I'm going to tell you what accessory dwelling units are and why they're really important in your life, especially for Californians and homeowners. Accessory dwelling unit is a bit of a mouthful, but I'm going to break it down for you so you feel really confident about what it can mean, literally, what it does mean in California and what it means for you if you own a lot with a house on it. And lastly, what it means to you, even if you're renting and you don't own a house.
ADU stands for Accessory Dwelling Unit. It's a relatively new term, the earliest use, when you look it up on Google Books archives, is like 1956 in a Rhode Island Land Use law, and it barely pops up here and there usually in land use law, often next to terms that seem a bit outmoded, like tenant house and servants quarters, carriage house - you can see why they wanted to rebrand. But if you break it down, it's pretty simple. Dwelling unit is just a really wordy way to say a home or a place people can live permanently. And we'll add more detail to this later but for now, dwelling unit equals home.
And the first word is accessory. Accessory means it's not primary. Accessory means it's secondary or extra, a lot with one house, the house is the primary dwelling unit. If the owner of that property wants to add a second, extra, accessory dwelling unit, then they need a permit for an ADU. A dwelling unit doesn't have to be a literal house. If you have a lot with a house on it and that house has a big space, like your garage that you don't need or a basement, you can convert that garage or basement into a second home with its own entrance and amenities. And that can be a secondary dwelling unit. So an accessory dwelling unit is a second home. It's not always a literal house, but it does need to be a place where a person can permanently live.
If you need a simple definition of what counts as an ADU in California it's a secondary home, not the primary home. It's permanent, which means it has a foundation and it's not on wheels, and it's got the city approved hook up for stove and sink. The state explicitly says that manufactured homes and efficiency units can count as ADUs and we'll get into what that means. But it's also pretty specific that if you have a tiny house on wheels with no stove hook up, that's not an ADU. If this seems like a weird new term for a very old simple concept, that's because it is. People have had granny flats, in-law suites, lane houses and so on for a long time.
Why should you care about this weird technical term in California Land Use in city planning? Because it's going to drastically change your cost of living over the next 10 years. If you own a house, then you need to know your ADU rights or you're unintentionally missing out on a potential income stream. If you don't own a house that still affects you because you're probably renting somewhere and ADUs once they gain traction will change the rental market forever. And it's humans who live in a community - ADUs affect everybody. They're the most interesting way to increase housing without overburdening our suburban and urban infrastructure, trust me, it's really important.
What about renters? How is this going to affect the majority of Californians who do not own their homes? California has a severe housing shortage and it's getting worse every year. The state government has put out numbers that indicate that we need to build over a hundred thousand homes a year just to keep up with demand. That's not to improve the situation. It's 170,000 just to stop worsening the housing shortage. And that's why rents are getting out of control. ADUs are our ticket as a society to bring the housing supply back up. In major housing cities where ADUs have gained a lot of traction, we see that their rental rates per-square-foot are much more affordable than apartment units in the same area. That's attributed to a lot of ADU specific traits and benefits. They're much cheaper to build in multifamily apartment buildings. They have less strain on infrastructure like roads and parking than big suburban complexes. Whether you're a homeowner or a home renter, ADUs are going to have a huge impact on all of our lives.
We at Eano Home Renovation want to resolve the impending housing crisis and help people build their ADUs all up and down California. We want to solve the housing shortage by helping homeowners build their wealth and build their community at the same time. We offer home remodeling services for a reasonable price so California residents would have their ADUs built in no time! We know that ADUs are coming and we’re gearing up towards the future at full speed.