can I build a granny flat on my property

Can I Build a Granny Flat on My Property? What to Know

If you’re like many Californians with aging relatives amid limited housing and high expenses, you might be asking, “can I build a granny flat on my property?”

Before 2017, the answer would have depended entirely on your area and local regulations. Not to mention the astounding amount of fees that would be needed. Fortunately, not long ago, California introduced new legislation to make it easier for residents to build accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, on their property statewide.

Still, depending on your housing situation and where you live, building a granny flat or mother-in-law suite could come with some unique challenges. This article will break down what those are.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about building a granny flat on your property.

Can I Build a Granny Flat on My Property?

As we’ve established, for many homeowners living in California, the answer is yes. Almost anyone can have a compact second residence built on their property. Let’s discuss why building a granny flat is a good idea and what it involves.

Why You Might Want to Build a Granny Flat

There are many reasons why you might want to build an ADU on your property. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that it allows you to provide a home for aging relatives. It will let someone live next to you while maintaining their privacy.

If you have grown children who would like a degree of independence but can’t really afford to move out, an ADU can give them privacy while they stay connected to you.

An ADU is also convenient for housing guests, especially if you often have visitors who stay for entire weekends at a time. And you can always rent it out for a handy source of passive income.

Regulations for Granny Flats or ADUs

As we mentioned earlier, legislation introduced in 2017 made it easier for California residents to build ADUs on their property. It basically simplified the regulations for building ADUs and imposed them on every territory in the state.

Prior to this law being passed, each jurisdiction had its own rules governing what, when, and how residents could build. These rules were typically outdated and very restrictive. Now, it’s much easier to meet the requirements to build.

These rules are enforced across California. However, individual jurisdictions are still allowed to impose their own rules as long as they don’t conflict with the statewide regulations. You’ll want to find out if any apply to you or reach out to an ADU specialist to help.

Costs of Building a Granny Flat

What exactly does it cost for homeowners to build granny houses? As you might have guessed, the answer varies. It depends mostly on location (meaning the site conditions), size, and quality of the construction and finishes…

Where fees are concerned, these are still set by local jurisdictions. This means some cities and counties are far more expensive to build in than others.

Even though the 2017 law asked jurisdictions to make fees proportional to the financial impact each development has on its property, it didn’t specify what “proportional” meant. As a result, many jurisdictions left their old fee systems as they were, or are in flux. An experience ADU builder would be a big help to understand the requirements for your individual property.

Other Considerations

Finally, you should take into consideration what sort of impact a granny flat will have on the rest of your property. This applies both to your experience as a homeowner and the value of your property itself.

Basically, you should ask yourself if building an ADU in the space you have available will positively impact your experience living there. If you have a small yard, make sure you’re willing to have most of it taken up by the second unit.

The good news is, a sturdy high quality granny flat will almost always elevate a property’s value.

Homebuyers know they can lease out secondary units for extra income if they need it. If you plan to sell your home someday, building an ADU could be a good way to increase its value.

Where to Go From Here

So as you can see, the answer to the question, “can I build a granny flat on my property?” is—for most California homeowners—an unequivocal yes.

However, that doesn’t mean the process is always simple. In fact, it usually isn’t. Although homeowners are allowed to build accessory dwelling units on their property, navigating local regulations and ensuring everything’s up to code is a big challenge without an expert guide.

That’s where a contractor like Action ADU comes in handy. We walk San Jose residents through every step of the process of building a granny flat. Contact us to learn more.

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