Trusted resources for your ADU project
What you need to know about successfully planning and finding expert help for your accessory dwelling unit
An online resource provided by Daniel S. Gonzales, attorney at law
California faces a critical imbalance between job growth and residential stock. Experts have concluded that a key component in bridging this gap will be accessory dwelling units (“ADUs”), also known as “granny units” or “in-law flats.” ADUs are far from a new idea, but “NIMBY” laws intended to preserve neighborhood character have long restrained their use. Despite these restrictions, however, it is estimated that Los Angeles has 50,000 illegal units.
Recent California legislation aimed at remedying our housing shortage is expected to accelerate ADU construction across the state. These reforms set statewide ADU standards, voided local laws imposing more restrictive limits, established a process and timeline for local government to comply with these new standards, and addressed overregulation.
These efforts appear to be paying off, as permits for and construction of ADUs are on the rise. Still, property owners who want to plan and execute ADU projects need sources of information about resources, laws, and tools to help increase their chances of success.
To help those interested in ADUs meet these needs, I have created this website, which features news about ADUs, as well as an FAQ on ADU basics. I have also provided online tools to assist ADU developers. The Excel-based “Return on Investment” tool has a template designed for ADUs to help plan projects and track costs. The “Regulations” section will help you identify the jurisdiction in Santa Clara County in which your project is located and ascertain their relevant guidelines. Finally, I have included a forum for client references of local ADU project vendors; as you successfully deal with such vendors, I hope you will share your thoughts here.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about ADUs or if you are looking for professional services related to their planning, design, construction or marketing.
You can download this MS Excel calculator how many years your ADU project will take to break even.
To use the excel worksheet, enter your values into the cells highlighted in green and blue by double clicking on them in the “assumptions” tab. The bottom cell in yellow will show you your “Number of Years to break even”. You’ll need to make some assumptions about the cost of construction, the property tax impacts, and the rental income rate. You can also view (and modify) the core calculator assumptions.
ROI Calculator, courtesy of Accessory Dwellings website.
Frequently asked questions
What is an accessory dwelling unit?
An accessory dwelling unit is a simple and old idea: having a second small dwelling right on the same grounds (or attached to) your regular single-family house, such as: an apartment over the garage. a tiny house (on a foundation) in the backyard.
What is an in-law suite in a house?
An in-law apartment might be an apartment over a garage or a basement suite. Other variations are dwellings attached to a single-family home or a living space completely detached from the home, like a small guest house. Legally, an in-law apartment must have its own entrance, kitchen, bathroom and living space.
What is a granny flat house?
Granny flats are regularly defined as ‘secondary dwellings’, meaning they are secondary to the main property on a single block. The dwelling must be self-contained, meaning it has a separate entrance, as well as separate bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, laundry and living area.
What is an accessory unit in Fannie Mae?
Fannie Mae will purchase a one-unit property with an accessory unit. An accessory unit is typically an additional living area independent of the primary dwelling unit and includes a fully functioning kitchen and bathroom. … The property is defined as a one-unit property.
What is a Granny room?
As a granny flat is fully self-contained, they’ll usually contain the following rooms: A bedroom (usually just the one) A kitchen or kitchenette. A living area. A bathroom (either separate or an ensuite)
What is an ADU in real estate?
An ADU is a detached living space built on a property with an existing primary home.
What is the definition of a dwelling unit?
Dwelling unit” means a structure or the part of a structure that is used as a home, residence or sleeping place by one person who maintains a household or by two or more persons who maintain a common household.
In the News
Entering a new decade, California is primed to implement several bills signed into law at the end of 2019 that seem poised to turbocharge the trend of making accessory dwelling units (“ADUs”) less expensive, easier to get approved, and much more common in the Golden State. Despite these salutary efforts, however, obstacles to the successful … [Read More...]
In July, the City of Redwood City enacted ordinances imposing height and privacy restrictions on ADUs in response to a spate of objections from local residents who raised concerns about the increase in second-story ADUs in their neighborhoods, which has resulted from changes in local codes encouraging ADUs in that city. Since 2015, Redwood City … [Read More...]
The California state legislature recently adopted several new laws requiring local jurisdictions to modify their ADU regulations by making them less restrictive. As each municipality in Santa Clara County completes its revisions, we will link this website to that city’s specific web page to assist you in ascertaining the regulations that may affect your project.