Top-10 DIY ADU Ideas

Do you have a large area that is not used in any way? Or do you have an old garage waiting for a breath of a new life into it? Or maybe you already have a small guest house you are using for other purposes or completely abandoned? We have great news for you — the opportunity to equip a new living space.

ADUs are small buildings, more commonly known as guest houses or parent’s houses, usually located in the backyard of the main living unit. In this article, we will tell you about several ideas on how to use this type of extension and what benefits it entails for your comfort and finances.

The presence of such a house in your household, as a rule, significantly increases the value of your home and also allows you to earn money by renting it out.


Check Your Site’s Suitability

  1. If you are going to build an ADU from scratch, you need to check all the nuances that may interfere with or burden the construction of such a guest house.
  2. Check your site to see if it meets the state requirements to install the ADU on it.
  3. The guesthouse must meet the requirements for the density of the building plot. A residential plot of residential property is limited by state law. Therefore, you must check the density before building the ADU to avoid violations.
  4. In accordance with the law §65852.2 and the density of residential buildings on the property and the area, it is necessary to observe the distance of buildings. Between the individual sections of the neighbors, as well as between all buildings on the site, must be the right distance to comply with fire safety. For example, in San Francisco, the distance from the outer line can be up to 25% of the depth of the site, and in Los Angeles, only 5 feet.
  5. Distance from easements should also be observed. Therefore, if there are easements on your site, the construction of buildings should be not less than 10 feet from the service easements. If it is necessary to violate this requirement, the utilities must provide permission to intervene.
  6. Make sure that the area of your household is large enough to build a guest house within it.
  7. Verify that communications such as plumbing, electricity, and other services will not be affected by the project to build your future ADU.
  8. Calculate the height of the building and agree on the allowed height of houses in your area.
  9. Find out if additional parking space is required to build a guest house.


These are not all factors that may prevent you from building an ADU on your property. The size of the guest house needs to agree and check the laws of your city. Some cities have restrictions on the size of the guest house, and in other cities, you can not build a guest house within the main unit. The fines concerned can be very unpleasant: you can be evicted from your home within a few years. That is why it is so important to consult in advance with specialists, who will tell you about all the restrictions in your project.


Plot Type

The type of plot can help you in designing an additional building and can create difficulties in the construction. It is important to define all the nuances of the site before the construction work so as not to spend money on extra costs.
Check to see if your site is flat or tilted. On a hilly plot, there are two options for construction: digging out the soil by leveling the slope or installing supporting structures. In this case, are there any places where rainwater accumulates? Examine whether the soil of the site is suitable for additional development. Consider installing stairs in advance if the natural soil is inconvenient for access to the guest house.


Before Planning

In the design of the guesthouse, an important factor is access security. In emergencies, such as a fire or robbery, the residents of ADU must have unambiguous access to the street. You must design convenient paths leading from the guest house to the gate and to the main house on the property.
All utility problems, such as sewer pipes and wiring, should be eliminated before construction. If you want to have plumbing in your ADU, you should make pipes in advance according to the preliminary design.
You may not have to worry about installing additional meters. According to the law, the ADU is not a separate residential use and therefore does not require additional meters. Water comes from the water supply system of the main house.

The same situation is with gas pipes. The law does not require a separate gas line for ADU. You can use the communications of the main house.


Environmental Standards

In addition to housing construction standards, there are energy efficiency standards for new buildings. Mechanical systems and materials used in construction must comply with Title 24. Read the complete code of requirements before you begin planning your construction
CALGreen is a new code that requires that newly constructed buildings be designed to have a lower environmental impact. The code of green building standards requires factors such as energy efficiency, material conservation, environmental quality, and water conservation.


ADU Purpose

Plan ahead of time for what purpose you are building the ADU. This is an important part of the initial phase of construction planning. In case you want to use the house for accommodating guests or elderly parents, or for other activities, better to make windows and an entrance door inside the yard. This unites all buildings into a single composition and creates coziness.

However, if you are planning to rent out your guesthouse to strangers, privacy is of great importance to both you and potential tenants. The correct arrangement of windows and doors can make the ADU more detached and private from the rest of the site.

Save Space

Since ADU are not the main residential buildings, their area is very different from the usual living space, respectively, furniture and other appliances are also different. In designing a guest house design, it is best to follow the rule of saving space. For example, use the walls as a storage place, in the form of shelves and wall cabinets. Folding beds, modular furniture will help you to house the maximum dwellers for a comfortable stay.

