Tag Archives: ADU

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

County of Santa Cruz Releases Interactive ADU Toolkit

The County of Santa Cruz has released an interactive toolkit making it easier for homeowners to design, permit and construct Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which can be a more affordable housing option for Santa Cruz County families. Continue reading

Santa Cruz’ “Granny Flat” Program

Like many small cities across the country, Santa Cruz is struggling to maintain its small-town character despite enormous growth pressures.With few new development sites left, the city has turned to its primary asset for help – its single-family neighborhoods, where it is allowing property owners to develop accessory dwelling units, commonly known as a “granny flat.

Continue reading

New ADU rules for Santa Cruz County going to Coastal Commission

If you are waiting to create an accessory dwelling until Santa Cruz County has adopted new rules to make the process easier and less expensive, you’ll have to be patient a little longer. The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to adopt new rules for ADUs to comply with new state laws, SB 1069 and SB 229, aiming to make ADUs easier and less costly. Continue reading

Is Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (A.D.U.) a Good Investment?

No matter where you live – Santa Cruz, Monterey, the Peninsula, or for that matter anywhere in California- if you are considering building an ADU your first concern will be feasibility: will this project pencil out? In this article we discuss considerations when deciding whether to invest in constructing a rental unit on one’s property.

Is an ADU a Good Investment?
Even with ADUs gaining popularity, the value an ADU adds to a given piece of property is hard to calculate. This can make determining whether an ADU is a “good investment” difficult. You may not know whether it is a good investment until you sell the property (which may be many years down the road.) Determining whether an ADU is a good investment is also going to depend heavily on the investor’s (your) financial situation and goals. Continue reading

Relaxed Requirements for ADU’s: An Update

Effective January 1, 2017, local laws regarding Secondary Dwelling Units were superseded. State law now mandates that local jurisdictions ease restrictions and barriers to the permitting and use of what are now referred to as Accessory Dwelling Units (“ADUs”). Continue reading

California Legislature Lowers the Bar on Granny Units.

ADUThe California Legislature recently passed new rules making it easier, faster, and presumably less expensive, for people to get permits for new “granny units” otherwise referred to as “accessory dwelling units” (“ADUs”).  Senate Bill 1069, which was signed by Governor Brown on September 27, 2016 and takes effect on January 1, 2017, amends Government Code section 65852.2 to require local agencies statewide to amend their zoning ordinances to implement several uniform development requirements and restrictions on ADUs – both substantive and procedural.

Continue reading

Five Best Design Practices for Small Homes and ADUs

Bird's Eye Axon

Less-Is-More House, a small-scale custom home designed using best design practices.

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.

1. Lack of interior sight lines
Limiting the number of interior walls, thus keeping with an open plan, has the advantage of optimizing a feeling of spaciousness. Conversely, having too many too small rooms contributes to a feeling of kludgyness and claustrophobia. You want a place that feels wonderful and creates a positive catalyst for your goals, therefor keep your floor plan open and airy as much as possible.

2. Too few windows
Many homeowners try to lower their project’s cost by reducing the number of windows. But a house with too few windows is not only a gloomy place to live in, it can actually increase your energy bill if you find yourself using electric lights in daylight hours. As a rule of thumb, you should install at least 10 square feet of windows for every 300 cubic feet of space.

3. Poor window placement
Window placement is also an important design consideration. It’s a mistake to only place windows on one side of a room. This makes a room stuffier and harder too cool because it prevents cross breezes. Especially in living rooms, try to place windows on more than one wall, ideally on walls directly across from each other.

4. Improper kitchen measurements
Kitchens are tricky to design in small homes because refrigerators, ovens, and other appliances take up so much space. Make sure you have enough space in your kitchen to accommodate the specific appliances you want – in fact, it may be best to pick out your appliances before building any counters and cabinetry.

5. Insufficient acoustical separation
Sounds are amplified in small living spaces. Kitchens and bathrooms tend to be the noisiest spaces, and bedrooms the quietest. It’s a good idea to separate the room used for sleeping from the rest of the home with a sound-proofed wall. If you are considering a sleeping loft, consider this factor as part of your decision whether it should be open to the space below or not. If you do elect to have it open, you can minimize noise by placing the loudest spaces beneath the loft, rather than directly across from it.