backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
chuppi
Posts: 130
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:47 am

backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by chuppi » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:48 am

I recently bought a 3 bedroom 2 bath house 1350 sqft in California bay area with a nice backyard and pool. I have two young boys and I know I will outgrow the house in a few years.
I prefer to build a small living space (~200 sqft) in the backyard instead of moving from here. It will be a pool house that can be readily transform to guest room, office room, man cave, etc... I want it with running water, electricity, shower, kitchenette, toilet. I am quite clear on what I want but don't know how to get there.

I have started looking out for open houses in the area with backyard units to gather information. I prefer prefab if possible to lower cost. I am pretty handy with finishing work such as flooring, tiles, etc.... I cannot deal with permit and work such as foundation/framing, roofing, etc... My budget is < 100K.
Appreciate any suggestions and first hand experience on this.
Thanks

123
Posts: 2718
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:55 pm

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by 123 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:05 am

I had a neighbor in Southern California that wanted an "in-law" type unit in his back yard. Local zoning codes didn't allow a separate "house" on his lot in the city. However, he was able to get a building permit to build a "pool house" in a back corner of his back yard. It was like a small studio apartment with a bathroom, utility connections (same meter), etc. He situated the "pool house" on the plans on his lot on the far side of a future "pool" which he doesn't intend to ever build.

His "pool house" was built from scratch. I don't know if the city would have allowed any kind of pre-fabricated unit.

Perhaps a swimming pool contractor could give you some insight into possibilities.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

chuppi
Posts: 130
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:47 am

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by chuppi » Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:09 am

Thanks 123. I will discuss with an architect I know in the area.

User avatar
Tamarind
Posts: 741
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:38 pm

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by Tamarind » Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:09 pm

Make sure you check out your local land use ordinance for details on what is and isn't allowed. You may be pleasantly surprised, but it's best to do this early.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 14523
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by dm200 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:15 pm

Tamarind wrote:Make sure you check out your local land use ordinance for details on what is and isn't allowed. You may be pleasantly surprised, but it's best to do this early.
Absolutely! The rules can be both surprising and complex. It could be that some very simple choice could become a mess. Neighbors of ours built an office for the husband in the back corner of their lot. To my surprise, it was OK, even thought it was only one foot from the back line and one foot from the side. It has a loft, bathroom, very small kitchen facility. Some people don't have houses that nice.

Yooper
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri May 21, 2010 7:25 am
Location: Nothern Michigan

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by Yooper » Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:10 pm

Just a data point as I'm sure material costs in California are far more than they are here, but I built a 12x16 one room cabin for $6,500 in materials. That includes knotty pine walls. No electricity and no water, sitting on concrete "biscuits" (no foundation). I did all the work myself and have never done anything like this before, so don't sell yourself short - you're more than capable of doing it yourself if you're so inclined. Whether it's worth the time and effort might be a different story, although it didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5578
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by Mudpuppy » Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:45 am

Tamarind wrote:Make sure you check out your local land use ordinance for details on what is and isn't allowed. You may be pleasantly surprised, but it's best to do this early.
And since the zoning and building rules are up to the county and city in California, what applies in one part of California does not apply to other parts. Even in the same town, it could all depend on how the property is zoned. The OP should start by finding out what the property is zoned as (see if there's a property search feature on the county assessor's website) and go from there.

Carefreeap
Posts: 2143
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:36 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by Carefreeap » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:59 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:
Tamarind wrote:Make sure you check out your local land use ordinance for details on what is and isn't allowed. You may be pleasantly surprised, but it's best to do this early.
And since the zoning and building rules are up to the county and city in California, what applies in one part of California does not apply to other parts. Even in the same town, it could all depend on how the property is zoned. The OP should start by finding out what the property is zoned as (see if there's a property search feature on the county assessor's website) and go from there.
Most counties in the SF Bay Area allow for the ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) but it often comes with an age restriction of one of the occupants being 55 or older. This was a program designed to encourage seniors to age in place while encouraging additional affordable housing. Not sure that latter goal was met....

