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Ask a Pro: What is an ADU?

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

Extremely popular in SoCal, an ADU unit adds more space, value and features to your home.

a modern adu in the backyard by a pool

At South Land Remodeling, we design and build ADUs across Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. We do so many of these because they’re an incredibly popular way to economically add space and value to your home. And, in recent years, state and local laws have become more lenient when it comes to constructing an ADU. Despite their growing popularity, one question we get a lot is “What is an ADU?”

“ADU” is short for “accessory dwelling unit,” which is a residential structure on a single-family home’s property. Think of it as a studio apartment. Most ADUs 300-400 square feet in size, just large enough for a living area, bed, bathroom and kitchenette.

ADUs are also commonly called mother-in-law suites, granny flats or backyard homes.

Ways to Use an ADU Unit

One of the amazing things about adding an ADU unit to your property is there are so many ways to utilize the space. Though it must have all the aforementioned features of your main house, an accessory dwelling unit provides bonus square footage that can make a huge difference in your home life.

Here are some ideas for how you can utilize an ADU:

· A guest house for friends or family members

· Office

· Gym

· Poolhouse

· Vacation rental (ex. an Airbnb or Vrbo)

· Long-term rental

As you can see, these dwellings provide so many options for you and your family – even having the ability to generate rental income, if you want. As an ADU contractor, we love seeing all the ways our clients enjoy this added living space.

Types of Accessory Dwelling Units

1. Garage Conversion

A garage conversion is probably the most common form of accessory dwelling unit. This occurs when an existing garage is transformed into an ADU. When we do a garage conversion, we typically use the foundation and outer shell of the garage’s structure, assuming it’s structurally sound and to-code. Then, we renovate the interior so it has all the luxuries of home.

2. Detached ADU

Whether a garage is “detached” or “attached” to the main house, some homeowners want to keep their garage intact. When this happens, one option is to build a detached structure in the backyard, where the ADU will reside. This option is perfect for larger lots that have space to spare.

3. Attached ADU

Opposite that option is an attached ADU. This is when a homeowner builds the granny flat onto the existing main house, physically connecting the two structures. What’s great about this option is that you’re essentially extending your home with a new wing that can function on its own, while being harmoniously conjoined with the main house.

ADU Construction

Now that you understand an ADU’s meaning and options, it’s important to touch on ADU construction. Overall, a standard garage conversion can take about three months to complete and can cost between $80,000 and $100,000. More complex or larger projects require more time and cost. No matter which route you go, these structures are custom-made to fit your needs, your lifestyle and your property.

And, should you sell the home in the future, this structure adds valuable equity to your home.

Looking to build an accessory dwelling unit in the greater Los Angeles area? Contact us today for a free assessment and quote!



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