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ADU Post-Construction Considerations

Adu Post-Construction Considerations

Building an accessory dwelling unit is the best investment a homeowner can make. No matter what project you are going to implement, whether it is a detached ADU in the backyard or a unit that is attached to the primary residence, the new technological space will bring you a lot of material, physical, and emotional benefits.

However, construction is a complex process that everyone should approach responsibly, starting from the first stage, when the homeowner needs to issue construction permits for the proposed ADU, and up to the very end, including the final inspection, which plays a no less important role than choosing a design for a granny flat or the location of windows in garage conversion.

In this review, we will talk about the most important aspects of the post-construction process, reveal the details which you need to analyze to avoid monetary losses, and also share insights on how to interact with the general contractor after the completion of the main work.

Final inspection and approvals

After the builders have done the finishing touches on the creation of a new ADU, many homeowners think that they can move into a living room, transport all things and household appliances, as well as equip everyday life. However, this is a mistake. Each building, whether it is an apartment in a skyscraper, the main house on a separate plot, or an accessory dwelling unit, requires a final inspection, the main purpose of which is to double-check whether the construction complies with legal norms and standards.

Depending on the building regulations in your city, the final inspection checklist may vary. Nevertheless, there are a number of generally accepted rules that are relevant for any state or county:

  1. Zoning regulations

The most important point that forms the legal basis of construction is related to the zoning of residential space. There are various formulations for different types of ADU; for example, if you transformed an existing garage into an ADU, then you have to take into account the parking area, and if it is a detached ADU, then the distance between the primary residence and the new unit. The authorities are very sensitive to this issue, so the importance of compliance with this norm is increasing more than ever.

  1. Inspection of the foundation and supporting structures

In ADU plans, you can always find information about the parameters of load-bearing structures, such as walls, frames, roofs, and foundations. Sometimes architects make mistakes in calculations, which jeopardizes not only the integrity of the ADU building but also your family, as well as your neighbors. Such situations occur extremely rarely; however, for peace of mind and reporting to the authorities, it is critically essential to double-check this point.

  1. Check the functioning of the ventilation and plumbing

This is already a fairly common scenario when builders make fatal mistakes in these two mechanical systems. As a result, homeowners regularly experience household problems, such as the inability to effectively use sinks, drains, or washing machines, or suffer from a disturbed temperature balance, which is not possible to fix with broken ventilation. Everything is further aggravated by the fact that these systems are embedded deep into existing structures, so we recommend testing them not only during the final inspection but also during the entire process.

  1. Checking the reliability of windows and doors

This stage includes not only testing doors and windows for smooth opening. It is very important that the installed doors, windows, as well as shutters, and window blinds work equally well in all seasons, have the right dimensions (height and width), and are reliable. In this component, legal norms also apply; for example, to successfully pass the final inspection, your attached ADU should have a separate entrance.

  1. The quality of the heat and sound insulation system

Most often, homeowners begin to build an ADU in the warm season because the implementation of the project in winter is a very daunting task. In this regard, builders may not pay due attention to some components that are relevant for cold weather, namely thermal insulation. In order not to freeze in winter in the living room or in the kitchen, make sure of the quality of thermal insulation at the final inspection stage. The same applies to sound insulation because many families are faced with the fact that they hear each other from different rooms because of too thin walls.

  1. Compliance with the principles of universal design

If your ADU project is intended for a person with disabilities, for example, an elderly family member, then each square footage of the living area should meet both his needs and the rules attributed to this design. In particular, during the final inspection, specialists will check at least the availability of household functions, the safety of each room, and the consistency between rooms for mobile movement.

Overall, the final inspection of your new ADU is crucial in terms of three important factors, namely, compliance with the legal framework, improving the quality of life, and saving money, because if you miss even the slightest flaw, you will soon be forced to spend even more funds for rework. Fortunately, if at the stage of the final inspection, the commission or you find an error, the building team will resume the construction process and fix everything, especially if you have not yet signed the certificate of acceptance of the residential premises.

