Can I build an ADU?

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Sparky617

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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.

Given the elevation and snow I'm surprised South Lake Tahoe only requires 18" footings. Given the cold temperatures I would have expected a lot deeper footings would be required. We have expansive clay here in NC, our footings in the Piedmont section of the state are only 18", we're pretty mild temperature wise here with waterlines only buried a foot or so. Long freezes are rare here. Out in the mountains in western NC footings need to be deeper. Basements are rare here due to the heavy, expansive clay soils. I have one, but in my 21 year old neighborhood probably less than 10% of the homes have basements, many have "crawlspaces that are nearly high enough for a basement due to the topography of our area.

As to the politics, not really see much on this thread. Some general kvetching about local governments but not really political.
 

bud16415

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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.
I agree. I actually googled UDU when the thread popped up and then again when I found out it was ADU. There was quite a bit of information and it sounded like it could be anything from a normal house addition that of course would be built like a house to the other extreme of sneaking someone into a garage loft or some kind of yard building/tiny house where you skirt around code by not having it a permanent structure on a foundation. It also seemed that some areas of the country are condoning this practice as a way of increasing housing.



I knew a guy that built a 50x100 pole barn and then in the middle of the night he pulled a 70’ trailer in set up house. He got away with it for about 5 years until he did battle with some of the township supervisors and they booted him out. He wasn’t hurting anyone but he also wasn’t allowed to do it according to the rules.



If I was allowed to build a bunch of little boxes in my back yard and rent them out for top dollar I would do it to. It is only zoning and the political nature of zoning that stops me.



Trust me I grew up in the day when a guy could build his own house after he went and paid 5 bucks for a building permit. Then build what you like. Back in the 50-60s they built really nice homes because that what everyone wanted.



I’m sorry if some of our posts came across as political in nature. I just found it interesting that there was some new name at least to me for this type of thing.

I guess my answer for the OP is build it just like you build a house.
 

bud16415

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Given the elevation and snow I'm surprised South Lake Tahoe only requires 18" footings. Given the cold temperatures I would have expected a lot deeper footings would be required. We have expansive clay here in NC, our footings in the Piedmont section of the state are only 18", we're pretty mild temperature wise here with waterlines only buried a foot or so. Long freezes are rare here. Out in the mountains in western NC footings need to be deeper. Basements are rare here due to the heavy, expansive clay soils. I have one, but in my 21 year old neighborhood probably less than 10% of the homes have basements, many have "crawlspaces that are nearly high enough for a basement due to the topography of our area.

As to the politics, not really see much on this thread. Some general kvetching about local governments but not really political.

48" here and sometimes that's not deep enough.
 

Yorshka

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How are things going? I'm curious how much $/square feet are estimated to be for your proposed ADU. I've got a couple of bids for 400$/ft, but it seemed really high for me. Anyways, I worked with (hyperlink removed) for building it, and I managed to balance all my expenses because they have some pretty good fares for making shells for ADU. Also, it took me 8 months to get the ADU permit approved, so the process is really slow. You know, the whole bureaucratic procedure takes more time than the building itself. So, if you've already got your permit, you'll be out in one month if you hire the right builders.
 
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Sparky617

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How are things going? I'm curious how much $/square feet are estimated to be for your proposed ADU. I've got a couple of bids for 400$/ft, but it seemed really high for me. Anyways, I worked with (hyperlink removed) for building it, and I managed to balance all my expenses because they have some pretty good fares for making shells for ADU. Also, it took me 8 months to get the ADU permit approved, so the process is really slow. You know, the whole bureaucratic procedure takes more time than the building itself. So, if you've already got your permit, you'll be out in one month if you hire the right builders.
I was talking with a contractor friend last weekend. He was telling me about another contractor friend of his that was getting ready to building a 4000 square foot house. The FRAMING package alone was $100/square foot, no windows, no mechanicals, no drywall, no finishes. Just the materials to get it under roof. This is in North Carolina.
 

