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ADU’s are hot. High land costs and permitting concessions from the City of Portland have made the thought of building an Accessory Dwelling Unit popular among homeowners and want-to-be homeowners in the last couple years. Have you ever thought about building an ADU?

What are ADUs?


Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are known by many names: granny flats, in-law units, backyard cottages, secondary units and more. No matter what you call them, ADUs are an innovative, affordable, effective option for adding much-needed housing in California.

What are the benefits of ADUs?

  • ADUs are an affordable type of home to construct in California because they do not require paying for land, major new infrastructure, structured parking, or elevators.

  • ADUs can provide a source of income for homeowners.

  • ADUs are built with cost-effective wood frame construction, which is significantly less costly than homes in new multifamily infill buildings.

  • ADUs allow extended families to be near one another while maintaining privacy.

  • ADUs can provide as much living space as many newly-built apartments and condominiums, and they’re suited well for couples, small families, friends, young people, and seniors.

  • ADUs give homeowners the flexibility to share independent living areas with family members and others, allowing seniors to age in place as they require more care.

Why do people build ADUs?


ADUs have many benefits for homeowners in California faced with common challenges like affordability of housing, safety, comfort, privacy, and independent living.

  1. Affordable housing

  2. Safety and accessibility

  3. Privacy and comfort

  4. Starter homes for young families

  5. Long term investment

  6. Rental Income

Affordable Housing

ADU costs vary widely by project scope, quality, permits, and fees. However, in many cases, the total cost of a designed, permitted, and completed ADU costs a third of a single family home in California's Silicon Valley.

The Income Generator

It’s not hard to figure out. If you’ve lived in California long, you know land costs and housing costs are high. Designing and building an ADU to rent out on your existing property is a popular idea for homeowners who want to generate some extra income that may help cover those high costs.

When planning and designing and building an Accessory Dwelling Unit that becomes an income generator, most homeowners consider one of two types of renters: long term renters and short term renters. Keep in mind, there are important factors to consider after you’ve decided which type of renter you want to attract. Think about the different wants and needs between someone that rents an apartment and someone that rents an AirBnB or hotel room.

The Money Saver

What happens when your income changes because you’ve changed jobs or careers or you’ve retired? What happens when you have your first child or your children go off to college? Costs and mortgage payments rarely go down. That’s why some homeowners look at ADUs as money savers.

This scenario is much like the Income Generator, but opposite. Some homeowners decide to invest in designing and building an Accessory Dwelling Unit on their property so they can move into it and rent the main house. It gives them the opportunity to save money on their own living expenses while generating income on the house they used to live in.

Does one of these scenarios speak to you? Do you have parents that want to downsize? Maybe you are an adult that’s ready to downsize. Are you interested in generating some extra income on property you already own? Or, would you like to save money while generating income?

Things to Know

Understanding ADU's and Their Importance                                                                               California State Fire Marshall     

Summary of Recent Changes to ADU Unit Laws                                                                         City of Fremont ADU Trifold

FAQ: Junior ADU                                                                                                                                  ADU Legislation 2018

FAQ: Accessory Dwelling unit                                                                                                           Bill to reduce restriction MAY 30th 2019

Sample ADU Ordinace

Sample JADU Ordinace

State Standard Checklist

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