What is an ADU – Accessory Dwelling Units


An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), is a secondary dwelling unit with complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and generally takes three forms:

  • Detached: The unit is separated from the primary structure
  • Attached: The unit is attached to the primary structure
  • Repurposed Existing Space: Space (e.g., master bedroom) within the primary residence converted into an independent living unit
  • Junior Accessory Dwelling Units: Similar to repurposed space with various streamlining measures

ADUs, Accessory Dwelling Units, offer benefits that address common development barriers such as affordability and environmental quality. 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 are built with cost-effective one or two-story wood frame construction, which is significantly less costly than homes in new multifamily infill buildings.

ADUs can provide as much living space as the new apartments and condominiums being built in new infill buildings and serve very well for couples, small families, friends, young people, and seniors. ADUs, Accessory Dwelling Units, are a different form of housing that can help California meet its diverse housing needs. Young professionals and students desire to live in areas close to jobs, amenities, and schools. The problem with high opportunity areas is that space is limited. There is a shortage of affordable units and the units that are available can be out of reach for many people. To address the needs of individuals or small families seeking living quarters in high opportunity areas, homeowners can construct an ADU on their lot or convert an underutilized part of their home like a garage into a junior ADU. This flexibility benefits, not just people renting the space, but the homeowner as well, who can receive an extra monthly rental income.

ADUs, Accessory Dwelling Units, 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 and helping extended families to be near one another while maintaining privacy. Relaxed regulations and the cost to build an ADU make it a very feasible affordable housing option. A UC Berkeley study noted that one unit of affordable housing in the Bay Area costs about $500,000 to develop whereas a SonderPod costs less than $100,000 + Installation making the prospect of owning an ADU much more accessible to homeowners.

City councils are encouraging the development of ADUs as they are a critical form of infill development that can be affordable and offer important housing choices within existing neighbourhoods. ADUs, Accessory Dwelling Units, are a powerful type of housing unit because they allow for different uses, and serve different populations ranging from students and young professionals to young families, people with disabilities and senior citizens. By design, ADUs are more affordable and can provide additional income to homeowners. Local governments can encourage the development of ADUs and improve access to jobs, education and services for many Californians.

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