ADU  Home Building Checklist

A tailored guide to get you from ADU planning to move-in

1 - Costs

How much does an ADU cost?

The cost of an ADU varies drastically due to factors relating to your site, local labor, and materials. To get you in the ballpark, here are some ADU costs:

SF / Bay Area: $149k - $400k

Southern CA: $95k - $330k

Austin, TX: $125k - $300k

Portland, OR: $142k - $217k

Is an ADU a good investment?

We think so but here’s some reasons for building an ADU:

What costs should I prepare for

For the ADU models on our website, you'll see an all-in cost estimate. Use our ADU cost calculator to map out different scenarios.

Launch ADU Cost Calculator

2 - Financing

Secure the best financing for your ADU.

Get the Best ADU Financing Deal - No Stress, No Hassle, Just Great Rates and Flexible Options!

There are several financing options available for ADUs:

  1. Home equity loans: These are loans that allow homeowners to borrow against the equity in their home.
  2. Home improvement loans: These loans are specifically designed for home improvement projects, including building an ADU.
  3. FHA 203(k) loans: These loans are designed to help homeowners finance home repairs and improvements, including the construction of an ADU.
  4. Personal loans: These loans can be used for a variety of purposes, including financing an ADU.
  5. Construction loans: These loans are specifically designed for the construction of a new home or building, including an ADU.
  6. Private financing: Some homeowners may be able to secure financing from private investors or crowdfunding platforms.
  7. Government grants or incentives: Some local or state governments offer grants or incentives for homeowners who build ADUs, which can help cover some or all of the construction costs.
  8. Rent-to-Own: Some ADU companies offer rent-to-own financing options, allowing you to pay a monthly fee to rent the ADU while also building equity towards ownership.

Get a free financing estimate

3 - Size and Zoning

Get ADU approved! Know what works for your property.

Our zoning and lot planning guide will answer the big questions about your ADU sizing and other lot requirements.

What can I build?

You have options. Here are types of ADUs you could build in your backyard:

  • A duplex is a building that contains two separate units, typically with one unit on the first floor and one unit on the second floor.
  • An ADU, or accessory dwelling unit, is a small secondary dwelling on the same property as a single-family home, usually sized between 500 and 1200 square feet. It can be attached or detached from the main home.
  • An ADU garage conversion is the process of converting an existing garage into a living space or ADU.
  • A detached ADU is an ADU that is separate from the main home, with its own entrance and outdoor space.
  • An ADU basement conversion is the process of converting an existing basement into a living space or ADU.
  • An ADU attic conversion is the process of converting an existing attic into a living space or ADU.
  • An attached ADU is an ADU that is attached to the main home, either through a shared wall or a separate entrance.
  • A JADU, or junior accessory dwelling unit, is a small ADU built within an existing home, typically in a basement or attic.
  • A tiny home on wheels is a small, portable dwelling that is built on a trailer and can be moved from one location to another.

4 - Design

Find Your Dream ADU Floor Plan

Get creative, get spacious, set the best space for your needs!

Find floor plans for a backyard ADU:

  1. Search online for "backyard ADU floor plans" or "granny flat floor plans" to find a variety of options.
  2. Contact an architect or designer who specializes in small or accessory dwelling units to create custom plans.
  3. Check with your city or county building department to see if they have any approved or recommended floor plans available.
  4. Look for prefabricated or modular ADU companies who offer a range of floor plans to choose from.
  5. Consider using a design software or app such as SketchUp or Sweet Home 3D to create your own custom floor plan.
  6. Consider consulting with a real estate agent or property appraiser to ensure that your floor plan aligns with local zoning and building codes.

Browse our ADU Marketplace

5 - Contrators

Find an ADU contractor that will wow you

Save time and eliminate headaches finding an ADU builder that will meet your deadlines and budget.

You have several options to consider for building an ADU:

  1. Turn-key prefab builders: These companies handle everything from design to construction, but may come with higher costs.
  2. Kit-of-parts homes: With this option, you will receive all the necessary materials to build your ADU, but you will need to handle the construction yourself or hire additional contractors.
  3. ADU general contractors: These professionals can handle all aspects of the construction process for you.
  4. Do-it-yourself: If you have the skills and resources, you can save money by taking on the construction of your ADU yourself or with the help of friends. Just be prepared to put in the time and effort required to complete the project.

Find a contractor to build your ADU:

  1. Ask for referrals from friends, family, or neighbors who have had similar work done.
  2. Search online directories or review sites such as Yelp, HomeAdvisor, or Houzz to find contractors in your area.
  3. Contact local building supply stores or home improvement centers and ask for recommendations.
  4. Contact local trade organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry to find contractors in your area.
  5. Check with your city or county building department to see if they have a list of approved contractors.
  6. Meet with several contractors and ask for references, estimates, and proof of insurance before making a decision.