Guide for building an ADU

Do you want to build an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) but are not aware of how to start? Who needs to design it? What will be the appropriate duration for all this process? What will be the price?

All these questions must be popping into your mind, right? Well! Let’s begin it! We have a deep knowledge of ADUs as we have consulted about hundreds of homeowners about their ADUs. In this step-to-step guide, you will find the basic information required to begin your accessory dwelling unit.

Would you like to speak about your particular property? Just get in contact and avail the opportunity of a free ADU planning phone call. We assist the owners in reviewing their properties and projects and will also provide GC bids and designers for your project. We offer a free platform to schedule and organize your ADU throughout.

Now let’s start our intensive course of learning in ADUs. Here’s a step-by-step guide!

Step # 1: Set goals for your ADU

It is essential to specify the targets of your ADU as it will impact its design, completion, siting and perhaps even your budget.

Across the country, these are the biggest reasons people build ADU:
• Accommodation for adult children
• Housing for parents
• Home office
• Rental income

Each of them demands different design specifications. For instance, if you are building a home for your elderly parents, you will wish to use a general design convenient for people who may one day have difficulty moving around.
You will want to ensure that there is a ramp, a parking lot with the unit, or other facilities that will make your mommy and daddy love you more than ever.

If you want to rent an ADU to a person who is not a member of your family, you will likely be interested in having functional and sustainable finishes, and you will wish to maximize the number of bathrooms and bedrooms.

Helpful tip: think like you are an investor

ADUs are investments for the future, and their goals will change over time. That is the reason we suggest that all the ADUs include some universal design elements and that you carefully review the privacy that you require between the ADU and your home, not only at the moment but in the future as well.

Step #2: Modular Prefab or Custom accessory dwelling unit?

Custom and Modular prefab are two kinds of ADU.
Custom ADUs are constructed from the ground up on-site. The benefit of custom ADU is that it is customized. You can design the ADU according to your requirements and maximize certain property specifications, like access to a street or a charming view.

Modular prefab ADUs are built entirely in a factory and taken to your home. The most significant benefit of modular ADU is that you have minimal disruption to your land. The downside is that you can make limited changes to the unit.

Prefab ADUs are continuously changing, and they have a complex pricing structure. If you want to explore more about prefab ADUs, look into our Prefab blogs, as we have explained everything in detail.

There are other special types of ADUs, such as panelized prefabs, which are built partially off-site, and stick-built ADUs are based on pre-authorized plans. They make up a small percentage of today’s ADUs.

Now let’s check which custom ADU will be best for you?

If you have selected custom ADU, you must make another great decision. Do you wish to have

  • A detached ADU – will enhance your property’s value the most
  • A garage conversion – is the most economical ADU you can construct
  • An over-garage ADU – it is more overpriced to build, but it is attractive
  • A JADU – is also called a Junior accessory dwelling unit. They should be built from existing space inside the main structure, which can comprise an attached garage. JADUs have certain limitations for the size and other regulations. The benefit of creating one is that you can construct an ADU on the same land in California.

Selecting the correct ADU can be a puzzle. One should consider a number of factors and local ADU regulations that can considerably affect your budget.

One of the main purposes of the Ohana Dwellings site is to make you aware of all your options. Our Ohana tools allow for you to fully visualize and explore the best option for you.

Helpful tip: think about storage

If you are planning a garage conversion, do some planning about where you will store all the items in your garage now. Can you turn the attic into a storage area? Or create an additional storeroom elsewhere on your property? Plan all such things while starting your project so you can access the storage created by the staff who are constructing the ADU. In this way, you can save money.

Step # 3: Get your finances in order

Before hiring with a designer, you need to consider how much money you have for designing, permission and building. Nothing could be worse than imagining an ADU for a long time with calculating finances, which is out of your reach.

At Ohana Dwellings we are on a mission to make pricing simple and transparent. Our 3D configurator allow homeowners to explore models in 3D and price in their options at the same time instantly.
It’s important to also keep in mind the prices of constructing ADU differs considerably based on your location. In the big cities of California, they can lie between $300 and $600 per square foot. The prices can be lower in other areas.

Homeowners typically finance their ADU through a cash-out refi, a renovation loan, or HELOC (home equity line of credit). ADU financing is making progress with each passing day. When searching for a lender, do a favor to yourself and go with one who has good experience in financing ADU.

Expert ADU lenders know how essential it is to get the right local comps to estimate your house value and the value that will be added after the completion of ADU.

