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FAQs

You can probably imagine that we’ve fielded a few frequently asked questions about ADUs. Here’s a short list of some of the most frequently asked questions we get.

1. Why do people build ADUs?

    The most common reasons homeowners build ADUs on their properties is for a long-term family housing plan that includes:

    • More affordable senior living and keeping aging parents close
    • More affordable housing for young adult children
    • Downsizing and aging in place, while keeping their main home
    • Long-term family or guest accommodations
    • Increased property value and long-term investment
    • Passive income from rental property or retirement income

    2. Can I build an ADU on my property?

      Determining if you can build an ADU on your property varies by city (or county) building and planning jurisdictions. It can even depend on your neighborhood. You can check out your city rules here or reach out to us for help.

      3. How big can I make my ADU?

      The size of you ADU is determinate upon a few factors, including your city (or county) ADU rules, FAR (floor area ratio), rear yard coverage and other calculations. You can check out your city rules here or reach out to us for help.

      4. What are the biggest obstacles for building an ADU?

      In most cases, the biggest obstacle is creating a 4-dimensional plan. Yes, that’s right, a 4-dimensional plan. ADUs are an investment that are best examined through a long-term, 30-year lens.

      Aside from government housing regulations, the often hidden costs of permits and fees, the home’s feasibility, project scope, and costs should be assessed based on the long-term impact it will have on your property. And, by long-term impact we mean your straightforward investment and how the ADU will impact your family’s lifestyle. A short-term approach often overlooks critical factors like smart, small home design elements, specific opportunities or challenges presented by city planning and building departments, financing, and the true return on investment, based on your modifications.

      In short, creating an ADU can be a tremendously powerful investment and working with a partner that works through a long-term lens will be a huge advantage.

      5. Does Acton ADU sell partially factory assembled units?

      We do not currently assemble factory manufactured units. However, we are active in the space and have researched the best partners to work with. Our criteria for selection being quality and ease of personalization due to the highly regulated nature of our more centralized, urban city and county jurisdictions.

      6. What’s the difference between an ADU and a “Tiny House”?

        The most common difference is that a Tiny House is a mobile home on wheels but not road worthy, engineering-wise. Which means there are strict rules for moving them in California. Where as, an ADU is a fixed, foundation built home with permanent utilities, sewer, and generally built to last for generations.

        Most Tiny Houses have questionable permitting statuses. Acton ADU does not build Tiny Houses.

        7. Can I rent my ADU?

        Yes. However, many cities have placed restrictions on short-term rentals like Airbnb.

        8. How much does an ADU cost?

        There’s a lot to consider when budgeting for an ADU. Most companies quote a price for “the box” but it’s important to understand the total costs of creating a liveable home, because lots of factors add up. Each project has a unique set of costs.

        Check out this list of factors to get an idea of what real costs need to be assessed and budgeted for.

        9. What’s the cost per square foot to build an ADU?

        Costs per square foot, specifically for ADUs are not an accurate way to budget your project. The smaller the ADU, the higher per square foot cost you’ll see. The reason? Every ADU has a kitchen, bathroom, utilities connections (power, water, gas, sewer, etc.) as well as varying degrees of quality finishes and fixtures.

        ADUs are small, completely independent homes, so the average costs per square foot don’t reduce due to the economy of scale you would see on a larger home. Ultimately, costs per square foot for ADUs are a bit like asking how much a car will cost per pound, and isn’t a very helpful metric.

        10. Why does a garage conversion cost so much if the structure is already there?

        Most garages don’t meet the structural and energy requirements of a habitable space and require quite a bit of rework to be livable. Slabs need be broken out to install plumbing, electrical, gas, water, and sewer. Not to mention re-pouring a new foundation.

        11. How do people pay for ADUs?

        The most common ways we’ve seen are:

          1. Home equity lines of credit
          2. Move liquid assets into this long-term, flexible asset
          3. Loan against non-retirement encumbered assets
          4. Selling family member’s home to relocate them to the ADU

        12. Does Acton ADU provide financing options?

        Yes. Depending on your situation, Acton ADU can assist in developing a payment strategy.

        13. Should I install solar on my ADU?

          Installing solar on an ADU can be a big win, with an often short return on investment. We examine this question in each of our designs and have relationships with several solar companies.

          14. How much do permits cost for an ADU?

            Permits are a city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood question. Permits and additional required fees can range (in total) from $12,000 to $25,000 depending on a series of project by project factors. 

            Here’s a list of additional fees to expect:

            • School fees
            • Parkland fees
            • Water District fees
            • Parking / Transportation fees
            • Development Impact fees

            15. Will building an ADU trigger a property tax reassessment?

            No. However, there will be a supplemental line increase associated with the ADU on your tax bill, just not an overall property reassessment.

            16. Are ADUs good overall investments?

            We can help you evaluate your particular situation with our financial analysis tools that we have developed. We will help you assess the investment through a multi-point long-term lens that goes far beyond rental and property value increase returns. That said, every ADU investment we’ve analyzed shows compelling ROI figures.

            17. Should I have a full backyard plan in place before I start building my ADU?

              An overall plan is very important. Acton ADU kicks off every project with a top-level look at your investment as a whole. Our belief is that an ADU isn’t just a box. The end result is often a lifestyle improvement and the yard is a big part of property (and family) connectivity.

              More questions? Contact us today.