ADU GUIDE

What Is the Process for Building an ADU?

The steps to building an ADU involve feasibility, design, permitting, and construction. Learn how an ADU builder can give you incredible results.

COTTAGEJanuary 01, 2018

A whole lot of work goes into building the perfect ADU. These structures cannot simply be thrown together and instead require a great deal of planning and consideration.

To get the most bang for your buck, you should consider working with an experienced and specialized ADU builder that can help guide you through the entire process from start to finish.

Step 1: Feasibility

The first step in building an ADU involves feasibility. Even though ADUs are great housing solutions, they require an upfront understanding of what is possible for your house. This is because ADUs need to work with the space and layout constraints of the existing property.

For instance, if you only have a small portion of land available for an ADU, you will end up with a small space that needs to incorporate smart design features to make it work. On the other hand, if you have more space to work with, you can do a lot more with your ADU in terms of both size and design.

Another consideration involved in this step relates to the budget. It’s always helpful to have a good idea of your budget from the very start. Just as you can be constrained by your property, you can also be constrained by your budget. At the end of the day, you need to reconcile constraints from your property and budget with your overall goals for the ADU.

The good news is that a professional ADU builder like Cottage can help you accomplish this.

Step 2: Design

The second step in building an ADU involves design. Unless you’re an architect or interior designer by trade, you’re going to want to get professional help when it comes to bringing your ADU vision to life. Cottage has even worked with professional architects and designers to design and build their own ADUs, showing how the A-to-Z process can apply to everyone.

You start off the design process with an experienced Cottage ADU designer that is well-versed in working within the limits of a smaller space like an ADU. This designer helps you draw out the plans for your space to make sure every inch is maximized to its fullest potential. They also help you identify your exact needs within the space before coming up with unique solutions to meet those needs.

With Cottage, an initial schematic design is used to provide an estimate from Cottage’s network of vetted local general contractors. At this point, you are ready to decide whether to fully commit to your project. Compare this with the traditional design-build process, where you are out tens of thousands of dollars for your project before you even commit to the build or know exactly what you are getting for your ADU project.

Once you commit to the project with Cottage, we then move on to design development. This is the time used to go from an initial schematic design used for estimation to the full architectural plan set that will be used for city or county building and planning submission and approval.

Step 3: Permitting

The third step in building an ADU involves permitting, which needs to be done before you can break ground on your ADU. This process can be confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing. The good news is that there are some ADU companies out there that are well-versed in this level of local bureaucracy and are willing to do what it takes to expedite your ADU permits.

Cottage has worked on designing, permitting, and building ADUs all over California. As a result, we are well aware of the permitting procedures that exist within each local jurisdiction.

In fact, we have created this helpful guide to municipal restrictions as they relate to ADUs in California.

Here’s what you need to know about permitting in a few of these localities:

· Los Angeles: Single-family properties in Los Angeles are eligible for one detached ADU of up to 1,200 square feet and one junior ADU of up to 500 square feet. Detached ADUs have a limit of two stories that are less than 25 feet tall. The ADU structure must have a minimum setback of four feet from the lot lines and six feet from any existing structures.

· Oakland: Single-family properties in Oakland are eligible for one detached ADU and one junior ADU. Two-family or multi-family properties in Oakland are eligible for up to two detached ADUs. In terms of size, junior ADUs must be less than 500 square feet. One-bedroom detached ADUs must be less than 850 square feet, and two-bedroom ADUs must be less than 1,000 square feet. Detached ADUs must also be less than 16 feet tall with minimum setbacks of four feet from the lot lines and six feet from any existing structures.

· Palo Alto: Single-family properties in Palo Alto are eligible for one detached ADU and one junior ADU. The minimum size for an ADU in Palo Alto is 150 square feet, and the maximum is 800 square feet. Detached ADUs must be less than 16 feet tall with minimum setbacks of four feet from the lot lines and six feet from any existing structures.

· San Jose: Single-family properties in San Jose are eligible for one detached ADU and one junior ADU. Duplex properties in Palo Alto are eligible for two detached ADUs. Multifamily properties are eligible to add up to 25% of the existing units as attached ADUs. Single-family lots of up to 9,000 square feet can add a detached ADU of up to 1,000 square feet. Lots larger than 9,000 square feet can add a detached ADU of up to 1,200 square feet. Duplex and multifamily lots of any size can add both detached and attached ADUs of up to 800 square feet.

· South San Francisco: Single-family properties in South San Francisco are eligible for one detached ADU and one junior ADU. Multi-family properties in South San Francisco are eligible for two detached ADUs and one ADU per existing four residential units. Junior ADUs can be up to 500 square feet, attached ADUs can be up to 800 square feet or 50% of the floor area of the existing home—whichever is greater with a maximum allowance of 1,000 square feet, and detached ADUs can be up to 1,000 square feet. Detached ADUs must be less than 16 feet tall, have four feet setbacks from lot lines, and be at least six feet from any existing structures.

These are just a few examples of cities and municipalities where Cottage has extensive experience in. Contact us to learn more about what applies to your specific property and ADU vision.

Step 4: Construction

The fourth step in building an ADU involves the actual construction process. This is when you can finally break ground on your new structure. Doing the planning work on the front end, as well as working with a team of experienced ADU builders, is key to a successful building process. Cottage works with pre-vetted general contractors from our network. These individuals are fully qualified, licensed, bonded, and insured, along with a one-year workmanship guarantee.

How To Ensure a Smooth ADU Building Process From Start to Finish

As you can see, a lot of work goes into building an ADU from beginning to end. To help ensure that the entire process goes smoothly, you need to work with a reputable ADU builder. Cottage specializes in custom ADUs in both Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. We offer a hassle-free process that takes the challenging aspects like permitting off your plate while involving you in the fun parts of the process like design.

Our all-inclusive process offers unbeatable value as our quotes include everything from design to engineering, site prep, utility connections, foundation, and construction. Reach out to us today to set up a free ADU consultation and see how we can make your ADU dreams a reality.

Sources:

ADUs Are Good for People and Places | AARP

Everything You Need to Know About Designing an ADU | Architectural Digest

How to Hire a General Contractor: Checklist and Tips | Forbes

Get your free consultation and estimate today!