Are you thinking about building a granny unit on your property? Discover why people are choosing ADUs and learn about building permits and associated costs.

As home prices in California increase, many people are looking for alternative options to maximize their property to allow greater functionality for their families. One great option that many homeowners are turning to is buying an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). This structure can also go by the name of TIny Home, Granny Unit, Backyard Office, and more, but they all have similar features in common. So what is an ADU and is this choice right for you?

What is an ADU?

By definition, an ADU is a smaller, independent residential dwelling unit located on the same lot as a stand-alone, detached single-family home. Now don’t get these confused with that shed that you see in the front of Home Depot or Lowe’s. Those are great for storage and tools, not so much for an office or living space. These are insulated living spaces that can exist as a separate office area or can be as complex as a tiny home complete with bathroom, kitchen, and living quarters. The details and functionality are dictated by your needs and imagination!

Why are ADUs Becoming More Popular?

ADUs have been around for many years and are only increasing in demand and popularity for many reasons. Here are some of the more common circumstances why people are choosing this great option for living:

  1. An Affordable Choice – Home ownership is expensive. Not only is a mortgage a burden, but upkeep, high property taxes, and a decent down payment can hinder purchasing a house or condo. In fact, according to Dave Ramsey, the average home in San Francisco costs $1,297,511 and the average rent is $4,200/month. Now we all know that the Bay Area is more costly, but even in Sacramento you’ll find high housing prices: the average home is $440,447 and with rent costing around $1,904/month. If you’ve just graduated college, tied the knot, or decided to branch out on your own, it can seem almost impossible to come up with a down payment with such high housing prices and rent that depletes your bank account. 
  2. The Environmentally Friendly Choice – With Amazon’s One-Click, kids that cling to toys like they’re long lost relatives, and stockpiling goods from Costco like we’re in a world pandemic (oh wait, we are!), many people are choosing to forego the norm to downsize and reduce their spending and environmental footprint. 

An ADU can be made out of recycled and environmentally friendly materials (say hello to shipping containers) and obviously requires much less water and energy than a traditional 3 bedroom/2 bath home. 

  1. Multi-Generational Support – As Baby Boomers age, there is a large portion of the population that needs additional family support. An ADU is the perfect way to allow your parents or in-laws to have their independence while still being on your property for care. Or what about that 18 year old that is ready to branch out on their own but not fully ready to juggle all of the responsibilities of adulthood? This is great transitional housing to balance this stage of life.
  2. Additional Space – COVID-19 has taught us many lessons, one being that our house is too small to function as a work, living, and school space. If you love your home or just don’t want to move but know you need additional footage, an ADU is the answer many have been looking for. Create your own office space or the ultimate She Shed or Man Cave!
  3. Generate Income – Clearly traditional home ownership is expensive. A tiny home also allows for rental income if you choose to lease out this structure. This is a great benefit since this stand-alone building gives you AND your renters privacy!

State Permits

Another great aspect of these Granny Units is that the State of California understands the housing shortage and has loosened up some of the restrictions, regulations, and permits when it comes to tiny homes. Here are a few examples of the 18 Bills to Boost Housing Production signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2019:

  • AB 68 by Assemblymember Philip Ting (D-San Francisco) makes major changes to facilitate the development of more ADUs and address barriers to building. The bill reduces barriers to ADU approval and construction, which will increase production of these low-cost, energy-efficient units and add to California’s affordable housing supply.
  • AB 881 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) removes impediments to ADU construction by restricting local jurisdictions’ permitting criteria, clarifying that ADUs must receive streamlined approval if constructed in existing garages, and eliminating local agencies’ ability to require owner-occupancy for five years.
  • SB 13 by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) creates a tiered fee structure which charges ADUs more fairly based on their size and location. The bill also addresses other barriers by lowering the application approval timeframe, creating an avenue to get unpermitted ADUs up to code, and enhancing an enforcement mechanism allowing the state to ensure that localities are following ADU statute.
  • AB 671 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) requires local governments’ housing plans to encourage affordable ADU rentals and requires the state to develop a list of state grants and financial incentives for affordable ADUs.

Size, Cost, and Amenities of an ADU

As you can imagine, ADU costs can range as greatly as the people who purchase them. They can start around the price of a luxury car and go up from there depending on size, customizations, and more. 

The size of an ADU can start around 288 square feet and go up to about 1,000 square feet. Even at the smallest size you can have a separate living/kitchen space, restroom, and bedroom! Composting toilets and solar panels can make your ADU self-sustainable and mini-sinks, two burner stovetops, and creative design serves make it stylish and functionable.

Should You Purchase a Tiny Home?

Is an ADU right for you? Contact today! We have a variety of models and price points to ensure that you get the tiny home that is customized for your needs. We’ll discuss your options for your budget and property size and create a plan just for you. So, how can we help you today?

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