Guide to ADUs in San Jose

According to a report by US News, San Jose is among the top 50 places to live in the USA in 2021-22. The city was also ranked the ‘Best Small Business City in America’ in 2020 in a Biz2Credit report. With many families looking to move to San Jose for work and education, this means an increased demand for housing. There are not enough homes to accommodate the growing population, and this is where Accessory Dwelling Units(ADUs) come in. ADUs are a great way to meet the need for more housing.

An ADU is an addition to a single-family home separated from the main home but exists within the same compound. It is characterized by a separate guest house or a garage conversion which involves creating habitable rooms above the garage space.

San Jose was the first city to introduce an ADU program in the state. The ADU ordinance, passed in 2016, allowed homeowners to build and live in ADUs for a fee and offered them an opportunity to create income by renting them.

Advocates for ADUs say that this ordinance will help solve the housing shortage and provide a source of additional housing. Last year (2020), 567 ADU projects were approved by the City of San Jose for construction.

Why are ADUs Growing in Popularity?

Thinking About Getting an ADU? Here’s Everything you Need to Know

An ADU is a great choice for a growing family or an entrepreneur who needs more space for their business. It has also become a preferred alternative to senior homes as it offers a safe and private space for the elderly while being close to their loved ones.

ADUs are an affordable housing option and create a new stream of income for property owners while being customizable as per need.  The latest category to emerge from this concept is a Junior ADU (JADU), which is a smaller space owing to the lack of a dedicated bathroom. The bathroom may be shared with the main property if the JADU doesn’t have one.

Creating a functional space within a small area on a property with an existing house does not have to be challenging. Get ADU design and engineering experts from Design Everest to help you optimize the space on your property.

How do I know if my Property in San Jose is Eligible to Build an ADU?

According to the ADU Universal Checklist, properties in the following type of General Plan designations qualify for an ADU:

  • Residential Neighborhood or Mixed-Use Neighborhood or Mixed-Use Commercial
  • Residential or Transit Residential or Rural Residential
  • Downtown or Urban Village

According to the set standards, single-family properties falling under the aforementioned categories are allowed one ADU and JADU. If the qualified property is a duplex, two detached ADUs or one attached ADU built by the standards are allowed. Qualifying multifamily properties, ADUs equivalent to 25% of the units in the building will be allowed as long as they are built according to approved city standards.

What is Required of me as a Property Owner?

Regarding property designations, you may want to keep the following in mind:

  • If the property has a dedicated easement, you are bound to comply with the requirements of the same. A dedicated easement is a part of a property set aside for public use without warranting compensation.
  • If the property is located within a Historic District, you may want to speak to a planner to understand the simplified design standards that may apply.
  • If the property is located in a geohazard or landslide zone, a geological hazard clearance will be required.
  • Properties located in flood zones A, AE, AH, and AO will need to adhere to flood zone design requirements.

Owners of San Jose homes who wish to construct an ADU are required to apply for an ADU permit and undergo the mandatory permitting process. They can get a free consultation with a City Planner to ensure that your intended ADU complies with all standards.

ADUs can be very different depending on where you live. The main differentiating factors are the size of the ADU, location, and whether it’s your home or a rental property. If you live in a single-family home on a lot that is up to 9,000 square feet, you can add an ADU to your property.

If you are not able to have a garage or yard, you may need to construct a different type of unit. On the other hand, if you are living in a multifamily unit, a duplex, or an apartment (only property owners can apply for the permit), you may only be able to add an ADU if you have a separate entrance and there is room to add a second unit to your property. If you do not have the right setup for ADU construction, you can buy an ADU kit or hire the experts at Design Everest to build it for you.

Since ADUs are legally considered extensions of a house, all laws that apply to traditional housing must be used when regulating ADUs. By properly regulating, you could increase your property value while simultaneously improving your neighborhood.

If you’re interested in adding an ADU to your home but don’t meet the requirements outlined above, there is a potential option to consider: revise your zoning to one of the approved ones(R-1, R-2, R-M, or PD). This is a lengthy process that includes several public hearings and may involve your neighbors’ opinions too.

You can always get in touch with Design Everest to help you build the proposed ADU. We are experts at creating detached and attached ADUs and can even help you convert existing spaces into functional living units.

Contact us now and we will provide you with a FREE quote and consultation. We also provide on-site and virtual consultations.

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