These lenders also provide tiered mortgage products that may depend on whether you are in the construction phase, design phase, or refinancing once the ADU is completed.

We collaborate with lenders with experience in ADUs, and we will be fully satisfied to refer you. This ADU Financing Explorer will provide a brief overview of your financing possibilities.

Helpful tip: get your loan approved earlier.
This process requires at least 48 hours and will give you an approximate idea of how much you can lend money. Another important thing is that you will determine the financial problems that you need to resolve before it is approved.

Carefully understand these professional tips from ADU lenders to know the working of the loan process and how can you expand the chances of getting funds faster.

Step #4: Select a designer for your ADU

There has been a recent ADU construction boom, and we’ve seen all types of designers and architects get on the bandwagon. Some of them have designed mind-blowing and charming homes. But a special skill set is needed for ADUs. So, if you are searching for a designer for your ADU, appoint one with a good experience in ADUs. It will save your money, time and frustration.

Professional ADU designer is aware of all the rules

An ADU designer must be well versed in both local and state ADU regulations. You will wish to have a designer that will learn about your money or your precious time. In addition, they will require professional knowledge to teach city planners; many of them have no knowledge of what is legally permitted concerning ADUs.

If your ADU design is poor, it can require a long time for permitting process. You can avail yourself of that time in constructing and renting your ADU.
Professional ADU designers make the most of small spaces
We are not only concerned with the floor plan. ADUs have to work effectively on the lot with a clear way to the front door, plenty of natural light and privacy for individuals living in both the main house and an ADU.

The designer should be looking for ways to squeeze in some more storage or double or triple-duty space. Our design partners use dozens of strategies to create functional and beautiful ADUs.

Professional ADU designers make designs that suit your budget
It would be challenging to design all the comforts of a home in one very small step, even without budget constraints. But homeowners have some financial plans, and an experienced ADU designer knows the costs of constructing ADU today. They won’t design a beautiful ADU that is out of your budget.

The costs of designing are a small fraction of the total budget of ADU; it’s about 8% of the overall budget on average. But your designer’s decisions can considerably affect the construction costs.

We have sourced the best ADU designers for over 300 homeowners at Ohana Dwellings. Our professional design partners are carefully scrutinized and have experience, so don’t worry; your style will surely fit with them. You can have an appointment with a designer with a free ADU planning phone call.

Helpful tip: the supply chain is also important
Consult your designers about the issues regarding the supply chain. Is there some equipment that you should begin to shop for straight away? Is there something in your mind that can cut your budget? Identify it and make intelligent decisions.
FAQs (Frequently asked questions)
What is the cost of ADU building permits?
The jurisdiction of your country/ city will decide the ADU building permit rates, with regulations and boundaries set by the state. The ADU Designer can offer you an estimated range of how much a permit costs in your region.

Is it reasonable to hire a general contractor?
The approval process can take months, so the best time to start talking to general contractors (GCs) is when your designer presents projects in the city. At this point, they will offer a number of plans to share with potential GCs. GCs cannot bid correctly without plans. As long as you have the permits, it is expected that you will come up with an idea of which GC you want to hire, and you can run into the field.

Remember! Now GCs are in high demand, so that many good things can be booked in advance. Therefore, having their appointments as soon as possible is good.

The best way to begin this is to refer to local GCs with experience constructing ADUs.
We have dedicated, experienced, skilled GC partners to provide VIP service to Ohana Dwellings clients. If you have some ADU project and want to hire a general contractor, contact us and then we will help you reach out to our GC partners.

How much time is required to construct an ADU?
It usually requires about 12 to 18 months from appointing a designer to step into your completed ADU. The time limit depends on the distribution chain of material and the merchant’s availability in your area.

Every construction phase requires specialized workers, from laying foundations to laying electrical wiring to installing cabinets. They must perform their tasks in a certain order as every step must go through the city inspection. Therefore, the construction timeline relies heavily on these workers.

Is parking needed for ADUs?
It is dependent on your local and state laws. Cities do not need street parking for ADUs in Oregon. In California, parking space is not required for ADUs if they are about half a mile away from public transportation. In other regions, the parking rules may differ concerning city size and local legislation.

Will my ADU need solar panels?
Each state has different rules for solar ADU. In California, new-building ADUs must have solar panels unless they are located in a shady place for solar energy or garage conversions.

Join The Discussion

Compare listings