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ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) are a great way to add liveable space to your property. An ADU is basically a small home that can be used as a rental unit, liveable space for senior parents or grown kids, a home office, gym, craft studio, and more. If you’re thinking about building an ADU on your property, here are 5 characteristics your home must have to support an ADU.

  1. Your property can’t have power lines directly overhead. ADUs are prefab houses that have a lot of the building done offsite. A huge truck then comes and delivers the parts to your home and it’s assembled onsite. But how do the parts get into the backyards or sideyards where these homes are typically built? (If you have a huge property comprised of multiple acres and you’re not in a standard neighborhood, this may not apply to you). Generally speaking, these huge puzzle pieces are hoisted by crane up and over your existing home. Clearly you can see how powerlines could hinder this process and create enormous problems. 
  1. This is in the title, but in order to have an ADU, you must have an existing, traditional home on the property. For example, you cannot build an ADU on a property without a home on it already. ADUs are usually tied into the existing sewer and water lines. Additionally, if you live in the Sacramento area and have SMUD, they may have regulations about connecting your new unit to the existing electrical service. (Which is why you should always review your local regulations first and ensure you have a reputable ADU company working for you. While the California Department of Housing and Community Development has important guidelines to follow, you also need to be informed of your local jurisdiction and their unique ordinances to have everything in order before you begin.)
  1. A minimum lot size is needed to accommodate the ADU which needs an additional 4-foot rear and side setback. So what is the minimum lot size? Well, that depends on the size of the ADU you’re thinking about getting. A studio ADU can start around 350 square feet and depending on your jurisdiction, an ADU can go up to an astonishing 1,200 square feet (which is also California’s maximum). ADUs can be studios, one bedroom, or two bedroom units so the size of the ADU you choose depends on your space, budget, and what you plan to use it for. Your ADU company will be more than happy to discuss all of these talking points with you so that you can choose the unit that is best for your unique situation.

That being said, the California HCD Accessory Dwelling Unit Handbook states that, “A statewide exemption ADU, found in Government Code section 65852, subdivision (e), is an ADU of up to 800 square feet, 16 feet in height, as potentially limited by a local agency, and with four-foot side and rear yard setbacks. State ADU Law requires that no lot coverage, floor area ratio, open space, or minimum lot size will preclude the construction of a statewide exemption ADU.”

  1. The condition of your current lot is a serious consideration which can be expensive to fix. Let’s say that you live on a hillside or your property has poor water drainage. This could be addressed through excavating or supporting the structure from underneath or proper drainage could be installed, but this could break your budget. Or perhaps you had a pool that you no longer used and you had that filled in. The ADU company would have to ensure that the soil would settle properly to prevent cracks and damage that would compromise the ADU structure.

It’s also worth thinking about what your ADU would be used for. If you do live on a slope and you are willing to put an ADU on it but plan to have your elderly parents live there, that may not be a good fit. It may not be accessible or safe for them to move from your home to their ADU home especially if they have a walker or wheelchair. 

  1. How is your parking situation? In cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco, parking requirements may impact how you plan your property layout since they require that you add a parking space to your lot. (Of course, check your jurisdiction. With California’s current housing crisis, these parameters are changing.) 

According to the California HCD Accessory Dwelling Unit Handbook:

“A local agency shall not impose ADU parking standards for any of the following ADUs, pursuant to Government Code section 65852.2, subdivisions (d)(1-5) and (j)(10): 

(1) ADUs located within one-half mile walking distance of public transit. 

(2) ADUs located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district. 

(3) ADUs that are part of the proposed or existing primary residence or an accessory structure. 

(4) When on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the ADU.

 (5) When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the ADU”

Every property is different and every homeowner has unique needs that they would like their ADU to fill. Call ADU Warehouse today at (888) 540-0238 for a free, no pressure consultation. We’ll answer any questions you may have, discuss floorplan options, and we’ll want to know your long term plans for your ADU so you’ll get exactly what you need. Next we’ll do a site evaluation and review with you city and state regulations so that we know how best to proceed. From there our site contractor will develop a plan which will give you line by line specifications including a pricing proposal and feasibility report which will go over utilities, sewer hookups, landscaping, and more. Unlike many companies, we take care of the permits with you! Most companies leave the paperwork up to you. We know that it’s complicated and time consuming, so we’ll explain everything to you and walk with you through the process. Now comes the fun part: building! 

Of course, there’s a lot more details to the journey and we would love to share them with you. Contact us today. We’re your turnkey solution to all things ADU!

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