ADU Guide

ADU Consultants: What Do You Need?

Designing, planning, permitting, and building a new ADU takes a network consultants and trusted partners. Read more about what ADU consultants will be necessary for your project.

Jordan AronsonAugust 30, 2021

Many homeowners think that building an ADU can be accomplished with just an architect and a general contractor. But designing, planning, permitting, and building a new ADU takes a village—or, rather, a network of consultants and trusted partners.

Identifying and partnering with the consultants that your ADU project will require can be a daunting task and, if not done properly, can significantly delay the completion of your project.

Cottage not only connects you with a trusted general contractor and our team of expert ADU designers, but a robust network of consultants as well. From your initial consultation, Cottage begins doing the leg work of identifying which consultants will be required for building your new ADU. We reach out to your local municipality and our network of consultants to find out exactly which consultants we’ll need to work with to permit and build your ADU to prevent any surprises or delays down the road.

And if you choose to partner with us, we’ll coordinate all the various consultants’ work to take all the hassle away from you. Not to mention, our volume of projects unlocks significant savings for your project in the hundreds to thousands of dollars.

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Why Do I Need 3rd Party Consultants for My ADU?

ADU Consultants

Consultants are licensed professionals that specialize in various types of engineering and investigative work critical to the ADU permitting and construction process. Some consultants, like surveyors and arborists, conduct site work on your property while others, like structural engineers, complete their work remotely and examine plans and drawings. Sometimes, information from these consultants is required before the ADU design can be complete.

Depending on the characteristics of your property and the requirements of your local municipality, your ADU project may require anywhere from 2 to 6 separate consultants, though the majority require just 2 to 3.

ADU Consultants: What Do I Need?

Every project – no matter how big or small – requires at least a couple of consultants to get involved. Every ADU project in California requires a Structural Engineer and a Title 24 Consultant.

  • Structural Engineer: A structural engineer analyzes the project’s architectural drawings to prepare a foundation, framing, and roof plan that meets code requirements for structural stability. This ensures that the unit is safe to occupy. This is especially important in California, where seismic hazard zones and earthquake risks are many and building code requirements are strict.
  • Title 24 Consultant: A Title 24 consultant analyzes the ADU’s design and dimensions to ensure that it complies with California’s building energy efficiency standards, known as Title 24. A Title 24 consultant ensures that your ADU is environmentally friendly and not too much of a draw on the state’s energy grid. In addition to making sure your ADU complies with state requirements, a proper Title 24 analysis can help lower your energy costs down the road.

ADU Consultants Measurement

Depending on the characteristics of your property and local building department’s requirements, you may encounter the need to work with additional consultants:

  • Topographic Surveyor: A Topographic Surveyor uses specialized equipment to measure and map your property in exact detail, including identifying easements and property boundaries and creating a topographic profile of your property using spot elevations. A survey can be helpful when trying to fit an ADU into a tight space and maximize every available inch of building space, and some cities require surveys to be submitted for all construction projects.
  • Arborist: When building near a protected or large tree, many municipalities require a tree survey and/or tree protection report to be submitted by a licensed arborist. These reports identify the size and species of the trees on your property as well as outline measures that the contractor will take to protect the trees during construction. Every municipality has a different definition of what constitutes a protected or significant tree.
  • Civil Engineer: Though a Civil Engineer has many functions, in permitting an ADU they are most often used in creating drainage and water runoff plans where required by local municipalities. A drainage plan ensures that adding an ADU to your property will not create any new issues of water pooling or flooding in your yard and are extra important for properties where those issues already exist. Note that not every drainage plan needs to be compiled by a licensed civil engineer, and you should check with your local municipality to determine if you need to hire one.
  • Geotechnical Engineer: If your property is located on a hillside or in a geo-hazard zone, your local municipality may require you to procure and submit a geotechnical report created by a licensed engineer. Geotechnical engineers examine the composition of your property’s soil and make recommendations to a structural engineer regarding the foundation of the ADU. Geotechnical reports can be very expensive and time consuming, so make sure you confirm with your local municipality that such a report will be required before hiring an engineer. A Geotechnical Engineer may also be required if building on a pool infill area in order to confirm that the soil is compacted correctly for a full build.

South San Francisco Open ADU Lot

How Does Cottage Work With Consultants?

Cottage takes the hassle out of finding, comparing, hiring, and coordinating the consultants required for your ADU project. Whether you need a surveyor to come out to your property to take site measurements or a structural engineer to review architectural drawings remotely, Cottage coordinates all the consultants’ work, so you never have to lift a finger (except maybe to point an arborist to your backyard).

And because we’re working with our network of consultants at scale across many projects at once, we are able to unlock discount pricing that homeowners would otherwise be unable to access in hiring them on a one-off basis.

ADU Consultants: Prepping Your ADU Unit Plan Set for Success

Planning and executing an ADU project requires more than just an idea, an architect, and a general contractor. Depending on the characteristics of your property and the requirements of your local municipality, you may need to involve several additional licensed professionals and consultants.

Cottage is well-versed in these requirements across every Bay Area municipality and the Los Angeles Metropolitan area. As a result, we can leverage our network of consultants to ensure that any consultant work is completed quickly and at a cost that can’t be accessed by the typical homeowner. We’ll take the hassle out of identifying, hiring, and coordinating these consultants by handling everything on your behalf.

Contact us today using the link below for a Free, No-obligation Consultation & Estimate for your ADU vision with one of our ADU experts!

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