ADU News

Legalize ADU: Smart Investment for California Homeowners 2024

With housing shortages on the rise and property prices going through the roof, California is paying more attention to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). You might know them as granny flats, in-law units, or backyard cottages. ADUs are a great way to make the most of your property and provide affordable places to live right in your existing neighborhood. In big cities like Los Angeles, there’s a growing number of these units popping up without the proper permits.

The state is now working hard to make sure these homes are safe, and legal, and helping to ease the housing crunch. A lot of homeowners skip getting the right permits because it can be a big headache and cost a pretty penny. But the risks of not having your ADU up to code can be major, from safety issues to some serious fines. This guide is all about helping you figure out how to legalize ADU in California, especially looking at what’s new and important for 2024. So, if you’re looking to avoid trouble and make your ADU a legit part of your home, stick around. We’ll walk you through what you need to know to get things squared away without losing sleep or breaking the bank.

Understanding Unpermitted ADUs

What Makes an ADU Illegal?

An ADU becomes illegal, or unpermitted, mainly when it’s built without the necessary permits and inspections from local authorities. These permits make sure that the building meets safety standards, fits with zoning laws, and follows building codes, which all help keep residents safe and maintain the look and feel of the community.

Why Do Some Homeowners Skip Permits?

Building an ADU with all the required permits can be expensive and time-consuming. To save money and hassle, some homeowners skip this step, hoping to rake in some quick rental cash. However, this shortcut can lead to big headaches down the road, like legal issues and problems selling the home.

What Are the Risks of Having an Unpermitted ADU?

Having an ADU without the right permits is risky. Safety-wise, if the unit isn’t built to stand up to things like earthquakes or fires, it could be dangerous for anyone living there. On the legal side, you might face fines, the possibility of having to tear the building down, and trouble getting the unit approved later on, which can mess up your finances and legal standing. Getting your ADU permitted isn’t just about following the rules—it’s also a big step towards solving the housing shortage by making sure all homes are safe and livable.

Why Legalizing Your ADU Matters

Boosting Affordable Housing

By making ADUs legal, California is taking a big step toward increasing affordable housing options. Homeowners can rent out these spaces, offering more budget-friendly living options than many traditional housing options, especially in cities where rents are skyrocketing faster than most people’s paychecks.

The Dangers of Skipping Permits

Keeping an ADU unpermitted can lead to some serious problems. Homeowners might face large fines, legal trouble, and even the risk of eviction notices for tenants. This can throw people’s lives into chaos and hit your wallet hard. Plus, if these units aren’t up to safety standards, they could be downright dangerous in an emergency.

The Upsides of Making Things Official

When you legalize an ADU, you’re making sure it meets all the local building codes, which slashes the risk of legal headaches and boosts the safety of the home. On top of that, a legal ADU can bump up your property’s value, making your home a hotter commodity if you decide to sell. Legalizing also means your rental income is on the up-and-up, giving you financial peace of mind. Understanding all this shows why it’s smart—and right—to legalize your ADU. Not only does it keep you on the right side of the law, but it also does a solid for your community by keeping standards high and ensuring everyone’s safety.

Exploring Your Options for Unpermitted ADUs

When you find out your ADU isn’t permitted, you’ve got a couple of choices on how to handle it:

Option 1: Bring It Back to the Original

• What You Need to Do: This means you have to undo any unpermitted work. For instance, turn a garage that’s been converted into a living space back into just a garage.

• Pros: This is usually faster and involves less red tape. It’s a straightforward way to fix legal issues without diving into a big remodeling project.

• Cons: The downside is you’ll miss out on extra rental income and the added value a legal ADU could bring to your property.

Option 2: Make the ADU Legal

• What You Need to Do: This path requires getting the right permits and passing inspections to make sure your ADU meets all building and safety standards. You might need to redraw your plans and make some changes to fit local zoning rules.

• Pros: Getting your ADU legalized can boost your property value, lock in legal rental income, and ensure the place is safe to live in. Plus, you’re helping ease the housing crunch by adding to the available homes in your community.

• Cons: This can be a pricey and slow process, especially if your original build didn’t follow the local codes and needs major work.

Deciding between these options should take into account your current situation, how much you can spend, and your plans for the future. While it might seem like a tough call, legalizing your ADU usually brings more benefits, helping both your wallet and your community in the long run.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your ADU Legal

Step 1: Check Out Your Current ADU

First things first, figure out what needs to change to meet local regulations. This involves:

• Understanding the Rules: Every area has its own laws for ADUs. You’ll need to talk to your local planning department to get the scoop on what’s required.

• Bringing in an Expert: It’s smart to hire someone who knows the ins and outs of local ADU laws. They can do a thorough check-up of your place and spot any big issues with things like size, height, how far it is from your property line and utilities.

Step 2: Plan Your Changes

Once you know what’s needed, it’s time to plan:

• Get Professional Help: Hire an architect or designer who’s got experience with ADUs. They can create plans that not only tick all the legal boxes but also make your space as nice and functional as possible.

• Refine Your Plans: You might have to tweak your plans a few times to get everything just right, so stay flexible.

Step 3: Get Your Plans Approved

Now, you’ll need to get the green light from the powers that be:

• Submit Your Plans: Take your detailed plans to the local building department for their approval.

• Adjust as Needed: Be ready to make changes based on their feedback. This can take a few tries, so patience is key here.

Step 4: Build It Right

Time to turn those plans into reality:

• Choose a Savvy Contractor: Make sure your contractor has experience with ADUs and knows local codes well.

• Keep an Eye on Things: Stay on top of the building process to ensure everything matches your approved plans and meets code requirements.

Step 5: Cross the Finish Line with Inspections

Almost there—just need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s:

• Line Up Inspections: You’ll need several inspections to make sure everything from the wiring to plumbing and the overall build is up to snuff.

• Secure Your Occupancy Permit: Once you pass all inspections, you’ll get an occupancy permit, which officially makes your ADU a legal living space. Getting your ADU legalized might seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, but it’s all about making sure your space is safe to live in and can be a legitimate part of your property. Hang in there—it’s worth it for the peace of mind and the benefits it brings!

Breaking Down the Costs and Financing of Legalizing Your Unpermitted ADU

Understanding the Costs

The price tag for making your ADU legal can be all over the place, depending on a few key factors:

• What Needs Fixing: Minor updates like putting in smoke detectors or updating the wiring might not set you back too much. But if you need to overhaul the structure, the costs can shoot up.

• Local Rules and Fees: The fees for permits, inspections, and sorting out any zoning issues can vary a lot depending on where you live.

Estimated Costs

You could be looking at spending anywhere from a couple of thousand bucks to over $100,000. It all depends on how much needs to change to bring your ADU up to the current building codes.

Financing the Legalization of Your Unpermitted ADU

How to Fund the Upgrades

Making your ADU legal isn’t cheap, but thankfully, there are a few ways to find the money you need:

• Renovation Loans: These are specifically for funding updates and changes needed to make your ADU meet legal standards.

• Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): If you’ve got equity in your home, a HELOC gives you a flexible way to pull funds for improvements.

• Cash-out Refinance: This option lets you refinance your existing mortgage and take out extra cash based on the equity you have in your home, perfect for big renovations.

Local Help Might Be Available

Check out if your local government offers any grants or programs aimed at helping homeowners with ADUs, especially if your upgrades will help boost affordable housing options. Levi Construction can assist you with this process.

Why It’s Worth the Investment

Sure, the initial costs can be steep, but legalizing your ADU can boost your property value and bring in regular rental income. Plus, getting legal means you dodge hefty fines and legal troubles down the road. Investing in making your ADU legit could save you a lot of money and stress later on.

With housing shortages on the rise and property prices going through the roof, California is paying more attention to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). You might know them as granny flats, in-law units, or backyard cottages. ADUs are a great way to make the most of your property and provide affordable places to live right in your existing neighborhood. In big cities like Los Angeles, there’s a growing number of these units popping up without the proper permits.

The state is now working hard to make sure these homes are safe, and legal, and helping to ease the housing crunch. A lot of homeowners skip getting the right permits because it can be a big headache and cost a pretty penny. But the risks of not having your ADU up to code can be major, from safety issues to some serious fines. This guide is all about helping you figure out how to legalize ADU in California, especially looking at what’s new and important for 2024. So, if you’re looking to avoid trouble and make your ADU a legit part of your home, stick around. We’ll walk you through what you need to know to get things squared away without losing sleep or breaking the bank.

Understanding Unpermitted ADUs
What Makes an ADU Illegal?
An ADU becomes illegal, or unpermitted, mainly when it’s built without the necessary permits and inspections from local authorities. These permits make sure that the building meets safety standards, fits with zoning laws, and follows building codes, which all help keep residents safe and maintain the look and feel of the community.

Why Do Some Homeowners Skip Permits?
Building an ADU with all the required permits can be expensive and time-consuming. To save money and hassle, some homeowners skip this step, hoping to rake in some quick rental cash. However, this shortcut can lead to big headaches down the road, like legal issues and problems selling the home.

What Are the Risks of Having an Unpermitted ADU?
Having an ADU without the right permits is risky. Safety-wise, if the unit isn’t built to stand up to things like earthquakes or fires, it could be dangerous for anyone living there. On the legal side, you might face fines, the possibility of having to tear the building down, and trouble getting the unit approved later on, which can mess up your finances and legal standing. Getting your ADU permitted isn’t just about following the rules—it’s also a big step towards solving the housing shortage by making sure all homes are safe and livable.

Why Legalizing Your ADU Matters
Boosting Affordable Housing
By making ADUs legal, California is taking a big step toward increasing affordable housing options. Homeowners can rent out these spaces, offering more budget-friendly living options than many traditional housing options, especially in cities where rents are skyrocketing faster than most people’s paychecks.

The Dangers of Skipping Permits
Keeping an ADU unpermitted can lead to some serious problems. Homeowners might face large fines, legal trouble, and even the risk of eviction notices for tenants. This can throw people’s lives into chaos and hit your wallet hard. Plus, if these units aren’t up to safety standards, they could be downright dangerous in an emergency.

The Upsides of Making Things Official
When you legalize an ADU, you’re making sure it meets all the local building codes, which slashes the risk of legal headaches and boosts the safety of the home. On top of that, a legal ADU can bump up your property’s value, making your home a hotter commodity if you decide to sell. Legalizing also means your rental income is on the up-and-up, giving you financial peace of mind. Understanding all this shows why it’s smart—and right—to legalize your ADU. Not only does it keep you on the right side of the law, but it also does a solid for your community by keeping standards high and ensuring everyone’s safety.

Exploring Your Options for Unpermitted ADUs
When you find out your ADU isn’t permitted, you’ve got a couple of choices on how to handle it:

Option 1: Bring It Back to the Original
• What You Need to Do: This means you have to undo any unpermitted work. For instance, turn a garage that’s been converted into a living space back into just a garage.

• Pros: This is usually faster and involves less red tape. It’s a straightforward way to fix legal issues without diving into a big remodeling project.

• Cons: The downside is you’ll miss out on extra rental income and the added value a legal ADU could bring to your property.

Option 2: Make the ADU Legal
• What You Need to Do: This path requires getting the right permits and passing inspections to make sure your ADU meets all building and safety standards. You might need to redraw your plans and make some changes to fit local zoning rules.

• Pros: Getting your ADU legalized can boost your property value, lock in legal rental income, and ensure the place is safe to live in. Plus, you’re helping ease the housing crunch by adding to the available homes in your community.

• Cons: This can be a pricey and slow process, especially if your original build didn’t follow the local codes and needs major work.

Deciding between these options should take into account your current situation, how much you can spend, and your plans for the future. While it might seem like a tough call, legalizing your ADU usually brings more benefits, helping both your wallet and your community in the long run.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your ADU Legal
Step 1: Check Out Your Current ADU
First things first, figure out what needs to change to meet local regulations. This involves:

• Understanding the Rules: Every area has its own laws for ADUs. You’ll need to talk to your local planning department to get the scoop on what’s required.

• Bringing in an Expert: It’s smart to hire someone who knows the ins and outs of local ADU laws. They can do a thorough check-up of your place and spot any big issues with things like size, height, how far it is from your property line and utilities.

Step 2: Plan Your Changes
Once you know what’s needed, it’s time to plan:

• Get Professional Help: Hire an architect or designer who’s got experience with ADUs. They can create plans that not only tick all the legal boxes but also make your space as nice and functional as possible.

• Refine Your Plans: You might have to tweak your plans a few times to get everything just right, so stay flexible.

Step 3: Get Your Plans Approved
Now, you’ll need to get the green light from the powers that be:

• Submit Your Plans: Take your detailed plans to the local building department for their approval.

• Adjust as Needed: Be ready to make changes based on their feedback. This can take a few tries, so patience is key here.

Step 4: Build It Right
Time to turn those plans into reality:

• Choose a Savvy Contractor: Make sure your contractor has experience with ADUs and knows local codes well.

• Keep an Eye on Things: Stay on top of the building process to ensure everything matches your approved plans and meets code requirements.

Step 5: Cross the Finish Line with Inspections

Almost there—just need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s:

• Line Up Inspections: You’ll need several inspections to make sure everything from the wiring to plumbing and the overall build is up to snuff.

• Secure Your Occupancy Permit: Once you pass all inspections, you’ll get an occupancy permit, which officially makes your ADU a legal living space. Getting your ADU legalized might seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, but it’s all about making sure your space is safe to live in and can be a legitimate part of your property. Hang in there—it’s worth it for the peace of mind and the benefits it brings!

Breaking Down the Costs and Financing of Legalizing Your Unpermitted ADU
Understanding the Costs
The price tag for making your ADU legal can be all over the place, depending on a few key factors:

• What Needs Fixing: Minor updates like putting in smoke detectors or updating the wiring might not set you back too much. But if you need to overhaul the structure, the costs can shoot up.

• Local Rules and Fees: The fees for permits, inspections, and sorting out any zoning issues can vary a lot depending on where you live.

Estimated Costs
You could be looking at spending anywhere from a couple of thousand bucks to over $100,000. It all depends on how much needs to change to bring your ADU up to the current building codes.

Financing the Legalization of Your Unpermitted ADU
How to Fund the Upgrades
Making your ADU legal isn’t cheap, but thankfully, there are a few ways to find the money you need:

• Renovation Loans: These are specifically for funding updates and changes needed to make your ADU meet legal standards.

• Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): If you’ve got equity in your home, a HELOC gives you a flexible way to pull funds for improvements.

• Cash-out Refinance: This option lets you refinance your existing mortgage and take out extra cash based on the equity you have in your home, perfect for big renovations.

Local Help Might Be Available
Check out if your local government offers any grants or programs aimed at helping homeowners with ADUs, especially if your upgrades will help boost affordable housing options. Levi Construction can assist you with this process.

Why It’s Worth the Investment
Sure, the initial costs can be steep, but legalizing your ADU can boost your property value and bring in regular rental income. Plus, getting legal means you dodge hefty fines and legal troubles down the road. Investing in making your ADU legit could save you a lot of money and stress later on.

Legalize ADU: Smart Investment for California Homeowners 2024  The Gila Herald

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‘Sandwich generation’: How one family built an ADU for aging parents in their yard

RALEIGH, North Carolina — It’s Friday night. Sara and Lee Stein are leaving their home to meet her mother and stepfather, Abby and Bob Millhauser, for an early dinner.

From their front door, they walk 42 steps to reach her parents’ brand-new, 940-square-foot accessory dwelling unit (ADU). It’s even less (14 steps) if they leave from the garage.

Technically, the Millhausers live in their daughter’s side yard. For most, it’d be a nonstarter. Even for those on good terms with their parents or in-laws.

Back in Los Angeles, where they’d resided for decades before moving to the North Carolina in 2021, they lived “three to four times” closer to their neighbors.

“Our houses were so close together we could hear our neighbors flush their toilets,” quipped Lee Stein, 61, a senior sales executive.

By comparison, their 1.48-acre manicured lot in unincorporated Raleigh — about a 20-minute drive from the city’s downtown — is like living on a family compound in the countryside. He’s even got his own music room to which he can retreat.

“I’ve gone days sometimes without seeing (my in-laws),” he said, smiling.

This month, their 24-year-old son, Noah, graduates from college and moves back home. They’ve also got a daughter, Maggie, 19.

“There’s going to be three generations on this property,” said Sara Stein, 59, a brand consultant. “When the kids are back, they can go have lunch or drop by the grandparents. They never had that when we were in L.A.” Multigenerational living ‘quadruples’

For years now, multigenerational living has been gaining traction.

From 1971 to 2021, the number of people living in multigenerational households quadrupled, reaching 59.7 million, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The share more than doubled as well, to 18% of the U.S. population.

Experiences vary greatly by age and income. But the surge has largely been fed by social forces, experts say, including the rapid growth of the U.S. Asian and Hispanic populations who, along with Black Americans, are more likely to live with extended family.

For many, it’s cultural. They grew up with multiple generations under one roof. Given soaring housing costs, it’s a way to share expenses. It’s also practical for caregivers of elderly parents. It can even be rewarding, some dare to say.

For people like the Steins (people ages 40 to 60, also known as the “sandwich generation”), it ticked all the boxes. They wanted to spend more time with their aging parents.

They also knew their adult children could benefit from a launching pad. Young adults, ages 25 to 29, the so-called “boomerang generation,” make up the highest share (31%) of people in multigenerational households. Compared with prior generations when they were young, this group generally stays in school longer, postpones or forgoes marriage, and delays forming their own households, the study found.

The trend is driving home sales in a sluggish market.

In 2023, multigenerational buying was back near an all-time high at 14% — up from 11% year-over-year — according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers.

It shows “no sign of peaking,” said Jessica Lautz, National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) deputy chief economist.

ADUs riding multigenerational surge

As this living arrangement gains steam, homeowners are increasingly turning to ADUs as the answer, especially in places like Raleigh where, in 2020, the city voted to allow ADUs by right; no rezoning or special district required.

Sometimes called granny flats, backyard bungalows, “casitas,” ADUs may be an apartment above the garage or in the basement. It can also be a one- or two-story standalone unit. Typically, it’s 450 to 800 square feet and has a kitchen, living area and separate entrance.

In 2020, early into the pandemic, the family’s journey began.

Many reasons drove their decision to up sticks: traffic, droughts, fires and homeless encampments had become unbearable, they said. Sara Stein’s brother already lived in Raleigh, where he and his wife worked at N.C. State University. Their daughter is also an equestrian. She had more opportunities to build her career in the Triangle, they said. “It was a natural fit,” Sara Stein said.

After looking for two months, they found their dream house: a traditional 3,671-square-foot house, built in 1991 and recently remodeled, on Alloway Court in Raleigh’s Patrick Commons subdivision.

Inside, it had a first-floor master, garden tub and two bonus rooms. Outside, it featured black shutters, red-brick accents, and a large deck that backed up onto a watershed. They also had their own well and septic tank with a perk: no city taxes.

They bought it sight unseen, Sara Stein said. “We made an offer on New Year’s Eve following a ZOOM walk-through with our Realtor,” and closed a month later.

The Steins paid $610,000, about $166 per square foot and felt like they got a steal. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom also came with some street cred. It was featured on HGTV’s reality TV rehab show, “Love It or List It,” Season 11 Episode 10: Eat, Sleep, Laundry. It’s now a family favorite. (“We watched it probably four times now,” Sara Stein said.)

Eleven days later, in separate cars, they drove cross-country (with their dogs in the back) to begin their new life in the City of Oaks.

At the time, building an ADU wasn’t part of the plan, they said.

Her parents — Abby and Robert Millhauser, both in their mid-80s — lived in Baltimore, Maryland. Apart from when her stepfather had attended Duke University (graduating in 1959), they’d live there all their lives. Married for over 52 years, they raised their blended family there. Of their five children, one remained in their hometown.

“We thought the likelihood of them leaving Baltimore didn’t exist,” Sara said. Until the Millhausers visited for Thanksgiving in 2021, and the possibility took hold. “It was like, ‘maybe we could do this,’” Sara Stein said.

The Millhausers had watched hours of HGTV shows. They were fans of tiny houses. They knew exactly what they wanted. At this stage, they preferred to live simply and, more importantly, independently. Accessibility was a priority.

They considered the city’s pre-approved plans, but quickly opted to work with their own architect. “We wanted to cut it to 1,000 square feet,” said Robert Millhauser, sitting in his compact but light-filled living room. “We’ve always wondered if we could do it. Especially me because I’m the sloppy one.”

To underscore the point, Abby Millhauser added: “I’m the organized one. I didn’t want to have to spend my time cleaning.”

In the early 1970s, the couple started their married lives in a four-story Victorian mansion. Over the years, they’d moved a handful of times, eventually downsizing to a 1,900-square-foot two-bedroom condo in Baltimore. In 2022, when they relocated to the Triangle during the building process, they squeezed themselves into a 700-square-foot rental in Cary, just to make sure “we wouldn’t kill each other.” (Spoiler: They didn’t.)

Finally, this January, they moved into their new one-story bungalow. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom features an open-floor plan with white kitchen cabinets and mid-century modern lighting. Large picture windows frame the living room where they’ve planted an inside garden of succulents and money plants.

All up, they paid $250,000 for the ADU. The Steins covered the cost to repave and extend the property’s driveway. Black-aluminum double mailboxes now reside at the top of the drive.

Unlike her husband, Sara Stein sees them every day. “It’s a treat for everybody to have this time,” she said.

The Millhausers, meanwhile, are settling into their new lives. Both have signed up for continuing education classes (native planting, 2024 election) at N.C. State; separately, Robert, who lives with Parkinson’s disease, takes boxing classes to build strength.

And every night, they watch and marvel as this year’s double brood of cicadas take over their shared backyard.

“We’ve still got a lot of landscaping to do,” Abby said and smiled, “but we’ll obviously wait until after the cicadas.”

RALEIGH, North Carolina — It’s Friday night. Sara and Lee Stein are leaving their home to meet her mother and stepfather, Abby and Bob Millhauser, for an early dinner.
From their front door, they walk 42 steps to reach her parents’ brand-new, 940-square-foot accessory dwelling unit (ADU). It’s even less (14 steps) if they leave from the garage.
Technically, the Millhausers live in their daughter’s side yard. For most, it’d be a nonstarter. Even for those on good terms with their parents or in-laws.

Back in Los Angeles, where they’d resided for decades before moving to the North Carolina in 2021, they lived “three to four times” closer to their neighbors.
“Our houses were so close together we could hear our neighbors flush their toilets,” quipped Lee Stein, 61, a senior sales executive.
By comparison, their 1.48-acre manicured lot in unincorporated Raleigh — about a 20-minute drive from the city’s downtown — is like living on a family compound in the countryside. He’s even got his own music room to which he can retreat.
“I’ve gone days sometimes without seeing (my in-laws),” he said, smiling.
This month, their 24-year-old son, Noah, graduates from college and moves back home. They’ve also got a daughter, Maggie, 19.
“There’s going to be three generations on this property,” said Sara Stein, 59, a brand consultant. “When the kids are back, they can go have lunch or drop by the grandparents. They never had that when we were in L.A.” Multigenerational living ‘quadruples’
For years now, multigenerational living has been gaining traction.
From 1971 to 2021, the number of people living in multigenerational households quadrupled, reaching 59.7 million, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The share more than doubled as well, to 18% of the U.S. population.
Experiences vary greatly by age and income. But the surge has largely been fed by social forces, experts say, including the rapid growth of the U.S. Asian and Hispanic populations who, along with Black Americans, are more likely to live with extended family.
For many, it’s cultural. They grew up with multiple generations under one roof. Given soaring housing costs, it’s a way to share expenses. It’s also practical for caregivers of elderly parents. It can even be rewarding, some dare to say.
For people like the Steins (people ages 40 to 60, also known as the “sandwich generation”), it ticked all the boxes. They wanted to spend more time with their aging parents.
They also knew their adult children could benefit from a launching pad. Young adults, ages 25 to 29, the so-called “boomerang generation,” make up the highest share (31%) of people in multigenerational households. Compared with prior generations when they were young, this group generally stays in school longer, postpones or forgoes marriage, and delays forming their own households, the study found.
The trend is driving home sales in a sluggish market.
In 2023, multigenerational buying was back near an all-time high at 14% — up from 11% year-over-year — according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers.
It shows “no sign of peaking,” said Jessica Lautz, National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) deputy chief economist.
ADUs riding multigenerational surge
As this living arrangement gains steam, homeowners are increasingly turning to ADUs as the answer, especially in places like Raleigh where, in 2020, the city voted to allow ADUs by right; no rezoning or special district required.
Sometimes called granny flats, backyard bungalows, “casitas,” ADUs may be an apartment above the garage or in the basement. It can also be a one- or two-story standalone unit. Typically, it’s 450 to 800 square feet and has a kitchen, living area and separate entrance.

In 2020, early into the pandemic, the family’s journey began.
Many reasons drove their decision to up sticks: traffic, droughts, fires and homeless encampments had become unbearable, they said. Sara Stein’s brother already lived in Raleigh, where he and his wife worked at N.C. State University. Their daughter is also an equestrian. She had more opportunities to build her career in the Triangle, they said. “It was a natural fit,” Sara Stein said.
After looking for two months, they found their dream house: a traditional 3,671-square-foot house, built in 1991 and recently remodeled, on Alloway Court in Raleigh’s Patrick Commons subdivision.
Inside, it had a first-floor master, garden tub and two bonus rooms. Outside, it featured black shutters, red-brick accents, and a large deck that backed up onto a watershed. They also had their own well and septic tank with a perk: no city taxes.
They bought it sight unseen, Sara Stein said. “We made an offer on New Year’s Eve following a ZOOM walk-through with our Realtor,” and closed a month later.
The Steins paid $610,000, about $166 per square foot and felt like they got a steal. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom also came with some street cred. It was featured on HGTV’s reality TV rehab show, “Love It or List It,” Season 11 Episode 10: Eat, Sleep, Laundry. It’s now a family favorite. (“We watched it probably four times now,” Sara Stein said.)
Eleven days later, in separate cars, they drove cross-country (with their dogs in the back) to begin their new life in the City of Oaks.
At the time, building an ADU wasn’t part of the plan, they said.
Her parents — Abby and Robert Millhauser, both in their mid-80s — lived in Baltimore, Maryland. Apart from when her stepfather had attended Duke University (graduating in 1959), they’d live there all their lives. Married for over 52 years, they raised their blended family there. Of their five children, one remained in their hometown.
“We thought the likelihood of them leaving Baltimore didn’t exist,” Sara said. Until the Millhausers visited for Thanksgiving in 2021, and the possibility took hold. “It was like, ‘maybe we could do this,’” Sara Stein said.
The Millhausers had watched hours of HGTV shows. They were fans of tiny houses. They knew exactly what they wanted. At this stage, they preferred to live simply and, more importantly, independently. Accessibility was a priority.
They considered the city’s pre-approved plans, but quickly opted to work with their own architect. “We wanted to cut it to 1,000 square feet,” said Robert Millhauser, sitting in his compact but light-filled living room. “We’ve always wondered if we could do it. Especially me because I’m the sloppy one.”
To underscore the point, Abby Millhauser added: “I’m the organized one. I didn’t want to have to spend my time cleaning.”
In the early 1970s, the couple started their married lives in a four-story Victorian mansion. Over the years, they’d moved a handful of times, eventually downsizing to a 1,900-square-foot two-bedroom condo in Baltimore. In 2022, when they relocated to the Triangle during the building process, they squeezed themselves into a 700-square-foot rental in Cary, just to make sure “we wouldn’t kill each other.” (Spoiler: They didn’t.)
Finally, this January, they moved into their new one-story bungalow. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom features an open-floor plan with white kitchen cabinets and mid-century modern lighting. Large picture windows frame the living room where they’ve planted an inside garden of succulents and money plants.
All up, they paid $250,000 for the ADU. The Steins covered the cost to repave and extend the property’s driveway. Black-aluminum double mailboxes now reside at the top of the drive.
Unlike her husband, Sara Stein sees them every day. “It’s a treat for everybody to have this time,” she said.
The Millhausers, meanwhile, are settling into their new lives. Both have signed up for continuing education classes (native planting, 2024 election) at N.C. State; separately, Robert, who lives with Parkinson’s disease, takes boxing classes to build strength.
And every night, they watch and marvel as this year’s double brood of cicadas take over their shared backyard.
“We’ve still got a lot of landscaping to do,” Abby said and smiled, “but we’ll obviously wait until after the cicadas.”

‘Sandwich generation’: How one family built an ADU for aging parents in their yard  NNY360

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Milpitas launches Preapproved ADU Program

Easing the ADU process

Milpitas homeowners looking to build a detached accessory dwelling unit (ADU) can avail themselves on a new program designed to speed up the permitting process.

The Preapproved ADU Program offers standard construction plan sets designed by qualified professionals and pre-approved by the city. The city’s webpage at https://www.milpitas.gov/1247/Pre-Approved-ADU-Program details the project sites that do or do not qualify for the program and will eventually house a list of preapproved ADU plans for homeowners to peruse. Designers can submit applications for preapproval of ADU plans via the webpage.

Social transit hub

A new social media outlet launched this month to keep Bay Area transit riders informed and engaged.

The Discord Project will be housing service alerts from most of the major Bay Area transit agencies, including Valley Transportation Authority, Caltrain, BART, SamTrans AC Transit, and the San Francisco Bay Ferry. All participating agencies will have representatives active on the platform to engage with their respective riders.

An events tab will list both in-person and virtual events from each agency so people can ask questions and coordinate with other transit agencies. Users can learn about and RSVP for events, and keep abreast of developments throughout the Bay Area’s transit systems. Additionally, the server allows transit users to interact with one another, share photos and discuss transit policy.

Later this year, plans are to introduce a feature that auto-populates press releases and blog posts from each participating agency.

Over 1,200 people signed up for the Discord Project in the first 48 hours after it launched on May 11. To join the platform, visit https://discord.com/invite/bayareatransit.

Easing the ADU process
Milpitas homeowners looking to build a detached accessory dwelling unit (ADU) can avail themselves on a new program designed to speed up the permitting process.

The Preapproved ADU Program offers standard construction plan sets designed by qualified professionals and pre-approved by the city. The city’s webpage at https://www.milpitas.gov/1247/Pre-Approved-ADU-Program details the project sites that do or do not qualify for the program and will eventually house a list of preapproved ADU plans for homeowners to peruse. Designers can submit applications for preapproval of ADU plans via the webpage.

Social transit hub
A new social media outlet launched this month to keep Bay Area transit riders informed and engaged.

The Discord Project will be housing service alerts from most of the major Bay Area transit agencies, including Valley Transportation Authority, Caltrain, BART, SamTrans AC Transit, and the San Francisco Bay Ferry. All participating agencies will have representatives active on the platform to engage with their respective riders.

An events tab will list both in-person and virtual events from each agency so people can ask questions and coordinate with other transit agencies. Users can learn about and RSVP for events, and keep abreast of developments throughout the Bay Area’s transit systems. Additionally, the server allows transit users to interact with one another, share photos and discuss transit policy.

Later this year, plans are to introduce a feature that auto-populates press releases and blog posts from each participating agency.

Over 1,200 people signed up for the Discord Project in the first 48 hours after it launched on May 11. To join the platform, visit https://discord.com/invite/bayareatransit.

Milpitas launches Preapproved ADU Program  The Mercury News

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Berkeley Could Allow Homeowners to Sell ADUs as Condos

Berkeley could become the state’s first city to allow homeowners to sell their backyard granny flats as condominiums, based on a new state law.

The City Council ordered staff to craft an ordinance authorizing the sales of accessory dwelling units or ADUs, based on Assembly Bill 1033, enacted this year, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

AB 1033, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, allows cities to let residents sell ADUs as condos separate from their primary home.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people to buy their first home that’s relatively affordable and get their piece of the California dream,” Ting said.

Berkeley looks to be the first city to opt in to AB 1033, Louis Mirante, vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council, a business-backed advocacy group that sponsored the law, told the Business Times. It was also designated by the state last month as a “pro-housing city.”

San Jose may also implement the law. The City Council asked planning officials in December to bring them options for opting into AB 1033, with staff slated to present recommendations in June.

Berkeley Councilwoman Rashi Kesarwani, who led the city’s push to adopt AB1033, said she expects the ordinance legalizing ADU sales to come before the City Council “within a year.”

She sees teachers, nurses and other healthcare workers in the market to buy 500-square-foot homes in Berkeley, where the typical home ihs a value of nearly $1.5 million, according to Zillow.

Parents could also transfer an ADU-turned-condo to their adult children, allowing them to build equity.

“Housing costs have grown so high, so rapidly that the shortage of homes … it affects everyone, now, regardless of income,” Kesarwani told the Business Times.

Some 410 ADUs were built in Berkeley from 2019 to 2023, including 90 last year, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. San Jose built 1,310 ADUs since 2019, including 330 last year.

Granny flat construction has exploded in California, with nearly one in five homes built being as an ADU, according to the state housing department, and new laws make it easier to build the units.

Though lawmakers have pushed ADUs as a partial solution to the state’s housing crisis, not everyone will be able to use AB 1033 even if their city implements it. Building an ADU can be expensive for lower- and middle-income homeowners.

The new law also requires a homeowner who’s part of an existing homeowners association to get permission from the HOA before converting the ADU into a condo.

AB 1033 also raised questions among real estate brokers, who asked if they would be treated as single-family homes, or with a tenant-in-common agreement, where two or more parties share ownership of a property, according to The Real Deal.

— Dana Bartholomew

Berkeley could become the state’s first city to allow homeowners to sell their backyard granny flats as condominiums, based on a new state law.
The City Council ordered staff to craft an ordinance authorizing the sales of accessory dwelling units or ADUs, based on Assembly Bill 1033, enacted this year, the San Francisco Business Times reported.
AB 1033, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, allows cities to let residents sell ADUs as condos separate from their primary home.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for people to buy their first home that’s relatively affordable and get their piece of the California dream,” Ting said.
Berkeley looks to be the first city to opt in to AB 1033, Louis Mirante, vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council, a business-backed advocacy group that sponsored the law, told the Business Times. It was also designated by the state last month as a “pro-housing city.”
San Jose may also implement the law. The City Council asked planning officials in December to bring them options for opting into AB 1033, with staff slated to present recommendations in June.
Berkeley Councilwoman Rashi Kesarwani, who led the city’s push to adopt AB1033, said she expects the ordinance legalizing ADU sales to come before the City Council “within a year.”
She sees teachers, nurses and other healthcare workers in the market to buy 500-square-foot homes in Berkeley, where the typical home ihs a value of nearly $1.5 million, according to Zillow.
Parents could also transfer an ADU-turned-condo to their adult children, allowing them to build equity.
“Housing costs have grown so high, so rapidly that the shortage of homes … it affects everyone, now, regardless of income,” Kesarwani told the Business Times.
Some 410 ADUs were built in Berkeley from 2019 to 2023, including 90 last year, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. San Jose built 1,310 ADUs since 2019, including 330 last year.
Granny flat construction has exploded in California, with nearly one in five homes built being as an ADU, according to the state housing department, and new laws make it easier to build the units.
Though lawmakers have pushed ADUs as a partial solution to the state’s housing crisis, not everyone will be able to use AB 1033 even if their city implements it. Building an ADU can be expensive for lower- and middle-income homeowners.
The new law also requires a homeowner who’s part of an existing homeowners association to get permission from the HOA before converting the ADU into a condo.
AB 1033 also raised questions among real estate brokers, who asked if they would be treated as single-family homes, or with a tenant-in-common agreement, where two or more parties share ownership of a property, according to The Real Deal.
— Dana Bartholomew
Berkeley Could Allow Homeowners to Sell ADUs as Condos  The Real Deal

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Preapproved ADU Program for City of Santa Barbara

NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS

The City of Santa Barbara is pleased to announce it is now accepting submissions for designer-owned preapproved plans for detached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). These plans will be considered for preapproval by the City, with the goals of speeding up the review and approval process, guiding homeowners who may not know where to start, and ensuring that those homeowners work with qualified, experienced professionals. For more information on how to apply, please read the “For Designers” section below.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: JULY 1, 2024

WHAT ARE PREAPPROVED PLANS?
Preapproved plans are ADU designs submitted by designers, architects, builders, and other qualified professionals and vetted in advance by Planning and Building & Safety. Once preapproved, they can be selected for use by homeowners for their own ADU projects with an expedited review timeline and lower permitting costs.

FOR DESIGNERS
Having your ADU plans preapproved by the City is a great way to help your future clients move through the permitting process quickly and smoothly. All preapproved ADU plans will be featured on the City’s website to help connect you with homeowners who are interested in adding an ADU to their property. You will still retain your copyright to the preapproved design, so any homeowner who wishes to use the design must contract with you to do so.

FOR HOMEOWNERS
Available in January 2025 – the City will launch the Preapproved ADU Program for homeowners to use. Homeowners can then reach out to the designer of the plan they select and work with them throughout the process. Browse the City’s list below – New plans coming soon!

How to Apply for a Building Permit
Preapproval does not mean that the designs already have their building permits, but rather that elements of the permitting process for your ADU will already be addressed upon application submittal. Pre-approved plans are around 70-80% complete but you will still be required to provide site-specific information. To use a preapproved ADU plan, you must:

  1. Contract with the designer responsible for the plan set.
  2. Submit additional site-specific plans, studies, and engineering, as applicable.
  3. Obtain a building permit from the Building & Safety Division for the construction of a preapproved ADU. The full list of submittal requirements for a building permit are included below.

New plans coming soon!

Learn more at https://santabarbaraca.gov/preapproved-adu

NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS
The City of Santa Barbara is pleased to announce it is now accepting submissions for designer-owned preapproved plans for detached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). These plans will be considered for preapproval by the City, with the goals of speeding up the review and approval process, guiding homeowners who may not know where to start, and ensuring that those homeowners work with qualified, experienced professionals. For more information on how to apply, please read the “For Designers” section below.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: JULY 1, 2024

WHAT ARE PREAPPROVED PLANS?
Preapproved plans are ADU designs submitted by designers, architects, builders, and other qualified professionals and vetted in advance by Planning and Building & Safety. Once preapproved, they can be selected for use by homeowners for their own ADU projects with an expedited review timeline and lower permitting costs.

FOR DESIGNERS
Having your ADU plans preapproved by the City is a great way to help your future clients move through the permitting process quickly and smoothly. All preapproved ADU plans will be featured on the City’s website to help connect you with homeowners who are interested in adding an ADU to their property. You will still retain your copyright to the preapproved design, so any homeowner who wishes to use the design must contract with you to do so.

FOR HOMEOWNERS
Available in January 2025 – the City will launch the Preapproved ADU Program for homeowners to use. Homeowners can then reach out to the designer of the plan they select and work with them throughout the process. Browse the City’s list below – New plans coming soon!

How to Apply for a Building Permit
Preapproval does not mean that the designs already have their building permits, but rather that elements of the permitting process for your ADU will already be addressed upon application submittal. Pre-approved plans are around 70-80% complete but you will still be required to provide site-specific information. To use a preapproved ADU plan, you must:

Contract with the designer responsible for the plan set.
Submit additional site-specific plans, studies, and engineering, as applicable.
Obtain a building permit from the Building & Safety Division for the construction of a preapproved ADU. The full list of submittal requirements for a building permit are included below.
New plans coming soon!

Learn more at https://santabarbaraca.gov/preapproved-adu

Preapproved ADU Program for City of Santa Barbara  Santa Barbara Edhat

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