Ultimate Guide to ADU Development With Step-by-Step Videos

Jun 27, 2023 | ADU

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Navigating the process of constructing an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) can be complex and daunting. This comprehensive guide will walk you through every step, from conceptualization to final completion.

The guide covers twelve crucial topics, starting with a thorough understanding of what ADUs are, local regulations, the design and plan check process, finding and working with the right contractors, to the actual construction process and beyond. The aim is to arm you with the essential knowledge and resources to successfully manage your ADU project. It’s not only about realizing your vision, but also making sure it aligns with legal requirements, while efficiently utilizing your budget and timeline.

#1: Paths of ADU Development

When going about an ADU development you have different ways to go about it, let’s explore the 3 main path options owners usually can choose from:

1. ADU DIY from start to finish

Hire different professionals and construction trades.

If you feel confident that you have the time, patience and management skills this is a great path to go about as potentially if done properly it will be the most cost effective, with that, it can also cost you more with mistakes taking place like: choosing the wrong professionals and/or making wrong decisions with no one to guide you through it, regardless at the end of the road it will provide you with tremendous knowledge and experience.

2. Hire a general contractor

An ADU general contractor will handle the design phase as well.

In this case you will enter a construction contract with a general contractor that will also be responsible to hire the design professionals, our take about this approach is that it’s the wrong one.

And here is why, by now you already know that design and plans can go different ways and each way is going to have a different cost to it during construction, when a contractor have the full budget of your project and the design team is his (in house or 3rd party) can you be certain that the design is maximizing your budget to your needs or is it maximizing the contractor profits? Can you be sure the advice you get is the full picture you need to see, or if it’s the picture the contractor and his team want you to see?

Also, think how you will handle request for changes once construction starts, if a contractor asks for additional funds since you asked for changes how would you know if those changes actually generate additional costs or not, who would you consult with?

3. Hire an ADU design build team

This kind of a team should have knowledge and experience in both fields of design and construction, however they will provide you services for design, planning, budgeting and permitting, they will not have any agenda in the construction part and will not act as the general contractor, so you know that the advice you get during design is genuine and provide you a full picture of your options, they will work to maximize your budget to your needs. A great design build team will also help you to get the right contractor onboard, either by qualifying yours or referring you to their network.

Mix between the 3

  1. Hire a design team and break your construction trades.
  2. Hire different design professionals and a general contractor for all your construction needs.

#2: ADU Development Process Overview

The development process for an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) involves several key steps. Let’s elaborate on each step:

  1. Research and Analysis: During this phase, you need to gather information and analyze the feasibility of building an ADU on your property. Research includes finding the right size of ADU for your investment. Determine the average cost per square foot of homes in your neighborhood to estimate the future added value to your property after constructing the ADU. Additionally, research the average rental costs of similar ADUs in your area to understand the potential income from renting it out.
  2. Budgeting: Developing an ADU requires budgeting for various costs, including construction materials, labor, permits, and fees. Use the information gathered during the research phase to create a detailed budget for your ADU project. The budget should account for all expenses and provide a clear estimate of the total cost of development.
  3. Feasibility: Inquire about the feasibility of building an ADU on your property by creating a site map and meeting with your local planning department. They will assess whether your property is eligible for ADU construction and provide you with the necessary guidelines and regulations to follow.
  4. Design: During the design phase, you will create floor plans and 3D renderings to visualize the layout and appearance of your ADU. You can use design and planning software or hire professionals to assist with this step. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-made designs and architectural drawings online.
  5. Plans: After finalizing the design, you will need to issue construction drawing plans and calculations based on your ADU’s design. These plans will serve as a blueprint for the construction process and must comply with local building and safety requirements.
  6. Permit: Submit your construction plans to your local planning department for review and approval. This process involves plan check and obtaining necessary permits before construction can begin. Depending on your property’s location and specific requirements, there may be additional reviews by various department, historical preservation boards or coastal committees are good example.
  7. Contractor: Create a detailed scope of work and solicit estimates from contractors for your ADU project. Request that contractors use your scope of work as a guideline to ensure that their estimates are comparable. Qualify the estimates based on communication and experience with each contractor rather than solely on price.
  8. Materials: Outsource, match, and purchase your finish materials based on your design preferences. Take charge of sourcing finish materials to ensure you get the best deals and quality. Create a detailed finish materials breakdown and budget using quantity take-offs from your contractor’s estimate.
  9. Construction and Inspections: During the construction phase, keep detailed records and accounts to ensure that the work follows the agreed-upon contract. Be present for periodic inspections by city officials and maintain all necessary paperwork and receipts. Once construction is complete, obtain the final inspection and receive the Certificate of Occupancy.