Cleaning and maintenance considerations

ADU building is always a dirty process, after which you can find a lot of construction dust, remnants of working glue, dried drops of concrete, and packages from tiles or laminate in each room. One of the stages of post-construction is to check the cleanliness of the space that you accept. Very often, builders neglect these issues and leave a pile of construction dust right in the yard of your house. However, it is not aesthetically pleasing and also not environmentally friendly. During the inspection, ask the builders to take out the garbage, and if you are a responsible citizen, you can take over this case and dispose of all waste according to environmental standards.

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Warranty and guarantee information

What is the difference between buying a smartphone in an official store and from the hands of a person in an alley? In the store, the retailer will issue a warranty for you, and in case of a breakdown, you can repair the phone for free while this warranty is valid. The same can be said about the situation when you complete the building of an ADU process. In particular, there are two options for issuing a warranty and guarantee. In fact, these two terms are twins because they both imply drawing up a special document and in case of a breakdown in your attached ADU or granny flat, you can apply your rights and demand free repairs. However, there is a slight difference; in the case of warranty, the company that was engaged in construction directly provides repair services, while the guarantee has great legal force; the third party can implement it, but this does not prevent you from registering both of these points in the contract.

Occupancy permit and legal considerations

Adu Post-Construction Considerations

Many homeowners think that when the builders complete the building ADU process and hand over the keys, then people can take all their belongings and freely enter the new space. However, this scenario is far from reality. Before this happens, you need to visit the local authorities, make a request for a final inspection, and only after the specialists give you an occupation permit or certificate of occupation can you settle in your accessory dwelling unit.

The members of the commission will test all life support systems, check all components of the house for compliance with state standards, and examine the established security measures, and only after these steps will they issue you a permit or, conversely, agree on the need to make some adjustments. On par with this, we recommend applying for an inspection in advance so as not to stand in line.

It's also no secret that very often, homeowners use both backyard cottages and attached ADU projects to generate rental income. In this case, you need to strictly follow the local city rules because an extra square foot over the permissible limit or an unregistered extra room can lead to a fine. The commission pays the most attention to zoning regulations during the permitting process, so check your documents three times on this item.

Final payment and billing

When building a new ADU, homeowners have not only a lot of options for choosing design or materials but also ways of financing. The most important step in the money issue is the implementation of the final payment.

Here are some important factors:

In sum, the financing stage is as important as the permitting process, so when all the main work is completed, make sure that you are fully satisfied with the final work because, after the last cash tranche and signing of papers, all subsequent changes will be considered as a new construction project.

Post-construction repairs and touch-ups

Since we are talking about your own ADU, there should be no flaws in it. There are homeowners who turn a blind eye to the minor shortcomings of builders, but you pay money for construction, which means everything should be at the highest level. If you notice a chip on the door, an underpainted part of the wall behind the cabinet, scuffs, broken privacy screens, or any other, even minimal, errors, then you have every right to demand improvements from the general contractor. You can visit your new ADU several times, and if during each new inspection you will find disadvantages, then tell the builders about it every time. In this aspect, we are not talking about big changes, so their correction will not take much time, but they will qualitatively improve the living area.

Landscaping and outdoor space considerations

In most cases, the ADU project is not limited only to the interior but also affects the courtyard. If the outdoor space is included in your ADU plans, then you also need to check it and pay attention to several important aspects. Firstly, outdoor space should correspond to the overall design of ADU and harmoniously fit into the general picture. Secondly, like the electrical and plumbing systems in the primary house, drainage structures in the yard should not have flaws because disturbed soil is as dangerous as a fragile roof.

Thirdly, if you asked the designers to implement for you an unusual format of yard paths, gazebos, siding, or in some special way you wanted to mow the lawn, then check whether the final work corresponds to your order. Finally, evaluate the balance of aesthetics and functionality so that the outdoor space attracts the eye and, at the same time, is equipped with modern irrigation, landscaping, or lighting systems.

Safety considerations for occupants

We have already partially mentioned the safety aspect that you can take into account at the post-construction stage, such as the reliability of the foundation and other supporting structures. However, in each living space, there are many other smaller details that you need to secure while building an ADU.

