a pride, but getting it right is equally important. The services of the right engineering professionals can be availed to address all the legal requirements and create an affordable, additional living space within the property. Got questions on ADU construction? Our team of experienced California-licensed engineers can help you with the right advice and services.

Call us at (877) 704-5727 or email your requirements to info@designeverest.com for a no-obligation quote followed by a consultation.

Sources:
[1] https://srcity.org/2280/Accessory-Dwelling-Units
[2] https://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/AccessoryDwellingUnits.shtml#adu
[3] https://maxablespace.com/8-best-and-worst-cities-to-build-an-adu-in-california/
[4] https://www.oregonmetro.gov/sites/default/files/2018/10/01/Build_Small_Coalition_2018_ADU_code_audit_report_final.pdf

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