By following these steps, you can successfully navigate the development process of building an ADU, from research and planning to completion and occupancy.

#3: ADU Market Research & Investment Analysis

Market research and investment analysis play a crucial role in determining the potential value and income of your ADU project. Here’s a further elaboration on conducting market research and investment analysis:

Average Cost per Square Foot of Homes in Your Neighborhood

To estimate the future added value of your property after developing an ADU, you need to determine the average cost per square foot (SqFt) of homes in your neighborhood. Zillow is a popular online platform for real estate information that can provide this data. Follow these steps:

  • Visit Zillow’s website (zillow.com) and enter your property address in the search bar.
  • Once your property listing appears, scroll down to the home value information section.
  • Look for the “Comparable homes” data, which provides information on recently sold homes in your area.
  • Find the average sold price per square foot among these comparable homes.
  • Enter this average sold price per square foot in the Development Budget spread sheet market research tab, specifically in the “added value” table.

Average Cost of Rental Homes and Apartments in Your Area

To understand the potential income from renting your ADU, you need to research the average cost of rental homes and apartments in your area. Rent.com and Rentometer.com are two popular websites that can help you gather this information. Here’s how to use them:

  • Visit Rent.com or Rentometer.com.
  • Enter your city or neighborhood location in the search bar.
  • Use the available filters to specify the size, number of bedrooms, and bathrooms that match your ADU.
  • Conduct the search to find comparable rental listings in your area.
  • Take note of the average monthly rental cost based on the search results.
  • Enter this average monthly rental cost in the Development Budget spread sheet market research tab.

By utilizing these sources and entering the obtained data in the market research tab of your Development Budget spreadsheet, you can make informed decisions about the potential added value to your property and expected rental income from your ADU. This analysis will help you evaluate the financial viability and return on investment for your ADU project.

#4: ADU Budgeting & Financing

ADU Budgeting

Budgeting is a crucial aspect of developing an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). Since ADU development is similar to building a new home, it involves various professionals and associated costs. Additionally, there are city fees that need to be considered. When budgeting for your ADU development, it’s important to take all aspects into account. Here’s a breakdown of the budgeting process:

  1. Understand the Scope of Work: Before creating a budget, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the scope of work for your ADU development. This includes the size, layout, and specific features you want to include. The scope of work will help you determine the materials, labor, and other costs involved.
  2. Consider Professional Services: ADU development may require the expertise of different professionals, such as architects, engineers, contractors, and interior designers. Each professional will have their own fees, so it’s important to research and gather estimates for these services.
  3. Account for Construction Costs: Construction costs will make up a significant portion of your budget. This includes the cost of materials, labor, equipment, and any subcontractors involved. Obtain detailed quotes or estimates from contractors to get an accurate idea of the construction costs.
  4. Factor in City Fees and Permits: Developing an ADU involves obtaining permits and paying fees to the local planning department. The specific fees will depend on the size and form of your ADU. Research the applicable city fees and permit requirements and include them in your budget.
  5. Include Miscellaneous Costs: There are various other expenses that should be considered when budgeting for your ADU development. These may include site preparation, landscaping, utility connections, inspections, insurance, and contingencies for unexpected costs.
  6. Use the Development Budget spread sheet: To organize and track your budget, you can utilize a Development Budget spreadsheet. Open the spreadsheet and go to the General Budget tab. Enter the costs of various items, such as professional services, construction materials, city fees, and other expenses. The spreadsheet will help you calculate the total budget for your ADU development.