ModernADUplans

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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.
ADUs are great for conservatives who want small government and less regulations on what they can do with their personal property. They are also great ways to generate rental income to help pay off your mortgage faster or maybe allowing people to afford to buy a larger home. And they are commonly used for aging parents or other family members who may need at home care or just want to be closer to family.

Unfortunately property taxes will go up. BUT so will your property value. Add rental income plus increased property value and ADUs are fantastic investments.

Liberal or Conservative ADUs are fantastic for homeowners from all walks of life.
 

havasu

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Sorry, I disagree. In my area, the Southern California Council of Governments, which is the controlling force of 8 counties in So Cal. Most are Liberals, and the Conservatives don't have the power to overthrow this "Agenda 30" Concept, designed to have everyone walk to work, and drive electric cars, and promote liberalism. They have received the power to eliminate all zoning codes, to keep residential areas similar. I just left our city council meeting, and now have Junior ADU's, to combine with ADU's. Our city was forced to allow 25' tall ADU's, and multiple "homes" on one lot, but don't have to even allow parking for their tenants.

My next door neighbor can add multiple homes in a residential area, all on one home lot, tower all existing homes, and not have to create any parking spaces. ADU's also get free fasttracking, with limited permits, and now tonight we were told they eliminated all set back requirements.
I'm trying to not involve politics into the mix, but sometimes it happens. Once seen, it can no longer be unseen.
 
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ModernADUplans

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You may disagree but don't paint this as a political issue. ADUs are popular in conservative and liberal states. They are very popular in Texas and Idaho for example. What you are asking for is MORE regulation and government control over housing and private property. That is not conservative. That is being a NIMBY.

If you believe in an open, free market, capitalist system then you should agree that anyone should be able to build on their private property. ADUs are great projects as they can generate significant rental income and increase the value of your home. These are basic conservative beliefs and nothing to do with liberals.

Oh, and electric cars are amazing. I love driving past all the gas stations and laughing at the prices people have to pay. I get to fill up my electric car for under $10. It is amazing. Again, this isn't a liberal vs conservative viewpoint, electric cars are just better products.
 

bud16415

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For me it is a case of changing the rules in the middle of the game. You buy a home in an area that is zoned single family housing and any other of a million covenants, conditions and restrictions CC&R housing areas may have adopted. You bought there because that’s what you wanted. Someone else that wants more freedoms to have an apartment in the back or an old fridge on the front porch or a junk car in the driveway buys where they feel comfortable living.



Then the state, county, city comes along and changes the rules maybe increasing the property value or maybe not. In a community where such things were not allowed the property value is based for those folks on things staying like they were. Do you really think Bill Gates cares about additional income from being a landlord over having his privacy and open space? Sure he doesn’t have to build one but that wont stop his neighbor from plunking on the property line.



Affordable housing is an issue in some areas of the country and without a doubt something needs to be done to fix it. Where my son lives he and his wife who both have good well paying jobs at least by my standards have totally given up on the American dream, as housing is so high priced. They say the more they save when they do reach an amount to make a down payment they then could never afford the payments or if they did they would have no quality of life after paying the mortgage. Rent is affordable although ridiculously high in my mind. I see it as a way to trap people not empower them.



All I can say about electric cars is what an old timer once told me on a different topic. He said “If you want all that economy, then you will have to pay for it.”
 

havasu

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I appreciate your comments.

I guess it depends on which state you live in. In Kommiefornia, we are pretty much having electric cars shoved down our throats, but in the same breath, we do not make enough electricity to sustain any extra products. We are all suffering with "brown outs" and ordered by our governor to NOT charge your electric cars, because our power grid is already running 98% of capacity.

Every homeowner must utilize a gasoline generator and have it on stand by mode, just so we can keep our refrigerator cold. The governor has already told us that these gas generators will be outlawed next year, but we are telling him to pound sand, unless he wants to supply us with free ice.

