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Things You Must Consider Before Building an ADU


Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a great opportunity for homeowners to add space to their property and receive supplemental income from the rental. From tiny homes and granny flats to luxurious studios and guest houses, creating an ADU is an ideal way to customize and expand your living space without sacrificing the beauty of your property. 

You can create a beautiful and functional ADU with a careful selection of materials and finishes. Not only can your ADU generate a valuable source of income, but it can also serve as a welcoming, comfortable place to stay for family and friends. When it comes to designing an ADU, the opportunities are seemingly limitless. The benefits of doing so can be immense.

However, before you dive in and start building an ADU, you must consider several key points to ensure a smooth process and rewarding results. Below are our top ten tips to keep in mind.

1. Current Layout & Design of Home

The current layout and design of a suitable home for building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) need to be carefully considered. Through careful planning and research, any homeowner can create a functional, aesthetically pleasing ADU that meets individual needs. The best design for the property will be determined by the size and shape of the land, the number of people living in the main home, and the amenities desired for the accessory dwelling unit.

Before beginning the design process, it is essential to determine the purpose of the ADU and the type of living space desired. An ADU can be used for various purposes, such as a rental unit, a home office, or a place for a family member to live. Each goal requires different considerations in terms of space, amenities, and styling. Researching and planning are important to ensure that the ADU is a practical, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing space.

2. Level of Privacy Desired


Privacy is crucial when building an ADU, as it will be an extension of your home and lifestyle. 

While the ADU is usually located on the same property as the primary residence, it often has its own separate entrance, courtyard, or other space that can provide occupants with a sense of privacy and independence. Depending on the location of the ADU, where it is situated to the primary residence, and other factors, such as the topography and the existing landscape, the ADU’s privacy level can vary substantially.

It’s important to keep privacy in mind when making decisions. In some cases, this may mean making adjustments. For instance, avoid having a tenant in a shared wall situation. If so, it’s important to consider this when making decisions.

Here are some simple things that can be done in the planning phase to ensure the ADU is private:

  • Landscaping design and placement
  • Incorporate tall fences or walls
  • Install window coverings
  • Plant trees or shrubs for natural privacy
  • Install outdoor lighting for security
  • Limit the number of entry points
  • Use door sounds to discourage unwanted visits
  • Install CCTV cameras

Occupants and visitors can ensure their safety and privacy by implementing proper measures to guarantee maximum security.

3. Local Zoning Regulations

When constructing an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), local zoning regulations can vary greatly. Before beginning such a project, it is important to research and understand the local zoning and building codes, as well as any other regulations that may impact the construction and occupancy of the ADU.

In some areas, ADUs may be subject to additional regulations or restrictions. This can include other permits or fees that must be obtained before construction begins. It is essential to be mindful of any factors which may impact the dimensions, positioning, or application of the ADU.

For example, some localities may have regulations limiting the size of an ADU or require that the ADU is located a certain distance from the primary residence.

Suppose you plan to use your Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) as a rental property or live in it yourself. In that case, it is important to note that building permits and inspections are likely required for new construction. It is advisable to consult with your local authorities to ensure you meet all the requirements.

4. Cost of Construction


The construction cost for building an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) is a major factor to consider when planning such a project. These costs may vary significantly depending on the size, materials, labor, and local regulations.

Generally, the cost of constructing an ADU is higher than building a traditional single-family home since ADUs are typically made with the utmost attention to detail and luxury. From custom finishes and materials to the highest quality fixtures and appliances, ADUs are designed to provide the highest level of comfort and convenience, often with amenities that are not common to standard single-family homes.

This quality level significantly adds to the construction cost. It assures ADU owners that their investment will be worthwhile and provide them with a comfortable and stylish home for many years.

5. Size and Functionality of ADU

Whether you’re looking to add ample, luxurious living space to your property or a more minor, more modest addition, you’ll want to consider the size and functionality of your ADU to ensure it fits your needs. 

Larger ADUs can easily accommodate multiple bedrooms, full bathrooms, and a kitchen, while smaller units can provide more limited amenities — but with the same level of sophistication and luxury. 

ADUs offer a unique opportunity to customize a space to your exact needs and budget. Whether it’s for hosting get-togethers with family and friends or simply having a comfortable place to unwind after a long day, you can create the perfect atmosphere with the wide range of available features.

6. Availability of Utilities


When creating a luxurious living experience, utilities are the foundation. There are several options for building an ADU. Every detail is taken into account, from reliable electricity and water supply to gas and sewage disposal, to ensure a seamless and comfortable experience. 