By taking all these factors into consideration and accurately estimating the costs, you can develop a comprehensive budget for your ADU project. It’s important to be thorough in your budgeting process to ensure that you have a realistic understanding of the financial requirements and can make informed decisions throughout the development process.

ADU Financing

Lenders and banks are struggling to catch up to growing demand and specific loan products tailored to ADUs have yet to be developed. Most homeowners today rely on savings or home equity to pay for their projects, construction loans are also available.

To figure out how your financing is affecting your development and return on investment open the Development Budget spread sheet Loan Calculator tab, enter the information on the left column to get your STATISTICS.

Financing an ADU project can be challenging as specific loan products tailored to ADUs are still in the early stages of development. Lenders and banks have been slower to adapt to the growing demand for ADU financing options. As a result, many homeowners who undertake ADU projects rely on alternative methods to fund their development. Here are some financing options commonly used for ADU projects:

  1. Personal Savings: One common approach is to fund the ADU project using personal savings. Homeowners may have saved up money specifically for this purpose or use their existing savings to cover the costs. This option avoids the need for external financing but may require a significant upfront investment.
  2. Home Equity: Using home equity is another popular financing method for ADUs. Homeowners can leverage the equity built up in their property by taking out a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). These options allow homeowners to borrow against the value of their home and use the funds for the ADU development.
  3. Construction Loans: Construction loans are available for homeowners who need financing specifically for construction projects, including ADUs. These loans typically have shorter terms and higher interest rates than traditional mortgages. With a construction loan, the funds are disbursed in stages as the construction progresses, and interest is paid only on the amount drawn.
  4. Alternative Financing: In some cases, homeowners may explore alternative financing options such as personal loans, lines of credit, or financing through specialized ADU-focused lenders. These options may have different terms and eligibility requirements compared to traditional loans, so it’s essential to research and compare the available options.

To assess how financing will affect your ADU development and return on investment, you can use the Development Budget spread sheet Loan Calculator tab. By entering the relevant information in the left column of the spreadsheet, you can obtain statistics and calculations related to your financing. This may include details such as the loan amount, interest rate, loan term, monthly payments, and overall project costs.

The Loan Calculator tab will help you evaluate the financial impact of different financing options, understand the total cost of borrowing, and assess how the loan will affect your return on investment. This information will be valuable in making informed decisions about financing and ensuring that your ADU project aligns with your financial goals and capabilities.

#5: ADU Feasibility Study

An ADU Feasibility study is the first step in the ADU design and planning phase. It helps you and your design team assess the viability of developing an ADU on your property. The study provides valuable insights into the size limitations, guidelines, and potential challenges associated with your ADU project. Here are some steps you can follow to conduct a feasibility study:

  1. Create a Site Map: Start by creating a site map of your property. This map should accurately depict the dimensions of your lot and any existing structures on it. It serves as a visual representation of your property and will be used to incorporate relevant information during the feasibility study. You can manually draw a site map or use online services like drawsiteplan.com (enter our coupon code to get 5% discount: LEVIDSP).
  2. Schedule a Meeting with the Local Planning Department: Arrange a meeting with your local planning department to gather additional information and insights. During this meeting, inquire about setback requirements, height limitations, maximum allowed ADU size, parking requirements, existing easements, and any other relevant regulations. Additionally, determine if there are any review boards or committees (such as HOA, Historical, Coastal, etc.) that you’ll need to navigate through for approvals. Also, find out if there is a need for additional surveys, engineering work, or calculations beyond the basic requirements.
  3. Incorporate Information on the Site Map: Once you have gathered the necessary information from the local planning department, incorporate it onto your site map. Clearly mark the setback requirements, height limitations, parking requirements, and any other relevant guidelines or restrictions. This will make it easier to visualize and understand the implications of these regulations on your ADU project. The site map will serve as a reference point for making informed decisions about the course of action for your ADU.

