An accessory dwelling unit can be a great addition to your primary residence, as it not only gives you more space for living but also increases the value of the whole property. In order to get your ADU plan approved by the legal authorities, it must comply with all the regulations and requirements for the structures in your area.
Planning a new ADU all by yourself can be quite difficult, especially if you are dealing with it for the first time ever. That is why hiring an experienced specialist is recommended. However, there are several options to choose from, as you can hire a contractor who is going to tackle all the tasks in the building process, or an architect, who will focus solely on planning.
If you are still not sure how exactly an architect can help you with ADU planning, we recommend reading further. Here, we will explain all the differences between an architect’s and a general contractor’s work so that you can decide what is best for your future ADU work.
Although Californian law does not oblige homeowners to have the ADU plans signed by a licensed architect, it is still necessary for a professional engineer to review them. Help from the architectural side might be needed only in case your new building has more than two floors.
Still, to receive all the permits, your plan must be done by licensed specialists. To get the construction approved by the local authorities, one has to provide a plan of the site and the whole structure, an architectural plan, and calculations of energy efficiency. Such work requires quite a lot of time and effort, even for an experienced professional. Even though there are some pre-made templates, each plan must include the specificities of one or another property.
ADU plans should not necessarily be made by an architect from a specialized firm. If you are planning to use the services of a general contractor, they will provide you with help from an in-house specialist who works in the architectural sphere.
Getting an architect to plan your ADU comes with plenty of benefits for homeowners. First of all, an architect can help you not only to make a simple design of the plan based on your requirements but also to customize the place just for you. For example, such a professional will recommend what walls should have windows for the most amount of light to come in, how to plan storage, or how to create easy-to-access zones.
What is more, architects explain all the official rules and legal requirements that your ADU should comply with. When the plan goes out for revision by authorities, an architect will help you with any touch-ups and improvements that need to be done for the permit.
Once every detail of planning is figured out, and the permits are received, an architect will most likely direct you to a contractor who is ready to take on your type of project. The benefit of approaching a contractor with an approved plan is that you can get more information about the cost.
Usually, without a plan, it is difficult for contractors to calculate a precise budget plan, but with the help of an architect, you will get to know about all of the expenditures right away.
When it comes to the cost of architects’ services, it all depends on the area you live in. The average price range for services from an architectural firm is between $10,000 and $18,000. It can go higher if you plan to build something more sophisticated or if more work needs to be done due to the property specificities.
A self-employed architect can help you for a smaller price, however, usually, such specialists do not have a lot of experience working with ADU planning. Some people might think that the cheapest option is to get already made designs or have someone you know to draw all the plans.
However, planning an ADU without professional help can lead to even bigger expenditures. Even the smallest detail that is not taken into account might cause major problems in the construction process, which will hurt your budget even more. What is more, with a flawed plan that does not follow legal requirements, you might spend even more money on applying for revisions several times.
Another option for property owners who want to build an ADU is to hire a contractor. A contractor company will provide you with its services from the first to the last steps of the project. It means you do not have to hire different professionals for each part of the building process, as the contractor provides all the different types of work.
When you hire a general contractor, the in-house architect will first design all your plans and then review whether the work is done according to them. With a team of professionals working together, there are more opportunities for improvements as the construction goes on.
Also, working with a full-service contractor allows you to check on the prices regularly and make sure that all of your preferences are taken into account. Usually, even if the revision of a plan is needed, contractor companies do not charge you for them, so the architects can do their best from the very start.
When you opt for ADU building services from a contractor, you pay the major part of your budget for the construction itself. Therefore, there are more opportunities to regulate those prices so that they are more comfortable for you. By getting a separate architect and construction crew, you might come across some extra payments.
Here are some of the benefits that you will get to enjoy when working with a general contractor on your ADU:
Although getting an ADU contractor for your project has lots of benefits, there are still some cases when a professional architect can be of better help. Moreover, sometimes, getting design help from handyman contractors is more efficient, so you can save some part of your budget.
It is quite recommended to go for the services of ADU architects in the following cases:
Depending on the type of accessory dwelling unit you wish to have next to your home, the services of an architect or of a general contractor should be considered. Although getting help from a contractor company will ensure that your budget does not meet any unexpected costs, a professional architect can tackle even the most complicated cases and surely get all the plans approved. The best solution is to look for a contractor that has a good architect with a lot of skills and experience.