Real Estate Round-up: The nuts and bolts of ADU's
Last updated 6/17/2019 at 9:56am
An ADU is an accessory dwelling unit that real estate professionals commonly refer to as granny flats or mother-in-law units. In the wake of California’s severe housing crisis, they have become a highly desirable entity which has earned them the official name, ADU. They are additional living spaces on single-family lots that have a separate kitchen, bathroom and exterior access independent of the primary residence. These spaces can either be attached to, or detached from, the primary residence.
The creation of these ADU’s is a foundation in the creation of additional housing units to alleviate the shortage in permanent or residential housing. It is viewed as so important that Senate Bill 13 was written by Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, passed by the Senate (34-2) and is currently in the Assembly waiting approval. Once passed and signed by the governor, it will become law, effective Jan. 1, 2020.
ADU’s are inherently affordable; they cost less to build than a regular unit, are financed and managed by the homeowner and require no public subsidy. In January 2019, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to approve an ordinance creating the five-year program to waive fees to build accessory dwelling units in the unincorporated communities.
The program immediately waives building permit fees as well as development impact fees, which include transportation fees to add roads and infrastructure, fees to build parks and drainage fees, for homeowners who want to build ADUs. The county can offer these waivers because the program includes $11 million in funding over the trial period of five years, to offset revenue lost by waiving the permit and development fees.
San Diego County will still be able to take care of its roads and infrastructure, still be able to maintain and build parks and take care of drainage needs, while providing a path to provide the much-needed housing for the region.
ADUs are allowed “by-right,” which means they do not require the usual public input process, and instead allow units to be approved through an administrative process. There is a standard criteria that must be followed, but once met, the buildings are approved. There are 25 guidelines that apply.
The legal lot must be in a residential zone and must have an existing single-family residence on it or the ADU can be constructed at the same time as the primary single family residence is being built.
The ADU may be rented but cannot be sold separately from the primary residence.
The legal lot may not have an existing guest house on it, so residents can’t build their own little town.
The total floor area of an attached ADU shall not exceed 50% of the primary residence or exceed 1,200 square feet.
Main building setbacks are required for all newly constructed ADUs. A detached ADU is limited to 24 feet in height. A new ADU must provide one parking space, but it does not need to be a garage.
Proof of evidence of adequate sewer or septic service and water available is required with all fees paid.
Fire and other codes, and the Zoning Ordinance of the parcel, shall apply.
The ADU cannot be used or rented for less than 30 days.
So why would you want to build an ADU? It can provide a second dwelling for your extended family or friends. It can become a source of passive income, if you rent it out. It can become your personal home and allow you to rent your primary residence to help you pay off your current mortgage or provide a larger source of rental income from your larger primary residence.
If you decide to move into the ADU, your children would have a possible path to home ownership by moving into and ultimately “buying” your home from you. With California affordability at only 29%, it could be the one way for your children to own a home and remain in California. There is also the bigger picture to consider; you would be providing your personal solution to the housing crisis, one ADU at a time.
Now may be the perfect time to consider adding an ADU to your property. Many Fallbrook properties will qualify and with the added benefit of no building permit fees or impact fees, there is a definite financial incentive. If you’re interested and have more questions, contact me. I’d be happy to help you decide if an ADU is right for you.
Kim Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or (760) 415-9292 or at 130 N. Main Avenue, in Fallbrook. Her broker license is #01229921, and she is on the board of directors for the California Association of Realtors.