With the current housing issue plaguing many parts of the world, it is not easy to find a long-term solution. Some are desperate to find a place where they can live and work, but the rising cost of renting prevents many people from finding a suitable location. It’s quite an issue, especially if someone close to you has this issue.

Despite the best efforts of governments and initiatives worldwide, it’s still challenging to find an answer to what many call a housing crisis. This pressing problem resulted in many innovative ways that temporarily answered the issue. Among the many solutions popular to many are Accessory Dwelling Units.

What are Accessory Dwelling Units?

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a regulatory and legal term for a separate apartment or house that occupies the same building land as a larger, primary residence. One cannot purchase or sell the unit individually, although most people rent it out frequently to supplement income or lodge a family member.

An aging parent, for instance, could live in a tiny apartment rather than moving into an assisted living center. ADUs often have their kitchen, living room, and entryway. One can link an ADU to a house or garage or construct it as a standalone unit, but it will typically use the main house’s energy and water lines.

Following World War II, the United States zoned or designated most residential properties to regulate the size and separation of single-family houses and population density. Lately, it is now possible to add ADUs due to zoning reforms in an increasing number of regions around the country. These zoning restrictions now limit the size and forms of every new unit, requiring the owner to live on the land.

Designing an ADU

Designing and building an Accessory Dwelling Unit has many complications and takes a long time. Almost all ADU projects take less than a year to finish, from initial contact to the final checking. Here’s how you may go about designing and building an ADU:

1.) Check if You Are Eligible

The initial step is to determine whether your land is suitable for an ADU. To check if you can add an ADU to your land, the maximum square footage available, and the property constraints that will affect where you can build an ADU, you must consult your city or local planning commission.

2.) Preliminary Consultation

Next is to choose a reputable provider and request quotes from them. Call a few other companies and compare their prices and services. They will evaluate a satellite picture of your address, run a rough feasibility analysis, and present you with their accurate quotation during this step. Most companies would offer you free estimations for your project.

3.) Site Inspection and Initial Designs

Once you find a company that satisfies your requirements, you can plan to have a site inspection of your entire available space so that they can measure and design your plans. Nowadays, many companies utilize 3D software like AutoCAD. In this step, you will have to be specific with details, from the placement of your wiring and plumbing to where you will install your fire-rated access panels for general purpose use and maintenance.

4.) Engineering & Drafting

After the initial design, the drafts will have to pass through engineering approval to ensure that these plans are practical and structurally sound. It would require the seal of the professionals involved, giving you the peace of mind that the project is solid and backed by expert analysis. Final talks about pricing also occur during this stage.

5.) Paperwork’s

Your chosen contractor will file for construction permits with your local planning authority after they have finalized the drafts and you sign the final contract. The time it takes to obtain permits varies depending on the project. However, you should expect 10-16 weeks until you gain approval.

6.) Construct Your Project

Once you get the green light for your project, you can proceed to schedule your building’s construction. You might have to warn your neighbors that the process will be noisy. Agree on a convenient time and ensure that the site is ready before you begin.

Types of ADU

  1. Detached

Consider a separate ADU as a carriage house, small apartment, or backyard cottage. It’s a self-contained, operational living place with different utilities and access to the property. If they so desired, someone may live there with the same level of autonomy from the main building as if they were next-door neighbors.

  1. Attached

An attached ADU brings you closer to your home in a literal sense. These share one wall with the main house, but there is no interior entrance–you must leave the main building to go to the ADU. Whether attached ADUs have separate utility connections or share them with the main house, they must be fully functioning living spaces.

  1. Garage Conversions

Depending on the dimensions of your garage, you can attach or detach this ADU type. It is a straightforward idea where you can convert your garage into a fully functional residence. You may not need to restore the lost parking space because of the lower parking standards.

  1. Interior Conversions

It is an entirely functional apartment, usually in the cellar, basement, or attic. Although the unit may not be noticeable outside, it could run independently of the main house.

The Takeaway

Many people without the knowledge or experience to convert or construct an ADU attempt to do so because they want to cut costs. However, that is not an excellent idea. ADUs must undergo the correct process, or it could cost you more than you intend to spend. Have a reputable licensed professional alongside you when you plan to build one.

In case you have any architectural, structural, and MEP design including fire sprinkler design requirements, or need to design your ADU design project including structure, and HVAC design, feel free to contact us.  We provide you with the full permit set design + T24 for your request.