Popularly called granny flats, backyard studios or cottages, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are typically only 250 to 1,200 square feet. To be considered an ADU they must have a kitchen or kitchenette and include a bathroom and sleeping area. Adult children of seniors find that these backyard dwellings are an affordable solution for parents to age in place. Some homeowners also use these spaces for affordable rental units, providing additional income to help make ends meet.

Meeting the Demand for New Homes

The state of California recognized ADUs as a solution to the current housing crisis only recently and has updated laws to make it even easier and less expensive for homeowners to build ADUs. This acknowledgement from the state is leading to a noticeable increase in the number of granny flats being built.

Following the 2017 fire the city of Santa Rosa’s planning department moved quickly to reduce permitting fees which also made it easier for people to build ADUs. This is helping to spur an increase in ADU development. Since then, the number of homeowners building ADUs in Santa Rosa went from 7 per year to 197 per year. More than 80 ADUs have been added on to plans for properties destroyed in the fire.

Granny Flats a Popular Building Option

Realtors report a demand for homes in Sonoma County, outpacing the available inventory on the market. This is driving up prices. This also makes an opportune time for homeowners considering building an ADU and to begin making plans for their new construction project. Typically, when home values rise, it becomes much easier for homeowners to borrow money to finance the building of an ADU.

The enthusiasm homeowners have for ADU’s, granny flats and backyard studies combined with the current rental shortage makes this an excellent time to think about getting onboard the income-generating accessory dwelling movement. Whether as a rental, providing for a returning college student or looking for a way for an elderly relative age in place ADU’s make a good investment for Sonoma County residents.

Benefits to Building an ADU

Regardless of the reason or purpose, there are many benefits to having a dedicated space in your backyard. Making it happen on your property requires a certain amount of effort, and research. The first step might be to call your local building department. Smaller structures may be allowed without a permit and can easily accommodate a small office or studio space. When it is possible to build something larger that will most likely require a building permit. With a permit in hand, remaining considerations are typically setback requirements, which vary by city, and HOA approvals.

Spaces without plumbing are obviously easier to plan (but wouldn’t be considered ADU’s), build and complete, while a larger accessory dwelling unit with a kitchen and a bathroom (ADU’s) requires building inspections and help from various tradespeople, but the long-term benefits of the added space will make it all worthwhile.

If you are interested in exploring your options for building a backyard ADU, Ron Nelson Builders & Consultants is here to make your project successful. We are dedicated to maintaining the highest level of honesty, integrity, professionalism, and attention to detail for every project and every client. Call us today at 707-955-6866 to get started.