Welcome to our ADU FAQ page, your one-stop resource to unlock the key information you need about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). hether you’re interested in the basics of ADUs, estimating the costs of building an ADU, navigating the ADU construction process, or have other ADU-related questions, we have compiled a wealth of information to assist you. Explore each category to find in-depth answers and gain confidence in your ADU journey. If you can’t find the answers you seek, feel free to reach out to our knowledgeable team for expert guidance.
An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a self-contained living unit that is secondary to the main house on a residential property. It is typically designed for independent living and has its own kitchen, bathroom, and entrance. ADUs are commonly used for rental purposes or to provide additional living space for family members or guests. The second unit is smaller than the main dwelling.
Garage Conversion: Turns a preexisting structure into a functional living area, such as a bedroom, office, or additional living space. It involves modifying the garage structure to meet building code requirements and incorporating essential amenities for comfortable living.
- Stand Alone Structure: Also known as detached new construction, refers to the creation of a separate and independent living unit on a property. This involves building a new structure from scratch, separate from the main house, to serve as a self-contained dwelling with its own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and living space. Think tiny house, granny pod, cottage.
- Home Extension: A home extension involves expanding the existing footprint of a house to create additional living space. It typically involves constructing new rooms or enlarging existing ones to accommodate specific needs, such as adding bedrooms, a larger kitchen, or expanding the living area. Home extensions are designed to seamlessly integrate with the existing structure and enhance the overall functionality of the home.
- Basement Conversion:It involves renovating an existing basement space to transform it into usable living space. It often includes waterproofing, insulation, and adding proper ventilation, as well as designing and constructing rooms such as bedrooms, bathrooms, entertainment areas, or home offices. Basement conversions provide a practical solution for utilizing the available space and expanding the usable area of a home.
Depending on what jurisdiction you want to build your ADU it can be different max sq ft you can build. Typically the maximum size for an ADU is 800-900 sq ft or a percentage of the existing structure, whichever is smaller.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) go by several names such as: In-Law Unit, Basement Apartment, Tiny House, Mother In Law Suites, Granny Pod, Backyard Cottage, Secondary Unit, just to name a few.
People build ADU for many reasons. Clients build ADU for the use as a long term rental property short term rental like AirBnB. Other clients have built them for family members retirement for multi generational living. Some clients build this for office space and extra guests.
Short-term rentals are subject to varying regulations depending on the jurisdiction. In areas where they are permitted, ADUs serve as an ideal option for short-term rentals, providing homeowners with a perfect opportunity to capitalize on this market.
ADUs’ rental income opportunities depend on location, size, amenities, and local demand. In high-demand areas, they can yield competitive returns as both short-term and long-term rentals. Unique features can further enhance their rental value.
Depending on the type of ADU but similar to any other building.
ADU owner’s maintenance responsibilities depend on the type of ADU, but it is similar to any other building.
ADU tenants must follow standard rental guidelines and regulations as any other rental.
The requirement of living on the property to have an ADU varies depending on the jurisdiction. However, in many cases, homeowners are not obliged to reside on the property to have an ADU.
Building an ADU is a unique cost to build. You are building the most expensive parts of a home: your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry in the smallest space. Using a price per square foot may not accurately represent the building cost for an ADU. The cost of building an ADU can vary, but as a rough estimate:
- Converting a space is $100-$125k
- Extension is $125-$150k
- Detached Dwelling Unit $150-$250k
City fees associated with ADUs can vary significantly depending on the jurisdiction. On average, these fees typically range from $4-8k, including building fees.
Yes, there are several financing options available for ADU construction, including HELOC loans, remodel loans, and various bank options. Since an ADU is an accessory to a main dwelling unit, it often qualifies for all residential financing options.
The most affordable ADU option is typically a basement or garage conversion.
There are two different approaches to getting started in the process. One approach is to hire architects first and then find a contractor, while the other approach is to hire contractors and work with them to find an architect. At NWV Group, we offer a unique service where we help you design and build your project, guide you through the permitting process, and provide value engineering to keep you on budget. Once the planning is complete, we proceed to build your project.
The construction process for an ADU typically follows these timeframes:
- Design Process: It can take 2-4 months, depending on the project’s complexity and the availability of consultants.
- Permitting: It can take around 2-4 months, depending on the type of ADU and the local jurisdiction’s processing times.
- Construction: The construction phase usually takes 6-12 months.
While there are zoning guidelines that are the most restrictive for setback and height, the overall regulations are relatively relaxed.
Yes, an existing structure such as a garage or basement can be converted into an ADU.
Always start by considering the end user during the process. For instance, if it’s intended for multi-generational living, you might want to include ADA or accessibility features. Additionally, think about how the person will access the new unit, including walkways, fencing, and parking.
ADUs do not require additional off-street parking.
ADU utilities are complicated. Some use the existing meter for electrical and water of the main dwelling, while others have their own electrical and water service or even gas services.
Most end up with a hybrid approach and each project is different.
There are many restrictions on height and sizing, but they vary by jurisdiction.
ADUs typically have both minimum and maximum square footage requirements, often based on a percentage of the main dwelling unit or sq ft max.
Yes, you can sell an ADU as a condo. This is becoming more popular these days.
Overbuilding or underbuilding for the intended use. Striking the right balance is key, avoiding over-designing for personal preferences or simply aiming for the cheapest option.
Yes, ADUs can have separate mailboxes and addresses in some cases, or may be labeled as A or B Unit.
The best ADU to build is one that prioritizes the needs and preferences of the end user. Always start with the end user and work backwards.
ADUs are gaining popularity due to their lower barrier than buying a new property, making them an excellent option for adding value to a home or providing an additional income source.