Want to Build an ADU? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are fondly called in-law units, secondary units, granny flats, backyard cottages, etc. Whatever you call them, ADUs have become a novel, affordable, and efficient option for adding much-needed housing options in California. A few basic facts that one should know before opting for an ADU are:

  • It is an additional residential building that usually occupies the same space as the primary residence.
  • A guest house or a detached garage with a rented apartment above could be examples of an ADU.
  • An ADU’s establishment and use fall under different zoning rules and regulations depending on your city of residence.
  • An ADU is an excellent source of additional income (via rent).
  • Building an ADU costs money, and its maintenance can increase the cost of utilities per month.

What is an ADU?

Guide to Building an ADU in California

Depending on the available space and the owner’s needs, accessory dwelling units or “ADUs” can be converted from existing spaces or built entirely new.

Think of a standalone ADU in your backyard as a small apartment. It is a self-contained, fully functional living place with utilities and access to the rest of the property. Someone may live there as if they were next-door neighbors.

Although we see many people converting garages, which are relatively less expensive, most people are interested in independent extensions that offer additional living space. Converted garages, on the other hand, require significant improvement. A makeover like this sometimes requires extensive work and new mechanical systems. But like any other project, you must have complete information about converting a garage in California. Our team at Design Everest can help you create an ADU from scratch.

While many residents are now creating ADUs, they must be aware of their pros and cons:

Pros of ADU housing

  • ADUs are an opportunity to create a side income for homeowners in the form of rent.
  • ADUs add value to your existing property.
  • An ADU space can serve as extra space for a workshop or a guest suite or a space for pursuing a hobby or an interest (music, dance, fitness)

Cons of ADU Housing

  • An ADU can take up the extra space as storage or a garage.
  • ADU houses that are used as rentals will also require maintenance.
  • Building an ADU space requires money and can add to your monthly expenses.

Why is ADU Becoming Popular?

For a few years now, the general public has been interested in small, practical, and adaptable home units, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, that desire has risen to a whole new level. We attempt to cram more functions into our houses after hunkering down and working from home. ADUs have become quite popular due to the prospect of having an additional structure in the backyard that can be used as a home office, a family hangout spot, or a separate living space for a family member.

Even as job numbers increase and the economy hums along, a housing and homelessness crisis continues to grip a large portion of the population. This may be due to several factors.

Many states have seen an influx of workers due to a boom in economic opportunities, rent and home prices have soared, and many workers and natives are now finding it difficult to afford good housing. This is where ADUs are becoming popular due to their high affordability and low rentals and maintenance costs. People also see various benefits of creating an ADU, owing to its popularity over the past few years. There are California ADU program consists of laws that offer support for the building ADUs.

What are the Benefits of Having an ADU?

ADU housing can provide homeowners rental income while also providing renters with a cost-effective lifestyle. An ADU allows family members to live on the same property but have separate living quarters, or it can be used to house a paid caretaker. ADUs, unlike tiny houses, are compact but not microscopic, making them a better option for singles, couples, and families looking for small and cheap living. Here are a few benefits of opting for ADU housing:

  • ADU houses can be a more enticing alternative for downsizing homeowners than moving into an apartment or, if older, an age-restricted neighborhood.
  • ADU housing is similar to having a small apartment in your backyard. It is a self-contained, fully functional living place with utilities and access to the rest of the property. It necessitates an ADU permit for its construction.

If you hire a professional to conduct specialized work, you have the option of letting the subcontractor handle the ADU permit application paperwork or filling it out yourself. You must keep the ADU permit on the site at all times and make sure it is ready for any planned inspection. If you are pulling permits for a subcontractor, make sure you know who will be in charge of the inspection. We have to be careful to hire the right professionals for the right work.

While the ultimate ADU cost depends on several criteria, such as the physical size of the home and the precise project parameters, many building departments maintain an online price list that gives broad amounts for the ADU permit.

If you are looking to build your ADU in Los Angeles, here is your guide.

Is ADU a Good Investment?

ADU housing has grown in popularity in recent years mainly due to the housing shortage, which has resulted in rising homelessness, a chronic lack of new buildings, and the country’s high poverty rate. The economic repercussions of the coronavirus may drive many people over the brink into unacceptable housing conditions, specifically if they are already in a crisis. That’s where ADUs come to the rescue.

However, before building an ADU, read about the ten things to consider.

ADU houses can provide renters with cost-effective means to live in single-family communities while simultaneously providing homeowners with rental income. An ADU space can house a paid caretaker or allow family members to live on the same property but have separate living spaces. So let’s begin building your ADU.

What are the Different Types of ADUs?

1. Garage Conversion

If your garage is connected to your main house, the newly converted ADU property will provide easy access to the two structures if the need arises. Because the exterior shell of your ADU has already been erected, you can save money on excavation and construction.

Water and power lines may already be running in the ADU, and you may even have a sink with proper lighting. You may be already using your garage as an unauthorized ADU; for example, it may be an extra bedroom. All you have to do now is bring it up to code and have it approved.

Here are ten tips to know when you consider converting your garage.

Garage conversions can be completed in as few as six to seven months. You may not need to build it from scratch, which can save time. Check out our Garage conversion projects here, and start yours now!

2. Detached ADU

A detached ADU property is a little closer to the house (literally). You must leave the main house to go to the ADU.

A detached ADU is a structure distinct from the main house that can be built into single-family and multi-family homes. The secret to building a detached ADU is to spend intelligently on the requisite costs while avoiding the costs you do not need. To ensure a smooth design and permitting procedure, you should hire an expert for your project. You should have specialists carry out electrical wiring or utility installations. If a family does not require a lot of space, they might be able to save money by building a small dwelling unit to suit their needs. If the family has their furniture, you won’t have to worry about furnishing the unit yourself, making the space feel more like their home.


A Junior ADU (JADU) is a smaller version of an ADU unit that is less than 500 square feet in area. A JADU must be located within a single-family home or accessory structure, such as a garage, that is proposed or existing.

Unlike ADUs, JADUs can share a bathroom with single-family residents and simply need to fulfill the “efficiency kitchen” standards. Junior ADUs (JADUs) are enclosed within a single-family residence (SFR).

The JADU must have a separate entry from the proposed or existing single-family residence’s main entrance and must have an efficiency kitchen that comprises a cooking area with proper appliances (240-volt service outlets are now allowed), a food preparation counter, and storage cabinets that are proportionate to the size of the JADU. A deed restriction is necessary, which includes a limitation on selling the JADU separately from the single-family residence.

Determine whether you can legally build an ADU. You can contact your local building department and ask what the size or occupancy restrictions for ADUs in your area are. Construction firms like Design Everest are leading as services providers for ADUs and other construction needs in California. They offer an array of affordable ADU engineering and architectural services. If you are looking for a service provider to build your ADU or Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU), Design Everest’s team can be the best choice as they are familiar with the local zoning laws and ordinances. They are experienced in creating functional spaces. Their team can give you the best suggestions according to your space and requirement and help you build an ADU within the estimated time. You can also think about building Multiple ADUs.

Hire a licensed professional to build your ADU

How Can We Help?

ADUs are used in various ways by individuals and groups. Renting an ADU space near work would increase an older person’s retirement savings, a young person’s commute, and a renter’s pay. The right technical abilities may help you meet all regulatory ADU requirements while also adding value to your home. Do you have any concerns about ADUs? At Design Everest, we offer a list of competent California engineers eager to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation on your ADU plans.

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