Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit)

40 Years of Construction Experience. Licensed Since 1987.

All-Inclusive ADU Package

As a Design-Build firm, we are both your Architect and General Contractor. You have one Project Manager overseeing everything from start to finish. This makes the ADU building process easier for you. 

1 Service white
ADU Financing Assistance
2 Service white
Design your Perfect ADU
3 Service crop white
ADU Permits and Inspections
4 Service 2 white
End-to-End ADU Construction

We guide you through the ADU process from concept to completion. There has never been a better time to build your ADU in California. We help you take advantage of the new regulations and legislation encouraging ADU construction now.

Get started with your ADU Estimate today.

blueprints 400x400

Now is the Time for ADU Construction

There has never been a better time to build an ADU if you are a residential property owner in California. A major shift in laws and regulations supporting the development of Accessory Dwelling Units is creating a boom in construction. Rapid growth in ADU building project is sweeping across the state and especially in Los Angeles County. 

Accessory Dwelling Units in California

California passed a number of important bills in 2016 that opened the door for homeowners interested in building an ADU on their property. In Los Angeles County these ADU friendly legislation efforts resulted in a major increase in ADU construction. In 2018, 20% of housing permits in LA County were for Accessory Dwelling Units.  

The State wanted to do even more after seeing this type of potential from ADU initiatives because the state has a serious affordable housing crisis. This is a smart move by California because faster ADU development will increase investments from the private sector needed to help solve the housing shortage.

In October 2019 California took a major step forward by passing Assembly Bill 68 to cut red tape and speed up ADU construction permitting. According to the new California ADU laws, landlords and homeowners can now add two more units on any residential lot. A triplex with that includes an ADU and a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) will now be legal on every residential lot in the State.

New Laws Support ADU Construction

Faster Permit Process
If you apply for a permit to build an ADU, your local government cannot spend more than 60 days deciding whether to issue a permit. This means the permit time for ADUs has been cut in half. Municipalities could take up to 120 days to review ADU applications before Assembly Bill 68.

Less Restrictions on Parking
In the past it was common for local governments to reject ADU permit applications based on the parking requirement they created. Assembly Bill 68 makes it possible to avoid this problem. Now property owners do not have to accommodate for a parking space if the ADU is built half a mile or less from public transportation.

Size and Space Approval is Easier
ADU size and space requirements have been adjusted by Assembly Bill 68. Building conditions are more favorable when considering square feet of the unit, the height of the unit and distance from the property line.

More ADU Options for Homeowners
Assembly Bill 68 makes it legal to build both a regular-sized ADU and a Junior ADU. A Junior ADU is a spare room, garage, attic that is attached to the single-family home. With the addition of an efficiency kitchen the Junior ADU can be rented by the property owner.

Types of Accessory Dwelling Units

Detached ADU

ADU image - Detached ADU

Detached ADUs are  commonly known as Mother-In-Law Suite, Guest Cottage or Granny Flat. This is a stand-alone structure detached from the main house on your property.

Attached ADU

ADU image - Attached ADU

Attached ADUs are living units attached to the primary structure on the property.  Attached ADUs are normally built on the side, rear or above primary structure.

Junior ADU

ADU image - JADU

JADU (Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit) is typically a Garrage Conversion, Interior Conversion or Attic Conversion. An existing space is customized to be occupied as an independent living unit.

ADU Benefits

Increased Property Value
Building an ADU will almost certainly increase the resale value of your property. A majority of potential homeowners are willing to pay more for homes with an ADU because there are so many benefits. Below are some of the benefits of having an Accessory Dwelling Unit on your property.

Caring for Family Members
An ADU can be a perfect housing option for an elderly family member. Many families prefer this over a nursing home. The Grandmother or Grandfather can maintain their independence while staying close to you. This is often an option they prefer as well. Safety along with significantly less cost are more reasons to consider an ADU for an elderly family member.

Private Guest House
An ADU is perfect if you have frequent house guests. Friends and family staying with you can be close while allowing for more space and privacy. Your private guest house will make visits more affordable and more convenient than staying in a hotel. You can offer more flexibility to your friends and family so they can arrive or leave without worrying about hotel reservations.

Rental Income
Long-Term leasing to a renter is a big reason many property owners chose to make the ADU investment. You will gain a valuable way to earn extra income that can contribute to your household budget. But there are lots of other options. Short-Term rentals are often in demand when someone needs temporary housing in your local area. Many business travelers prefer different accommodations other than hotels. You might be able to rent your space to vacation travelers on different rental websites. If you live in a major city or near a tourist destination this can be a great way to earn extra income.