If you have hired a design team, they will typically handle the feasibility study for you. However, if you haven’t hired a design team, you can explore using online resources like symbium.com, which provides information on ADU guidelines for various counties and cities in California. Additionally, the feasibility report sample included in your document packages can give you an idea of what a comprehensive feasibility study entails.

By conducting a thorough feasibility study, you will gain a clear understanding of the possibilities and constraints associated with developing an ADU on your property. This information will guide your design and planning process, ensuring that your ADU project complies with local regulations and meets your specific requirements.

See the Feasibility Report sample in your package.

#6: Hiring an ADU Design & Planning Team

If you know how to operate a design and planning software you can start and create your own floor plans design and maybe even 3D renderings, if not you can create your hand drawings of floor plans and elevations as a first step, also there are websites where you can purchase premade design and premade architectural drawings, those are in the ADU Guidebook under USEFUL ONLINE RESOURCES chapter. It’s important to understand this is not a full set of plans, some of it are only concept designs that will still need to be fully developed and some are only architectural plans and will still need to be supplemented with additional drawings and calculations based on your local building and safety requirement, during feasibility you should understand those requirements.

If you choose to hire a design and planning team it’s important to know which of the professionals you will need, that should be discovered during Feasibility and what are the cost for the various services, use the Spread sheet Design & Planning Budgeting to update those costs.

You can hire separate professionals for each need or a design firm that can provide a few of the services under one roof.

In many cases those professionals won’t need to be licensed and, in some cases, they must be licensed, check with your local planning department what is their requirements as if a none-licensed service is acceptable it could save you money, just make sure they are reputable and have experience with your type of project.

Basic requirements are architectural, structural and T24 (Energy Calculations) and in most cases are sufficient, for some ADU sizes storm water system is also a basic requirement.

MEP Engineering, Land Survey and Soil Engineering will be required in some cases and for those services if needed, you will need to have licensed professional.

Use Design & Planning Budgeting spread sheet to track costs of those services.

See Samples of design and 3D, architectural, structural, storm water and T24 in your package.

#7: ADU Plan Check and Permit Expedite

Going through the process of plan check, clearances and obtaining approval with construction permit is done with your local building department and its various offices.

If you hired a design firm to help with getting your ADU plans in place inquire with them about the cost of having them to handle your plan check and permit, as this is a time consuming process that will require navigating with different offices, if you decide to take on this on yourself, inquire with your local planning and building department to get a clear understanding of the tasks in front of you, ask for a handout of the process as they should have one to help you navigate through it.

Make sure to keep records of all submitted documents, contact of the different city representative you are meeting and talking with and of course any payments you are making along the way, you will find those records handy when questions arise.

When construction drawings are completed, it’s time to submit it for city planning and building and safety to start your plan check process. Historical properties will go through historical preservation review board first and coastal zoned properties will go through coastal committee, if your property is under special architectural review board it will need to go through those reviews before it submitted to plan check with the city – Plan check fees will be due.

Once the plan check is complete, you will receive the plans back to go through corrections and clearances with several departments all utility departments, some of those are: power, water, gas, sanitation, grading, transportation, and fire dept.

During clearances phase each dept will sign and approve the project and if there are special requirements for utility connections they will advise. – Clearances fees will be due

After completion of corrections and clearances a 2nd submittal of the plans and all associated documents will take place that will follow with a final plan check review, at this review the assigned city plan checker will confirm that there are no additional requirements or need and if so, he will stamp the plans as approved and READY TO ISSUE A PERMIT (RTI).

