Can you build an ADU on your property?

Local Building regulations can be complex and they change often. Particularly with ADUs, regulations seem to change weekly as new laws are enacted to help alleviate the housing crisis.

You have two options to find out if you can build an ADU.

Option 1 – Do It Yourself

Once you have decided what type of ADU you would like, before you do anything else, you should visit your local authority Planning & Building Department.  Arrange for a meeting at the Department or visit during times that they are available for over the counter discussions.  These Departments get very busy, so avoid the earliest times when contractors need to get their questions answered and be prepared to wait.

Most Planning & Building department are extremely helpful to homeowners who visit.  They prefer to give advice before any work is done, rather than having to correct mistakes after the fact.

A typical introduction would be:

“Hello, my name is_________, I am the owner of a house at (address).  I am interested in building an ADU on my property and before I start, I would like to understand:

  1. what regulations I will need to comply with,
  2. what documents I will need to complete, and
  3. what fees the project will be subject to.”

You might find the attached checklist to be helpful.

A likely response from the official would be to look up your address in their database and advise you of any site restrictions such as set-backs (distance from your boundary where you cannot build), size (square feet) and height (height above existing grade) limitations.  Most Departments will have an ADU hand-out which will provide you with additional information.

This initial visit will help you answer the following questions:

  • Can I build an ADU on my property?
  • Are the limitations acceptable?
  • Should I proceed to the next step?

Option 2 – Ask YardPods to do this work for you.

YardPods can do the research for you and deliver an ADU Feasibility Report. You’ll find out right away if the ADU you want to build is possible. For more information about ADU HQ Services, please visit our Feasibility Study page.