Tag Archives: accessory dwelling unit

The Ten Elements of Perfect ADU Design

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) present unique design challenges that require unique solutions. There is simply less square footage to go around, which means that space is at a premium. The most functional ADUs take advantage of design tips and tricks that make interior spaces feel lighter, more spacious, and more efficient. Whether your ADU is intended to become a home office, in-law unit, or rental, these design tips can help you create a unique space that works for any function you need it to serve. Continue reading

California’s ADU Solar Requirements: Does My ADU Need Solar Panels?

In 2020, California became the first state to require new homes to be equipped with solar panels to offset the use of grid electricity as part of its goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045. Known as the California Solar Mandate or Title 24, this standard applies to single-family homes, apartments, condos, and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Continue reading

5 Ways an ADU/JADU Investment Can Produce ROI

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is an accessory dwelling unit with complete, independent living facilities for one or more persons. There are three main types, those attached to the primary structure, detached ADUs in which the unit is separated from the primary structure, and converted, in which a space (e.g., master bedroom, attached garage, a storage area, or a accessory structure) on the lot of the primary residence is converted into an independent living unit. A JADU is a dwelling unit attached to the main house, not exceeding 500 square feet, and which may share bathroom and/or kitchen facilitation with the main dwelling. Both ADUs and JADUs can be moneymakers for homeowners looking for short-term cash flow and a long-term investment. Continue reading

What is a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU)?

A Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) is an additional, independent living unit created through the conversion of a portion of a single-family dwelling. The State of California recently adopted legislation (SB 13, AB 68 and AB 881) that defines the standards applicable to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs). One of the most significant changes is a provision permitting both an ADU and a JADU on the same lot with an existing or proposed single-family dwelling. This means that you can obtain two rental units to your property, an ADU plus a JADU, in addition to the main house.

JADU Rules and the Differences Between ADUs and JADUs
ADUs are larger, in many cases up to 1,200 square feet are allowed. A full kitchen (not a kitchenette) is required, as is a bathroom separate from the main house. Depending on local ordinance, its own separate entry, additional or replacement parking facilitation, and owner-occupancy may be required. For both ADUs and JADUs simple ministerial (building permit) approval processing is all that is required: local jurisdictions cannot impose the time-consuming and laborious additional burden of discretionary (aka development) permit processing.

Conversely, JADU features summarize as follows:
• Size: 500 sq. ft. max.
• Placement: Must be within a planned or existing single-family dwelling or accessory dwelling.
• Extension: May include an expansion of up to 150 sq. ft. beyond the footprint of the existing accessory structure, but this expansion is limited to accommodating ingress and egress.
• Exterior Access: A separate entrance for the JADU from the proposed or existing single-family dwelling is required.
• Bathroom: May have it’s own bathroom or one shared with the single-family dwelling.
• Kitchen: Must meet “Efficiency Kitchen” requirements.
• Parking: No parking required for a JADU.

Can the JADU have Interior Access to the Main Residence?
Yes, the attached unit may have interior access to the main residence or attached structure. In some jurisdictions but not all, the connecting door may need to be a 1-hour rated door pursuant to the fire protections in the Building Code.

What is a “Kitchen” vs. “Efficiency Kitchen” and Which is Required?
ADUs are required to have kitchens. JADUs are required to have efficiency kitchens.

A “kitchen” is any room or portion of a room used or intended or designed to be used for cooking and/or the preparation of food and containing all of the following: a sink having a drain outlet larger than 1.5 inches in diameter, a refrigerator larger than 2.5 cubic feet, a built-in permanent cooking appliance typically including a 2-burner gas or 220-volt electric range/oven with a range/hood ventilation system, plus space for food preparation and storage.

An “efficiency kitchen” is a limited kitchen facility that includes a sink, a refrigerator, small electric kitchen appliances that do not require electrical service greater than 120 volts, an appropriately sized food preparation counter, and storage cabinets. In some jurisdictions, gas or propane cooking appliances are not allowed.