#8: ADU Construction Scope Of Work

When soliciting estimates from contractors for your ADU construction project, it is crucial to provide them with a detailed scope of work. This ensures that you receive comparable proposals and allows you to assess and compare their offers accurately. Here are the key components to include in your construction scope of work:

  1. Project General Description: Provide an overview of the ADU project, including its purpose, size, and any specific requirements or preferences you have. This section should give contractors a clear understanding of the scope and objectives of the project.
  2. Project Deliverables: Divide the project into two phases: rough construction phase and finish construction phase. Clearly outline the specific deliverables expected in each phase, such as site preparation, foundation work, framing, electrical and plumbing installations, interior finishing, and any additional components unique to your ADU.
  3. Finish Material Budget: Specify the budget allocated for finish materials such as flooring, cabinetry, countertops, fixtures, and appliances. This helps contractors understand the quality and level of finishes you expect and enables them to provide accurate estimates based on those specifications.
  4. Schedule of Values: Break down the project cost into specific line items or work categories with corresponding values. This provides transparency and allows both you and the contractors to track and allocate costs more effectively. The schedule of values helps ensure that all parties have a clear understanding of the project’s financial aspects.
  5. Total Cost: Clearly state the total cost or budget for the project. This helps contractors align their estimates accordingly and enables you to compare and evaluate their proposals accurately.
  6. Excluded Items: Specify any items or tasks that are not included in the contractor’s scope of work. This can include specialized work or separate contracts for specific trades, such as landscaping, painting, or permits. By clearly defining excluded items, you avoid misunderstandings and ensure that all necessary work is accounted for.
  7. Owner Responsibility: Outline any responsibilities or tasks that you, as the owner, will handle separately. This can include obtaining permits, providing temporary utilities, or any other tasks that are outside the contractor’s scope. Defining owner responsibilities clarifies the division of labor and helps establish clear expectations.
  8. Payment Schedule: Define the payment terms and schedule for the project. This includes the timing and percentage of payments, such as down payment, progress payments, and final payment. Clear payment terms ensure a smooth financial arrangement and avoid any potential disputes or delays.

By creating a comprehensive construction scope of work, you provide contractors with a clear understanding of your project requirements, enabling them to submit accurate and comparable estimates. This also helps you maintain control over the project, ensures transparency, and minimizes the chances of misunderstandings or discrepancies throughout the construction process.

See Construction Scope of Work Sample & Construction Budgeting Excel Spread Sheet

#9: Search & Qualify ADU Contractors

When searching for and qualifying contractors for your ADU project, it’s essential to find reliable and experienced professionals who can deliver quality work. Here are some online websites that can serve as valuable resources in your search:

  • Houzz.com: Houzz is a popular platform that connects homeowners with home design and construction professionals. You can browse through a vast directory of contractors, view their portfolios, read client reviews, and contact them directly.
  • Angieslist.com: Angie’s List is a trusted online review platform where homeowners can find and review various service providers, including contractors. The site offers verified customer reviews and ratings to help you make informed decisions about hiring contractors.
  • Homeadvisor.com: HomeAdvisor is an online marketplace that matches homeowners with local contractors and service professionals. You can submit your project details and receive multiple quotes from pre-screened contractors. The site also provides customer reviews and ratings to assist you in selecting the right contractor for your ADU project.
  • Bark.com: Bark is an online platform that connects customers with local service professionals across various industries, including construction and home improvement. You can post details about your ADU project, and interested contractors will contact you with quotes and information about their services.
  • Thumbtack.com: Thumbtack is another platform that helps homeowners find and hire local contractors. You can describe your ADU project requirements, and contractors will respond with quotes and additional information. Thumbtack provides customer reviews, ratings, and credentials of contractors to help you make an informed choice.

When using these websites, it’s important to thoroughly review and compare contractors based on their qualifications, experience, portfolio of past projects, client reviews, and responsiveness. Take the time to reach out to multiple contractors, share your project details, and request estimates. This will allow you to compare their proposals, ask relevant questions, and gauge their professionalism and communication skills.

Additionally, don’t underestimate the power of referrals from family, friends, and neighbors. These personal recommendations can provide valuable insights into the contractor’s workmanship, reliability, and overall satisfaction of previous clients.

Once you have gathered a list of potential contractors, it is advisable to interview them, request references, and review their licenses and insurance coverage. This will help you further assess their qualifications and determine if they are the right fit for your ADU project.