From a spacious kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances to a well-appointed bathroom with modern fixtures, each amenity is carefully considered to provide the highest level of luxury living. With the availability of these utilities, it’s easy to find the perfect balance between modern convenience and timeless elegance.

7. ADU’s Main Purpose

If you are looking to invest in an Accessory Dwelling Unit, it is crucial to be clear about its purpose. We must be certain of what we wish to achieve because we will dedicate significant resources to the unused space. Here are some potential uses for your luxurious ADU:

A Renting Space:

An ADU may be the perfect solution if you’re looking to make some extra money. Adding a rental unit to your property can increase its value and generate income. This can come in handy if you’re planning to move out of state soon or want to leave your home for someone else to care for.

A Gym:

If you’re looking to get fit but are limited on time, having your own Accessory Dwelling Unit could be an ideal option. An ADU can easily be converted into a personal gym. With its kitchenette, spacious bathroom, and comfortable space for exercising, which could also double as a meditation room, it is perfect for any fitness enthusiast.

A Home Office:

With the popularity of working remotely, the home office has become a staple in today’s working world. A luxurious ADU can be a great place to escape the crowds and noise that often come with traditional offices. It could serve as a peaceful and inviting workspace and a comfortable and welcoming room to relax once it’s over.

An Art Studio:

If you’ve always wanted to create something but have yet to have the space or money to do so, then an ADU could be your perfect solution. Its dedicated space will allow you to explore your creative side without limitations or distractions.

8. Types of ADU


Adding an accessory dwelling unit to your residence is a versatile and elegant choice. This unit is not limited to a single style; various types are available to suit your exact needs. Explore the range of ADUs to decide on the perfect fit for your exquisite home.

Attached ADU:

An attached ADU is connected to the main residence. As such, it is not limited to a particular style but can be any style available for the main house.

Detached ADU:

A detached ADU is an independent structure that could be separated from the main house by a physical or visual barrier. These are the most common type of ADU as they allow owners to custom tailor the unit to their specific needs and style.

Attached ADUs often provide easy access to the main home, while detached units allow for more flexibility in space than a typically attached unit. This will enable you to design an ADU that’s just right for your home.

Attached (Above Garage) AADU:

For many homeowners, building a new space atop their existing garage is an attractive option for saving space without requiring an outward expansion.

Due to its complexity, it’s important that you select a qualified ADU company to build your project. The construction will involve installing a new roof and vapor barrier to protect against car exhaust, so it’s essential to get the job done properly.

Interior (Converted Garage) ADU:

If your garage has been left untouched for some time and doesn’t get much use, you have the perfect opportunity to turn it into an ADU. Having a contractor construct walls and separate them into smaller rooms can help you create a cozy and functional garage apartment.

These are some of the many ways to transform your unused space into a stylish and comfortable ADU.

9. Maintenance of the ADU

The maintenance of an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) should be a priority to ensure the structure and its components remain in proper working order. Regular maintenance tasks may include, but are not limited to, the inspection of the roof, windows, doors, and other parts of the structure’s exterior and interior. 

Maintenance tasks may also include:

  • Checking for any signs of water damage.
  • Repairing minor defects.
  • Replacing any worn-out components.

Additionally, to guarantee that all plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems are properly functioning and safe, it is essential to have them serviced on a regular basis. Maintaining regular servicing of all plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems is crucial to guarantee appropriate operation and safety.

Furthermore, it is important to have a licensed contractor inspect and maintain the unit each year to ensure that it continues to function within the required specifications.

10. Choose the Right ADU Contractor


When it comes to finding the right contractor for your Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) project, it is important to do your research. You want to work with a contractor who understands the project, the local regulations, and the experience to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget. To ensure you are working with the right contractor, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Research the contractor’s reputation
  • Check for licensing and insurance
  • Ask for references
  • Get an estimate of costs
  • Check for any warranties or guarantees
  • Understand the timeline of the project

ADU projects are complex and require specialized skills and experience. Choosing the right contractor will ensure you get what you want and help ensure your project is completed ahead of time, within budget, and with proper attention to detail.


Of course, this list is not intended to be exhaustive, but it does serve as a starting point for those looking to develop their dream ADU. The points above offer some guidance for getting started.

If you or someone you know is interested in building an ADU, we can help! Cabal Construction is family owned and operated company with over 20 years of experience in the general construction industry. We are licensed and bonded and will provide you with the necessary documentation to assure you that we are insured and, in all respects, qualified to build your project.

We have a talented team of designers, builders, and architects who work together to create beautiful homes tailored to your needs.

For more information about our services, please contact us today.