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accessory dwelling units

site-specific architecture has worked on several projects over the years where we maximized usable and/or rentable space on small urban lots. The new California Accessory Dwelling Unit law has given us a new tool kit to help our clients develop additional housing options in a broad range of situations. We welcome this new law, and the potential for it to increase urban density in a sustainable fashion - without creating large, over-scaled developments, but rather by providing more flexibility to home owners to utilize their properties in a creative way. At site-specific architecture, we approach projects of all scales with the same design rigor - simple, well thought-out structures and details create a pleasant, contemporary living environment.  

About the law:

In 2016, the California State Legislature passed a new, state-wide law that greatly increased the opportunity to develop second dwelling units (ADUs) on single-family or multi-family lots with an existing single family residence. The intent of the law is to decrease housing shortage and improve affordability of housing stock - both by creating more rental units, and by creating the potential for rental income for home owners. This new law has created amazing opportunities to create rental units on many urban lots that previously did not allow such development.


A few highlights of the new law are:

-  ADUs can have a maximum area of 1200 sq ft, and cannot be larger than 50% of the main residence.

-  ADUs do not need to fulfill new parking requirements, if they have access to public transportation (a given in our urban LA area).

-  ADUs can be located within an area of the main house (existing or add on), or can be within a separate structure on the lot.

- Existing, required garages can be converted to ADUs and required parking for the main residence can be replaced with uncovered parking on the lot which can be located within setbacks (tandem parking allowed).

- A separate exterior entrance to the ADU is required, but no "passageway" is necessary.

- Maximum lot coverage laws still apply.

- Utilities can be shared between main residence and ADU in conversions with no additions.

- ADUs must not be sold separately, but can be rented.

- Local building codes apply to all new construction.

Please note that different municipalities interpret the law in slightly different ways. Please inquire with your local planning department or call us for a consultation to help you determine how you can develop an ADU on your property.



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