Can I Build an ADU on My Property? Q&A w/ FTR

Last Updated: January 28th, 2024

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Welcome to our comprehensive guide on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), brought to you by FTR Renovation & Build.

In this Q&A series, we tackle one of the most important questions asked by the majority of our clients: Can I build an ADU on my property?

As a seasoned leader in the industry, FTR is here to navigate you through the nuances of building an ADU on your property.

An Accessory Dwelling Unit, commonly known as an ADU, backyard cottage, granny flat, or secondary dwelling unit, represents not just additional living space but a smart investment in your property.

Whether it’s for accommodating family members or generating rental income, ADUs offer a versatile solution to the growing need for affordable housing in urban settings.

In Los Angeles County, the trend of constructing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) has been gaining remarkable momentum.

Reflecting this trend, recent statistics indicate a significant shift: while in 2016, California permitted just over 1,000 ADUs, the popularity of these units has been evident for some time.

For example, back in 2014, even before their formal legalization, Los Angeles alone had an estimated 50,000 unpermitted ADUs.

This marked increase not only underscores the region’s adaptive approach to urban space management but also highlights the role of ADUs as a pivotal solution in addressing the challenges of housing affordability and availability.

Our article series aims to answer the most pressing questions posed by our extensive clientele, providing insights into the ADU construction process, zoning and permitting requirements, cost considerations, and much more.

Whether you’re pondering over the feasibility of building an ADU on your property, curious about the potential benefits, or seeking guidance on design and size regulations, we’ve got you covered.

Join us as we explore key topics such as:

  • Zoning restrictions and lot size requirements for constructing an ADU.
  • The multi-faceted benefits of building an ADU, from rental income to enhanced property value.
  • The diversity in ADU designs and sizes is tailored to comply with local regulations.
  • The timeline for constructing an average-sized ADU.

Our goal is to provide you with a seamless and informative journey through the process of building your own Accessory Dwelling Unit.

Let’s embark on this exciting venture together, transforming your property vision into a tangible and rewarding reality.

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Q&A Session with a Professional ADU Builder: Common Questions Answered

1. Can I Build an ADU on Any Property?

Zoning Restrictions and Lot Size Requirements

Building an ADU is subject to local zoning laws and property specifics. While many areas in Los Angeles County are ADU-friendly, it’s vital to check local zoning codes. Lot size is also a key factor, as there needs to be adequate space to accommodate an ADU while complying with setback and open space requirements. FTR Renovation & Build can help navigate these regulations and assess your property’s suitability​​.

2. What are the Primary Benefits of Building an ADU?

Rental Income, Increased Property Value, and Housing Flexibility

ADUs offer several benefits: they can significantly boost property value and potential resale profit, provide a source of rental income, and offer additional living space for family members or as versatile living spaces. They are a cost-effective housing option as they don’t require paying for land, major new infrastructure, structured parking, or elevators, and they’re built using cost-effective wood frame construction​​​​.

3. What are the Typical Sizes and Designs of ADUs?

Types of ADUs and Size Limitations

ADUs can be either attached to the existing house or detached as a separate unit. Size limitations are usually governed by local regulations. Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs), a subset of ADUs, are limited to 500 square feet and are created within existing single-family residences, offering additional, cost-effective housing options​​​​.

4. How Long Does it Take to Build an ADU?

Construction Timeline for an Average-Sized ADU

The time to build an ADU can vary, with the process including crafting blueprints, obtaining permits, tailoring the design, managing the project, construction, and final delivery. The entire process, from quote to move-in, may take several months to over a year, depending on project complexity, permitting processes, and builder schedules. FTR Renovation & Build provides comprehensive services throughout this journey​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.

Additional Considerations:

  • ADU Financing and Costs: Building an ADU in California can range from $50,000 to $300,000 or more, depending on the type (prefabricated, custom-built, conversion ADUs). Costs include permits, utility connections, or site preparation. Financial assistance is available through programs like the CalHFA ADU Grant Program, which offers up to $40,000 in reimbursement for predevelopment costs​​​​.
  • Permitting Process: The process involves initial research, pre-application meetings, submitting plans, plan reviews, and inspections to ensure compliance. HCD also mandates that cities and counties develop plans that promote the creation of affordable ADUs​​​​.

The Process: Steps Involved in Building Your Own Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

Embarking on the journey to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) involves several key steps, each critical to the success of your project. FTR Renovation & Build, alongside guidance from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), outlines a streamlined process to bring your ADU from concept to reality:

Selecting a Design and Floor Plan:

Begin by envisioning the purpose and style of your ADU. Whether it’s a cozy granny flat or a sleek, modern unit, your design choices should align with your needs and property layout. Consider various floor plans that maximize space efficiency and comply with local zoning regulations. Consulting with design experts at FTR can provide you with tailored options that meet both aesthetic and functional requirements.

Creating a Budget and Obtaining Financing:

Budgeting is critical in defining the scope of your ADU project. Costs can vary widely based on size, design, and materials. Including expenses like permits, utility connections, and site preparation is essential. Explore financing options such as traditional loans or specialized programs like the CalHFA ADU Grant Program, which offers reimbursement for predevelopment costs. Transparent cost breakdowns provided by FTR can help in precise budget planning​​​​.

Hiring Contractors and Obtaining Necessary Permits:

Partnering with a reliable contractor is pivotal. FTR’s expertise in ADU construction ensures adherence to quality and regulatory standards. The permitting process, a critical and often complex step, involves submitting plans, undergoing reviews, and obtaining approvals from local authorities. FTR manages this process, ensuring compliance with all regulations. Remember, the permitting phase can significantly impact your project timeline, so factor this into your planning​​​​​​.

Each step in this process requires careful consideration and planning. With the right approach and professional guidance, your ADU project can not only enhance your property’s value but also provide a versatile and functional living space.