The Key Features of ADUs

The Key Features of ADUs

Not all ADUs are made equal, but all of them have the same key features. Keep reading to find out the key features of ADUs!

If you’re looking to install an ADU in your backyard, you might be wondering which design features to include and which ones to avoid. There are different types of ADUs, and some even have premium features. But are those really necessary? Should you include them all in your design plans?

The answer, of course, is no. Building an ADU next to your single-family home (or doing a garage conversion) can be as simple or complicated as you decide (and your property allows). The beauty and the main benefit of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is that it is versatile. 

So, in some way, that’s also one of the critical features of ADUs.

key features of adus

Accessory Dwelling Units — Humble Abodes of Many Forms

Property owners have been adding ADUs to their lots to house staff, friends, or family members for decades. However, lately, thanks to the changes in both state and local regulations, ADUs have become more popular and, therefore, more known. That’s why we’ve seen a sharp spike in issued permits over the past couple of years.

Now that practically anyone can add an ADU to their property, these dwellings come in many forms. Not that long ago, the state zoning laws prevented people from adding some extra square feet of livable space to their properties. Now, when the government of California discovered that one of the benefits of ADUs is their potential ability to solve the housing crisis (or at least ease it a bit), people can add practically any sort of an ADU to their property.

That’s why your friends, family, or neighbors have been talking about basement conversions and getting granny flats in their backyards.

Now, suppose you’re interested in expanding your living space while also having a dwelling that will be separate from your primary residence. In that case, you’re probably mulling over the idea of starting an ADU project. But which floor plan should you opt for? Which features are key ones and which are not that important?

With ADUs looking so different from one another, can you even answer these questions?

The Key Features of ADUs

Luckily, the answer is yes. Although it’s true that ADUs can look in any way you imagine them and that you can add as many extra features as you like, there are some key features of ADUs that all dwellings share.

Generally speaking, the state still gets to decide what your ADU will look like. However, that’s only true in the broadest of senses. With the ADU regulations changing as quickly as they are due to the fact that ADUs are one-stop-shop solutions for the housing market problems, you don’t really have to abide by silly do’s and don’ts of ADUs. 

For example, you don’t have to live in your main house in order to rent out your ADU, and you don’t have to beg and plead with your HOA to let you even build one in the first place.

However, you do have to follow some rules regarding the overall floor plan of your ADU. Namely, you have to build an ADU that has:

  • a separate entrance
  • environmental controls
  • a kitchen and a bathroom area
  • a sleeping area

Now, this all sounds pretty simple, right? Well, that’s because it is. To ensure that people actually build ADUs on their properties (and rent them out at affordable prices, thus helping with the affordable housing crisis), the local and state laws have let go of some of the most rigid regulations regarding ADUs. All that’s left are those that ensure that ADUs stay true to their name and be tiny houses that are also alternative housing options.

A Separate Entrance

another entrance is one of the key features of adus

One of the key features of ADUs is that it has to have a separate entrance. That is a no-brainer for people building detached mother-in-law units. However, if you’re doing an interior conversion ADU, you might be tempted to just exclude making a separate entrance from your builder’s checklist.

Don’t do that. First of all, that just makes your ADU harder to rent out since it basically transforms it into a spare bedroom in your house. Second (and more important), you won’t be able to get a permit for it.

A Kitchen and a Bathroom

An ADU can share a lot of amenities with the main house. You can hook it up to your existing water line, for example, and even add other utilities to your current system.

key features of adus a kitchen and a bathroom

But you can’t really use the amenities you already have outside of your ADU. You have to build brand new ones. We’re mainly talking about a kitchen and a bathroom here.

Each ADU has to have its own kitchen and bathroom. What’s more, the kitchen has to measure at least 50 feet, while the bathroom has to have at least 30 feet. The bathroom also has to have all conveniences a regular bathroom has — a sink, a toilet, and a shower or a bathtub.

A Sleeping Area

It goes without saying that each ADU has to have a sleeping area. Of course, how you implement that sleeping area is up to you. 

You don’t have to build a separate bedroom just to ensure you follow this regulation. You can build a studio ADU and have a shared living and sleeping area. As long as there’s at least 70 feet of livable space, you’re good.

Environmental Controls

To be able to have a fully-functional ADU that you can use for your own needs or rent out, it has to be a stand-alone dwelling. That means that it has to function as a separate apartment. In other words, it has to have its own environmental controls. 

The heating and cooling system has to be separate from the primary system, and the controls have to be within the ADU.

Need Something Extra?

Now, just because you need to have at least 150 square feet of specific space doesn’t mean you only have to have a 150-square-foot ADU. In other words, as long as you meet the basic requirements, what you do with the rest of your building plan is up to you.

So, you can add some extra features to your ADU.

Purpose Determines the Floorplan

If you can, try to determine the general purpose of your ADU before you plan it out. Why do you need the extra space? Do you need more living areas, or is just one enough? Who will use the ADU, and how?

These are all important questions that you need to answer before laying the foundations down in the ground. For example, if you just need an ADU in order to have a space for a home office, you don’t need to build a huge space. However, if you’re looking to build a mother-in-law unit that you’ll maybe rent out somewhere down the line, then you’ll need to create a bigger space that you’ll also adapt.  

Maximizing Flexibility 

Of course, it’s also essential to keep in mind that ADUs need to be flexible. Just because you know the general purpose of your future ADU doesn’t mean that can’t change. Sure, you might need an ADU now in order to house your aging parent. But that won’t always be the case. 

Therefore, you must make your ADU flexible and adaptable. You might need to change its purpose down the line. For example, many ADU owners had to adapt their ADUs in order to house their boomerang kids over the past two years.

Separate Bedroom (Or Bedrooms)

A separate bedroom (or even a couple of them) is an excellent extra feature that makes your ADU more versatile and easier to rent out. Of course, the number of bedrooms you add to your ADU depends on the available lot space and your financial means. It also depends on your needs. 

Do you need a two-bedroom ADU? Perhaps a smaller unit will be better suitable for you and your family. Think about this before you make a floor plan and consult with your builder

Cedar 2+2 bedroom

Other Extra Features

Of course, your ADU doesn’t just have to have a living and sleeping space. You can also plan it out in a way that includes other amenities. For example, if your lot size allows, you can build an ADU that has:

  • Patio
  • Deck
  • Storage Room

Utilizing outdoor space to make your ADU bigger and more versatile is an excellent idea. It creates a bigger space without necessarily having to build one. And, given that we live in California, the sunny state, you’ll have plenty of chances to actually use that outdoor space.

That’s why a patio or a deck, even if they are small, are excellent additional features for ADUs. Outdoor space also makes an ADU easier to rent out.

Key Features of ADUs | Cedar Dwellings

Building an ADU is no easy feat, and it takes time, effort, and money. But it’s worth it. If you’re looking for ADUs that have all the necessary key features with a few fantastic extras added, then look no further than Cedar dwellings. 

Our units are both versatile and adaptable. Each one has all the key features we mentioned in this blog along with:

  • premium wood flooring
  • floor-to-ceiling windows
  • stellar cabinetry and countertops in the kitchen
  • spacious bathrooms with built-in showers
  • solar options and HVAC
  • tankless water heater

If that sounds like something you’d love to see in your backyard, call us today and let’s talk about starting your dream ADU project!