• RTB Staff

ADU 101: How to make it happen

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That’s it. You’re finally ready. 

You got the cash. You have the drive. You’ve saved the thousandth photo of your dream tiny house to your secret Pinterest board. It’s time to build your accessory dwelling unit. 

But...uh. How do we make that happen? Between endless choices of designs, companies, and architects, alongside permitting approvals and actual construction, getting an ADU project off the ground is no easy feat. However, it is one that can be broken down to 4 simple steps.

Research + Planning

Research is the first step in any kind of home construction project, but when it comes to ADU’s, it's essential that you thoroughly investigate what you want from your unit, and how to make it a reality. For many people, factors like the type of ADU they can build, the place where they can build it at, and what they can purpose it for are actually distracted by local zoning regulations and HOA codes. 

Also, keep in mind that there are so many kinds of accessory dwelling units out there, and a variety of techniques companies employ to actually construct them. Some basic ADU categories include: converting an existing living area (like a basement or attic), building a new freestanding structure, or adding to an existing structure (like a detached garage).


Financing is often the most difficult step in ADU construction, just behind the confusing circus of permitting. But ADU’s are a valuable addition to communities creating affordable housing and keep people from being priced out of their own neighborhoods. Cities like LA have implemented incentive programs like novel loans to encourage ADU development. There are similar programs in place or on deck in cities across the country, so, along with consulting with manufacturers, look into the local initiatives that might make paying for your unit a bit easier.


Elevated design is where ADU's really shine. There are literally hundreds of models, types, and floor plans you can choose from, as well as countless aesthetics you can customize and create through collaborating with whatever architects or manufacturers you contracted to build your unit. Most ADU’s are designed with a huge amount of intention and care, so that your construction not only looks nice, but also adheres to the legal, regulatory, or logistic limitations that come along with your project. You can also choose from prefab and modular units, which are basically ADU’s constructed as one unit, and ADU’s that are built separately in modules, and put together on site. 


And now, boots are on the ground, and the shovel has met soil-- as in, you have finally gotten to the building phase of your project. This is where your builder, project manager, or manufacturer steps in; they handle things like securing permits, preparing the building site, connecting utilities, and other details of construction. Consider the hard parts over; it’s smooth sailing from here.

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