What is an ADU you ask? An ADU is an architectural acronym for Accessory Dwelling Unit. Oh, you say what exactly is an Accessory Dwelling Unit? Many of you may have heard of a “Granny Flat” or “Accessory Apartment”, but now a days the best term to use is Accessory Dwelling Unit when referring to a second complete dwelling that is legally on or within the same property as an existing single-family residence.
ADU’s have been around for years. You may have remembered the Happy Days TV show from 1974 which was set in Milwaukee during the 1950’s where Fonzie lived in one over the garage at the Cunningham residence for $50 a month! (Read about more famous TV show ADU’s here). ADU’s were popular in older neighborhoods and was popular with growing families or as the old term of “Granny Flat” as parents aged and stayed at home with the family for care or to cut housing costs. It fell out of favor during the 1970’s to late 1990’s as newer housing developments and family’s either were discouraged or choose to have aging family members stay in care facilities instead at home. This was due to families working more and stricter zoning laws.
There has been a renewed interest in ADU’s over the past years due to the cost of housing and the trend for denser housing and neighborhood infill with the lack of available land for new housing. Legislation from the State of California now mandates that local governments and municipalities must allow ADU’s in their zoning for single family zoned homes.
The zoning laws have been streamlined and the planning and permit process has been improved by many Cities now providing free approved plans and reduced permit fees.
Some of the main things to consider if you would like to research if an ADU is a good option for you to consider at a property you own is:
- Do I have room to build a detached ADU or is it possible to convert a garage or other area of a home to a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU)
- Does the property have a City sewer connection or are you on a septic system.
- There is an average build cost of approximately $140,000 for the basic systems of a kitchen, bathroom and building a smaller ADU has basic build costs.
- A major consideration of building an ADU is the site preparation and grading costs. After that is figured out and completed, building the structure is relatively straight forward.
Accessory and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU/JADU)
Here is an ADU video from the Mayor of San Diego
The San Diego County Building Department has free plans people can use to build ADU’s. I have put the link for you below:
They have plans for a 1,200, 1,000, 800 and 600 square feet dwelling.
Majority of new units are built near coastal areas, downtown and SDSU
By David Garrick
“There are hundreds of places for people to live that didn’t exist a few years ago,” Moreno told her colleagues last week during a meeting of the council’s Land Use and Housing Committee.
City officials call granny flats the cheapest and fastest way to help solve the local housing affordability crisis. The smaller than normal homes are considered ideal for recent college graduates, young people with lower-paying jobs and senior citizens on fixed incomes who gave these units their colorful name. In addition to boosting the local housing supply, granny flats generate rental income for homeowners, decreasing the likelihood they will struggle to pay their mortgage.
Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera said he supports granny flat construction, but he warned that granny flat rents might not always be as low as people think because housing is so scarce in San Diego.
“Let’s not pretend that they are necessarily that affordable,” Elo-Rivera said. “There are plenty of landlords who are willing to exploit the shortage of housing.”
Elo-Rivera also suggested the city find a way to help lower-income families build granny flats. He said most of the homeowners who can afford to build a granny flat are already relatively wealthy.
In addition to loosening regulations, the city has waived multiple fees that were previously required. Gary Geiler, who oversees granny flat approvals for the city’s Development Service Department, said typical city fees have been reduced to between $5,000 and $25,000, depending on neighborhood.
The city also had been providing money to cover separate fees for sewer and water hook-ups, but the money in that fund ran out last year.
San Diego has expanded the types of zones where granny flats can be built, eliminated parking requirements and created a program to allow property owners to build one bonus granny flat for each one they build with rent restrictions.
The city also has tried to reduce architecture costs by allowing property owners to use more than a dozen pre-approved designs created by the city of Encinitas and the county government.
The California Coastal Commission also is considering a city proposal that would streamline approvals in the city’s coastal zone, where they are more complex.