ADU Plans
January 22, 2024

What Do ADU Plans Typically Include: A Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners

Argi Avetisyan
Argi Avetisyan
Gather ADU expert
What Do ADU Plans Typically Include: A Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners
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As the housing landscape continues to evolve, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have risen to the forefront as a versatile and valuable option for homeowners looking to maximize their properties. Whether for accommodating family members, generating rental income, or creating a private sanctuary, ADUs offer an array of benefits. However, for those who are new to the ADU endeavor, understanding the intricacies of designing and building these structures can be daunting. This comprehensive guide is designed to shed light on the components of ADU plans and navigate the path to a successful ADU project for homeowners.

Section 1: Understanding ADUs

Definition of ADUs

ADUs, also known as granny flats, in-law units, or backyard cottages, refer to secondary housing units on a single-family residential lot. These units can take many forms and often share the same lot as the main home, offering separate living accommodation suitable for a variety of residential uses.

Types of ADUs

ADUs come in three primary types:

  • Attached: Connected to the main house, such as a converted basement or an addition with a separate entrance.
  • Detached: Stand-alone structures located on the same property as the main home.
  • Conversion: Transformations of existing spaces within the main home, like a garage or a part of the house.

Benefits of ADUs

The advantages of ADUs are numerous:

  • They offer a flexible living space that caters to changing family dynamics.
  • They can serve as an income stream through renting or Airbnb-style accommodation.
  • They often increase the value of the property.
  • They provide a sustainable solution by making use of existing infrastructure.

Section 2: The Importance of ADU Plans

The core document of any building project, including ADUs, is the building plan. ADU plans are essential for a diverse array of reasons:

  • Regulations and Permits: They are necessary for obtaining the required permits from the local building department.
  • Design Considerations: They provide a blueprint for the physical layout and look of the ADU, helping all parties involved to visualize the end result.
  • Construction Guide: They act as a guide for the contractor, clearly stating how the ADU should be constructed.

Section 3: Key Components of ADU Plans

An ADU architectural plan and permit package outline every detail of the unit. Here is what they typically include:

1. Cover Sheet and Site Plan

The cover sheet introduces the project, including the owner's information and the location. It may also contain a site plan, an aerial view of the property with the ADU's location relative to the existing house.

2. Floor Plan (Existing & Proposed)

The floor plan offers a detailed view of the ADU's layout, including rooms, walls, doors, and windows. It typically shows the existing floor plan (for conversion projects) and the proposed new floor plan. The floor plan is fundamental for understanding the flow and functionality of the space.

3. Elevations

Elevations provide a flat, two-dimensional view of the three-dimensional structure. They show the building from the front, rear, and sides and provide a clear image of the design, materials, and height.

4. Roof & Roof Framing Plan

This section details the type of roof, its slope, and its materials. The roof framing plan expands on the roof design, showing how the structure supports the roof.

5. Foundation Plan

The foundation plan is essential, outlining the type of foundation to be used, its materials, and how it supports the ADU.

6. Electrical Plan

The electrical plan is another crucial aspect, defining the locations of lights, outlets, and switches. It also indicates any electrical needs for appliances.

7. Plumbing Plan

The plumbing plan depicts the placement of fixtures like sinks, toilets, showers, and bathtubs. It also details the routes pipes will take and shows where they intersect with walls.

8. Other Details as Required

From materials lists to structural calculations, ADU plans can include various specific details depending on the project's needs and the local building code.

Section 4: Common Challenges and Solutions

Building an ADU is not without its difficulties. Here are some common challenges and how to address them:

Dealing with Limited Space

For small properties, careful planning is key. Simplifying the design, utilizing multi-purpose spaces, and incorporating smart storage solutions can make the most of a smaller ADU.

Addressing Zoning and Building Code Requirements

Every jurisdiction has its own rules for ADUs. Understanding these requirements, such as lot size, set-backs, and building height, is crucial. Designing the ADU to meet these standards can prevent costly delays and revisions.

Ensuring Accessibility and Safety

Adhering to accessibility standards, especially for new construction, is important. This includes ensuring door openings, circulation paths, and bathrooms meet guidelines. Safety features like smoke detectors and egress windows are also necessary.

Budgeting and Financing Options

Creating an accurate budget for an ADU project is essential. It's important to consider both hard costs (construction, materials, labour) and soft costs (design, permits, financing). There are various financing options, such as home equity loans, construction loans, and cash-out refinancing, to explore.

Section 5: Hiring Professionals for ADU Plans

Given the complexity of designing and obtaining permits for an ADU, working with professionals is often advisable.

The Role of Architects and Designers

An architect or designer can help navigate the design process, ensuring the ADU meets your needs and complies with local regulations. They can also provide valuable input on aesthetics and functionality.

Questions to Ask When Hiring Professionals

When selecting a professional, consider asking about their experience with ADUs, their understanding of local building codes, and their ability to manage the permit process.

Tips for Working with Professionals

Good communication and clear expectations are the cornerstones of a successful relationship with a professional. Be prepared to discuss your budget, priorities, and must-have elements for your ADU.

Start Your ADU Journey with Our Expert Team Today!

If you're ready to take the next step towards your ADU project, our expert team is here to help. Our ADU Architectural Plans & Permits service includes the comprehensive set of plans you need to set your project in motion. We handle the entire process from start to finish, from initial consultation to plan submission and beyond. By crafting high-quality plans that align with your vision and local requirements, we set the stage for a smooth, successful ADU project.

Don't let the complexities of ADU planning overwhelm you. With our support, you can confidently pursue the vision of a new, flexible, and valuable space on your property. Get in touch today to learn more and kickstart your ADU journey!

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Not sure where to start with your ADU project?


Not sure where to start with your ADU project?

Book a free call