How to Build an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) for Cheap

Is your heart racing at the thought of adding an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) to your property? With the rising cost of real estate, the idea of building an ADU may seem daunting. But fear not, it’s absolutely possible to embark on an ADU project without breaking the bank. 

This guide will lay out the steps for cost-effective construction while highlighting key areas to save money and enhance the property value.

The Basics of ADU Construction Process

Building an ADU is like a mini version of constructing a full-blown residential construction. But before hammering in the first nail, you must familiarize yourself with the ADU cost, building process and building codes. Understanding this is crucial to keeping your ADU costs low. Also, consider whether you want a garage conversion for an existing garage or opting for detached new construction. Both have their own fixed costs, so choose wisely.

Choosing Between Attached and Detached ADUs When considering how to build an accessory dwelling unit for cheap, the decision between an attached ADU or a detached ADU is critical. Attached ADUs usually involve converting existing structures or adding to your main house, potentially reducing construction permits and material costs. Attached ADUs typically are more expensive than garage and basement conversions because you may need to build a whole new frame. On the flip side, detached units offer more independence and privacy, potentially increasing your rental income and property’s value, and have a separate entrance from your current property. Prefab ADUs also cost much less than any other ADU type. A prefab ADU is typically built-in a factory and shipped to the job site.

  1. Designing the ADU
    In this step, we delve into the world of ADU design. You may feel the allure of expansive living arrangements, but remember, every additional square foot increases the total cost. Opt for space-saving designs that maximize function and appeal of your guest house. Efficiency is key: you want to create a comfortable, independent living space without unnecessary frills. Energy efficiency is also an important factory, don’t use a natural gas.
  2. Saving on ADU Building Costs
    The real secret to building a cost-effective ADU? Paying attention to the building costs. It might mean opting for energy-efficient solar panels instead of conventional energy sources, or going for cost-effective yet stylish fixtures. Some general contractors specialize in low-cost ADU construction without compromising quality, so invest time in research and negotiation.
  3. Navigating the Permitting Process
    Understanding this process can save you from potential fines and expensive modifications down the line. Your ADU ordinance is your best friend here – it gives you the specifics of the construction and conversion rules for adding backyard cottages to your livable space. And while permit fees are mostly a fixed cost, knowing your way around the bureaucracy can expedite the process and get your ADU unit ready for renting or living sooner.
  4. How to Permit an Unpermitted ADU
    Mistakes happen, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with an unpermitted ADU builders Sacramento – read more about here – Follow your local jurisdiction’s steps, which often involves submitting your ADU plans, paying the appropriate fees, and passing inspections. While it’s an additional cost, bringing your ADU into compliance ensures peace of mind and bolsters your current property‘s future value.

How to Apply for an Accessory Dwelling Unit

Applying for an ADU involves submitting an application to your local community development or planning office. The process involves submitting detailed building plans that comply with building codes. Although it might seem like a hurdle, this step is essential in legitimizing your ADU project.

ADU: How to Find an Architect

Choosing the right architect is crucial to ensuring that your new construction ADU meets your needs while adhering to local building codes. Seek out architects experienced in ADU designs, and remember, the right architect can make or break your ADU project’s success and cost.

How to Offer an ADU for Rent

Once your ADU is built and ready, it’s time to turn that new ADU into a revenue stream. Local regulations will guide you through the process of offering your ADU for rent. And remember, the rental income from an affordable, well-constructed ADU can offset your construction cost over time.

Cheap ADU Takeaway

Remember, while many homeowners want the total project cost to be cheap, never compromise on safety and quality. After all, this is a space where people will live. Now go forth, utilize these tips, talk to your construction managers, and begin your cost-effective journey to constructing your very own ADU!

Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ

Is building an ADU a good investment? 

Yes, adding an ADU to your primary residence is generally considered a wise investment. It can increase the value of your property, provide additional income through rent, and offer affordable housing unit.

What are some unexpected additional costs when building an ADU? 

Some unexpected costs might include site preparation, tree removal, and cost overruns from unexpected construction challenges.

Can I build an ADU myself? 

Adding an ADU with one or two bedrooms involves understanding building codes, the building permits, and construction. It’s usually best left to professionals, but if you have experience in construction, you might be able to take on some tasks yourself.

Can an ADU be two stories? 

The answer to this varies by location. Some jurisdictions allow accessory dwelling units to be over two-stories, while others restrict them to a single story. Always check with your local ADU ordinance.

What is the square footage of an average ADU?

The average size of an ADU can range from 500 to 1000 square feet, but this can vary widely based on the property and local regulations.

Is it cheaper to build an attached or detached ADU? 

Generally, attached ADUs cost low since they utilize an existing structure. However, design costs can vary greatly depending on the existing structure’s condition and the intended ADU size.