The City of Palo Alto gets more applications for granny units, but new law raises questions

Acton ADU Helps the City of Palo Alto with Its Growing Demand for ADUs

Not surprisingly, since the city of Palo Alto approved the ordinance to allow the construction of granny units on single-family home lots, effective June 8, 2017, applications to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) have poured in.

As a design/build remodeling firm located in Campbell, CA with a specialty division focused entirely on ADUs, Acton ADU has similarly seen a surge in demand for these granny units, also called in-law suites, guesthouses, backyard cottages or secondary dwelling units. Why the sudden interest? Seen as a way to increase housing supply as the Bay Area housing crisis intensifies, Acton clients have expressed a need for keeping family close—particularly parents who can’t take care of themselves or young adults who can’t afford to live on their own. Acton clients also openly expressed a desire to provide comfortable housing for guests or family members who need to stay for an extended period of time.

“With a housing market as tough as this,” admits James Parks, Acton ADU’s ADU Project Consultant, “homeowners can’t buy a new home or upgrade to something larger because there might be a cost difference of $1 million or more. Homeowners are interested in adding an ADU onto their property for multiple reasons. They see ADUs as a way to increase the value of their home, take care of their parents, help their kids, and to comfortably accommodate guests, all the while helping to solve the housing crisis.”

The needs for ADUs are vast, expressed by Palo Alto homeowners themselves…

Palo Alto homeowners are concerned about privacy and safety—they want their family close, but also want to give them their own space. The kids are fresh out of college, but can’t find a job yet. With not enough space in the home for 3-4 adults, they look to ADUs as a solution for a starter home. People’s hobbies are also taking over their living rooms. A separate ADU would free up this space. Older adults aren’t sure they want to live in their house anymore but don’t want to move from the area, so they imagine downsizing into an ADU while renting their main home. Suddenly, they not only have a smaller space to take care of, but they benefit from living in the same neighborhood with the same friends while being close to their investment.

With the state recently loosening its requirements,according to Elaine Goodman of the Daily Post, homeowners now have all sorts of questions. The city’s Planning and Transportation Commission met on January 10, 2018, to discuss several issues, including whether or not a granny unit can have a basement or be built in front of a home.

Thankfully, questions are what make learning, change, and progress possible. In fact, there are dozens of specific questions that need to be answered before you begin the process of building an ADU. You need to understand the specific building requirements by city, county, neighborhood, lot and zone. All of these complexities will need to be navigated if you are to successfully build an ADU.

Unfortunately, all of the rules and regulations surrounding ADUs have caused uncertainty. Even though ADUs are technically easier to build, it’s getting more and more difficult to navigate the system. Companies like Acton ADU are taking the lead in helping homeowners through the feasibility and permitting processes, and designing ADUs to fit their exact needs.

Acton ADU is staying on top of the local zoning ordinances in Palo Alto, as well as other cities in Santa Clara County, with an eye on those successfully promoting the construction of ADUs. Check out the latest on ADU development in your city.

Ready to Start the Process of Building an ADU?

If you are looking to optimize a traditional home, an accessory dwelling unit is a great way to take advantage of existing resources, while increasing the efficiency of your property and providing extra income. We recommend working with a qualified design, construction and project management team who can help you to understand local development constraints and navigate the permit process. This trusted team can also ensure your ADU is exactly the way you imagined, delivered on time and on budget.

Are you considering the addition of an ADU, in-law suite, guest house or backyard cottage in 2018? Contact Acton ADU to start the conversation.

We’re passionate about helping you develop a creative and functional plan for a space that meets your wants and needs.

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