The list of such aspects includes:

  1. Insulation of electrical wires, sockets, and potentially dangerous appliances. If adult children already know about the safety rules for using electricity, then the smallest family members do not yet. And in principle, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is very easy to forget about caution, so it is best to secure all utility connections, e.g., isolate them, mount them to the wall, cover them with plastic plugs or lids and do everything before settling in.
  2. Check the fire security measures. Very often, only during a fire, homeowners discover defects in smoke detectors or fire alarms. Check your new independent living space on the serviceability of the automatic fire safety system, the expiration dates of fire extinguishers, the reliability of hot plate blocking systems, and a sound signal notifying you of smoke. On par with this, special electrical and fire regulations apply to these two aspects, and you can find them in the relevant code and equip the ADU unit according to the existing rules.
  3. Serviceability of gas lines. A gas leak is one of the most terrible things that can happen because it can lead both to suffocation from harmful fumes and to a fire that will instantly spread throughout the accessory dwelling unit and move to the main house. Ask several times to test the gas pipeline and the serviceability of the pipes, as well as the ventilation system, because good air circulation can save in an emergency.
  4. Pay attention to details. Homeowners can discuss some security issues with the general contractor individually, for example, covering the floor area with anti-slip material, installing security cameras with 360-degree monitors in mother-in-law units, or adding handles in the bathroom as part of a universal ADU design. Before you release the construction team, make sure that they have completed everything as you ordered.

On the whole, if you decide to build an ADU, then the importance of the security aspect is hard to overestimate because, in this case, we are talking about the health and well-being of all family members. At the post-construction stage, we recommend paying double attention to this aspect so that you can be one hundred percent sure that all systems are working properly.

Updating insurance policies and coverage

Of course, you can take out insurance at any time after settling in; however, if you do not perform this at the post-construction stage, you are more likely to forget about this aspect as soon as a new life in a technological and modern ADU engulfs you. The registration of insurance for a housing unit has several undeniable advantages. Firstly, in case of any mechanical breakdowns that are not related to your activity, you can count on money from insurance. Secondly, any claims on the part of the authorities related to non-compliance with legal norms, for example, too much room in your ADU, are lawsuits and, therefore, expenses. However, if you have insurance, then you can forget about hitting the budget.

Finally, let's imagine a small family that accommodates guests in ADU only during the warm season; how can this family use ADU in another way? That's right, to rent out this space, and at this moment, insurance once again becomes your lifesaver because, in case of disputes and problems with tenants, insurance will cover any litigation. There are many insurance programs, so it will be better for you to sign up for a free consultation to pick the best package.

Post-construction communication and follow-up with contractors

Even after you sign the document of acceptance of the final version of the ADU and pay for the services of the general contractor, the interaction with the company does not end. At a minimum, homeowners keep in touch with builders for the duration of the warranty so that in case of a breakdown that falls under the terms of the warranty, the team will repair everything that is necessary. In addition, builders should teach you how to use all the systems in the living area, especially when it comes to Smart homes. If good chemistry has formed between you and the general contractor during the construction process, then you can contact the firm if you want to implement new reconstruction projects.

Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ

What items should the homeowner include in the post-construction checklist?

Regardless of the typology of buildings, whether these are detached ADUs or attached garage conversions next to the primary houses, each homeowner should be responsibly attributed to the post-construction stage. It includes checking all the main structures, testing security systems, obtaining an occupation permit, as well as registering insurance and guarantees, and making the final payment.

What are the main advantages of building an ADU?

If a homeowner decides to build an ADU, then this can bring him many privileges; in particular, he can receive rental income, create energy-efficient space and reduce heating and cooling costs, get more space for practical implementation of household tasks, as well as realize dreams, e.g., create a hobby room, home gym or cinema area. Furthermore, even a small space in ADU format will permit you to take property value to a new level.

Why is it beneficial to take out insurance on accessory dwelling units?

Insurance, in particular such types as liability insurance, will be a protection for you from potential monetary expenses. If a household accident happens in your living space or you expose a defect that is not related to your mistake or negligence, then insurance will cover all unforeseen expenses. At the same time, if you do not take out insurance, then each subsequent repair will become more and more burdensome.

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