5 Questions to Ask Before Building An ADU

With the rise in urban living, many homeowners are turning to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) as a way to make their homes more affordable and functional. An ADU is an additional dwelling unit located on the same property as the original home. 

This can be done by converting your garage or basement into an apartment, building a separate structure next door, or even just adding some extra space to your home. Adding an ADU has become increasingly popular for two main reasons: affordability and functionality.

If you’re considering building an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on your property, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions first. Whether you’re looking at building your own ADU or hiring someone else to do it, these questions will help ensure that creating an ADU is the right choice for you.

1. What Type Of Accessory Dwelling Can I Build In California?

There are several guidelines to follow in order to build an accessory dwelling unit. The first is that you must meet certain criteria set forth by your city or county’s zoning ordinance. 

For example, if the building code requires a minimum lot size of 5000 sq. ft for one detached single-family home then it would be illegal to construct an accessory dwelling unit on a lot less than this amount of space.

ADUs are secondary dwellings with independent living quarters for family members, guests, and/or caregivers. Detached accessory structures are smaller buildings that have no kitchen or bathroom facilities of their own but instead share those utilities with the main house. An example is building a studio above your garage to rent out as an income property – it wouldn’t be considered an “accessory” if you only used the space yourself!

The first step in building either type of accessory dwelling is to determine what local planning authorities allow in terms of size, parking requirements, lot coverage limits, etc., so check with your city planner before getting too far along on plans for these types of accessory dwellings.

2. Why Should I Consider Concrete Foundation In Building My Accessory Dwelling Unit?

You might be wondering about the benefits of building your accessory dwelling unit with a concrete foundation. For one, when you go for this option, then it is much more likely that you will get less condensation and mold issues in the accessory dwelling unit than if you built it on just regular wood frame construction. 

This can also help to reduce damages from moisture due to leaks or flooding which could otherwise affect how long the accessory dwelling unit lasts before needing repairs or renovations. 

You should still take preventive measures such as installing gutters so that rainwater does not leak into your accessory dwelling unit but having a concrete foundation will definitely give an advantage because water runs off easily instead of seeping in and causing damage over time. By choosing this type of accessory dwelling unit foundation, you can also get a more contemporary look and feel to your accessory dwelling unit.

3. What Kind Of Permits Do I Need To Build Accessory Dwelling Units In California?

You will need to make sure that you have all of the necessary permits before building accessory dwelling units. In California, accessory dwelling units suitable for a single-family home or within an existing accessory structure can be done through construction without many permits if it meets local zoning requirements and fire codes.

ADUs are typically 200-600 square feet depending on location and may be built either on your property or in close proximity. Before building an accessory dwelling unit, it’s important to understand what kind of permits you will need from local government agencies at both state and city levels. 

Many counties in California have their own accessory dwelling unit ordinances which determine if they’re allowed in certain areas and how much minimum off-street parking you’ll require for them.

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    4. How Much Do Accessory Dwelling Units Cost?

    The average accessory living space is around 300 square feet with a garage above and costs between $100-$200 per square foot depending on region and design. This price does not include land value or other site improvements such as driveways, parking pads, etc. 

    If you are going to build your own ADU addition then this cost could potentially go down but there may be additional permitting fees involved in doing so which would offset any cost savings.

    You have to also keep in mind that it depends on what type of ADU, the size you’re planning to build, and your location. In San Diego alone, small ADUs that are between 200-600 sq. ft. cost between $150,000-$250,000 to build.

    As the real estate market in California becomes more expensive by the day; accessory dwelling units are becoming increasingly popular. So many property owners have considered building an accessory dwelling unit as an investment property.

    5. Can My Accessory Dwelling Unit Tap Into Existing Utility Connections?

    Generally, accessory dwelling units are built as stand-alone buildings and require their own utility meters. However, some localities allow accessory dwelling units to tap into existing utility services such as gas or water lines that already exist on your property. If there is a possibility of tapping into an existing connection you should ask the city during the permitting process if it’s allowed in your area.

    It can also tap into existing utility connections if it is within the same meter loop. If your accessory dwelling unit has its own private well or septic system, then you must provide for that in the building process by having a separate water and sewer connection to avoid contaminating the main house’s utilities.

    If you’re considering building an ADU, there are a lot of considerations to take into account. Hopefully, the 5 questions we’ve provided have helped narrow down your options and give you some sense of what it means to build one where you live. We’ll be here for any additional questions or concerns that may come up as you explore this idea further– just give us a call anytime!

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