ADU Zoning Explained: ADU Zoning Laws

Feb 24, 2022 | ADU

Are you looking to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit but are uncertain what ADU zoning laws are? You are not alone. Many people wonder what ADU zoning is and how it applies to them.

ADU zoning laws provide rules about the type of ADU that can be built on your property. They take into consideration factors such as the height of ADUs, the size of the lot, and set back requirements, along with a multitude of other factors.

With so many factors affecting ADU zoning, it can get quite confusing. That is why we put together a quick guide to understand ADU zoning. Read on to find out how zoning laws will affect your ADU development plans.

Different Types of ADU Zoning Laws

Every city has multiple geographical regions with different zoning laws. Usually, zones are either commercial or residential areas. Since you are building an ADU on your property that you already live on, you will fall into a residential area zone.

Be careful; not all residential areas have the same regulations. There are different residential zones in every city. Where you fall in these regions will affect what laws apply to you.

For example, more densely populated residential areas allow buildings to be closer to each other. However, most thinly populated areas are like that because they require buildings to be much farther apart. You may not be able to build an ADU on your property if the ADU does not meet setback regulations of a stricter, less dense area.


What Is in Zoning Laws?

There is a multitude of regulations within zoning laws. They contain everything from whether you can install a fence to regulations surrounding earthquakes. They also determine whether or not you can run a business out of your garage. So, if you plan to build your ADU to turn into an office of some sort, zoning laws will let you know if that is possible or not.

When it comes to ADU’s they typically have their own subsection of the zoning laws devoted to them. This section will give you a clear yes or no answer of whether or not you can build an ADU.

Some cities encourage the development of ADUs to help solve the housing crisis. Other cities like to discourage development because they don’t have the resources to oversee or inspect the building process. Also, cities with heavy tourism tend to discourage ADU’s because they fear overdevelopment and too big of crowds.

Cities that do encourage development will still have rules and regulations in place that your ADU will have to meet.


Are ADUs Legally Permitted

As we mentioned above, it depends on where you live. ADUs are very popular because they increase a property’s value and can serve as a source of extra income for a home. However, some cities have made them illegal because people build them to rent out as Airbnbs. As a result, already over-tourist areas become even more overdeveloped and crowded.

So, you need to check your ADU zoning laws for your area to determine if they are legal for you to build and what type of ADU use you are allowed or prohibited.


What Happens If You Don’t Meet ADU Zoning Regulations?

With so many factors that go into ADU zoning, you might be tempted to just ignore them and go ahead with your ADU plan. Do not do this.

An illegal ADU that does not meet ADU zoning regulations cannot be assessed as part of your home value. It also cannot be sold as part of the home sale if you decide to sell your property, resulting in the possible loss of thousands of dollars.

Not to mention, some ADU zoning requirements are put in place to keep you safe. If you don’t meet regulations that have to do with floods, fires, and earthquakes, you could be leaving your ADU vulnerable to these unforeseen circumstances. Then all your hard work and investment into ADU development will have been for nothing.

Lastly, ADU’s that don’t meet regulations can receive expensive fines and prevent you from being able to do any further construction in the future.


Identifying Your Zone

Curious to know what zoning laws apply to you? You can start by reaching out to your local Planning office. They will be able to answer your questions quite easily. If you don’t want to reach out, most cities have a website available for you to easily access zoning maps and zoning ordinances.


Resources To Help You with ADU Zoning

We understand that ADU zoning can get confusing fast. There are a large number of regulations surrounding whether or not you can build an ADU yourself. Luckily, there are a few resources to make this process easier for you.


ADU Guidebook And eCourse

This free ADU guidebook will give you a quick glimpse into how to develop your ADU. ADU zoning laws and requirements are part of the feasibility study needed to be done to build your ADU.

Want to know more about how a feasibility study works? Check out this recourse complete with over 3 hours of training videos designed to help you efficiently design, plan, and construct your ADU to meet all regulations.


Work With Professionals

ADU professionals will be able to help you identify what ADU zone you are in and what type of ADU you can build. They can work with you to figure out all the legal jargon and create a design and plan capable of obtaining the necessary permits to legally build your ADU. Essentially, they do all the work of figuring out what an ADU zone is for you.


Your ADU Consultant

Here at Levi Design Build, we know everything there is to know about ADU zoning laws. Our dedicated team has been helping people like you develop ADUs and homes for years. From discovering whether an ADU is feasible for you, to design, planning and construction consultation of ADU.

We offer a free consultation to help you navigate through permits and zoning laws, along with other important information you might not even know about. From there, we can do an advisory meeting to cover all the details of your project, including the costs of your project (and areas where you can save some money). Once that is done, we will provide you with all the necessary tools to build your ADU.

It is our commitment to provide you with the highest service throughout the entirety of your project. If you have any questions along the way, we are always ready to help.


Mastering ADU Zoning

Whether you decide to work with a professional or not, understanding your ADU zoning laws does not have to be hard. Be sure you pay close attention to all the regulations and ensure your plan meets those regulations when you submit it for permits. Your city will let you know if your ADU plans do not meet their expectations.

We strongly encourage you to know all ADU zoning laws before submitting your plans for approval. That way you do not waste time and money by getting your plans denied during the permit process. Knowing the laws and regulations that apply to you will help you quickly and efficiently develop your ADU in no time.