ADUs | In-Law Units

Thinking About A Home Addition? Make It An ADU.

As a designer in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve been a part of the ADU boom for years. There’s a reason they’re so popular. These versatile additions can help a homeowner in many ways:

  • You can rent it out and bring in $2,000 to $5,000 per month in rental income. The ADU will pay for itself and then some, supplementing your mortgage, your travel expenses, your kids’ education…anything you need. (You can even give your accessory dwelling its own postal address.)
  • You can move your parents, grandparents, or adult children into it. Save on housing expenses as a family, keep your loved ones close, and team up on finances and household tasks.
  • In some cities, you can use it as a temporary rental (think AirBnB or VRBO). Use it for yourself when you don’t have a guest.
  • You can use it as a home office, extra space for your family, a studio for your artistic endeavors, or a guest house.

Since an ADU is so versatile, you can do any or all of the above. An ADU is the perfect way to get more from your home.

Accessory dwelling, granny flat, over-garage apartment, in-law suite, tiny house…Whatever you call it, it will change your life.

Design Process

Designing and Permitting an Accessory Dwelling

Designing and permitting an ADU requires an experienced professional who knows the industry. You want someone on your side who will be honest about costs and timelines, create a quality design, pay attention to the details, and be your advocate at the permitting office.

In the design phase, your designer should listen carefully to your goals and create an ADU that will serve your needs and last a lifetime. You’ll need construction documents that are incredibly clear and precise so there are no costly misunderstandings with the builder.

In permitting, there’s always a period of back-and-forth with the city officials. You need someone who knows both the city regulations and the state law. (Some city personnel don’t fully understand the state laws, so knowledge is crucial here.) It’s critical that your design professional know who to talk to and how to get through the permitting process in your city.

ADU Legalization

Permitting an Illegal Accessory Dwelling

If your property already has an ADU that was built without the proper permits, now is a great time to get everything legalized. To rent out your unit, you’ll need city permits, and to get those, you’ll likely need to do some renovations. I can help you bring your home addition, backyard cottage, garage apartment, or in-law unit into compliance.

Your ADU Designer

Whether you’re building a new ADU or permitting an unpermitted unit, my experience in the San Francisco Bay Area gives me an edge in designing and permitting for you. Contact me today to learn more about ADUs and to discuss your accessory dwelling project.

Types of ADUs

Detached ADUs

A backyard cottage, a guest house, or any detached ADU provides a complete living facility. This includes a kitchen and bathroom, and is completely separate from the primary home. Such an ADU can either be new construction or a conversion from an existing detached garage. This provides a good option for properties that have a lot of extra yard space.

Attached ADUs

In this case the addition is connected to a primary home. Examples include: A basement conversion, a garage conversion, an apartment or other an in-law unit connected to the primary home. This unit will have its own kitchen and bathroom independent from the main part of the house.

Junior ADUs

Located entirely within the existing walls of an established single family home, the maximum size allowed is 500 square feet. Normally this type of ADU will have an efficiency kitchen. A private bathroom is not required, provided that the Junior ADU has full access to a shared bathroom. A Junior ADU must include an exterior separate entrance. No extra parking is required.

New ADU Laws in California

In October of 2019, the California State Legislature passed three assembly bills that mark a new era in housing development. By changing residential zoning codes, California cities can now develop supportive zoning policies for ADUs. The state hopes that this change will increase the housing supply. 

What AB68 and AB881 Do for California Homeowners

  • Removes minimum lot size requirements for ADUs.
  • Reduces maximum setbacks applicable to an ADU to 4 feet.
  • Increases the size limit of an ADU.
  • Voids FAR (floor area ratio) and lot coverage.
  • Reduces the max permit approval time for an ADU to 60 days.
  • Prohibits replacement parking requirements when an existing garage is converted to an ADU.
  • NO PARKING REQUIRED for the ADU if one of the following conditions applies: 1) the ADU is located within ½ mile of public transit, 2) the ADU is located within a historical district, or 3) the ADU is part of the existing primary residence or an existing accessory structure.
  • Allows up to 2 ADUs on multi-family properties.
  • Allows a single-family property a conversion ADU and a JADU per property.
  • Limits local discretion in establishing minimum and maximum unit size requirements, guaranteeing at least an 850-square-foot ADU or 1000 square feet for an ADU with more than one bedroom.

What AB13 Does for California Homeowners

  • Eliminates owner-occupancy requirements for ADUs and main houses.
  • Eliminates impact fees would be for ADUs under 750 square feet. Larger ADUs, requires fees to be proportional to the size of the primary dwelling.
  • Provides a program for homeowners to delay compliance with certain building code requirements that do not relate to health and safety. This would legalize many already existing ADUs that cannot be brought up to 100% code compliance.

What AB6670 Does for California Homeowners

  • Removes restrictions placed by local homeowner’s associations to prevent ADUs.

ADU Services

  • Complete ADU Design 
  • Draft Architectural Drawings Set
  • Project Evaluation and City Requirements Analysis
  • Finishes and Fixtures Selection
  • ADU Kitchen and Bath Design
  • ADU Landscaping and Hardscape Design
  • Existing and Proposed Site Plan
  • ADU Garage Conversions
  • ADU 3D Drawings
  • Title 24 Energy Calculations
  • Guarantee to Obtain City Permits
  • Structural Engineering Services from a Licensed Engineer
  • Lighting Design