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What is an ADU?

Recently, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have been featured frequently in the media, particularly in news about affordable housing options. ADUs (also known as in-law suites, granny flats, and many other nicknames) have been gaining popularity in recent years, and as of this year, the State of California has lifted some of the former restrictions on building them. So what’s the big deal? What are they, and why are people talking about them?

The many faces of an ADU

Put simply, ADUs are secondary units built on a single family zoned lot. TRANSLATION: plots that are owned by single families can build a secondary unit (either attached to the house, or separate) which can house an entirely new family. These units share an address with the original home, but have a separate entrance and usually separate facilities, including a kitchen and bathroom.

ADUs come in several different forms. They can be:

  • Detached: These units are entirely separate from the main house. They have their own entrance, bathroom, and can be as large as the budget and/or plot size allows.

  • Attached: These ADUs look like a new addition placed on the home. They have a seperate entrance, but share a wall with the main unit. These are required to match the architectural design of the original home.