Remember to consider factors beyond just the cost when selecting a contractor. Focus on finding someone who has experience with ADU construction, communicates effectively, understands your vision, and has a proven track record of delivering quality work within budget and on time.

See Qualify Your Contractors Word Document.

Qualifying ADU Estimates

Qualifying estimates from contractors is a crucial step in selecting the right professional for your ADU project. While price is an important consideration, it should not be the sole determining factor. Here are some points to keep in mind when evaluating and comparing estimates:

  1. Use your scope of work as a guideline: Provide each contractor with the same detailed scope of work document that outlines the project requirements, specifications, and deliverables. This ensures that all contractors are bidding on the same scope, making it easier to compare estimates.
  2. Compare apples to apples: Review each estimate carefully to ensure that they cover the same scope of work and include similar items, materials, and services. Pay attention to any variations or exclusions mentioned in the estimates.
  3. Look beyond the price: While cost is important, it should not be the sole factor in your decision. Consider the overall value offered by each contractor, including their experience, reputation, portfolio, communication skills, and ability to meet deadlines. A lowball bid may indicate that the contractor is cutting corners or desperate for work, which could lead to potential issues down the line.
  4. Communication is key: The contractor’s ability to communicate effectively and understand your project requirements is crucial. During the bidding process, pay attention to how promptly and clearly they respond to your inquiries and whether they ask relevant questions to clarify the project details. Good communication will help ensure a smooth working relationship throughout the construction process.
  5. Check references and reviews: Request references from each contractor and take the time to contact their previous clients. Ask about their experience working with the contractor, the quality of workmanship, adherence to timelines and budgets, and overall satisfaction. Online reviews and ratings can also provide valuable insights into the contractor’s reputation and customer satisfaction.
  6. Consider experience with ADU projects: ADU construction often comes with unique challenges and requirements. It is beneficial to choose a contractor who has experience specifically in building ADUs or similar projects. They will be more familiar with local regulations, potential pitfalls, and effective design strategies for ADUs.

Ultimately, the goal is to select the most competitive estimate but one that is provided by a contractor who demonstrates professionalism, expertise, and a good rapport with you. Building a strong working relationship based on effective communication and mutual understanding will contribute to a successful ADU project.

#10: ADU Construction Contract

As mentioned earlier have contractors send you a sample of their contract that they are using, you want to make sure you leave no detail out when drawing up a contract with your contractor. If something goes wrong during the project and you must seek legal action, your contract will be key to proving your case, it should include the following but not limited to it:

  • Contact information for both parties.
  • The project’s start date and end date.
  • Your payment and financing plan.
  • A detailed schedule of the stages of the project.
  • A detailed list of all required materials.
  • A guarantee that the contractor will file for all necessary permits.
  • Change order provisions.
  • All information about warranties and who will be covering them.
  • A requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases.
  • A termination clause.

If you are not satisfied with your contractor contract here are some resources for getting a contract in place:

#11: Finish Materials Purchasing

ADU finish materials are all the materials you will use at the final stages of your construction and are dependent on your personal design preferences, they include but not limited to floors, doors, windows, trims, tile, cabinetry, countertops, stone, vanities, faucets, lighting fixtures, tubs, toilets, shower heads, glass doors, railings, appliances, etc.

As you understand by now, we always recommend to sperate items from your contractor as much as possible, let him deal with what he knows best and provide him the tools necessary to do it, so when it comes to finishes materials, don’t leave it to your contractor to provide or budget, you should do so. You can ask him to provide a list of showrooms he knows and works with and possibly have discounts with so you can shop those for estimates.

