What is an ADU?

Learn how to make your property work for you!

What is an ADU?

Granny flat. In-law unit. Guest house. Accessory Dwelling Unit. ADU.
Whatever you call it, it’s the smartest way to invest in your property while helping solve the Bay Area’s housing shortage.

There have been sweeping changes in California law that make it easier for you as a homeowner to build ADUs and contribute to the housing supply. Learn to make your property work for you!

ADDITIONAL INCOME

Rents are rising and availability is dropping, making this an ideal time to put your property to work by building a money-making rental unit. Earn income to help pay down your mortgage or fund your retirement.

The average rent in Berkeley was $3,213, $2,935 in Oakland, and $2,506 in Walnut Creek, according to a 2020 report released by Rent Café, a nationwide apartment search website.

MULTI-GENERATIONAL LIVING

Seniors increasingly prefer to age-in-place rather than move into a retirement facility. Building an ADU provides creative, flexible, and affordable housing for aging parents.

It’s also the solution for families with young adult children living at home. In California, nearly 40% of young people aged 18 to 34 haven’t left the nest. Moving them into an ADU is a great way to give them – and you – space so you don’t drive each other crazy.

WORK FROM HOME

After the COVID-19 crisis wanes, many people will continue working remotely. Building an ADU provides that quiet, dedicated home office you’ve been dreaming of after months of trying to conduct conference calls without kid interruptions or barking dogs.

GUEST ACCOMMODATIONS

Are you tired of putting your occasional out of town guests on the couch or your kids’ bottom bunk? An ADU is an excellent solution for out of town visitors. You may find, once you have an ADU, you get to see those loved ones more often.

INCREASED PROPERTY VALUE

While it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much resale value an ADU adds to a property, anecdotal evidence shows that homes sold with secondary units have a higher return on investment.

The in's and out's of ADUs

An ADU is...

  • Self-contained living space with its own entrance, bathroom, and kitchen.
  • As small as 250 square feet and as large as 850 square feet, or 1,000 square feet if the ADU contains more than one bedroom. Individual California cities might allow larger units, however, so check with your local planing department.
  • Up to 16 feet tall.

What are the different kinds of ADUs?

  • Detached – pre-fab or constructed from the ground up
  • Attached addition to your main home
  • Conversion of an existing space, such as the garage or basement

Who is an ADU for?

  • Renters
  • Aging parents
  • In-home health care providers
  • Young adult children
  • Au pair child care providers
  • Home-based workers

CALIFORNIA ADU FASTRACK

Once upon a time, property owners had to tolerate drawn-out public hearings and permit reviews that took up to two years. But local lawmakers have cleared a lot of red tape and costs in recent years.

  • Local planning agencies must act on an ADU application within 60 days, without requiring a hearing, discretionary review, or neighbor notification.
  • Some ADUs are eligible for automatic approval as long as they are no taller than 16 feet and include rear and side setbacks of 4 feet. Auto approval applies to: An ADU converted from existing space, such as a garage or basement; and a detached ADU that is 800 square feet or smaller.
  • Local agencies cannot charge impact fees for ADUs under 750 square feet. Fees for larger ADUs are limited.
  • Homeowners associations (HOAs) must allow the construction of ADUs.
  • ADUs cannot be considered new residential uses for the purpose of calculating utility connection fees or capacity charges, including water and sewer service.
  • State law prohibits cities from requiring a minimum lot size for ADUs that are 800 square feet or smaller.
  • Side and rear set-back requirements are capped at 4 feet.
  • Parking requirements are reduced to one space per bedroom or unit. Extra parking is not mandated for ADUs located within a half mile of public transit, within one block of a car share area, in an architecturally and historically significant historic district, within an existing primary residence or existing accessory structure, or in an area where on-street parking permits are required but not available to the occupant.

ADU Resources

 

Larry and Kress are a dream team! In advance of our cross-country move for a job transition, we began looking for homes in the Lamorinda area while still living in NYC. With very little knowledge of the East Bay and very limited time to look for homes, we knew we needed a realtor with deep knowledge of the area and a willingness to step in as our local advocate.

Eliza & Peter

Larry & Kress are honest, reasonable, and supportive. Having an agent with their calm and thoughtful personalities, along with their expertise, helped make the process of selling my condo a breeze. From the beautiful brochures to the daily updates, Larry and Kress went above and beyond my expectations.

Leslie

The whole team at Abio was a dream to work with – we had an incredibly smooth closing process for the purchase of our first home.  Took us a while to find the right place but due to the relentlessness of our agent Sarka, we wasted no time when we found the right spot and we’ve been blissfully living in it for the last year.  The market knowledge was a huge leg up in this competitive market.

Christina T. — Oakland, CA

We bought our first home in December of 2016. Working with Sarka was an awesome experience. Our home search went much faster than we expected (three weeks from first open houses to going into contract) which meant that we had to move fast and make quick, confident decisions.

