Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) have long been around as the most affordable housing solution. They allowed people to find affordable and decent housing in conditions of economic crises and insufficient housing supply. ADU remains a relatively inexpensive type of housing today. In addition, many people face circumstances in which it is not profitable for them to buy a new house. In this case, the ADU construction is the best solution. What is more, nowadays, many property owners consider ADU development in order to have additional rental income in the future. They are right, as having another living space in addition to the primary dwelling allows one to earn a sufficient amount of money every month, which is especially topical for homeowners who will soon retire.
Due to the fact that an ADU remained an affordable housing solution for many years, especially since the 1920s, there are already many ADUs all over the USA that need remodeling. Fortunately, construction and renovation companies offer a variety of programs aimed at upgrading the existing space, whether it's detached ADUs built from scratch or garage conversions. Keep reading this article to find out what aspects you should pay attention to when upgrading your ADU to make it more comfortable and modern.
The first thing that you can do to improve your accessory dwelling unit is the kitchen upgrade. The key difference between both attached and detached ADUs and room additions or guest houses is the presence of a kitchen and bathroom. According to the laws and regulations, each ADU must have those; this makes an accessory unit absolutely independent of the main house.
To make it convenient for guests to cook in a small kitchen, we recommend purchasing modern but compact kitchen appliances that combine several functions, such as a mini toaster oven. Another good idea is to buy small-sized appliances: a slim microwave, a mini fridge, and so on. As for remodeling works, they do not differ from the usual ones. We recommend updating kitchen cabinets, replacing worn handles, installing a new backsplash, and replacing the countertop if necessary.
Another way to update accessory dwelling units is to change all finishes, including floors. If you want to quickly return funds invested in developing ADU, we recommend choosing more expensive materials, such as hardwood floors. However, if you feel like the cost of hardwood flooring is too high and you do not want to resort to refinancing and second mortgages, you can choose cheaper materials and still update your rental housing unit. We recommend vinyl flooring. It is a worthy alternative that looks no less stylish and will last as long as parquet floors but cost much less.
The place that all family members use every day is the bathroom. Thus, there is no surprise that the bathroom can wear out faster than other areas of the living space. Since the state ADU law obliges homeowners to include a bathroom in any additional housing unit, this applies to both the main residence and ADU.
We recommend that you first consider replacing tiles on walls and floors, painting walls, as well as replacing plumbing, sink, bath, or shower. The need for these actions depends on how neglected the bathroom is now. Sometimes just a couple of actions are enough to significantly refresh its appearance.
When you are done with significant changes, such as kitchen and bathroom remodeling, you can move on to the next steps on the way to an updated ADU. When homeowners declare their desire to increase rental income by carrying out small renovations and not building new constructions, which may entail additional costs, we will recommend paying attention to details such as lighting.
When renting out houses and ADUs, staging and photos that you eventually put on the site are of great importance, so successful lighting (a sufficiently lit room, soft light, modern and built-in lamps, lighting under kitchen cabinets, and so on) is half the success. Even if you are not going to turn to a professional designer for help in planning the lighting design. It is better to create a draft in advance and try to estimate how successful is the stage lighting you have come up with.
Another way to add more light to your attached or detached ADU is to replace the old windows. We also recommend that you carefully study all the requirements in your county again. If the law allows it, you can even make window openings larger or create additional ones. However, never do this without making sure that it is allowed. In general, if you purchase new high-quality windows, it will be quite a costly procedure. You will have to spend more than 3000-5000 dollars.
If you do not have such funds, try to replace the lightning first because it will be much cheaper than changing the layout and adding new windows.
One of the most popular requests with which homeowners turn to remodeling companies engaged in the transformation of ADUs is an update of the HVAC system. It includes heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Why have we mentioned remodeling teams? Well, you will actually need the help of a professional working group to implement this task as it is too complex to be carried out by a regular houseowner.
Of course, portable air conditioners and heaters are cool, but what's even cooler is installing a full-fledged air conditioning and ventilation system. Contrary to popular belief, this option is now quite affordable. In addition, this system can be installed in an already-existing unit.
We have already proposed you purchase some modern appliances for an upgraded kitchen that will help you save space in your ADU. If you want to make your property more attractive for tourists, no matter if you rent out ADUs or converted garages, we will recommend that you buy some modern appliances that make the life of a future tenant easier. Usually, both attached and detached ADU do not have a lot of free space; you have to fit all the new appliances you wish to buy into the existing space.
First, two absolute must-haves that you need to purchase for the update of any ADU are a portable air conditioner and a space heater. If it suddenly gets too hot or cold in your unit (which happens quite often, depending on the state in which you live), these devices will help restore a comfortable indoor air temperature. Another useful device is a handheld vacuum cleaner.
It is the model of vacuum cleaner that is not only the most maneuverable and easy to use but also compact, so it will not be difficult to find a place where to keep it in accessory dwelling units.
Before starting the construction process, you should carefully familiarize yourself with all the requirements and building codes relevant to your state; this will allow you to avoid mistakes in the further planning of your ADU. However, we also recommend that you take a responsible approach to creating a unit layout in order to take into account all your needs. If you did not manage to think of enough storage space or create a convenient and practical kitchen when developing your ADU for the first time, then you can still fix the situation. You can develop a new layout and have that plan approved.
You can not expand the living space of an additional unit due to the existing requirements regarding its maximum size. However, you can increase access to the most important areas, such as the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, as well as storage space. Plan the layout in such a way that you feel more comfortable moving around your ADU and the space is used productively.
Usually, local ADU ordinances determine the maximum size of an ADU so homeowners cannot build larger ADUs on their land plots. How, then, to fit all the things in such a small space? Do not worry! Now, designers offer a lot of modern non-trivial solutions for storing things in additional units.
Here are just a few of them:
The last stage of the ADU development, which we do not recommend ignoring, is the removal of all remaining barriers on the territory of your property. Now the trend of creating a connection and even a seamless transition between an additional unit and a primary dwelling is becoming more and more popular. To do this, you can create a common outdoor area where you can place a grill, relaxation area, dining area, sun loungers on which you can sunbathe during summer, and so on.
The main rule that is crucial to follow is that both homeowners and residents of ADU have free access to the common outdoor area.
Some local laws that regulate the construction and legalization of an additional unit are issued and clarified in California every year. This year, the clarifications also touched on the height of two-story buildings and the procedure for issuing a construction permit.
As we have already mentioned, many regulations are accepted locally in many cities. They are just as important as the basic state ADU law. For example, this year in California, some new local jurisdictions were proposed, according to which two-story accessory units are now allowed in LA. You can also approve the ADU construction even if your land plot is very small, and the process of submitting for approval in the city has become clearer and simpler.
Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) have numerous benefits, such as the possibility of creating tight-knit communities of relatives and friends or saving money on purchasing a house. However, homeowners who want to build ADUs on their properties should know that they will have to face a huge amount of paperwork associated with studying all the requirements and obtaining building permits.
Being one of the most affordable housing options, an accessory dwelling unit is also well-known for increasing an additional passive income and property value. You can expect the property value to rise by approximately 30%. If you are thinking about whether accessory units are worth it, do not hesitate, they definitely are! Take advantage of construction loans, any grant program, or other financing options to get much more in return over time. However, keep in mind that building an unpermitted ADU will never turn out to be beneficial for you as a homeowner.