With the housing shortage, a lot of people are looking into purchasing an ADU to meet the demand for more space. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers about backyard homes to help you make the best decision for your situation.

It seems like there’s a lot of information – and misinformation – out there about everything, and as ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) are becoming more popular, there’s a lot of questions about what you can expect with this purchase. With that in mind, we decided to address some of the most common questions that we’ve been getting so that you can have peace of mind to make the best decision when it comes to your backyard home.

Question 1: Are tiny homes and ADUs the same thing?

Answer: No. If you’ve watched any of the Tiny Home programs on HGTV, then you’ve probably seen a variety of small dwelling structures that have been modified that range from shipping containers to school buses. You’ve also undoubtedly seen tiny homes built from scratch that live on a set of wheels like an RV. Now THAT version IS a tiny home. A tiny home is a moveable structure while an ADU is a permanent one. If the shipping container lives on a slab as it’s permanent home, then that would be an ADU. It seems like tiny homes and ADUs have been used interchangeably, but for technical purposes, they are two different structure types.

Question 2: Do I need a big lot to build an ADU on my property?

Answer: There is no minimum lot size for an ADU according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). However, local agencies may require specific setbacks so it’s important to check with your local government to ensure that you’re in compliance. However, ADUs tend to be 800 – 1,000 square feet so measure your backyard to determine what you are potentially capable of building. Additionally, they need to be four feet away from your back and side property lines.

Question 3: Can I afford to buy an ADU? I hear they cost well over $100,000.

Answer: You’ll have to determine your budget before you get started, but there are a variety of incentives and grants available from the state. The housing market at this point in time is extremely competitive and there isn’t enough inventory on the market to meet demand. As of January 1, 2021, some exciting new opportunities are available for those wishing to build an ADU. According to the HCD

  • “The California Health and Safety Code (HSC), Section 65583(c)(7), requires that cities and counties develop a plan that incentivizes and promotes the creation of ADUs that can be offered at affordable rent for very-low to moderate-income households.
  • “As recapped below, HCD has developed a list of existing state grants and financial incentives in connection with the expenses for the planning, construction and operation of an ADU with affordable rent for very low to moderate- income households.”

For a full list of grants and incentives, please visit the HCD’s website here.

Not only does the state offer the above help, but as the demand in ADUs rises, so do the options. For example, there are prefab ADUs where the parts are built in a factory and assembled on site. A custom ADU could be pricey, but with these standard structures, the costs can be surprisingly affordable. Secondly, as in traditional builds, the cost is directly proportional to the materials you use. Laminate floors, quartz countertops, and standard materials can give you modern convenience and style. Hardwood, custom cabinetry, and high-end details can add up along with increasing the square footage.

Finally, consider what you’re using your ADU for. The cost of an ADU is much cheaper over time than an apartment rental for your adult child, the high cost of senior living facilities for aging parents, and can generate additional income or pay for itself if you rent it out as an apartment or vacation rental such as Airbnb. 

Question 4: I don’t want to live in a construction zone. How long will it take to build an ADU?

Answer: Just like with your budget, your timeline can vary based upon the type of ADU you choose. If you pick out a prefab one, then the time is minimal since the design is already established and the company has the experience and materials to build them quickly. On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re thinking about building one yourself or with a contractor who hasn’t been down this road before, who knows how long this process could take?

On average, it can take anywhere from three to six months to build an ADU. One thing to consider is that with COVID-19, the demand for housing has increased therefore demand on materials and workers has increased. Have you tried to buy a refrigerator or washer or dryer during the pandemic? The same issues are a challenge for contractors at this time. 

Question 5: Can you recommend a good ADU company in California?

Answer: Yes! ADU Warehouse is highly reputable and their team of contractors and Realtors® work together to ensure that you get the best product all the while handling the appropriate permits and specifications. They have a variety of models to choose from based on your needs, budget, and location and they will walk you through this journey step by step to make sure that you have an experience that you’d be excited to tell a friend about. I bet you have a ton more questions to ask. Contact ADU Warehouse today!

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