Do you need more space at home and you’re wondering if an ADU is right for you? Here’s everything you need to know about building a backyard house.

If you’re thinking about building an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit), then your home is probably feeling too crowded or you need more space but are searching for a cost effective, practical solution. In a real estate market where competition is fierce and prices are high, an ADU could be the answer that you’re looking for. Here is everything you need to know about building an ADU.

What size ADU can I build?

The size of your ADU, or Granny Unit, has several factors that you need to consider. Additionally, different jurisdictions and cities have different regulations that need to be followed. However, the State of California has acknowledged the housing shortage and high cost of living struggles and has loosened many of its regulations making the process of adding an ADU to your property easier than ever before.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about your current lot size and where your existing house is on the property. That’s the first part of this puzzle that can dictate the size of your ADU. Generally speaking, most cities in California allow an ADU that is up to 800 square feet, less than 16 feet tall, and are a minimum of 4 feet away from property lines. Better yet, many cities even allow these Casitas to be up to 1200 square feet! But again, think about your current house and lot. The average lot size in California is between 6,000 to 7,200 square feet and newer California homes average 2,200 square feet which is definitely a deciding factor for choosing an ADU’s size.

What options are available for ADUs?

The demand for ADUs has increased the options for styles and features in these tiny homes and can blend seamlessly into your current home landscape. Let’s talk about features to think about when planning your ADU purchase.

  1. Cost – Most ADUs are prefab homes and the parts are built in a factory and assembled on site. This streamlines the process and decreases the costs and shortens your timeline. Hiring an architect to create a unique tiny home would be extremely expensive and time consuming. But throw away your old ideas of prefab homes or mobile homes. Think about how your cell phone has evolved over the past 30 years…. It’s kind of like that. Quality products, stylish finishes, and eco-friendly innovation have elevated these backyard homes into beautiful living spaces. 

And speaking of size and finishes, these are also influencers on your budget. Obviously an 800 square foot home would cost less than a 1200 on and even walking around Home Depot, you can see how laminate flooring is much cheaper than hardwood. Determine your budget FIRST and let that  guide your decision making process.

  1. Purpose – What is the purpose of your ADU? Do you just need a room outside with electricity for a home office? Is it going to be a studio apartment for your college student complete with kitchenette, bathroom, bed, and desk? Are you planning on creating a luxury apartment for aging parents and want to spoil them with a bedroom, office, and high end appliances? Have you thought about the future and how you want to use the ADU long term? While you may have small children and just need a quiet, work from home office today, it’s worth considering the building’s future potential. Maybe 5 or 10 years down the road you could turn it into a rental apartment or a place for your kids to stay while they save money for their own home one day (instead of paying high apartment rent, that $1,000/month could go to a house payment!). Or not. Maybe a one room home office is what your lot can hold and suits your needs. Just consider the possibilities that will bring the best lasting results for you and your family.
  2. Restrictions – While we shared that the State of California has loosened their restrictions, here are a few that are in place that you need to know about.
    1. There is no minimum lot size. 
    2. You can only have one ADU per property.
    3. The maximum you can have is two bedrooms and one bathroom.
    4. Sizes are limited to 850 sq. ft. for studios and one bedroom units, and 1,000 square feet for 2 bedroom units (depending on the city).

How long does it take to build an ADU?

Typically, building an ADU takes approximately 4-6 months to complete. However, as we write this, we’re still experiencing the effects of COVID-19 on the world. So, depending on the supply chain and government permit efficiency, the normal time would be 4-6 months. 

How much does an ADU cost?

Again, there are many variables to this equation. Size and finishes can affect the costs and also how much prep work needs to be done to the site, landscaping, and more. 

How do I begin this process?

Every homeowner and property is unique, so your first step is to contact the experts at ADU Warehouse. Let’s talk about your needs, timeline, and budget so we can create a custom plan for you. We’re contractors, real estate professionals, and the nicest people you’ll ever meet and we’re here to help with California’s housing shortage. We know that the cost of living is expensive and the importance of caring for family is a top priority. Together we can help create a solution for the challenge to make your home work more efficiently for you. Call us today! We’re ready to help!

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