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Can I build an ADU?

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Kostas_D

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Joined this forum just to see how you understand if you can build an UDU on your land - do you use any tools to do that or do you hire someone to do that for you?
 

havasu

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ADU in California is an "Accessory Dwelling Unit", which is another mandate by our um, Liberal Governor. Each city must comply and allow them on a lot, provided your lot is 7500 sq ft or greater. They are great for mother's in law, and local bums. The issue is you WILL increase your property taxes. Other states, I'm not too sure.
 

oldognewtrick

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ADU in California is an "Accessory Dwelling Unit", which is another mandate by our um, Liberal Governor. Each city must comply and allow them on a lot, provided your lot is 7500 sq ft or greater. They are great for mother's in law, and local bums. The issue is you WILL increase your property taxes. Other states, I'm not too sure.
Oh...A SheShed.
 

havasu

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I have a 10,000 sq ft lot, and the new law allows me to build another 3 bed, 2 bath on my property. Unbelievable.
 

Sparky617

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Building an ADU is just like building a house. It requires tools and experience. Depending on where you're located in California will determine how deep a footer you'd need. On the temperate coasts it wouldn't need to be too deep, in the mountains they could be deep. I'd assume there would be some seismic considerations in California.

Whether you can DIY it will depend on your skill level, your time available, and availability of tools. Some can be rented, some work can be hired out. You might be able to act as the general contractor and bring in the appropriate subs. Depending on the amount of construction work going on in your area will determine the availability of subs to do the work. If they're busy working for GCs that send them a lot of business they may not be interested in your one-off build.
 

bud16415

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Sounds like a great way to get people off the street. Put them in the back yard.
 

Kostas_D

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First of all - my apologies, I meant ADU, not UDU hahahah.
Secondly - before starting figuring out HOW to build it I want to figure out if I can even build it on my land - how do you do this? I've been recommended to check zoning codes, but those don't tell how big the ADU can be. @Sparky617 @havasu any tools you recommend for that? Or is it only done through real estate developers who charge like 2k+ for this?
 

havasu

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You first need to contact your city hall planning and permit department. You need to be certain this law has been enacted. From there, they will dig up your lot lines and determine square feet available, and how big the ADU can be. In order to qualify in my city, it must be inspected to determine set back rules, sewer and electrical routing. Alot of work just to get some rent, even though, due to Covid-19 (AKA China Virus), they don't need to pay rent, just a small portion of it.
 

Sparky617

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I'd agree with havasu, your local government will know how much of your lot can be under roof and what the setbacks are from your property lines. Before you spend any money they'd be the place to start.

If you have a well and septic instead of public water and sewer service that will determine where and how much you can build. I suspect you have public sewers if you're in a town or city. Once you know how much you can build in your community, you'll likely need a survey to determine your physical lot lines so the structure can be placed and not encroach on your neighbors property. Access to the space becomes an issue for building and for the tenant. Where will they park? Can you get heavy equipment and supplies back to the yard without going on your neighbor's property or using a crane to lift it over your house?

In my area developers are buying up old houses on large lots in our downtown location and razing the houses and building multiple houses on the lot. If a builder can assemble several adjacent properties they can combine them and then redraw the lines to pack more houses into the space. Typically they are tearing down a small post WWII house on a large lot and building two much larger homes that sell for $700K+ I know for sections of California that is a "starter" home, but $700K-$1M will buy a pretty nice house here. There is talk about ADUs here, but I haven't seen any being built as the lots that can handle it are the ones in downtown where they are tearing down 60-70 year old homes and starting over.
 

bud16415

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It is insane IMO for years they fought people wanting to do this and now they are encouraging it. The guy it is not fair to is the guy that bought where he did because he wanted single-family neighborhood without another house right on top of him. He does nothing wrong playing by the old rules and his property value goes down because no one will buy his place crowded in.

I watch these flipping shows on TV and where I live it would never work, but people from the city are trying it. They spend a bundle upgrading something and it sits on the market forever because no one can afford it. If they would have bought it cleaned it up and painted it they might have doubled their money.
 

Flyover

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My impression of the CA housing market has always been "all bets off, normal rules don't apply".
 

Kostas_D

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ohhhh i was hoping there is some tool to do it automatically (i hate phone calls hahah) but thanks so much for your help!
 

NeilG

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It would be a good lesson in reality to go through what it would really cost to build a decent ADU. You'll be surprised. Not pleasantly.
 

MrMiz

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Check your local codes and I agree with what everybody else has said, but in my area as long as the structure isn't permanent it isn't subject to code. The connections to services however do have to comply with code and are taxed as such. It's the whole "Tiny House" movement in a nut shell. Buy a used trailer and build a house on it. Then never move it again.

For something permanent you have to go through county/city code etc. We built 2 more houses on 21 acers both what our county called "elder care" houses. The process to get approval required about 1 full year, and the vast majority was waiting until we could attend a scheduled public hearing. We attend the public hearing( don't remember if it was called a hearing or what exactly) where everyone in the county was allowed to come and speak their bit for or against. Everything needed to be laid out in plans and it was suggested by a family General Contractor we be as detailed as possible. Basically we got called up to a table in front of the county commissioners. We presented the plans and all the details. They "announced"/opened the topic for discussion ( I think so neighbors could protest or present evidence against us) then closed and granted our request. We were then "awarded" the documentation to proceed. Which I didn't do any of but I think it was basically a number that we could reference when going through the permit process. Since it was part of a public hearing their were lots of people there... but not for our request. They all had their own requests and nobody said anything. The commissioners asked some questions but it mostly seemed like they were just flapping their lips to justify their pay. I'm sure they earn it on other much more political topics but on this one nobody cared.

That's not entirely accurate I'm sure, as we did this about 9 years ago. I was mostly just their to support my Grandparents and my Mom, but that's what I remember. It wasn't a terribly difficult process. We didn't hire anybody, but it was painfully slow. My grandparents claimed that they would be dead before the process completed but it's been 9 years and they are still kicking. I would say also that if your doing this for "elder care" reasons the whole process isn't something I would put my Grandparents through again. I would recommend going to an Attorney and paying to setup the whole thing for them in this case granting it to my mom so she can complete the process without them. Long hours waiting in a wheel chair with a variety elder related conditions is hell on them. So for this reason alone it maybe worth hiring out the process to somebody, but as I said we got it done.
 

tomtheelder2020

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Sparkey 617, In CA the most important factor in footing design is expansive clay content of soil. Frost depth would exceed normal footing depths only at high elevations. South Lake Tahoe requires exterior footing be minimum 18" deep due to frost - which is minimum Building Code depth unless designed by an engineer.
 

tomtheelder2020

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I am a little confused. Are the people running this site trying to change its focus? I keep seeing political comments, almost all from Administrators/Moderators.
 

bud16415

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I am a little confused. Are the people running this site trying to change its focus? I keep seeing political comments, almost all from Administrators/Moderators.
The term ADU “accessory dwelling unit” is in fact a invitation for political commentary, shown in the fact that most of us didn’t even know what the term means living where we do. It is a new approach to what used to be called a mother in law apartment. I have to assume changing zoning requirements on a large scale to allow for this was based around something political.



Around here building chicken coops is the big issue now.

If you have a problem with any particular post go ahead and flag it and we can look into it.
 

tomtheelder2020

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Maybe I am in the minority but I always thought ADU was just a catch-all term that covers granny flats, in-law units, backyard cottages, secondary units or whatever else they might be called. His question was not about how or why zoning might or might not allow ADUs, it was about what he needed to do to go about building one. Brining politics into this seems a case of a political hammer seeing everything as a nail.
 
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