Design recommendations

Each city and county has its own requirements regarding the design of buildings. They are not strict, but your outbuilding should not be dislodged from the general style of the county. Part of your project must be based on the Housing Code. Guesthouses require a kitchen and bathrooms, a certain height of ceilings, and a minimum room size. The code also requires central heating; individual heating systems are not allowed.
Requirements are different in each district. To avoid misunderstandings, it is recommended to consult with the local construction department to understand the design standards well.

What can you use ADU for? Using some examples, we will tell you about ideas on how to use the guest house.

Art Studio

If you are engaged in any kind of creativity, be it painting or pottery, and you need a studio that equips the workshops, an ADU is one great choice! Either you’re dancing or doing yoga sessions and need space to practice, having a guest house will do the job perfectly. In this way, your hobby will not interfere with household members. They, in turn, will not disturb your space while you are busy with creativity.

Home Office

In the modern world, telecommute working is becoming the norm, but not all homes are ready to become a work office, and many people are not at all happy to interfere with the work atmosphere at home. There are several reasons for this: a large family and children requiring attention, lack of a comfortable workplace or home environment does not set one up for work. By equipping a guest house as a home office, you can protect your family from your work moments, but at the same time, be close.

A Refuge for Parents

It so happens that your parents live with you in the same house as your family. Of course, everyone wants to have their own space without sharing it with parents or adult children. Equip your guest house with a cozy hideaway for your parents, where they can live apart from you with their own space. This will save them from the unnecessary noise of children, and you, from possible conflicts. And you will have the opportunity to see your loved ones more often.

A Place for Family fun

If your family loves holidays and celebrates them with a pump and in a big company, then your ADU can be turned into a wonderful tent for celebrations for every taste. An organized place for large feasts, smoothly turning into the garden, will make possible glass sliding doors. So did the American Ella Dillon, combining two of her hobbies: spending the holidays and gardening, in one ADU. She organized a garden studio right in the guest house, which led to the street into the garden. The result is an excellent cozy symbiosis, and now her celebrations are held in a cozy space filled with fresh plants. Ella uses the rest of the ADU for storing inventory, games for her daughter, and fitness equipment.

Sports Hall

We already talked about the creative studio above, but a workout space can also be built for sports fans within the ADU. With ADU, you can equip your gym with all the equipment you need, even those that require a lot of space.

Home Hotel

Equip the ADU in a modern and high-tech rental home and offer guests a luxurious getaway with features such as a heated floor spa tub, dedicated yoga and meditation room, smart home services, and more. This range of services will raise the cost of living, thereby increasing your budget and giving many people joyful emotions during their vacation.

Photo Studio

For professional photographers or just for lovers of beautiful studio shots, you can organize a professional studio with several locations. You can rent it out or have your own photo sessions near your home anytime you wish.

Training Center for Children

Families with many children only dream of their children being passionate about something. With ADU, there is a unique opportunity to create an entertainment and learning center for children, where you can place study rooms, mini-labs, a playroom, and much more.

Collector’s Place

An avid collector usually has a huge number of exhibits, which he carefully stores in suitable conditions. And the additional house will only be beneficial. Whether it is a collection of rare wines or paintings, anything that requires a lot of space can be stored in ADU by creating the necessary conditions in it.

Sound Recording Studio

Musicians will also find a use for the ADU guest house. Of course, studios can be rented, but they are usually expensive and can only be used for a limited time. It is much more convenient to have your own studio near your home, where you can come at any time when inspiration comes or get together with colleagues and stay there as long as needed.


Takeaway from A+ Construction & Remodeling ADU Provider

The construction of a new building is in itself a very responsible and difficult task. You need to check all construction standards. After that, you should take into due account the specifics of your property, the requirements of the local authorities, communication equipment, and much more. Then, you should design the ADU according to all the previously obtained knowledge with the help of A+ Construction & Remodeling. When you plan to build an extra house, you need to consider your own wishes. You have to think about the purpose of the Sacramento ADU – read more about here –, the type of construction, for whom you are building, and for what purposes. It may be an additional home for family members or a house for rent or something else, but the main thing is that the ADU will bring you benefit and joy.