15-POINT PROPERTY CHECKLIST: THE NOVICE'S GUIDE TO ADUs IN THE UNITED STATES
Interested in building an ADU on your property? There are plenty of benefits to adding this type of structure to your real estate, including the ability to live off-the-grid. If you're new at this entire process and want help to start the ball rolling, then read on for a list of things that you should do before beginning work on your project!
What is an ADU?
An ADU, also known as an "accessory dwelling unit," is a small structure that can be attached to or separate from a primary residence. This type of housing is becoming increasingly popular throughout the United States, as it offers property owners a way to earn rental income, create more living space, and add value to their home.
Types of ADUs
There are three primary types of ADUs: attached, detached, and basement. Attached ADUs are those that are physically attached to the main house, such as a garage conversion or a structure built onto the side of the home. Detached ADUs are standalone structures that are not connected to the primary residence in any way. Basement ADUs are, as the name suggests, located in the basement of the primary home.
15-POINT ADU CHECKLIST: GETTING STARTED
Now that you know a little more about ADUs, it's time to start planning your own project! Here is a checklist of things to consider before getting started:
- MAKE SURE YOU ARE LEGALLY ALLOWED TO BUILD AN ADU ON YOUR PROPERTY
Not all properties are suitable for ADUs, so it's important to check with your local municipality before you get too far into the planning stages. Sometimes, you may need to get a special permit in order to build an ADU on your land.
- DETERMINE IF YOUR PROPERTY HAS THE NECESSARY INFRASTRUCTURE
Your property will need access to water, sewer, and electricity in order to support an ADU. If your home is not currently connected to these utilities, you will need to make arrangements for them prior to construction.
- FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH SPACE YOU'LL NEED
ADUs can come in all shapes and sizes, but they typically range from 150 to 400 square feet. Make sure you have enough room on your property to accommodate the structure!
- DESIGN YOUR ADU
This is a fun step, but it's important to remember that your ADU must comply with local zoning regulations. So be sure to consult with your municipality before you get too carried away with designing your dream home-away-from-home.
- CONDUCT PERIMETER DRAINAGE STUDIES
If you're building an ADU on a slope, you'll need to make sure that proper drainage channels have been installed to carry away rainfall. These channels will be located around the foundation of your structure, so they can't be covered up as part of the project.
- DO A SITE ANALYSIS TO DETERMINE APPROPRIATE MATERIALS FOR THE CRAWL SPACE
In addition to drainage channels, your crawl space should also have a vapor barrier and insulation in order to protect your home from moisture damage and heat loss. You'll need a well-sealed space for this type of construction to work effectively, so make sure you build it according to local codes!
- REALIZE THAT YOU CAN'T BUILD ON SLOPES OF OVER 20%
This is just a precaution, but it's important that you don't build on slopes of over 20% in order to reduce the chance of property damage during heavy rainstorms.
- SELECT AN APPROPRIATE FOUNDATION METHOD
There are a few different foundation methods that can be used for ADUs, so consult with a local contractor to see what the best option for your property would be. You may need to install pilings if your soil is unstable.
- PREPARE FOR A LONG AND COMPLICATED PROJECT
ADU projects can be complicated and time-consuming (and more than a little frustrating). So be ready to allocate ample time and resources, as well as proper risk management strategies, in order to ensure the best possible outcome for your project.
- CREATE A SCHEDULE FOR YOUR BUILDING PERMITS THAT TAKES INTO ACCOUNT ALL APPLICATION DEADLINES, INSPECTION REQUESTS, ETC.
As a general rule, allow for about six weeks of lead time to get all necessary building permits. However, this timeframe will be shorter if your municipality is well-equipped to deal with ADU projects, and it'll be longer if they aren't prepared at the moment. It's important that you leave yourself plenty of time to complete everything before starting construction!
- DON'T RELY ON EXPERIENCE OR A PASSIVE ATTITUDE
It takes hard work and dedication to build an ADU these days — don't forget that! You may think that hiring help or waiting for the project to come together by itself is the best way forward, but these methods can make it harder to complete the project successfully. So be sure you have enough experience, time, and motivation before proceeding with an ADU!
- BE SURE TO GET THE FACTS BEFORE YOU START BUILDING
It's important that you take the time to find out about local regulations before building any type of structure. You should also avoid digging into your foundation until you're sure that everything is allowed in your municipality, including building permits for ADUs. Use proper zoning codes when designing your home-away-from-home so that it complies with all local regulations!
- MODULES ARE A GREAT OPTION FOR MANY STRUCTURES OTHER THAN JUST ADUS...
ADUs are just one type of structure that can benefit from the use of prefabricated modules. You'll want to consider this option when designing your project so that it goes smoothly and according to plan! See www.HonorBuiltHome.com for more information.
- MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE REGULATIONS FOR YOUR CITY, COUNTY, OR STATE BEFORE BUILDING AN ADU
Since every city and county has its own regulations for ADUs (and because these laws change quickly!), you should always make sure you know what's required before starting construction. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a legal bind later!
- BE SURE TO KEEP ALL RECEIPTS AND DOCUMENTS FOR EVERY STEP OF THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESS IN A SAFE PLACE
This may seem like common sense, but it's always a good idea to have all of your construction-related paperwork in order, just in case you need to refer to it later on. Plus, this will make the entire process go more smoothly if you ever have to file for a building permit or complete an inspection!
By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to completing a successful ADU project! Remember, always consult with your local municipality before starting construction in order to avoid any legal issues. And be sure to keep track of all related receipts and documents so that the entire process is easier to navigate down the road. Have fun with your new home-away-from-home!