Meta K. — Oakland, CA

Our mortgage company works with hundreds of real estate agents, and everyone at Abio stands out. They are all tech-savvy, professional, charming and responsive, and they know their stuff. The founders, Cameron and Linnette, often mention how they go out of their way to make sure everyone on the Abio team is both friendly and a great personality fit, and it shows.

Jay V. — Walnut Creek, CA

I’ve worked with Abio twice in the past 2 years. Both experiences went very smoothly and resulted in great outcomes.  They provide sound advice and strategy on how to maximize the value of your property. I will definitely use Abio again when the time comes.

Jim W. — San Francisco, CA

I would like to recommend Julianna for her extensive knowledge, honestly, and professionalism. She helped us find our dream house. It was hard because we bought at a time when everyone else was buying too. Julianna always looked out for us she wrote multiple offers and even when we lost hope she kept positive and never gave up on us.

Astrid Q.

Julianna Haase is not your average realtor. What sets her apart is she connects and builds long-term business and personal relationships with her clients. She sincerely listens to her clients’ concerns with a warm heart and provides professional answers. She is actively involved in her community and leads by example with the support and pride of her family. We look forward to a lifetime relationship with her.

Gloria H.

Mary Anne was so dynamic she took care of every detail – we did not have to worry about anything. Mary Anne has been the best agent I have ever used in any of the 5 moves I have made.

Cleo & Ann

With Brian overseas I was overwhelmed with getting the house ready and you stepped up and handled so much for us. From start to finish you took such great care of the transaction and us. Thank you!

Brian & Alicia

Felicia is awesome. She’s friendly, reliable, dedicated and has amazing work ethic. She’s one of a kind, and a huge breath of fresh air in this real estate market full of sharks. I can’t recommend her enough.

MaryKate R. — El Cerrito, CA

When Mary Anne talks, people listen! Her knowledge and experience are respected by both her clients and the local real estate community. When faced with a problem, I am always amazed at Mary Anne’s ability to look at all sides on an issue to find the best outcome for her clients. If I wanted to build the ideal real estate professional I would just copy Mary Anne!

Bob O’Grady

I worked with Shannon on a transaction recently and she was fantastic. Smart, honest, hard working and clear. I would not hesitate to work with her again.

Seth F. — Berkeley, CA

Marco’s warmth, professionalism, great sense of humor, and attention to details and always going the extra mile for his clients are what really blew me away.  He is wise beyond his years!  If you are in need of an energetic, savvy & hardworking realtor MARCO is your man!

Michele D. — Orinda, CA

Raquel is amazing! Not only did she help me find the home I’ve always dreamed of, but she made the process so smooth. She is a true pro and knows her business.

Deanna D. — Emeryville, CA

Abio sold our our Berkeley duplex in record time over the holidays. They took care of everything we needed so that we could focus on our move and our family. We would definitely recommend Abio if you’re looking for an expert real estate agent with a heart and a personal touch.

Lex

What we like best about Abio is their knowledge of the industry and ability to communicate that so you know exactly what is going on and what will occur. We also like the “non-pressure” style, whether purchasing or selling. They truly want you to be happy and not just “close the deal.”

Lloyd

Abio had our best interests at heart and made sure we’d get the best deal we could. In the end we were able to sell the house for far more than we thought we would. We highly recommend Abio. Their level of service is excellent.

Jeff

Vikki is an outstanding agent. She gave me all the information I needed to properly clean up my house, stage my house and then put it on the market. She even recommended getting a home inspection months before it went on the market to fix many of those little things that potential buyers always try to negotiate down on the price.

S.C. — Walnut Creek, CA

Cameron and Nicole are the best! We were new to the market in Oakland and they made us feel comfortable we were making a good decision. They guided us toward the right neighborhoods, and went above and beyond to give us recommendations on restaurants, bars, shops, etc nearby. We felt they really understood who we are and what we were looking for.

Mike B. — Oakland, CA

Abio performed beyond expectations to bring our home purchase to a close. This is our 10th home, so our judgment of Abio’s superior capabilities includes a lot of past comparisons.

Kathleen B. — Alamo

Tomi Thomas was a wonderful find my husband and I were nervous 1st-time buyers. She guided us through every phase of the confusing process of house hunting (I knew nothing!).  She went out of her way to meet with us on OUR schedule when we needed to meet. And, didn’t let us get discouraged in a competitive market if a bid got turned down.

Tammy P. — Berkeley, CA

Once I relocated from New Jersey to Oakland, Abio put their heart and soul into helping me find a home.

Josip M. — Oakland, CA

I had an unexpected opportunity arise to look at a house. Abio got back to me immediately, got me started on a quick turnaround pre-approval process, met me at the house, and were ready to support me through the entire process.

Aequa M. — Oakland, CA

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