What Kind Of ADU Can I Build On My Property?

ADUs comes in all shapes and sizes. The kind of ADU and what size ADU you can build on your property is as individually determined as your property is unique. Knowing the basic ADU types can help you as you look to maximize your space and customize an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or even multiple units that are right for you.

Types of ADUS

There are really only 2 types of ADUs – Standard Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADU). A standard ADU can come in many different sub-types. A JADU can only be created within the already existing structure of the main residence and is considered an Interior ADU. Depending on your property, you can have up to 2 units added (ADU and JADU) in a single family zoned space. Maximizing your space in this instance would give you up to 3 units for living or rental. Now, you might not need or want that much space, or that many units on your property, but it helpful to know your ADU limitations and work backwards.

Multifamily properties (duplexes and beyond) are oftentimes able to build more units than just the 2 (ADU and JADU) due to their zoning. If maximizing rent potential or establishing a multi-generational living space is your objective, then you’ll want to talk with a specialized design/architect firm about what is feasible for your particular property.

ADUs generally come in 3 different sub-types:

  1.       Detached ADUs
  2.       Attached ADUs
  3.       Existing Space Conversions[i] (Garage or other already existing structure conversions can be attached or detached as well)

Detached Units

Detached Accessory Dwelling Units are a commonly built ADU type – There are many ways to create a detached ADU. You can build a whole new structure from the ground up, or even convert an already detached structure such as a detached garage, barn or permitted storage shed. If you are looking for a separate space for family or rental, a detached unit is a great option allowing you to create multiple living spaces with a little breathing room. 

Attached Units

Attached Accessory Dwelling Units are often most common for families, rather than rental options and here’s why: you’re pretty much still living in the same home. Think of an attached unit as an addition, but still a separate living space (including a kitchen, bathroom, etc). There are many ways to create an attached ADU. You can build a whole new additional structure from the ground up and connect it to the main house, or even convert an already attached structure like a permitted sunroom or garage (you can do the inside of the garage or even an above the garage unit). An attached ADU is a great option when lot space for a build is limited, or you want to keep people close, but not too close. 

Existing Space Conversion

Converting space you already have falls in between the detached and attached sub-types of ADUs and can sometimes be considered interior ADUs depending on where and how you convert the space. The most common conversion of space is a garage because homes generally have garages of one sort or the other. However, it’s possible to convert just about any permitted structure on the property from a barn to a shed, to a basement or sunroom[ii].

Conversion of existing structures is often a really great option because most homeowners find themselves with this space readily available, even if they have a limited lot size. Garages, more so than other structures, are usually already established and permitted so time is saved in construction over a ground up build. A garage conversion is a great option providing you still have some sort of space for vehicles (street, driveway, carport, etc.) and storage. On second thought, when it comes to storage, you can always donate stuff you aren’t using to charities (benefit others and get tax write offs to help save that money to fund your ADU[iii]) and take a hint from Marie Kondo and go KonMari[iv] on your space!

Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs)

JADUs are in many ways, completely different than a standard ADUs. They mirror the Standard ADUs sub-type of Existing Space Conversions because they must be located within the interior of the existing single family residence, but JADUs have stricter stipulations. JADUs have a maximum size of 500 sq ft. so under half of what a standard ADU can max out at square footage wise. Properties with JADUs require the homeowner to live in the primary residence or JADU as well, so this makes them really good choice for aging parents and multi-generational family use rather than the best option for rentals[v]. 

How Do I Get Started And Know If The ADU I Want Can Be Built On My Property?

Once you have an idea in mind about what you want in your space, your first instinct may be to call a contractor who builds ADUs, but contractors can’t tell you what you can build – they can only build your ADU once you’ve already established designs with an Architectural firm and permitted your plans with the city. A good contractor will never give you an estimate, unless it’s a preliminary price per square foot estimate, for your project without seeing your design plans from your Architect. All that to be said, your first step is to call an experienced ADU architectural and design firm to see what is feasible for your property.  

You can always call a contractor and tell them your ideas and ask for a recommendation to an experienced designer. REIG ADU is a construction company that offers top notch designer recommendations. If you are ready to get started, but still have questions, or need a trusted resource, REIG ADU offers help 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. 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.   

[i] https://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/docs/adu_december_2020_handbook.pdf

[ii] https://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/docs/adu_december_2020_handbook.pdf

[iii] https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/charitable-contribution-deductions

[iv] https://konmari.com/

[v] https://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/docs/adu_december_2020_handbook.pdf

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