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6 Questions To Ask Before Constructing An ADU

Being a homeowner, extending your property and adding to its value would matter to you. The idea of constructing an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) on your property can be appealing in this context. Essentially, an ADU is a residential unit built along with your main dwelling on the same lot. Also known as granny flats, these small units can bring big benefits for homeowners. You can invest in them today and create rental income for the entire life. What about using one for accommodating older children or aging parents? They will love it because of the independence and privacy they get, even while living close to you.

Exciting as the idea of building ADU sounds, you cannot expect it to be a piece of cake. There is much that you need to bear in mind before you go ahead with building one on your property. From the state regulations to its architectural design, cost and timelines of construction, there is much that you need to understand and plan properly before starting. Here is a list of questions that every homeowner should ask before constructing an ADU.

Is your property eligible for an ADU?

Even before you start thinking about building an ADU in your backyard, you need to know whether you are eligible for it in the first place. Find out about the local development standards because you will definitely have to adhere to them. To start with, there will be norms related to the density which refers to the permissible number of units on a property. Also, check out the regulations related to the maximum height of the new buildings in the area. Further, there may be regulations related to the distance between the main dwelling and ADU, which is important from the fire safety perspective.

How well do you understand the site conditions?

Apart from the regulatory requirements, site conditions are another aspect that you cannot overlook while investing in ADU construction. There are several factors that you need to consider in this context. Is the construction site flat or sloped? Is the soil in the area undisturbed or has it been filled in the past? Does the rainwater pool in the area? You need to discuss all these points with the contractor to ensure that they come up with a viable design that addresses all these facts. For example, you will need a strong foundation for the ADU structure if it is to be built on a slope. Your specific requirements will matter as well. Obviously, you will need a design that matches the mobility needs of older people if you plan to use the ADU for your aged parents.

Why do you want to construct an ADU?

Once you are sorted out with the local eligibility regulations and site conditions, you need to know the reason why you want to invest in an ADU. A majority of people do it for additional long-term income for rentals. You may also want to build it if you have a large family and require additional space to accommodate everyone comfortably. Additionally, constructing an ADU is a smart way to enhance the value of your property. Mike Johnson from says that the small house market has seen year over year growth for the last 12 years straight. By having an ADU even in a small area, you can leverage the property boom and sell at a high rate at present or in the future.

What is your budget for the construction?

Like any other home improvement project, ADU construction also comes with a price tag. You shouldn’t expect it to be a small one just because this is an ancillary unit. You still have to build bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen even in this limited area. Moreover, there will be expenses related to fees, permits and additional services as well. So the next question that you need to ask is about the budget. Discuss the estimates with your contractor and see whether it fits your budget. It is equally important to have your finances sorted out right at the beginning of the project. After all, you wouldn’t want to run out of cash before the completion of the unit.

Is your ADU project feasible enough?

Another aspect that you cannot ignore before you start with the ADU construction is the feasibility of the project. Ideally, you should get a professional feasibility review even before you start with it. It relates to understanding whether it really makes sense to go ahead with the project in the first place. You need to review aspects such as the financial and regulatory implications of the projects. Will it make you enough money through future rentals to cover up the cost of construction? Are your parents or children willing to live in the ADU? Are there any chances of getting in a fix with the state laws related to ADU construction? A thorough consideration of all these aspects is vital if you want the project to sail smoothly.

Is your contractor experienced enough?

Perhaps the most important question while building an ADU relates to the choice of the right contractor. Since this project differs from regular home construction, look for someone who has experience in building ADUs. This ensures that you have someone who knows all about the state regulations and design norms for ADUs. Ask them about the ones they have built and even insist on having a look at them to get a fair idea of their expertise. You may even ask for referrals from friends, neighbors or colleagues who have invested in ADU construction. Finding the right contractor for building an ADU on your property can reduce the stress and hassles for you.

Asking these questions and discussing these points with your contractor right at the start is important. Even though you may believe that building this small unit is an easy job, it can be much complicated. Also, you must ensure that you do everything right because it is a considerable investment. Moreover, it can add to the value of your home, which means that it deserves good thinking and attention.

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