Sometimes it’s getting crowded living just in one house, and people understand they might need a lot more space. Building a bigger house isn’t always an option as the process of construction requires a lot of money. The easiest and fastest way to expand the living space is to build an accessory dwelling unit, which everyone usually calls an ADU.
ADU: What Is That?
An Accessory Dwelling Unit or simply an ADU is the official term describing an additional separately standing dwelling unit located on the residential territory of the property. For a better understanding of what an ADU is, let us move forward to discovering the existing ADU types and categories.
Types of ADUs
Hereunder we provide you a list of the most general ADU forms:
- Addition ADUs or “bump-out ADUs” — such construction form is relevant when the property owner adds an extra room (and a bathroom) for at least one more person to live;
- A garage conversion ADUs — this forms apply when people decide to convert their old and underutilized garages into ADUs;
- Basement conversion ADUs — this form would be good for the landlords who own a spare basement and want to rebuild them into an ADU;
- Detached ADUs — this type normally looks like a courtyard cottage;
- Internal ADUs — when owners take one part of the main house aside from the cellar and turn it into ADU;
- Attached ADUs — this type is applicable when the landlords join an ADU to the garage.
Common Features of ADUs
While ADUs differ by their size, color, and the way of attaching to the main house, they still have something in common.
- ADUs are just an addition to the main house, meaning the house can remain without them;
- ADUs are, a way of a smaller size than the medium house in the USA;
- ADUs usually have one owner who possesses the residential territory on which the ADU was built;
- The number of authorized ADUs are significantly smaller than the number of illegal ones.
You’ve definitely seen a lot of various ADUs in West Sacramento, but you hardly thought if all of them had building permissions or not. In most cases, ADUs are built on an informal basis.
Studies and surveys show that 10-20% of all ADUs in West Sacramento have no legal status. It means 1/10 part of all existing dwelling stock is occupied with the illegal ADUs. Sounds shocking considering it’s more than thirteen million ADUs over there.
Though they are illegal, they still exist. And their existence proves the fact that American society needs this type of housing. This “grey market” shows that people are more than just ready for that.
Generally, people from the big cities in America need ADUs because they live in housings meant for 3 and 4 people while people don’t need such big houses anymore. They live alone or with another person, maybe with a dog or a cat, but they don’t need three bathrooms and four bedrooms. It’s easier and cheaper for them to rent a small house and add an ADU if they need it. Almost 2/3rds of the American population live according to these principles.
Why cities care about ADU development
Nowadays, cities tend to care a lot more about urban and suburban housing development than they used to. With more and more people moving to the suburbs, the housing value increases enormously. Affordable housing has been a great issue for California for decades now. ADUs can help resolve this problem, and local authorities are starting to understand that. There are a few common reasons why ADU construction development is not only important but also beneficial for all parties. Here are the main ones:
- ADUs do provide affordable and flexible housing options for those in need using an already existing local infrastructure. It reduces the suburban expansion demands and yet improves the metropolitan area;
- ADUs are environment-friendly. They consume far less energy and other natural resources and are very cheap and easy to maintenance. New variations of a detached ADU can provide rental housing 44% percent smaller per capita than brand new single-family dwelling units;
- Last but not least, ADUs create options for people that cannot afford separate housing. There are some socially unprotected categories of population, and they still make a big share in California. Local authorities are fighting against poverty and homelessness. ADUs are a great and, more importantly, affordable housing option for those people.
Today, there are not so many permitted ADUs in the market to make a real difference. But, we all do understand that this is not decided in one day. It takes time for people to understand the real benefits and advantages of such a housing solution. The homeowners tend to build ADUs to earn some extra money in leasing as well. So, we can absolutely establish that ADUs are not only helping resolve some urban and suburban development problems but the problems of property owners as well. ADUs construction businesses are thriving and are likely to continue to do so.
Requirements for ADU
It is significant to mention all of the requirements concerning the placing of an ADU, as there are many of them. Starting from January 1st, 2020, all of the requirements listed below are necessary.
Firstly, the number of ADUs permitted are as per the following:
- There should be no more than one ADU and one Junior ADU on the same territory. If there is an existing multi-apartment building on the site, then at this point, numerous ADUs are allowed in parts of existing multi-apartment buildings that are not used as residential premises; not to mention that they include (and do not limit) additional premises, engine bays, storage rooms, basements, or car sheds. Two isolated ADUs can be added to an area that has the current multi-unit building.
- Spaces needed as a feature of a state of endorsement or drafting prerequisite (for example, long storage of fixed-gear bicycles) can not be changed over.
- Up to two disconnected ADUs can be added on a territory that has a current multifamily building.
- Multifamily unit structures may add ADUs up to 25 percent of the current unit space (for example, 2 ADUs are permitted for 8 unit buildings), or possibly two ADU. These ADUs must meet building code requirements, and the current space must not be right now utilized for a living (stockpiling units and carports would qualify)
As for the size of the territory, single-family, multi-family private structures will not depend on the minimum size of the site of the basic zoning area or by law for AUD units.
Speaking about the required shape and materials of an ADU, it is stated that the outside plan and materials of the ADU will be outwardly viable with the essential dwelling with respect to the rooftop, building dividers, entryways, windows, and so forth.
