Why Opt for an ADU Over a Tiny House

Why Opt for an ADU Over a Tiny House

There has never been a better time to build an ADU in your Californian backyard. With the real estate crisis bringing everyone to their knees, tiny houses and ADUs are more popular than ever. Both these housing options are more affordable than renting or building a typical cookie-cutter house would be.

As our society progresses, so does the American dream. A huge home with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids simply isn’t attainable (or desirable) anymore, which is why more and more people are looking into alternative housing and building ADUs and tiny homes on wheels.

But what is the difference between ADUs and tiny houses? 

  • ADUs are permanent dwellings built next to a bigger, primary residence.
  • Contrarily to that, tiny homes either need their own lot or are built on a vehicle axis and are portable.
  • If a tiny house is movable, it needs to be registered as a vehicle and falls under the recreational vehicle code (which also means you’ll have to pay vehicle taxes for it).
  • Mobile tiny homes often aren’t welcome in residential areas.
  • It’s easier to get a permit for an ADU than an immovable tiny house.

Now, these are just the fundamental differences. Let’s see why you should opt for an ADU instead of a tiny home, shall we?

ADU or tiny house what to choose

An All-American Crisis (and Potential Solutions)

Across the country, people are dealing with a problem that’s been 20 years in the making — the lack of affordable housing. We’ve talked about this a few times before, but we keep coming back to it because it is a huge issue, and ADUs could really turn the tables.

The prospects of buying (or even renting) a house are worse than ever before — especially in job-rich areas in California. Many burned-out renters were hoping that the pandemic would help lower the cost of housing. After all, people were moving back in with their parents or finding other means of alternative accommodations left and right, which was bound to leave landlords without tenants. In turn, people logically assumed that would lower the rent. 

However, the reality smacked all of us over the head with an 11,4% increase in rent in 2021. What’s more, not only is the rent increasing but there’s a country-wide shortage of houses, which contributes to the housing crisis. There are 5 million fewer homes in the US than the market demands, which means that single-family home construction is at its lowest since the 50s.

But why does all this matter to us, and what does it have to do with the difference between ADUs and tiny houses?

opting for an adu over a tiny house

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) — the Future of Affordable Housing

Due to the lack of affordable housing, people are looking into all alternative housing options. The ADU trend is, therefore, largely on the rise. This isn’t surprising, given that almost half of the workers in the US can’t afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment

What’s more, those that can afford rent often can’t afford to live in areas that would offer them better job opportunities or cut down their commute times (or both).

As discussed before, ADUs are a potential solution to this predicament. With an average cost of $156,000 and a capped rent, ADUs could help with the affordable housing crisis. 

By definition, ADUs are second residences. That means they are usually built on a lot that already has one or more housing units. That, in turn, means more housing options in areas that already have an infrastructure, communities, and, more importantly, jobs.

ADUs are accessory structures that people build on their lots, next to their existing homes, to house family and friends, or rent out. That’s why they are also known as granny flats or mother-in-law suites. Even though those names aren’t exactly flattering, ADUs are actually fully equipped modern homes that can cater to young generations in more ways than one. 

That’s why they are so popular in California. Square footage isn’t as important as staying in diverse areas and chasing job opportunities.

But are they the same as tiny homes?

Tiny House — a Vehicle or a Home?

As cities and states scramble to solve the crisis we’re all in, people opt to find their own solutions. Tiny homes are one way to escape the crippling debt that often comes with buying a single-family home (if you can even get a loan approved).

The houses don’t offer much living space (and often have very few square feet), but they are versatile and functional. 

However, tiny houses also come with a catch. There are two different options for those building a tiny home:

  • They can either build one on a plot (which means they need to buy some land first)
  • Or build one that’s mobile and use it as they would an RV

If the Covid-19 crisis showed us anything, it’s that mobile homes come with a considerable advantage. You get to travel and still be at home, which isn’t something many people can say. And, you can also always park the tiny house on wheels in your backyard and have your very own accessory dwelling unit, right?

tiny house on wheels is technically an RV and you should go with an ADU

Actually, no. Unless you have a permit, most state laws won’t allow you to park in a residential area and use your tiny house on wheels (which is technically an RV) to live in.

The Difference Between ADUs and Tiny Houses

So, right of the bat, it’s clear that there are two significant differences between tiny homes and ADUs.

  1. A tiny house often comes with wheels and is mobile, which means that you can travel with it.
  2. However, that also means you can’t live in it in residential areas.

Primary vs. Secondary Residence

An ADU is a permanent dwelling. It usually sits beside or is a part of a larger, single-home residence. So, when you build an ADU, you already have the land, the utilities (that you need to upgrade but that are usable), and the infrastructure. 

All you really have to do is get a permit. And, when it comes to permits, ADUs are much easier to navigate and get approved due to all the recent changes in building and zoning laws

Tiny homes, as mentioned, require that you either obtain land on which you’ll build or build one on a vehicle axis.

tiny homes might not be the best choice for you

Staying in Job-Rich Areas vs. Nomad LIfestyle

The entire point of ADUs is to stop the urban sprawl and build more livable spaces in areas that have the infrastructure, jobs, and communities that will allow people to strive. So, ADUs are the perfect solution for those looking to stay put.

Tiny homes, on the other hand, are an excellent way to get into that nomad lifestyle. They allow you to live anywhere (where you can get a permit) and travel while never leaving your home. But, as mentioned, the US has quite strict regulations regarding where you can (and can’t) park your mobile home.

Benefits of ADUs — Why Opt for an ADU Over a Tiny House

Now that we’ve covered the primary difference between ADUs and tiny houses let’s see why ADUs come out on top. It boils down to a few key advantages that accessory dwelling units have that tiny homes simply can’t offer:

  • The benefits of a secondary residence
  • A smaller environmental impact
  • The ability to stay in diverse, densely populated areas
  • Ease of construction

As mentioned, building an ADU means creating more living space on your property that you can use in many ways. Your ADU can be a mother-in-law unit, a granny flat, or a boomerang kids’ house. Although most people use ADUs to facilitate their friends and family and keep their loved ones close, you can also use them to create more space for yourself.

ADUs allow for aging in place and multigenerational living. However, they are also an ideal solution for young people looking to stay in job-rich areas. 

Finally, thanks to new building codes, ADUs are easy to build (especially if you opt for a turn-key solution). Not to mention, they are more environmentally friendly than tiny homes. They are usually extremely energy-efficient. The zero-waste construction technology ensures that ADUs not only abide by but also exceed California energy standards. 

accessory dwelling unit lets you live in job-rich areas

Although we can say the same for tiny homes, they still have a more significant environmental impact. You still need to have a vehicle that will drive that tiny home around, and that vehicle leaves a massive carbon footprint behind. So, we can’t precisely say that these constructions are environmentally friendly. 

ADUs lower the carbon footprint of an entire community, while tiny homes increase it. 

Build Your Dream ADU With Cedar

Now that you know the difference between ADUs and tiny houses, it’s clear that ADUs trump tiny homes. With so many advantages of ADUs, it’s only logical to want one of your own. 

An ADU could allow you to stay close to your family, gain a few hundred extra square feet on your property, and maybe even earn a bit of income. 

Cedar is a one-stop ADU shop. That means that the Cedar team will deal with everything, so you don’t have to. We offer impeccable design, quick and waste-free construction, financing help, and we’ll even calculate your ROI for you! Al you have to do is sit back, relax, and wait for your ADU dreams to come to life.

So check out our ADU solutions or give us a call and tell us what you’re looking for. We’re always happy to help!