Are JADUs Subject to Connection and Capacity Fees?
No, JADUs shall not be considered a separate or new dwelling unit for the purposes of fees and as a result should not be charged a fee for providing water, sewer or power, including a connection fee. These requirements apply to all providers of water, sewer and power, including non-municipal providers. Local governments may adopt requirements for fees related to parking, other service or connection for water, sewer or power, however, these requirements must be uniform for all single family residences and JADUs are not considered a new or separate unit.

Are Fire Sprinklers Required?
Yes, a local government may adopt requirements related to fire and life safety requirements. However, a JADU shall not be considered a new or separate unit. In other words, if the primary unit is not sprinklered, then the JADU must be treated the same.

JADUs offer attractive construction options that make sense in a number of cases. For example, they may share systems with the original dwelling, leading to simpler renovation plans. In addition, they can contain a very simple kitchen with small appliances and share a bathroom with the original dwelling. All of this means that the development costs for JADUs are far lower. While they can be rented out, they’re just as often designed for cohabitation. So if you’re motivated and searching for ways to maximize rental income, home appreciation, and living space, it might make sense to invest in an ADU as well as a JADU; it is your legal right to have both.

For Further Reading:
• The Department of Housing and Community Development has published a helpful guide to JADUs, “Frequently Asked Questions: Junior Accessory Dwelling Units”. The link is: https://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/docs/faqsadujr.pdf
• The County of Santa Cruz Planning Department’s guide to JADUs as well as ADUs is at: https://www.sccoplanning.com/ADU/FAQ.aspx
• City of Santa Cruz Planning Department’s “Standards for JADUs/Jr. ADUs/Junior Accessory Dwelling Units” is found at: https://www.cityofsantacruz.com/home/showpublisheddocument/79262/637275737166700000










Updated ADU Laws: SB 897 and HCD’s ADU Handbook

Accessory Dwelling Units are more popular than ever, and cities across California are recognizing the importance of ADUs in the fight to end the state’s housing crisis. Just recently, Freddie Mac updated their ADU financing options and CalHFA extended their ADU Grant Program to help even more homeowners build backyard homes. Now, there are two more news items to add to the list of developments. In August, 2022 the California Senate voted to pass SB 897 (a brand-new law that clarifies previous ADU legislation), and the California Department of Housing and Community Development updated their ADU Handbook. Continue reading

Basic Steps For Creating An ADU

An ADU is an additional living unit with kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping facilities in addition to those of a main residence. It may be physically attached or detached from the primary residence. Also known variously as “granny units”, “second units”, or “carriage houses”, ADU’s provide opportunity to use what may be surplus space on a residential lot to house in-laws or relatives, or to provide supplementary income to make one’s mortgage more affordable. This article outlines a general process for creating an ADU. Whether or not you will need all of the steps outlined depends on the scope of your project and the city or county area you live in. Also, please note that while the steps are presented in an order that may be useful to you, you may need to adjust the order of the steps to make it fit your particular situation. Continue reading

Five Best Design Practices for Small Homes and ADUs

Over the years our architectural practice has worked out some best design practices for the design of small homes and accessory units, as well as the design choices that should be avoided. You can benefit from our experience. Here’s a list of common design mistakes people make when planning their Not So Big House or accessory dwelling unit. Continue reading

Accessory Dwelling Unit Update 2020

With the arrival of the new year, new housing laws are taking hold in California. Red tape has been cleared for homeowners to build not just one, but two accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, under ministerial approval from local governments.  ADUs, also called “granny flats,” offer cities an opportunity to develop new housing units that are not disruptive to the look and feel of single-family neighborhoods.  Continue reading

5 Ways an ADU Investment Can Produce ROI

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is typically a one or two-room living unit designed as a separate dwelling from the single-family home located on the same lot. ADUs can sometimes be referred to as guest house, carriage house, or granny flat. These spaces are completely habitable with features such as a kitchen and bathroom. ADUs can be a money maker for homeowners looking for short-term cash flow and long-term investment. Continue reading

The County of Santa Cruz’ ADU Design Guide

Santa Cruz County has recently implemented new, more relaxed development standards intended to make building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) easier and more affordable. Towards this end it’s published three guidebook resources, Santa Cruz County ADU Basics, ADU Financing Guide, and ADU Design Guide. This article outlines the County’s ADU Design Guide. Continue reading