Space for Adult Children
Boomerang kids come back to live at home after finishing college or during a transition stage of life. Having an ADU can help you decrease cost and increase safety for an adult child living at home. Other advantages include a greater sense of independence along with giving the family members more space. Most kids returning home after college will be much happier in your ADU rather than moving back into their childhood bedroom.

Home Office Space
A home office is even more important since COVID-19. Having the ability to work from home effectively is a big advantage if your office is closed. Or if your employer allows you to work at home a few days a week, an ADU can be ideal. ADUs are perfect for the business owner that needs a dedicated work space at home. Gain more privacy with less distractions so you can be more productive. Design the space to have everything needed for your ideal work from home environment.

Flexibility in Your Life
Having an ADU on your property gives you more flexibility. For example, if you experience a financial hardship or just want more cash you could rent your home and live in the ADU. Or you could need a home office on short notice depending on your job situation. Maybe an unexpected event creates a need to have family living close. Having a versatile space on your property could provide some valuable options and flexibility in the future.

ADU - detatched unit

Start Your ADU Project today!

Are you thinking about building an ADU on your property? Getting started can feel overwhelming. We will help you build the right ADU for your property and make the process as easy as possible. DAVID SMITH Design + Build will handle everything from concept to competition. We take care of permitting, design, planning, construction and financing. 

20 Common Questions About ADU Projects

What does ADU stand for?
Accessory Dwelling Unit. This is a secondary structure property owners can build to add another dwelling unit. An existing structure such as a garage can be converted into an ADU.

Is there difference between a guesthouse and an ADU?
A guesthouse is detached for the primary living structure on the property and doesn’t require a kitchen. ADUs can be detached or attached to the main residential structure and a kitchen is required. Local governments may have different requirements.

What is a JADU?
Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit. A JADU is built within the existing home structure on the property. Converting a garage into a dwelling unit is a good example.

Is a converted garage an ADU or a JADU?
That depends on if your garage is attached to the primary residential structure. If the garage is attached to your house your conversion will be a JADU. A detached garage allows you to convert your garage into an ADU.

Can I use my ADU for rental income?
Yes, this is a major benefit if you build an ADU. There’s high demand for rental properties in the Los Angeles area and it’s easier than ever to build ADUs in California. Some local governments may have restrictions on short-term renters.

Can an ADU be added to any property?
ADUs can be built on single or multifamily properties with residential zoning.

Is there a property size requirement or a minimum lot size needed for ADUs?
No minimum lot size is required for ADU construction.

Is there a limit on ADU size?
1,200 square feet is the maximum ADU size.

How long will it take to get ADU permitting?
Less than 60 days. All cities in California must now review ADU plans within 60 days.

What is a setback requirement?
The distance your ADU structure needs to be from a curb or property line. The side and rear setback requirement in California is 4 feet.

Can I build an ADU anywhere on my lot?
The backyard is where most detached ADUs are built 4 feet from the side and rear property lines at least. The requirements are different if you’re converting an existing garage into an ADU.

Does my property need extra parking if I build an ADU?
No, recent California State legislation addressed this issue that stopped ADU construction in the past. Parking is not required if your property location is within ½ mile walking distance of a public transportation stop.

Is there a city fee for ADU building projects?
Cities can not charge an impact fee for ADU plans under 750 square feet. Permit fees and Plan Check fees are paid to the city building department and should be handled by the Project Manager.

What is needed to convert a garage to an ADU?
A total minimum living area of 150 square feet. Main room that is at least 70 square feet, a kitchen with a minimum 50 square feet and a bathroom that is at least 30 square feet. Foundation and/or structural support work is possible depending on the condition and age of the garage. A window, door and insulation may need to be added.

What utilities are needed for an ADU?
Water, sewer, electricity and gas are required. Sub-meters or separate meters for water and electric service may be an option. In some cases the primary structure electricity can connect to the ADU.

Do I need to include a washer and dryer in an ADU?
ADUs do not require hookups for a washer/dryer. ADUs require a kitchen, bathroom, and living area.

Will my house and the ADU have separate addresses?
You can get a separate address issued for the ADU. Or it can keep the same address as the primary structure.

After building and ADU is my property a duplex?
The zoning of your property does not change when you build an ADU even though you might have 2 units after the project is completed.

Can I build an ADU if I’m in a HOA?
Yes, thanks to new California legislation a Homeowner Association can no longer block ADU projects.

Will building an ADU increase my property taxes?
Yes, the value of your ADU to be added to the assessed value of your property. But your City shouldn’t do a full property reassessment. The rental income from the ADU can easily offset an increase.


Get an estimate for your project!