Appreciating the New California Laws on ADUs

There is no better time to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit in California than now. Why, you may think in the middle of this pandemic? That is because recent sweeping new California laws have made building an ADU fairly easier for you – especially if you are a long time property owner in California. Let us take a closer look into some of the most relevant changes in your favor as a homeowner seriously considering an ADU:

1. Greatly Abbreviated Application Review Period
The application review period is cut in half so you can now have the approval in as fast as 60 days from the previous 120-day period. Approval or denial must be done by California cities within this new set timelines, thereby cutting the waiting time by half.

2. Increased Allowable ADU Size
Not too long ago, allowed ADU sizes were significantly smaller as compared to the new laws which lets you build up to an 800 sq. ft. unit at up to 16 feet in height and in even bigger without the need for local city clearances in certain areas.
3. Lenient Parking Requirements
Before, ADU homeowners still needed to allocate parking per unit or bedroom. However in the recently passed laws, this is no longer the case if you are doing a doing a garage conversion ADU. Parking is no longer a requirement in this case, though you may still allocate one depending on your preference. So it can be an option if you choose to but not required under the new laws. And there are several ADU types that do not require parking provisions such as a:
Detached Garage Conversion;
Attached Garage Conversion;
and even a Demolished Garage for a new ADU. ;
4. Reduced Setback Requirements
Great advantage for you as setbacks required for new ADUs under the new laws are now reduced to 4′ for property side and back yards.
5. Better Community Laws under the Neighborhood Association Law
This is a groundbreaking feature of the new laws as this signals the end of single-family zoning restrictions which were imposed by homeowner associations and other communities in the past. This law now liberalizes single-family homes to be converted into up to three separate housing units.
6. Older ADUs Can Now be Permitted
If you happen to build your ADUs some years back before the new laws were passed, then you can now have them up to code within 5 years. This allows you enough time to update requirements of your ADU without burning your pocket as making your existing ADU up to code would require less expense than building a new one. Of course, you can still opt to build a new one doubling your livable space, doubling your potential passive rental income while saving expenses on your original ADUs code compliance.
7. Relief in Impact Fees
You will no longer need to pay the previously imposed impact fees to the city for ADUs which are under 750 sq. ft. in size. Moreover, new impact fees for ADUs over 750 sq. ft. have been adjusted dependent on the proportion of to the size of the ADU as opposed to the main house or structure. This is a welcome relief in terms of exemption from fees.
8. More Flexible Conversion Dynamics
ADUs can now be added even to multi-family dwellings. You are now allowed to convert existing multi-family structures areas like garages, storage rooms, carports, mechanical rooms, attics and even basements into an ADU.
The new laws now allows you to remodel or convert garages into an ADU while keeping the existing current setbacks of the existing structure. This would save you on construction cost.

There is even better news if you happen to have a multi-family dwelling, and your main house does not have the non-livable space for conversion, you can build up to two new detached ADUs of up to 16 feet high and 4 feet setbacks on its side and rear from scratch.
What to do Next?
Since these new favorable laws covers the entire California state, it is paramount to partner up with the right ADU builder team to ensure full adherence to your own city’s regulators. It is always best to start right and searching for and working with the right professionals for your ADU project would give you a pleasant construction experience. The right building team would provide you the right budget, set your expectations right, offer sound advice, outline the proper steps to take, assist in permitting and give you peace of mind during the construction process and surprise you with the best ADU turnover experience.