Transforming problem houses into Dream Homes

Accessory Dwelling Units – Can You Build One?

In California right now, there is a significant amount of interest in “accessory dwelling units” (ADUs). These used to be called “granny flats”, “in-law units”, or “back yard cottages”. Now they are most commonly called “accessory dwelling units” or “secondary dwelling units”. By definition, an ADU is a smaller dwelling that is attached to, or on the same property as, the primary dwelling on the property.

There is a significant shortage of housing in California. The state legislature passed legislation making it easier for home owners to add accessory dwellings to their property. This allows the property owner to either rent the accessory dwelling out for income, or to use the dwelling for family members, or for a caregiver.

The original legislation was okay, but many cities found ways to complicate the process, making it, if not impossible, at least very difficult for a property owner to add such a unit. Not all cities were enthusiastic about these additional units. So the legislature modified the state legislation, making it more difficult for cities to put up roadblocks to accessory dwellings.

As a result, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, are seeing a boom of sorts in accessory dwellings. San Francisco has made it a significant part of their housing policy. They have made it easier to add accessory dwellings to existing buildings. They have added the ability to include an ADU as an enticement to get people to voluntarily upgrade the earthquake resistance of their buildings. They even have a program to allow existing in-law units, built without permits, to be legalized.

In San Francisco, an ADU is almost always built within the envelope of the existing building. Few yards are large enough to allow a free standing back yard cottage, though it might be possible in some locations. In Oakland and Berkeley, it is possible to convert part of an existing house into an accessory dwelling, or to build a free standing cottage in on the property. It is possible in all three cities to, in many instances, convert an existing free standing garage into an accessory dwelling.

There are many variables that will depend on the municipality and how it is implementing the state law. There are also many variables that are specific to the site and the conditions of the existing property.

Most of the projects in my office are currently related to ADUs, either adding them, or legalizing existing ADUs. I am also responding to this new project demand in two other ways.

The first is immediate: I am introducing an ADU On Site Review service. For a fixed fee, paid in advance, I will come to your property and assess the viability of adding a new accessory dwelling. We will discuss your options, the likely costs, and the probable time lines. If there is an existing, un-permitted in-law unit, I will discuss how the unit can be legalized. You can make an appointment for an ADU On Site Review online, in the “Book A Meeting” section on the right hand side of the web page.

The other way I am responding, is that I will be creating an online class about ADUs. The class will cover the basics of adding an ADU and what the major considerations are. The class will be something you can do at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. Pricing and delivery to be determined.

If you are in San Francisco, Berkeley, or Oakland and are interested in the potential of developing a portion of your existing home’s property into an ADU, please feel free to book an ADU On Site Review, today. You may be able to create a steady rental income, or guest accommodation. If you are aging and want to be able accommodate a live-in caregiver, or to allow a relative to stay nearby, but not in your space, an ADU may be the solution you are looking for. Book an ADU On Site Review today!

If you live in the Bay Area, but not in Berkeley, Oakland, or San Francisco, and are interested in the potential of developing a portion of your property into an ADU, I can still help you, but it may take more time, as I will have to research the requirements in your specific municipality. Feel free to email me at dslocicero at gmail dot com to discuss the possibility.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather