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What to Consider Before Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

If you live in an area that is known to have a housing shortage, then it is likely that you know what an Accessory Dwelling Unit is. Also known as an ADU, these are a smaller version of a home that is separately located within a single property. So in hindsight, there is more than one residence on a property. Currently, the law that governs them permits up to two along with a single residence. Besides an ADU, homeowners are also permitted to have a smaller JADU.

Before you get all excited and run out to your home improvement store to get supplies to start building one, keep in mind that it is easier said than done. There are some requirements that need to be met first lie the ones we have listed below.

Check the Parking Requirement

Before changes were made to the law, a dwelling was required to have separate parking on the property. After the change, four conditions now exist which eliminate this requirement:

• Ride share is available relatively close

• Parking permits are not offered to tenants

• It’s located within a historical area

• Public transportation is under a mile away

For homeowners who do not fall under one of these conditions, then you will be required to establish separate parking. There could be other ways to get around this so it’s best that you check with your city to see if any other ways to reduce the requirement exist.

Ensure that Proper Access Exists

Having proper access to the property dwellings is very important to ensure safety of the tenants in the event of an emergency. In the event of a fire, a clear path away from the residence should be present. You can easily create a pathway by laying pavers leading to the street. Make sure that the space between the property line and your dwelling remains clear at all times too.

Keep Privacy in Mind

As you think of ways to incorporate privacy needs, consider the tenant who will be living in the accessory dwelling unit or Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit.

After construction is complete and you decide to rent it out to a non family member, then it would behoove you to ensure enough privacy is provided to the tenants and you as well. An easy way to fully ensure privacy is to place the dwelling’s entrance on the back or side. You can go a step further and add tall shrubs between the dwelling and home. This will create more solitude.

Check Utility Requirements

Under the law an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit are not viewed as “new” construction when utilities are considered. So having connections will not have separate fees or charges assessed.

When either water or electricity is utilized in the dwelling, the amount is combined with the total amount used for the home. So this makes it easy to just make separate connections leading from the home’s water and gas lines to the dwelling.

You can also connect the plumbing to your home’s sewer, however for a septic tank; the Health Department may need to be consulted with first. You also need to remember that the septic tank can only hold so much sewage. The worst case scenario would be to obtain a bigger sized septic tank to be able to handle the increased amount coming from the dwelling.

Confirm Compliance with Regulations Concerning Fire

Contact your local fire marshal to see what the required regulations cover after you build and ADU is habitable. Typically, a sprinkler is required but to be sure, just ask them so that way you know you’ll be compliant.

If you live in an area where a sprinkler is not required, then you can easily take advantage of this cost saving omission. However, if your home is located in an area that is hard to access by the fire department, it may make the difference between saving the dwelling and having a complete loss. Having a sprinkler system could also save you some money when it comes to insurance.

Like we mentioned earlier, ensure that a clear path is available for times of evacuation. The path needs to remain clear, recognizable, and leads away towards your street.

NEO Builders is here to Help

When you apply these tips, you will be able to create an ADU or JADU that is able to increase in value while saving you money in the process.

However, do not think that when you build and ADU will be an easy task to undertake. This is why you need the professional expertise of a builder who has built them. You will find this necessary expertise when you get a hold of NEO Builders. At NEO Builders, you will receive the best outcome possible for the least amount of investment.



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