Tag Archives: affordable housing

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

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

Choosing Between a Prefab ADU vs. Traditional Stick-Framed ADU

Construction Options for an ADU
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) continue to be a topic of heightened interest for homeowners and real estate investors.  As the need to have more usable space during a real estate market with scarce affordable housing increases, legislators are easing zoning laws and local building codes.

With relaxed restrictions, more homeowners are taking the next step of exploring which type of construction would be best for their particular ADU needs and usage plans. Should you construct your dwelling using the Traditional Stick-Built method to get exactly what you want? Or would a Prefab Modular Unit make more sense based on time and budget constraints? Continue reading

What is Construction 3D Printing?

Construction 3D printing refers to various technologies that use 3D printing as the method to fabricate entire buildings or parts of buildings. There are a variety of 3D printing methods used at construction scale, with the main ones being extrusion (concrete/cement, wax, foam, polymers) and powder bonding (polymer bond, reactive bond, sintering). 3D Printing advantages include faster construction, lower labor costs, increased complexity and/or accuracy, greater integration of function, and less waste produced. Continue reading

Mind-Altering Affordable Housing Ideas from Around the World

Within the context of an ongoing global affordable-housing crisis, communities across the world are looking at ways to contend with the issue. What can be done to provide affordable housing? The book “Emerging Ideas in Architecture & Design”, produced by Archhive Books in the U.K. includes case studies, interviews, and results from numerous design competitions focused on solutions to affordable housing. There are some many interesting, creative, and mind-altering ideas. Here are but a few. Continue reading

New California ADU Bills and What They Mean For You

California recently passed multiple bills to remove barriers that once made it almost impossible for homeowners to build an ADU on their properties. A grand total of six California ADU bills were passed! While this news is exciting, we’ll be the first to admit that this flood of changes can be a bit hard to follow. That’s why we’ve compiled this list and broken it down to the bare bones of what you need to know. Continue reading

Architectural Solutions to the Housing Crisis

Coliseum Connections Apartments built of stackable modular units

In the face of persistent housing shortages, how are architects making a meaningful contribution? Housing’s primary position in our lives makes it a natural site of intervention in the complex fight against lack of housing. “Housing First” policies acknowledge that the pursuit of a healthy, fulfilling life is possible only when we have a stable home, while a growing body of research demonstrates that people with affordable, well-designed housing lead healthier, happier lives than those who are rent-burdened or ill-housed. Beyond policies and data showing the generative value of housing, people universally seek a sense of dignity and identity through their homes. Continue reading

Tips for Designing Your Shipping Container Home

Robyn Volker and Anke Irmscher decided to paint their shipping-container home bright orange because, as Ms. Volker said, “you might as well announce it’s a container.” credits: N.Y.Times

Shipping container homes have grown immensely in popularity in recent years for several good reasons: they are durable, eco-friendly, and modular. More importantly, approached correctly, they can be built both faster and more affordably than conventional homes. The first two-story shipping container home in the U.S. is said to have been designed by a California architect in 2006. Since then, the rate of shipping container housing has steadily accelerated in response to the increased cost of home construction. Here are some tips for those considering a shipping container home. Continue reading