What the heck are ADU's?
This stands for Accessorty Dwelling Units and can be known to have a ton of other names like granny flats, in-law units, backyard cottages, secondary units and more. No matter what you call them, ADUs are an innovative, affordable, effective option for adding much-needed housing in California.
What are the benefits of ADUs?
- ADUs are an affordable type of home to construct in California because they do not require paying for land, major new infrastructure, structured parking, or elevators.
- ADUs can provide a source of income for homeowners.
- ADUs are built with cost-effective wood frame construction, which is significantly less costly than homes in new multifamily infill buildings.
- ADUs allow extended families to be near one another while maintaining privacy.
- ADUs can provide as much living space as many newly-built apartments and condominiums, and they’re suited well for couples, small families, friends, young people, and seniors.
- ADUs give homeowners the flexibility to share independent living areas with family members and others, allowing seniors to age in place as they require more care.
New laws effective January 1, 2018
These bills, effective January 1, 2018, clarify and improve various provisions of the law to promote the development of ADUs, including allowing ADUs to be built concurrently with a single-family home, opening areas where ADUs can be built to include all zoning districts that allow single-family uses, modifying fees from utilities, such as special districts and water corporations, and reducing parking requirements.
Recent updates to state laws for ADUs
State legislation that took effect January 1, 2017 gave California cities more flexibility and latitude for allowing homeowners to build ADUs. Three separate bills were introduced and signed by Governor Brown; SB 1069 (Wieckowski), AB 2299 (Bloom), and AB 2406 (Thurmond). Each of these land use bills make it easier than ever for homeowners to take advantage of this attractive opportunity. Booklet
Download entire booklet(PDF)
Information for cities, counties, other local government bodies, and homeowners interested in adding an accessory dwelling unit to their property.
Download the entire booklet (PDF) or select one of the following excerpts:
- Understanding ADUs and Their Importance (PDF)
- Summary of Recent Changes to Accessory Dwelling Unit Laws (PDF)
- Frequently Asked Questions: Accessory Dwelling Units (PDF)
- Frequently Asked Questions: Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (PDF)
- Sample ADU Ordinance (PDF)
- Sample JADU Ordinance (PDF)
- State Standards Checklist (PDF)
You'll find additional resources at the following websites, which are hosted by partners who contributed to HCD's Technical Assistance Booklet.
- Lilypad Homes - Resources to facilitate the development of accessory dwelling units that offer a more affordable housing option for both homeowners and renters. (Novato, CA)
- Accessory Dwellings - One-stop resource about accessory dwelling units. (Portland, OR)
- Second Unit Resources Center - Although focused on San Mateo County, this website can serve as a great model for other sites. It includes: