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Maximizing Your Stand-Alone ADU A Guide to Detached ADU

Detached ADUs (or detached accessory dwelling units) are becoming a popular choice for homeowners as they provide an opportunity to have a full-sized home with multiple bedrooms, two bathrooms, and lots of living space, which is up to 1200 square feet. This size is considered large enough for most cities in California. However, you can still build smaller units if desired. One example is a San Diego ADU that has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The property owner rents it out to college students and earns passive income each month. Detached ADUs have many advantages and it’s important to optimize the unit before designing it and hire the right professionals to complete the project.

Somethings To Consider While Designing Detached ADU

When designing a detached ADU, it’s important to keep in mind that the unit will likely serve multiple purposes over time. Many homeowners who originally used their ADU as a home office find themselves renting it out as a vacation rental for extra income. It may also be used as a temporary residence for a family member. To make the most of your detached ADU, it’s a good idea to design it with flexibility in mind from the start. This will allow the unit to adapt to different needs and uses over time, making it a valuable asset for homeowners.

1-  Privacy

When building a detached ADU, consider privacy. Plan doors and windows for future renters. Maintain privacy for all.

2-  Storage

When building a detached ADU, it’s important to keep in mind the need for storage and laundry facilities. It is recommended to provide ample storage space in the unit and to include a washer/dryer combo in the layout. If a common area outside the unit is not available, it is suggested to install it inside the ADU. A washer/dryer that fits under the kitchen counter is an ideal option for a space-saving solution.

3-  Universal Design

Universal design is the principle of designing spaces that can be used by all ages and abilities, it is important when building detached ADU to ensure accessibility and suitability for all occupants, regardless of their age and abilities.

4-  Solar Panels

When designing a detached ADU, it’s important to keep solar in mind and use energy-efficient equipment, such as electric appliances, an electric tankless water heater, and a mini-split HVAC system to save money and decrease carbon footprint.

5-  Patio or Private Yard

Consider adding a private yard or patio even if small. It’s a desirable addition for guests and long-term renters and can be screened from the main house to provide privacy and outdoor living space.

Size Of A Detached ADU

California ADU law sets a maximum size limit of 1200 sq ft for detached ADUs but allows cities to impose some size restrictions. Regardless of the ordinance, a one-bedroom ADU must be at least 850 sq ft and an ADU with two or more bedrooms must be at least 1000 sq ft. Even if the ADU does not comply with development codes, the minimum size requirement is 800 sq ft. In summary, the size limits of ADUs are determined by California state law and local jurisdiction’s ordinance, with a maximum limit of 1200 sq ft and a minimum limit of 800 sq ft.

Bedrooms In Your Detached ADU

When building a detached ADU to generate rental income, the number of bedrooms is a key factor that determines the market rate. According to California’s regulations, a bedroom must have a minimum of 70 sq ft and 7 ft in height, it must also have a window for an emergency exit. Having an extra bedroom in a large detached ADU can significantly increase the monthly rental income. Note that the size of the bedroom does not matter as long as it meets the legal requirement.

Below 750 sq feet

In California, building a detached ADU under 750 sq ft does not require Development and Impact (D&I) fees. Going over 750 sq ft still requires payment of D&I fees proportional to the primary residence’s fees. The fees can be as high as $10,000 or more depending on location. To avoid high D&I fees, it’s advisable to keep the ADU under 750 sq ft.

Detached ADUs Are Better

Detached ADUs increase property value by 20-30% more than other ADUs due to larger size and privacy/customization options. Building over the garage is expensive and garage conversions decrease property value.

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