What is an ADU?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a secondary housing unit that exists on the same property as a primary residence. ADUs, also known as granny flats or in-law units, have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their numerous benefits. These self-contained units provide homeowners with additional living space, while also offering the potential for rental income or accommodating aging family members. ADUs can take various forms, including detached structures, additions to existing homes, or conversions of existing spaces such as garages or basements.

Benefits of Building an ADU

Building an ADU offers a range of benefits to homeowners. One of the primary advantages is the potential for additional rental income. By renting out the ADU, homeowners can generate a steady stream of revenue and offset mortgage payments or other expenses. ADUs also provide a flexible housing option for extended family members or guests, allowing for privacy and independence while still being close to the main residence. Moreover, ADUs can significantly increase the value of a property, making it a wise investment in the long run.

ADU Design Considerations

When designing an ADU, it is important to consider several factors to ensure an optimal living space. First and foremost, the size and layout of the unit should be carefully planned to maximize functionality and comfort. Open floor plans and multi-purpose spaces can help create a sense of spaciousness and versatility. Additionally, incorporating ample storage solutions and efficient use of natural light can enhance the overall livability of the ADU. It is also crucial to consider the specific needs and preferences of potential occupants, such as accessibility features for elderly or disabled individuals.

ADU Construction Process

The construction process of an ADU involves several stages, starting with thorough planning and design. It is essential to engage the services of an experienced architect or designer who specializes in ADU construction. They will work closely with homeowners to develop detailed blueprints and ensure compliance with local building codes and regulations. Once the design is finalized, the construction phase begins, which involves obtaining necessary permits, hiring contractors, and overseeing the building process. It is advisable to select reputable contractors with a proven track record in ADU construction to ensure high-quality workmanship and timely completion of the project.

Maximizing Space in Your ADU

To make the most of the available space in an ADU, it is crucial to employ clever design strategies. One effective approach is to utilize multifunctional furniture and storage solutions that can serve multiple purposes. For example, a sofa bed or a Murphy bed can provide a comfortable seating area during the day and a sleeping space at night. Additionally, incorporating built-in shelving, closets, and cabinets can help maximize storage while keeping the unit organized and clutter-free. Furthermore, utilizing vertical space by installing high ceilings or loft areas can create an illusion of spaciousness and provide additional storage or living space.

Design Tips for an Efficient and Functional ADU

Designing an ADU with efficiency and functionality in mind is essential to create a comfortable living environment. One key aspect to consider is the use of energy-efficient appliances and fixtures, which can help reduce utility costs and minimize the environmental impact. Additionally, incorporating sustainable materials and utilizing natural ventilation and lighting can contribute to a healthier and more eco-friendly living space. Another important consideration is the effective use of space through thoughtful layout and circulation. Designing the ADU to allow for easy movement and accessibility can enhance the overall functionality and user experience.

ADU Building Regulations and Permits

Before embarking on an ADU construction project, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the local building regulations and permit requirements. ADU regulations can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another, so it is essential to consult with local authorities or hire professionals who are knowledgeable in ADU construction. Some common regulations include restrictions on the size and height of ADUs, setback requirements, parking provisions, and utility connections. By understanding and complying with these regulations, homeowners can avoid costly delays and ensure a smooth construction process.

Hiring Professionals for ADU Design and Construction

Given the complexity of ADU design and construction, it is highly recommended to hire professionals who specialize in this field. Architects, designers, and contractors with experience in ADU construction can provide valuable insights and expertise throughout the entire process. They can help homeowners navigate through the design phase, obtain necessary permits, and manage the construction project effectively. Working with professionals ensures that the ADU is built to code, meets the specific needs of the homeowners, and is completed within the allocated budget and timeline.

ADU Design Build Companies

For homeowners seeking a streamlined approach to ADU design and construction, engaging the services of a design-build company can be advantageous. These companies offer an integrated solution, combining architectural design, engineering, and construction services under one roof. By working with a design-build company, homeowners can benefit from a collaborative and efficient process, as all aspects of the project are coordinated and managed by a single team. Design-build companies often have extensive experience in ADU construction and can provide tailored solutions that meet the unique requirements of each homeowner.

Adding Value to Your Property with an ADU

In addition to the immediate benefits of extra space and potential rental income, building an ADU can significantly increase the value of a property. ADUs are highly sought after in many real estate markets, as they offer versatile housing options and potential investment opportunities. By adding an ADU to your property, you can attract a wider pool of potential buyers and command a higher selling price. Moreover, the presence of an ADU can enhance the overall appeal and desirability of the property, making it more attractive to both homeowners and investors.


Building an ADU can be a highly rewarding endeavor, providing homeowners with additional living space, rental income, and increased property value. However, successful ADU design and construction require careful planning, compliance with regulations, and the expertise of professionals. By following the expert tips outlined in this guide, homeowners can create functional and efficient ADUs that maximize space and value. Whether it is a detached structure, an addition to an existing home, or a conversion of an underutilized space, an ADU can offer a wealth of benefits for homeowners and occupants alike. To get started on your ADU project, contact ADU West Coast today.

Cameron Meredith

Founder/Owner + Operator (Director) of ADU West Coast, a full-service ADU design + build construction firm headquartered in Seal Beach, CA. I help investors and homeowners in Orange County & Los Angeles maximize their property value + generate rental income or house family members by building high-quality, affordable ADUs. I am a licensed general contractor with a diverse background in ADU consulting, project management, city submittals, ADU design, and construction management, I am uniquely qualified to guide clients through the entire ADU process from start to finish.