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Are you familiar with ADUs? Or have you ever come across the term ADU? Maybe from your friend who was talking about his ‘granny flat’. Or you recently show your neighbor converting his garage into a residential unit. You might even overhear some of your colleagues discussing their recent investment opportunity. All this is because of some updated laws in California ADUs. These laws enable several homeowners to create extra living spaces within their property.
ADUs are also known as Additional Dwelling Units or Accessory Dwelling Units. They are second structures on the residential property besides the main house. Currently, ADUs are appealing to many homeowners in both Los Angeles and California. Especially since the state has eased the laws governing the construction of California ADUs. As a result, many homeowners in CA are turning garages into living spaces. Or building ADUs in the backyard of their property.
What you should know about California ADUs in 2020:
There is an updated law about ADUs!
Let us go through the recently updated regulations. These laws will make ADUs more workable for several homeowners. ADUs will help to solve the housing crisis in California State and its cities. Thus, the updated laws are easing several previous restrictions on constructing these structures. In this article, we will discuss some of these guidelines relating to ADUs.
This is the most radical change that has been on the parking requirements. Previous parking laws needed covered parking for existing homes and planned living units. But, the new guideline allows the parking of the main home to have no covering. And no parking for the extra unit provided it is near transit.
- Waiving some utility charges to promote the construction of ADUs by homeowners
It is also worth noting that ADUs do not any ‘unrestricted’ approval. This means that you do not need approvals from planning boards. Or even from the city planning department and neighbors. You only need to follow the established regulations. So, acquiring the right to construct an ADU is a very simple process. Submit the plans to California’s building department. Go through the plan check process and get the building permit. That simple!
- The new laws allow various types of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
- They also allow an increase in the largest permitted ADU size
Why construct an ADU in your property?
Most homeowners are happy with the simplified ADU laws. And they are currently building ADUs on their lots. But why build ADUs in the first place? Well, this comes down to 2 things. , the new laws of California ADUs enable them to add more living space in their property easily. And there are various potential uses of ADUs.
Earlier, adding more floor coverage to an existing house involved constructing another story. This task was challenging, time-consuming and very costly. Moreover, it needed a significant alteration to the current home layout. You also had to experience some discomfort during the construction period.
An ADU relieves most of these challenges and facilitates several versatile applications. Homeowners are construction ADUs so that they can use them as extra space or a yoga/ music studio. Additionally, homeowners can use these units as rental units from extra income.
Types of Accessory Dwelling Units
There are 2 main options when building an ADU. This includes;
– Garage conversion
– Constructing a new ADU in your backyard
Garage conversion involves tuning an existing garage into an Accessory Dwelling Unit. It’s the most affordable option since the main structure is already available. The drawback of this approach is the size limitation. Especially since the floor coverage most two-car garages is only 300 to 400 sq. feet. But this space is enough for a small 1-bedroom unit or a studio.
The other option involves constructing a new Accessory Dwelling Unit. A new unit can take several forms. You can either detach it completely or attach it to the garage or an existing house. The new unit can either be 1 or 2 stories, whose greatest height is around 25 feet.
Establish the new unit in your backyard, but not in front of your existing home. The largest floor coverage of the new detached ADU should be 1200 square feet. While an extra unit attached to the existing house should be less than 50% of the current house or 1200 square feet.
A 400 to 600 square feet ADU is perfect for a 1-bedroom floor plan. While a 600 to 1200 square feet structure is enough for construction of 1 -2 stories. You can even include many bathrooms and 3 bedrooms.
Who can construct an ADU
California allows the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units in most residential zones. But they must meet the state’s basic restrictions. Additionally, there should be an existing structure on that property. ADUs are free from parking requirements. But the property should lie within 1.5 miles of a public transport system.
With the garage conversion approach, maintain 2 parking spots for the current house. But the driveway spots do not have to include coverings.
A new ADU should be about 10 feet away from an existing garage or house. Or attach it to the garage or house. Additionally, the new unit should be about 5 feet from both the side and rear property lines. But, converting the garage into a living unit doesn’t meet the above setback requirements.
What’s the cost of building an ADU
The cost of building an ADU varies depending on the size and options you choose. As we stated before, a garage conversion is the most affordable approach to building an ADU. In garage conversion. The major components are already available in this approach. Thus, construction will entail items like building the 4th wall. And adding interior components like a kitchen, flooring, bathroom and interior walls. It will also include adding doors and windows and HVAC/ plumbing/ electrical installation. As well as adding a new sewage line.
The cost of converting a garage into an ADU usually ranges between $60,000 and $100,000. But this will depend on the requirements of the homeowners.
Also, the cost of building a new Accessory Dwelling Units vary. This will depend on various factors like location, access, size and number of stories. In general, this cost ranges from $100,000 to $400,000.
How to finance an ADU?
There are many ways of financing an ADU project. For instance, you can choose to pay for the ADU using your savings. Or fund the construction of the unit by other methods like:
Securing a loan
Using the home renovation loan
Take a home equity credit line
How long will it take to construct an ADU
The timing of a new ADU construction project and garage conversion is different. The entire process of garage conversion can take three to six months. This includes the time of designing architectural plans. And waiting for plan check by the city and the entire construction process. Constructing a new ADU takes more time for the city plan check and construction process. Thus, the entire process can take about six to nine months.
What is the ADU construction process
The ADU construction process usually starts with a homeowner meeting an experienced contractor. The contractor and the homeowner then discuss the project and other related factors. These factors might include; location constraints estimated costs, design, and size. The contractor and owner might then agree on the desired parameters. They then can look for a plan designer or an architect to prepare architectural plans.
After the plan designer/ architect completes the plan, the owner may approve it. The contractor then prepares a detailed bid and estimate. The owner then chooses the desired contractor and signs a contract for the task. Either the contractor/ architect can submit the architectural plans for plan check. They will receive the building permit from the department after this process. Once they get the permit, the construction of the ADU can now start.
How to find a good Accessory Dwelling Unit contractor
If you want to construct an ADU, it’s good to find the best local and licensed general contractor. For instance, if you live in California or Texas, you can hire INNODEZ Design and Engineering. This type of construction requires equipped and qualified contactors. Using a handyman or unlicensed contractors will be a huge mistake.
When you contact the contractor, ensure that they’ve experienced with that kind of project. Use a construction company that has experience in garage conversions/ building additions. Also, it’s good to be aware of the potential pitfalls or issues. There are many essential criteria for choosing a contractor. Some of these factors include:
• Ensure that the contractor has insurance
Before choosing a contractor, ask them to provide you with their insurance certificate. Once you have it, ensure that it has not expired. Or even contact the insurance provider to confirm that it’s valid.
• Read the contractor’s reviews online
Conduct a social media or Google search online about the contractor. Go through every review of their business. This will enable you to determine if the contractor is trustworthy or not.
• Check the contractor’s references
Ask the contractor to give you at least 3 references that you can contact. When you contact the references, ask about their satisfaction. And experience with the contractor’s quality. It would even be better if you can get photos of their work.
• Look for the validity of the contractor’s license
It is very important to look for the validity of the contractor’s license. You can look it up at the website of the Contractors State License Board. Ensure that the license is active and has the Workers’ compensation insurance. Also, ensure that it doesn’t have any disciplinary actions.