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What is an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit)?

An accessory dwelling unit is just what its name implies. It is a secondary or supplementary living space built on the same property as your primary dwelling. ADUs are growing increasingly popular and come in a variety of styles. These include single-family ADUs, multi-family ADUs, junior ADUs, house conversions, connected ADUs, detached ADUs, and more. Because an ADU is built on just the available land on your property, the permitting process might be more difficult than for a standard building. It is vital, however, that your plan adheres to ADU standards and laws.

The state of California has enacted a set of standards and regulations to follow, easing the permitting and building process of ADUs. This is also done to make ADUs more affordable for tenants. Homeowners can rent out their ADUs as a means of supplementing the revenue generated by garage conversions to ADUs. They have the option of renting out their ADU to tourists, students, or other families.

Different kinds of ADUs, on the other hand, necessitate different standards.

Multi-family ADUs

In January 2020, the ADU standards for multi-family ADUs were adopted for the first time. Initially, the legislation stated that you may add ADUs to an existing multi-family property. As a result, all communities in California are obliged to get a permit for multi-family ADUs without regard to local development rules.

You may even build new units within the non-living space, such as storage spaces. However, at least one unit and up to one-fourth of the existing unit count may be generated. With 4-foot side and rear setbacks and a maximum height of 16 feet, you can develop two apartments on the same property as the multifamily structure but separate from it.

Junior ADUs (JADUs)

Junior ADUs are a relatively new addition to the ADU family. This type of ADU was developed by the state of California, with the exception that it is not needed to include a separate bathroom.

Home conversions

Home conversions are just a converted area of the main house with its kitchen and bathroom.

Garage expansion

A new ADU with at least one wall is shared with the garage. One wall implies that it might be the roof above the garage as well.

Addition to the house

An ADU should share at least one wall with the principal residence.

Detached ADUs

Detached ADUs should be fully independent of the main house. They are frequently built in a property’s backyard.

The ADU standards and regulations.

In January 2020, the Californian state established new laws regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). These ADU standards established by California lawmakers includes five bills passed with the aim of making the permitting and building process easier for homeowners.

Require that licenses for ADUs and Junior ADUs (JADU) be authorized or refused within 60 days, rather than the previous law’s 120 days.

A JADU is a 500-square-foot-or-less ADU.

Applying development requirements that limit size is prohibited if it prevents the building of at least an 800 square foot ADU that fulfills other criteria.

Local discretion in defining minimum and maximum unit size criteria should be limited.

Any residential property may have up to one ADU and one JADU.

Remove the requirement for parking replacement when an ADU results in the destruction or conversion of existing parking. Senate Bill 13:

Allows for the construction of an ADU in the same site and physical dimensions as an existing ancillary structure that is destroyed to make way for an ADU, as well as a 150 square foot expansion if ingress/egress is given.

Owner-occupancy requirements are prohibited until 2025.

AB 670 and AB 671: eliminate impact fees for ADUs under 750 square feet and requires payments to be proportionate to the square footage of the principal dwelling.

Prevent homeowners’ organizations from prohibiting or placing reasonable limits on ADU building on single-family dwellings.

Require local housing authorities to encourage the building of ADUs that you rent at low or moderate rates to low or moderate-income households.

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