Do I Need A Feasibility Study To Know What Type Of ADU I Can Build?

If you are considering an Accessory Dwelling Unit for your home, you may run across the term “Feasibility Study” – it’s a term thrown around loosely and can be a bit confusing. Feasibility studies are not just real estate-related [i] – their purpose is to determine the best course of action for you to take from concept to implementation. When it comes to your investment in an ADU, feasibility studies can help you count the cost, maximize the potential of your project, and avoid unforeseen circumstances that could put a glitch in your plans – Know what they are though, and you may save yourself some headache and possibly enough money for a really nice dinner. 😊

Where Do You Go To Get A Feasibility Study?

Usually, a contractor or architect will suggest that you have a feasibility study done for your home when:

  1. You know what you want to build on your home and want to ensure it is possible and not limited by building restrictions.
  2. You want to maximize the potential of your property and take advantage of every allowable square foot of space.
  3. You want to estimate your costs upfront so you can plan your budget.

It is important to know what you can and can’t do at your property. Each property is unique. From lot size and shape, height restrictions, access points, slope/grade, to the city and even HOA you are a part of…. all of those little details play a MAJOR role in what you can actually design and build at your home. Feasibility studies are a great way to see all of that. Be advised though, different contractors and architects offer different levels of feasibility study information – make sure you know what to expect.

Is There A Cost For Feasibility Studies?

The answer is usually. In a lot of cases, a cost of some nature is involved to cover the time of the contractor or architect (usually architect) you are working with and who is compiling that information for your feasibility report. Nonetheless, a lot of architectural and design firms that are highly skilled and experienced in ADU design probably already know your area and many of the things you can and can’t do just by a phone appointment. If you are working with a top notch ADU company, then expect a lot of information to be given away to you at low to no initial cost.

Is A Feasibility Study Needed?

It NEVER hurts to have more information over less, but while a feasibility study can be beneficial, an official written feasibility study and report isn’t something everyone needs before getting started on an ADU project – Here’s why:

Contractors or designer/architectural firm companies will often offer feasibility studies for:

  1. Build potential feasibility

The following information you may be looking for in a feasibility report probably won’t be included due to liability, changing information and because your contractor or architect doesn’t specialize in those realms.

  1. Rental feasibility (How much (approximated) you can make in rents)
  2. Resale value feasibility (How much (approximated) you can make in resale value or how much the ADU would potentially boost your equity)
  3. Tax Ramifications (How much (approximated) you will or won’t pay in property and other taxes)
  4. Financial feasibility (What the final project cost would be all-in, if you can afford it and the best way to finance the ADU)

A Word Of Advice:

You probably shouldn’t pay (much if at all) for a desktop feasibility study, but it is fair and should be expected to pay for an onsite feasibility study from a good architect or designer. A contractor can’t provide you with a feasibility study apart from an architect or designer. Again, good architectural firms can tell you a lot about what you can do with your property just from a phone conversation and will point you to the best way to compile needed information before pushing you toward a paid feasibility study – most likely you will only be offered a paid feasibility study option upon your request.

If you are being pushed immediately into a paid feasibility study you may want to step forward with a hint of caution – Often, companies use feasibility studies to help in qualifying a lead. If you, as the client, are willing to put up a “pre-payment” to gather information about your project, you are a more likely candidate for their business. Make sure you get the gut feeling that the person you are speaking with really wants to help you and ask them what information you should expect from the feasibility study they are describing.

How Can You Avoid Getting Caught With A Pre-Vetting Feasibility Study Over One That Helps You?

First, know what it is you need or want to know. You may not care to know the maximum build potential for your home, if you already want a small 700 sq ft ADU in the back for your family use. You may simply want to know if you can fit the 700 sq ft ADU behind the garage instead of by your kitchen window blocking your view of the ocean. Solidify in your mind what you think is the most important information for you to know – this will help you better clarify with the company you are talking with what kind of information you can expect from the feasibility study they are mentioning, and if they can answer those questions without too much detailed research.

Second, know that basic information can be gathered on your own. Feasibility reports vary by provider. Sometimes a feasibility report is as simple as telling you your property setbacks, how many units you can build and how high. If getting information like your property’s zoning and setbacks is really what you are looking for, then websites like[ii] can be helpful without having to pay a designer for that preliminary information.

Who Should You Trust?

If you are ready to get started, but still have questions, or need a trusted resource, REIG ADU offers free consultations, advice and care throughout your ADU process – from A to U. We partner with designer/architectural firms that are top notch in San Diego, Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties and who listen to what YOU want and offer free consultations over the phone to help you gather as much information as possible before you would ever need a paid feasibility study. Our construction division- REIG Construction, can help you when you are ready to build your space and has a reputation for transparency and excellence in work. You can contact us directly through this form (Connect Today) or by calling us at (760) 201-0635.




Are you interested in finding out where to start with your Accessory Dwelling Unit plans? We can help you!