Most electric car owners think they are running from free, renewable resources, but can't comprehend that in Kommiefornia, we are utilizing 7% nuclear power, 23% coal fired plants (hidden under imported electricity), 49% natural gas, and 9% hydroelectric power, but our lakes are now at dead pool levels, meaning this power supply is expected to run out by 2025, 13% renewable resources, which include solar, wind, and other natural resources. But yet, the Man Bun wearing Millennial's think their little zippy plug-in's are free/clean energy.

And yes, you may laugh at us as we fill our cars with fuel, but we laugh back at you as you wait in line half way to your destination paying $20 a KW and need to sit in your car for 2 hours in really seedy locations.

  • Renewables. 12.8% (2,881 MW)
  • Natural Gas. 48.6% (10,942 MW)
  • Large Hydro. 8.8% (1,993 MW)
  • Imports. 22.8% (5,128 MW)
  • Batteries (charging) 0.0% (-134 MW)
  • Nuclear. 7.0% (1,586 MW)
  • Coal. 0.0% (3 MW)
  • Other. 0.0% (0 MW)
I love this debate. Please keep it up!
 

bud16415

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Living in beautiful NW PA we conceder PA a very red state if you remove the influence of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Lots of affordable land still and lots of wood. I can buy a semi load of slab wood from any of the local sawmills for the price of shipping and could easily heat my home for very little. In the past the ease of utilities and moderate prices kept many away from burning wood like they did 100 years ago. Just this winter I see more and more people going old school with high tech wood stoves that sit a couple hundred feet from their home and supply hot water underground to heat the house and provide hot domestic water.



I have been thinking how great would it be to use that same boiler power to run a steam engine and have that run a generator to charge an EV. Just think I could be buzzing around town in a wood powered car and making zero pollution and costing almost nothing. It couldn’t be more green than that. If anyone asks about all the smoke pouring out of my wood burning shack I can explain to them that wood burning is a green solution as trees represent too short of a time in the carbon cycle as I’m only burning trees less than 50 years old and the carbon is going to feed the new tree replacing the one I burn. The EPA says.



There are lots of trees over on the left coast I wonder if this would catch on there?
 

havasu

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Because of stringent smog regulations, fireplaces and wood pit fires are prohibited about 250 days a year. All new homes are prohibited from having a fireplace as well, unless they are sealed, electric look alikes.
 

bud16415

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Because of stringent smog regulations, fireplaces and wood pit fires are prohibited about 250 days a year. All new homes are prohibited from having a fireplace as well, unless they are sealed, electric look alikes.
Likely one of the factors why it costs 10X to rent a U-Haul from CA to TX than TX to CA.



Don’t know much about the left coast was only up in the north and saw the redwood trees when I was in Oregon 30 years ago. Even then it seemed like a really beautiful place that was starting down the primrose path. Sounds like now they are there.
 

ModernADUplans

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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?
What is your address?
Most cities will have a webpage or PDF document that outlines the regulations that affect ADUs. I can help if you tell me what city you are in.

For reference, I sell pre-designed ADU plans at (promoting your business is prohibited) and have also designed many custom ADUs across Washington, Oregon, and California.
 
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Sparky617

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ADUs aren't yet permitted here, but one thing that is happening is small homes on larger lots in our downtown area are being torn down and replaced with larger homes, and in some cases lots sub-divided and multiple homes are being built on the single lot. Home prices in downtown Cary are exploding because of this trend. It's better than plowing down forests further out and promoting more suburban sprawl, but there isn't enough land in close to support our population growth so sprawl continues. Our "town" has grown from around 7500 in the mid 1970s when Research Triangle Park (Raleigh/Durham NC area) was started with IBM opening a major facility to over 160,000 today. The surrounding communities (Apex, Morrisville, Holly Springs, Fuquay, Raleigh, Wake Forest, Garner, et al) are all experiencing growth as well.

There is talk about allowing ADUs as a way to create more affordable housing. It is really hard to create new affordable housing at the cost of materials and land today. Typically "affordable" housing is older housing stock, and older apartments. The rebuilds in downtown, like gentrification before it, is removing older, more affordable housing with homes in the $750K+ range. When your lot costs $250K and you need to remove an existing house to build the new one, you can't make it affordable. For greenfield developments installing the roads and utilities along with the cost of materials and labor make it impossible to build something "affordable". Lot sizes keep getting smaller due to the cost of land and the cost of developing the raw land.
 
