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  • Lance Buck

California’s ADU Revolution: How You Can Profit & Transform Neighborhoods

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as granny flats, in-law units, or secondary units, are residential living spaces that are typically located on the same property as a primary single-family home. In California, ADUs have become a significant component of the state's efforts to address housing affordability and supply issues. They offer a way to create additional housing options without changing the character of existing neighborhoods. The regulations governing ADUs in California have changed since a State Law went into effect in 2017 making it easier for homeowners to build and rent out these units.

Here are some key points to explain ADUs in California:

  • State Legislation: California has passed several laws in recent years to encourage the construction of ADUs. The primary legislation governing ADUs in the state is Senate Bill 1069, Assembly Bill 2299, and Assembly Bill 68. These laws have made it easier to build ADUs by streamlining the permitting process and removing certain restrictions.

Some jurisdictions, such as the city of Davis have broken the ADU regulations into different types: 

  • Types of ADUs: California allows three types of ADUs:

  • Size Limitations: The size of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in California is determined by local zoning regulations. As of September 2021, the state generally caps detached ADUs at 1,200 square feet. Attached ADUs or Junior ADUs must not exceed 50% of the primary residence's living area. These regulations aim to balance housing expansion while aligning with local neighborhood aesthetics. It's crucial to check specific local guidelines, as they may vary, and be aware that regulations can change.

  • Parking Requirements: Parking requirements for ADUs have been relaxed in California. Local authorities are generally not allowed to require additional parking spaces for ADUs if they are located within half a mile of public transit, in historic districts, or if on-street parking permits are required.

  • ADU Conversions: ADUs can often be created through the conversion of existing space within a primary residence, such as a garage, basement, or attic. However, the space must meet building code requirements for habitation.

  • Rental and Use: ADUs in California can be rented out for additional income or used for family members, such as aging parents or adult children. Some local jurisdictions have established rules regarding short-term rentals like Airbnb.

  • Local Regulations: While state law governs many aspects of ADU construction, local municipalities can still impose some additional restrictions or guidelines, so it's important to check with your local planning department for specific rules in your area.

ADUs in California are seen as a promising solution to address the state's housing shortage while providing homeowners with an opportunity to generate rental income. Keep in mind that the regulations regarding ADUs may change, so it's essential to consult with local design professionals before getting started on any ADU project, and of course to stay updated on the latest laws and regulations when considering the construction of an ADU.

Quote from Lance Our Founder:

“These Small Structures are a great way to generate income and increase the value of many properties. Be sure to consult with us to help you navigate the mine of overlapping code constraints.”

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