ADU Homes: What Are They and Can They Help Your Elderly Family Member?

Did you know that the San Jose administration approved about 416 ADU permits in 2019? The local government has eyes on this number rising steadily in the coming years.

ADU homes have risen into popularity recently across various major cities. This is after they fell out of popularity in the second world war.

Do you own a home in San Jose and want to house a family member while increasing your property value? These backyard home ideas are your best option since they can also serve as family places.

Here is what you need to know about ADU homes and whether they are a good fit.

What Are ADU Homes?

Also known as granny units, in-law units, or backyard homes, an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a secondary home located in the backyard. Despite the similarity to tiny homes in size, these units differ greatly in design and build.

Tiny homes are non-permanent micro units for the most part. You’ll often see them on wheels like an RV but with much different composition. An ADU on the other hand is a fully functioning home either built by permanent resident standards, or if it is a prefabricated ADU, mobile home standards. .

When considering an ADU home plan for investment, be sure to offer basic living amenities. It should be a self-sufficient home that doesn’t depend on the main house.

Types of ADUs

Depending on the need and space available, you have various granny flat designs to consider. Here are the most common designs.

Attached ADU

This accessory dwelling unit design shares walls and in some cases a roof with the main house. You can choose to convert your garage or addition into an ADU when considering this option.

You also have to ensure sound and fire separation is in place. 

Detached ADU

Probably the most popular type of ADU, these backyard granny flats get erected separate from the main living space or unit. When looking to have such an accessory dwelling unit, it’s essential to ensure it matches your main house’s aesthetic appearance.

Also, be sure to follow the height requirements set by the local authorities. 

ADU Building Regulations

Likewise to building your main house, secondary homes have mandatory regulations and requirements. . Here are some San Jose ADU kit homes regulations;

Designated Zones

According to the San Jose building authority, ADUs get permitted in four zones. These are; 

  • Single-unit residential zone
  • Two-unit residential zone
  • Multiple units residential zone
  • Planned development zone.

To check whether your residential unit address falls into one of the above zones, check out the San Jose land zoning map.

Number of ADUs

You are limited to having only one accessory dwelling unit in single residential units. If you are in a duplex unit and meet the zoning requirements, you are subject to two ADUs.

There is also an allowable detached ADU home in a duplex and multiple units. And also, if living in multi-family units, the ADUs are allowed up to 25% of the main units. Hence if there are 20 units available, the ADUs allowable are up to 5.

Parking Availability

Unless your ADU qualifies for an exemption under the state laws, having at least one parking space is essential. You get exempted from offering one if the unit is less than 0.5 miles from a public transport service.

Secondly, the exemption applies when closer to a street offering parking space. To learn more about San Jose parking exemptions, be sure to check San Jose’s administration website.

Allowable ADU Size

Your needs will directly influence the size of the ADU you intend to build. However, there are size regulations you have to follow. Also, an attached ADU will differ in size compared to an independent one since you work with the allowable space.

The size and location of your ADU are entirely subject to the limitations or opportunities of our individual property. Having a conversation with an ADU specialist would be advisable before embarking on any project or making assumptions about your ADUs ideal size.

Fire Amenities

All built ADUs are subject to California fire code compliance. If your main unit has fire sprinklers available, your ADU must have one.

The fire department also identifies your ADU in an emergency through a valid address. Hence it’s important to ensure that there is one or have a fire variance.

In executing your ADU home designs, be sure to have the nearest fire hydrant operational with 1000 gallons per minute at 20 psi. You may have to look up your water company to get this information.

Additionally, fire requirements have an impact on your ADUs setbacks, regardless of state laws. So it’s always a good idea to have a chat with a specialist to understand your property’s parameters for a new backyard home.

Room Space

When approving your ADU home designs, the San Jose authority puts the room space listed into consideration. You don’t want your project to get turned down for this; hence knowing the proper floor space is essential. 

If unsure, consult with an ADY specialist or approved architect with lots of ADU experience.. The kitchen has to have a ready food preparation and cooking amenities, ample storage space, and a sink. An ADU home plan is allowed up to two bathrooms and should have permanent bath-associated facilities.

Here is everything you need to know about San Jose’s ADU building regulations.

The San Jose ADU Approval Process

When looking to add independent living space to your backyard, an ADU is the best option. However, these ADU plans are not a think-and-start project; going through the right channel is essential.

You want an ADU expert working on your plan so you can avoid having your project rejected by your city. They should ensure your ADU plan fits under the ADU universal checklist and advise you on the way forward.

It’s also helpful to have your ADU designed by a general contractor or a company responsible for the building of the ADU. Design Build companies have a far better understanding of how a design impacts the cost of a plan and the price will be much more accurate than an architect alone.

Benefits of Building ADUs

While having an ADU in your yard may seem to limit your usable space, it’s packed with various benefits. Here are some benefits these little units have.

Excellent for Care-Givers

When living far from your seniors and you have to make long trips often to see them, ADU homes take the hustle away. With these units, you can bring them closer to you and maintain the privacy needed for everyone.

This can be a viable option, especially if they are under medical care and need frequent medical checkups. The same applies if you have a nanny taking care of your young ones or seniors in the house.

You want the nanny close by to ensure everything runs smoothly and account for their reliability.

Property Value Addition

Are you looking to add your property value in the simplest way? An ADU home is your straightforward way to reach your goal.

According to a National Association of Realtors study, most potential homeowners prefer premises having a secondary dwelling unit.

Hence, if you want to put up your property for sale later, opt for an ADU home plan. 

Passive Income Generator

With an ADU having all the living amenities ready, it’s an excellent source for passive income generation. The young and working millennials moving to the big cities are looking for housing options.

ADUs provide privacy, comfort, and independent living that many renters are looking for.

Easy to Maintain

Due to unit size, taking care of an ADU is much easier than a single family home. With ADU  homes, you get a guaranteed lower utility bill. Moreover, the electrical and sewer services get connected to the main house hence easy maintenance.

Low-Cost Housing Option

According to research by TD Ameritrade, most college graduates intend to move back home after schooling. If you have college-going young adults looking to join the real world soon, getting an ADU can make a big impact.

With the average college graduate having a setback debt of over $35,000, the added cost of rent in expensive areas, while simultaneously making an effort to jump start one’s career, make getting started particularly challenging.. You want your kids to have a roof over their head without racking up even more debt. 

Creation of an Office Space

With the recent reshuffle in workplaces and shifts brought on by the pandemic, working from home has become normal. However, you may fail to concentrate on your work responsibilities with pets and children around.

To avoid such situations, building an ADU can change things for the better. Due to the privacy and tranquility these units offer, you can be sure to carry on with your work undisturbed.

There is no need to rent out a space away from home to finish the tasks. Neither are you carrying your laptop around to the nearest coffee shop for peace and comfort. Check out our guide to having the perfect ADU home office.

Final Take Away on ADU Homes 

With the rising living costs across California, many people are dealing with parents, kids, and family looking for options for better housing. With housing rates rising all the time, many homeowners are opting to invest in their properties by building ADUs. 

At Acton ADU, we are all about helping homeowners make the big scary leap and providing a proven process for getting a high quality, long-lasting ADU that will not only impact your family’s lifestyle but be a valuable investment for the future.. We’ve been doing this for 30+ years and are ready to help. Check out our services page and the success stories of happy clients who chose to work with us.

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