All ADU Regulations

Saratoga, California

Here are the up-to-date requirements for permitting an ADU in Saratoga.

September 25, 2023
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Saratoga, CA

The ADU market in Saratoga, CA is growing rapidly. There are over 1,000 ADUs in Saratoga, and the number is increasing by about 10% per year. The growth of the ADU market in Saratoga is a positive trend, as it provides more housing options for residents and helps to keep the city affordable.

General ADU requirements

All standard ADU types – detached, attached, and conversion – as well as JADUs are permitted in Saratoga. The specific requirements for your project will depend on the ADU type. ADUs must be equipped for independent living and have permanent facilities for:

  • Living
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Sanitation (i.e. a bathroom)
  • Cooking
  • Exterior access that is separate from the primary dwelling

ADU kitchens must also have:

  • A sink with running water
  • Countertops and cabinetry of a reasonable size
  • A refrigerator
  • A permanent range/cooktop that doesn’t need more than 120V or natural/propane gas

JADUs may share bathroom/sanitation facilities with the primary dwelling, but they must have a separate entrance. Conversion ADUs must also have their own entrance.


All properties zoned for single family and multifamily use may be eligible to build ADUs.


During the course of permitting your ADU project, you can expect to pay the following fees:

  • Impact fees are waived for ADUs less than 750 sq. ft.
  • School Fees: for ADUs over 500 sq. ft. there will be a $3.79 fee per square foot to fund Saratoga School District projects. In our experience, plan check and building permit fees total around $5,000 to $10,000 for an average ADU in Saratoga.

Number of units

You can build up to two ADUs on a property zoned for single family use. This includes one detached ADU and one junior ADU. If you own a multi-family home, you can build up to two detached ADUs on the property.

Building size

Size requirements depend on your ADU type:

  • ADUs and JADUs must be at least 150 sq. ft.
  • JADUs can not exceed 500 sq. ft.
  • Detached ADUs that are not partially within setbacks cannot exceed 1,200 sq. ft. for a detached ADU
  • Detached ADUs that are partially within setbacks cannot exceed 850 sq. ft. for a detached one bedroom ADU and 1000 sq. ft. for a two bedroom ADU
  • Attached ADUs cannot exceed 50% of the existing dwelling, with a maximum size of 1200 sq. ft., not including the garage

Building height

A detached ADU located partially or entirely within a side or rear setback area cannot exceed 16 feet in height A detached or attached ADU located outside setback areas cannot exceed 26 feet in height


Conversion of existing unfinished basement space can be used for an attached ADU.


  • An attached ADU must comply with the setbacks required for the main home
  • A one-bedroom detached ADU that is 850 square feet or less, or a two-bedroom ADU that is 1,000 square feet or less may have rear and side setbacks of 4 feet
  • Setbacks of less than 4 feet are allowed if the ADU is constructed in the same location and to the same dimensions as an existing legal structure that is demolished for the purpose of constructing the ADU
  • A setback of 5 feet from the side and rear lot lines is allowed for an ADU constructed above an existing garage with legal non-conforming setbacks


Saratoga follows CA state law, where no additional parking is needed for an ADU if any of the following are true:

  • The ADU is located within one-half mile walking distance of public transit.
  • The ADU is located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district.
  • The ADU is part of the proposed or existing primary residence or an accessory structure.
  • When on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the ADU.
  • When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the ADU.

Fire safety

According to state law, if fire sprinklers aren’t required for your primary residence, then they are not required for your ADU either.


Owner occupancy is not a requirement for permitting an ADU from January 1, 2020 until January 1, 2025. This is a great opportunity for rental property owners to increase their rental yield in a cost-effective way.


While long-term rentals are permitted for ADUs, short-term rentals (e.g. Airbnb for less than 30 days) are not permitted in Saratoga.


Do you have a utility easement over your property? Are you in a FEMA flood zone? Reach out to us and we’ll help you build a custom ADU to fit your unique property characteristics and local regulations!


How close to my house can I build an ADU in Saratoga?

When building a detached ADU, it should be at least 6 ft. away from existing structures. You cannot build a detached ADU in within the front setback area of a multi-family home. It is a good idea to check such requirements with local authorities before starting your project.

Can I convert my garage into an ADU?

Yes, if you own a single-family home in a residential-zoned area, you may convert your garage into an ADU. Depending on the condition that your garage is in, the project may take under 9 months to complete and cost less than building a detached ADU. Reach out to our team to get an assessment on the condition of your garage and whether it can be converted affordably.

What is the smallest ADU I can build in Saratoga?

Across California, the smallest ADU you may build is 150 sq. ft., regardless of type.

Does an ADU need a kitchen in Saratoga?

Yes, ADUs must accommodate permanent and independent living, and be equipped with a fully functional kitchen.

Can I build 2 ADUs on my property in Saratoga?

If your property is zoned for single-family living, then you may be eligible to build one ADU and one Jr. ADU (JADU). Multi-family properties may be able to build more detached and conversion ADUs, based on the number of dwelling units already on the property. Reach out to our team for an assessment on how many.

What is the difference between an ADU and a JADU?

ADUs may either be attached to or detached from the primary dwelling, while JADUs are contained entirely within the primary dwelling. ADUs must be equipped with permanent facilities for independent living, but JADUs need only have an “efficiency” kitchen and may share some facilities with the primary dwelling. The maximum size allowed for a JADU is 500 sq. ft., while two-bedroom ADUs in Saratoga may be up to 1,200 sq. ft.

How much does an ADU increase property taxes in Saratoga?

Thankfully, your existing property will not be reassessed if you build an ADU in Saratoga! You can expect the value of your property to increase after you build your ADU. Since property taxes are often based on property values, this can increase your property taxes. However, any increases will only be based on the value of the ADU itself. Building an ADU will not trigger a reassessment of the value of your main home.

How many bedrooms can an ADU have in Saratoga?

There’s no explicit limit to the number of bedrooms for an ADU in Saratoga, however at the maximum allowable size of 1,200 sq. ft., you’d generally be able to fit 2 nicely sized bedrooms or 3 smaller ones if you get creative.

How long does it take to build an ADU in Saratoga?

The entire process, from start to finish, would depend on the type of ADU you’re building, the scope of your project, and the area you’re building in. In our experience in Saratoga, the permitting timeline ranges from 3-6 months.

Can I rent my ADU in Saratoga?

Yes, many homeowners we’ve worked with in Saratoga rent out their ADUs, given the high demand for housing and high rents. Short-term rentals of less than 30 days are not allowed in Saratoga, but you can rent out your ADU on platforms like Airbnb for 30+ days.

How many square feet can an ADU be in Saratoga?

Depending on the zoning of your property, setbacks and the number of bedrooms you are hoping to include, you may be allowed to build an ADU that has a maximum area of 1,200 sq. ft. in Saratoga.

Can you build a 2 story ADU in Saratoga?

It is possible to build a two-story ADU in Saratoga. ADUs that are not within setback requirements are allowed to build up to 26 ft.

Do I need solar on my ADU in Saratoga?

Solar requirements for ADUs were updated for 2023. As of 2023, ADUs below 1,000 sq. ft. are likely exempt from solar requirements. All conversion ADUs are exempt from solar requirements.

Design and build with confidence.