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Eddie_T

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I wish the media hadn't coined the red/blue state concept. The Kommie states should have the red designation.
 

havasu

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I wish the media hadn't coined the red/blue state concept. The Kommie states should have the red designation.
It does seem "***-backwards"
 

Junto

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ADUs aren't yet permitted here, but one thing that is happening is small homes on larger lots in our downtown area are being torn down and replaced with larger homes, and in some cases lots sub-divided and multiple homes are being built on the single lot. Home prices in downtown Cary are exploding because of this trend. It's better than plowing down forests further out and promoting more suburban sprawl, but there isn't enough land in close to support our population growth so sprawl continues. Our "town" has grown from around 7500 in the mid 1970s when Research Triangle Park (Raleigh/Durham NC area) was started with IBM opening a major facility to over 160,000 today. The surrounding communities (Apex, Morrisville, Holly Springs, Fuquay, Raleigh, Wake Forest, Garner, et al) are all experiencing growth as well.

There is talk about allowing ADUs as a way to create more affordable housing. It is really hard to create new affordable housing at the cost of materials and land today. Typically "affordable" housing is older housing stock, and older apartments. The rebuilds in downtown, like gentrification before it, is removing older, more affordable housing with homes in the $750K+ range. When your lot costs $250K and you need to remove an existing house to build the new one, you can't make it affordable. For greenfield developments installing the roads and utilities along with the cost of materials and labor make it impossible to build something "affordable". Lot sizes keep getting smaller due to the cost of land and the cost of developing the raw land.
In your list of surrounding communities, don't leave out Angier and Lillington in Harnett Co. I moved to west of Lillington (near Raven Rock State Park) about 1 1/2 yrs ago. Looked at and almost bought a house in Apex but luckily did not because of a number of reasons, but primarily traffic and the owner's lack of full-disclosure. Currently, the "drive until you qualify" mentality coupled with the expansion of Hwy 55 around Fuquay-Varina and toward Campbell University have launched about 10k+ homes now being built in the county. Luckily, I'm not dealing with this directly, but it's a matter of time before the expansion of Hwy421 (into I-685) and the construction of Vinfast ($1.4B investment + 7500 jobs) along US-1 will bring that same development to my door. We are presently working with a developer to add a garage and workshop, and it's taken over a year for him to (last week) frame for the footers. As with a lot of folks caught up in this I'm wondering if this development has us too far out over our skis regarding infrastructure, schools, etc. (These developers don't pay impact fees.)
 

Sparky617

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In your list of surrounding communities, don't leave out Angier and Lillington in Harnett Co. I moved to west of Lillington (near Raven Rock State Park) about 1 1/2 yrs ago. Looked at and almost bought a house in Apex but luckily did not because of a number of reasons, but primarily traffic and the owner's lack of full-disclosure. Currently, the "drive until you qualify" mentality coupled with the expansion of Hwy 55 around Fuquay-Varina and toward Campbell University have launched about 10k+ homes now being built in the county. Luckily, I'm not dealing with this directly, but it's a matter of time before the expansion of Hwy421 (into I-685) and the construction of Vinfast ($1.4B investment + 7500 jobs) along US-1 will bring that same development to my door. We are presently working with a developer to add a garage and workshop, and it's taken over a year for him to (last week) frame for the footers. As with a lot of folks caught up in this I'm wondering if this development has us too far out over our skis regarding infrastructure, schools, etc. (These developers don't pay impact fees.)
I periodically ride my bike in your area. The new subdivisions popping up so far from employment centers is surprising. When I moved to NC from northern VA I purposely moved to Cary to be close to work. I now live 3/4 of mile from my office and when I go in I walk. Chatham County is growing quite quickly as well with major subdivisions planned.
 
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