Concerning the ADU size, the reasonable area is 850 square feet for a one-room ADU and a thousand square feet for an ADU of more than one room. Lots bigger than one section of land can keep on having an ADU up to 1200 square feet.
Additional requirements are as per the following:
- For a productivity unit, two hundred twenty square feet are allowed, or whenever involved by close to two people, then one hundred fifty square feet are allowed.
- For a studio unit, three hundred fifty square feet are required; a one-bedroom unit requires four hundred square feet and two-bedroom units require six hundred square feet of space.
- As for the design audit, current code guidelines require building grants when structures are developed, modified, or improved.
- The height of each ADU may not surpass the height of the main building.
The ADU will require setbacks at least four feet from the side and back of the property other than as indicated below:
- No setback will be required for the current, legally permitted carport to be handed over to an ADU.
- If ADU were built over the garage, additional living space would require an indentation of almost four feet from the interior lines of the territory.
Regarding the fire safety issues, it is stated that according to the State standards, ADU’s will not be needed to give fire sprinklers except if they are additionally needed for the essential dwelling. Furthermore, carbon monoxide cautions should be introduced outside of each different dwelling unit dozing zone in the prompt region of the bedroom(s) and on each degree of a residential unit, including storm cellars.
No parking for an ADU is required in case:
- Within 0.5-mile walking distance of public travel
- ADU is located inside a compositionally and verifiably huge historically significant area
- The ADU is contained totally inside the allowed floor territory of the current main living place or a current accessory structure.
- When on-road stopping licenses are required yet not offered to the ADU tenant; when there is a car share vehicle situated inside one square of the ADU; when a garage is demolished due to the development of an ADU
Speaking about the required shape and materials of an ADU, it is stated that the outside plan and materials of the ADU will be outwardly viable with the essential dwelling with respect to the rooftop, building dividers, entryways, windows, level/vertical articulation, and structural detail.
Starting in 2020, as indicated by state law, all private drafting regions, including single-family and multi-family, are permitted to have an ADU. Concerning the possession of the ADU, according to the SB13 update, proprietor inhabitance will not be needed for a new accessory dwelling unit created and built somewhere in the range of the 2020 – 2025 year.
The district will give a ministerial review process that did not depend on an optional endorsement for an ADU. The cycle will take no under 120 days. Substantial applications submitted for ADUs, if not endorsed or denied inside 120 days from the accommodation, will be viewed as affirmed according to the State Standards.
Legal Housing Regulations in West Sacramento
As far as an ADU is available for rent, the tenancy rules have to comply with local legal regulations concerning housing. The ADU owners have to pay very close attention to their property maintenance.
All existing housing matters are regulated by the West Sacramento Municipal Code (Chapter 19.05). Under these norms, the authorized occupants, tenants, and people responsible for property possession have a legal obligation to keep the premises and common territory in order. Any deviation from the norms will qualify as an unlawful public nuisance.
The full list of possible public nuisances is given in the local Municipal Code and includes the following ones:
- excessive accumulation of weeds, litter, debris, dirt, or trash in the visible parts of the private territory;
- any kind of abandoned, broken, or deteriorated furniture openly displayed outside of the dwelling unit;
- presence of graffiti or physical damage on any exterior fences, walls, and other constructions visible to the public view;
- visible storage of underutilized machinery, metal containers, and bins, including trash cans; any storage of specialized machinery units requires a license;
- improper landscape maintenance; this section describes a vast listing of actions that cause serious public discomfort and include neglected debris, overgrown vegetation, excessive weed growth, and many more;
- dwelling units that are meant to be inhabited but stand abandoned for over 90 days; these building are subject to additional security inspection;
- storage and parking of any kind of motor vehicle, utilized or not, on the front lawn or in the front yard at the public view display; any motor vehicles and their components are only to be stored in a garage;
- visible storage of five or more used car tires on the common territory;
- storage or parking of campers or dwelling trailers in the living zones not designated for it;
- any neglected geological territorial problems, such as soil erosion and water drainage issues;
- any landscape of building obstructions performed without a relevant city council consent;
- unlawful or even criminal activity taking place on the common territory and open to the public view.
Another great American tradition is public yard sales. The local Municipal Code regulates that part or social activity as well. The backyard or front yard sales shall not include any living animals, alcoholic beverages, weapons, self-made food or tobacco products, or any products without an officially approved marking. It is prohibited to sell any illegal units or products at a yard sale. Such activity is subject to penalties, and in some cases, even can lead to a lawsuit.
Any boarded building in the neighborhood, whether at will or as a result of local authorities’ actions, shall be restored within 90 days. Therefore, property owners have to be very careful when doing reconstructions on their respective territory, which is open to the public view.
The owners shall also keep in mind that if they ever decide to sell their main property along with an existing ADU, they have to align their facilities with the local and federal security norms. All the dwelling units on the land should be arranged in a way so that fire and rescue services, ambulance, police, and others have access to the property when necessary. These departments will inspect your property during the sale, and no one or nothing should become an obstacle to it.
General neighborhood image is very important to both residents and local authorities. That is why California legislation has passed so many laws and initiatives supporting ADU construction and urban and suburban housing improvement. Affordable housing, small spaces use, functional constructions development — these are the main objectives the local society is trying to reach and make their living environment better.