  1. Start by asking your contractor to provide a qty take-off for the finish materials you will need, including extras for waste.
  2. Enter those qty to an excel spread sheet, See Construction Budgeting Excel Spread Sheet, and the Finish Material Breakdown
  3. Visit local showrooms to see and feel those materials.
  4. You should also visit the big companies like: Home Depot, Lowe’s, Floor and Décor.
  5. Online resources are great option and will allow you to purchase heavily discounted brand names nationwide, here are great resources:
  6. Compare prices between a few suppliers, look for discounts and specials at different suppliers and use those.
  7. Don’t forget to ask what’s the warranty is given with each product and what you need to do to comply with the warranty.
  8. Keep copies of purchased materials for future need of warranty claims if any.

#12: Construction & Inspections

During construction keep detailed records and accounts to make sure that the contract you and your contractor agreed on is being followed:

  1. Have a copy of the permit and inspection card.
  2. Keep physical copies of the contract and of all change orders that happen during your project.
  3. Write down any verbal correspondence you have with your contractor with dates and time, records meeting minutes, preferably weekly.
  4. Take pictures of the work and file it under trade category and dates taken.
  5. Keep physical copies of all warranties.
  6. Maintain an organized folder of all physical copies of payment receipts:
    • Payments to be made based on progress in relation to the schedule of values.
    • Payments need to be against invoices, have at list 10% of contract as final payment.
    • Contractor will provide a signed lean release for each payment, see Sample of Waiver And Release On Progress Payment.
  7. Draw up a check list as your project draws to a close to make sure every aspect of the work has been completed according to your contract’s standards.
  8. Ask to be present for the Periodic inspections by city officials as you would want to hear what they have to say about the work that is being done, it will help you keep your contractor on top of things.
  9. Upon completion and when making final payment, contractor will provide a signed lean release for final payment, see Sample of Waiver And Release On Final Payment.


  • What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?
    An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a secondary housing unit on a single-family residential lot. It can be either attached to the primary house, such as an above-the-garage unit or basement unit, or detached, such as a standalone unit or a converted garage.
  • How do I find out about local regulations and laws for ADUs?
    You should check with your city or county planning department or zoning board for information about local regulations, including zoning ordinances, building codes, and permitting procedures for ADUs.
  • Why is the project management and design process important for ADU?
    Proper project management and design ensures that the project is executed efficiently, effectively, and to the quality standards that you desire. Good design maximizes the utility and appeal of your ADU, while efficient project management minimizes cost overruns and delays.
  • Why should I separate ADU contractor items and handle finish materials purchasing myself?
    By separating items from your contractor, you maintain better control over the quality, cost, and timing of those items. For finish materials, which are dependent on your personal design preferences, this approach allows you to source exactly what you want, often at better prices.
  • What should be included in a construction contract for an ADU?
    A comprehensive ADU construction contract should include contact information for both parties, the project’s start and end dates, payment and financing plans, a detailed project schedule and list of required materials, a guarantee for filing necessary permits, change order provisions, warranties information, lien release requirements, and a termination clause.
  • What are some recommended resources for creating an ADU construction contract?
    Some resources for getting a construction contract in place include the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Dock Sketch, Form Swift, and Rocket Lawyer.
  • How can I ensure the contract with my ADU contractor is being followed during construction?
    Keep detailed records and accounts, including copies of the permit, contract, and change orders. Record verbal correspondence and take photos of the work. Maintain an organized folder of payment receipts and warranties. Be present for periodic inspections by city officials. Draw up a checklist to make sure every aspect of the work has been completed according to your contract’s standards.
  • What should I do to maintain warranty compliance for my ADU?
    Ask about the warranty for each product, comply with all necessary steps, and keep copies of purchased materials and warranties for future claims.
  • What online resources are recommended for purchasing heavily discounted brand-name finish materials for ADU?
    Builddirect.com, Ferguson.com, TheRTAStore.com, Bldr.com, Acehardware.com, Amazon.com, Wayfair.com, and Houzz.com are great resources for purchasing discounted brand-name finish materials.
  • What should be considered as my ADU project draws to a close?
    A checklist should be drawn up to ensure all aspects of the work have been completed according to your contract’s standards. Be present for any final inspections, and ensure all payments have been made against invoices, with lean releases signed for each payment.