ADUs – Accessory Dwelling Units Defined
According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development an ADU is a secondary dwelling unit with complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and generally takes three forms:
- Detached: The unit is separated from the primary residential structure. This is the form that ADU HQ focuses on.
- Attached: The unit is attached to the primary residential structure
- Repurposed Existing Space: Space (e.g., master bedroom or garage) within the primary residence is converted into an independent living unit. This form is also known as a “Junior ADU, a Junior Second Unit, or a Junior Unit.” They are often covered by a different set of regulations. For more information, visit Lilypad Homes.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are known by many names: granny flats, in-law units, backyard cottages, secondary units and more. No matter what you call them, ADUs are an innovative, affordable, effective option for adding much-needed housing in California.
ADU Technical Assistance Booklet
Published by the California Department of Housing and Community Development for homeowners interested in adding an Accessory Dwelling Unit to their property.
What are the benefits of ADUs?
- ADUs are an affordable type of home to construct in California because they do not require paying for land, major new infrastructure, structured parking, or elevators.
- ADUs can provide a source of income for homeowners.
- ADUs are built with cost-effective wood frame construction, which is significantly less costly than homes in new multifamily infill buildings.
- ADUs allow extended families to be near one another while maintaining privacy.
- ADUs can provide as much living space as many newly-built apartments and condominiums, and they’re suited well for couples, small families, friends, young people, and seniors.
- ADUs give homeowners the flexibility to share independent living areas with family members and others, allowing seniors to age in place as they require more care.
New ADU Laws Effective January 1, 2018
Recent state legislation provides clarification and fee assistance for the creation of ADUs. Governor Brown signed two separate bills on October 8, 2017: SB 229 (Wieckowski) and AB 494 (Bloom).
These bills, effective January 1, 2018, will clarify and improve various provisions of the law to promote the development of ADUs, including allowing ADUs to be built concurrently with a single-family home, opening areas where ADUs can be built to include all zoning districts that allow single-family uses, modifying fees from special districts, and reducing parking requirements.
Current state laws for ADUs
State legislation that took effect January 1, 2017 gave California cities more flexibility and latitude for allowing homeowners to build ADUs. Three separate bills were introduced and signed by Governor Brown; SB 1069 (Wieckowski), AB 2299 (Bloom), and AB 2406 (Thurmond). Each of these land use bills make it easier than ever for homeowners to take advantage of this attractive opportunity.
City and county ADU ordinances
Cities and counties are not required to create ordinances for ADUs; however, any city/county that does adopt an ADU ordinance, must submit the ordinance to HCD within 60 days.