So you want to build an ADU in California? Here’s what you need to know

Maybe you’re itching to own a rental unit for the extra monthly income. Maybe you want to have space nearby for your parents to live in when they’re older, or for your kid after graduation. Maybe you’re thinking about all of the above.

For whatever reason, thousands of California homeowners are adding accessory dwelling units to their property. These homes can be built for a fraction of the cost of a new house, mainly because they’re small and can be installed inside an existing house or garage.

The gates have been opened by the state and some local governments, which see ADUs as part of the solution to California’s housing crisis. Laws passed over the last five years have made it considerably easier to obtain permits while slashing local fees.

So you want to build an ADU in California? Here’s what you need to know

Nevertheless, there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome, even in Los Angeles and other cities where officials have welcomed ADUs. The projects are expensive, the rules can be complex and the bureaucratic hurdles can be dauntingly high.


To help you understand what’s involved in building an ADU, The Times interviewed city officials, builders, academics and other experts about the process. Here are their insights.

Housing & Homelessness

Building an ADU? What you need to know about rent control

State and local rent-control measures do not apply to many ADUs. But building one may put the house on that property under rent control.