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Jeannette Architects / Blog  / Building Accessory Dwelling Units with Jeannette Architects

Building Accessory Dwelling Units with Jeannette Architects

For years, residents of California have been suffering from rising housing costs and limited availability to affordable housing. One solution has been to build multi-story apartments that offer lower rents, easy access to public transit, and proximity to local amenities. As beautifully designed and thoughtfully woven into the neighborhood character these projects may be, they’re often met with NIMBYism. “Not In My Back Yard” they say, ‘they’ being residents who don’t want this type of high density building in their neighborhood. In recent years, a new kind of development has gained traction, buoyed by local zoning codes and state law, Accessory Dwelling Units or ADU’s.  Now, a new refrain is being heard – “Yes In My Back Yard”, or YIMBYism. Yes we want smaller units in our back yards to rent, yielding a new revenue stream that helps offset mortgages, Yes we want our aging parents to live with us on our property, and Yes we’re interested in downsizing and living smaller.  A more efficient solution to the housing crisis, ADU’s are helping to build stronger diversity of incomes, generations and backgrounds into our neighborhoods. 

As residential architects in Long Beach, Jeannette Architects is often asked about the potential of building Accessory Dwelling Units.  Below is a short list of questions and answers that may help you decide if an ADU is right for you:

What size can my ADU be?

The minimum size is 150 square feet, up to 800 square feet or 50% of the main home’s square footage, without limitations. ADU’s over 800sf may be allowed but could be subject to additional city/county zoning regulations.  JADU’s may range from 150 to 500 square feet.

If I convert my garage, does that mean I need to build a new one?

No, additional parking is not required if you build a new ADU, JADU or convert your existing garage to an ADU.

Am I allowed to build an ADU on my property?

If you own your home and it’s the only residence on the property, the answer is yes. Prior to January 1, 2020, there were limitations on property size, but new state laws loosened regulations and now nearly all single-family residential properties are eligible. Also allowed are smaller JADU’s or Junior Accessory Dwelling Units. They are living spaces carved out of the primary dwelling for use similar to ADU’s. 

Multi-family properties may install up to 2 ADU’s but no JADU’s in Long Beach. ADU’s may be new detached structures or garage conversions. Other limitations apply to high density as well as single family properties so call us to review your situation.  We’ll walk you through the ins and outs of the code to determine what works best for you. 

Does my ADU need to be detached or attached?

Either. The ADU can be a standalone new build, a garage conversion, or you can transform a portion of your main home into a JADU.  Kitchens are required in both ADU’s and JADU’s, but bathrooms are only required in ADU’s, JADU’s may share a bathroom with the main home

Can I build a 2 story ADU?

In most cases, yes! We design ADU’s above garages, 2 story stand-alone ADU’s, ADU’s above existing portions of homes and 1 story ADU’s. Many factors should be considered when planning an ADU.  We’ll help you decide which is best for you. 

Are all these rules the same in every city?

No, every jurisdiction is different. While we’ve built most of our ADU’s in Long Beach, we have a wide breadth of experience in many Southern California cities and counties. We know the right questions to ask and the most efficient way to guide you and your family through the process. 

How much does it cost to build an ADU?

Costs vary depending on finishes selected but we typically ballpark construction costs around $400 to $500 per square foot. Garage conversions are the least expensive while two-story ADU’s are the most expensive.  Your return on investment far outweighs the initial costs, especially if you’re generating revenue from the ADU. ADU’s are excellent long-term investments adding significant value to properties.   

Do I need permits to complete this work?

Yes, permits are required for ADU’s.  Jeannette Architects was hired by the City of Long Beach to design the permitting process for ADU’s, so we know the procedure well. We’ll design the perfect layout for your ADU, coordinate structural, energy and other necessary consultants, generate documents necessary for plan check, provide contractor recommendations, submit plans for permit approval and even help you through construction. We’re experts in crafting ADU’s that fit perfectly in your yard and meet your needs.  We know the codes inside and out and are here to make what is typically a challenging experience, easy and exciting for you. 

Can you guide me through the myriad of decisions in designing ADU’s?

Absolutely! Call us at 562/987.9139 or email info@jeannettearchitects.com

We look forward to designing your ADU!