I encourage you to go into your City's local planning department. Challenges with separate structures often include set-back restrictions. And every property is unique. We still laugh about how our nearly .50 acre lot in a coastal city in San Mateo County is considered "sub-standard" because it's a somewhat pie shaped lot on a curve and our front footage is not 80' wide. This is in a blue collar town where the majority of lots are 5,000 sq.ft. <rolls eyes>.

chuppi
Posts: 130
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:47 am

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by chuppi » Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:46 am

Tamarind wrote:Make sure you check out your local land use ordinance for details on what is and isn't allowed. You may be pleasantly surprised, but it's best to do this early.
dm200 wrote: Absolutely! The rules can be both surprising and complex. It could be that some very simple choice could become a mess. Neighbors of ours built an office for the husband in the back corner of their lot. To my surprise, it was OK, even thought it was only one foot from the back line and one foot from the side. It has a loft, bathroom, very small kitchen facility. Some people don't have houses that nice.
Carefree wrote:I encourage you to go into your City's local planning department. Challenges with separate structures often include set-back restrictions.
Looks like I have get some specifics about my plot before I do anything else. Thanks a lot for your input.
Yooper wrote:Just a data point as I'm sure material costs in California are far more than they are here, but I built a 12x16 one room cabin for $6,500 in materials. That includes knotty pine walls. No electricity and no water, sitting on concrete "biscuits" (no foundation). I did all the work myself and have never done anything like this before, so don't sell yourself short - you're more than capable of doing it yourself if you're so inclined. Whether it's worth the time and effort might be a different story, although it didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would.
Congratulations. I am sure you are proud of your work. I know the feeling even though I haven't anything like that before. Thanks a lot for your comment. I plan to build a tree house for my toddlers this summer and that should give me some confidence. If I end up building the house, I will mostly take professional help for the structure and just do the finishing work myself.
Cheers

tim1999
Posts: 3340
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:16 am

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by tim1999 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:53 am

Here in PA your chance of local zoning ordinances allowing this sort of thing is pretty much zero in many municipalities, if it is meant to be habitable space with full utilities.

Definitely check into your local regulations.

Katietsu
Posts: 1022
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 1:48 am

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by Katietsu » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:45 pm

There may even be ordinances that regulate the building of a treehouse.

User avatar
celia
Posts: 7309
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by celia » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:48 pm

Also check on previous permits that were pulled for your property to prevent surprises. Some cities have them all online.

I know of a case where a new owner of a corner property decided to put in a pool. As people in the neighborhood walked by, some would stop and look at the construction. One day when the new pool was almost done, the new owner was outside and a passer-by commented on how surprised he was that the new owner was putting in another pool. "What do you mean?" ask the owner. "Well, you're building a pool on this side of the garage when you already have a covered pool on that side. It is only covered with about a foot of dirt." "You gotta be kidding!" "No, go check your permits."

chuppi
Posts: 130
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:47 am

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by chuppi » Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:15 am

I checked with the planning department and they do allow the accessory dwelling unit in the backyard. There are setback requirements but I can still build a 10x20 very well.

I found a local builder online who specializes in building these kinds of units. I sent him a note and he gave me a rough estimate to be around 250$/sqft which includes everything including connecting utilities. permit/drawings etc... would be another 7-8K. I expect that to go higher if I choose quality products but it still falls well within my budget. He can give me references and also let me check out his current projects.

I am not sure if I should go with a turn-key contractor. The other option is to work with an architect to design it and get permits first. Following that get quotes and choose the contractor.
I also explored the studio-shed (prefab backyard studio manufacturer) but there is less flexibility with interiors.

Carefreeap
Posts: 2143
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:36 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by Carefreeap » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:01 pm

chuppi wrote:I checked with the planning department and they do allow the accessory dwelling unit in the backyard. There are setback requirements but I can still build a 10x20 very well.

I found a local builder online who specializes in building these kinds of units. I sent him a note and he gave me a rough estimate to be around 250$/sqft which includes everything including connecting utilities. permit/drawings etc... would be another 7-8K. I expect that to go higher if I choose quality products but it still falls well within my budget. He can give me references and also let me check out his current projects.

I am not sure if I should go with a turn-key contractor. The other option is to work with an architect to design it and get permits first. Following that get quotes and choose the contractor.
I also explored the studio-shed (prefab backyard studio manufacturer) but there is less flexibility with interiors.
Invite him to make a presentation and take a look (in person) of his past projects. Sounds like a design-build type of operation which could be fine. If you don't like the style of his work then go the architect route.

ETA: BTW I had a recent conversation with my insurance agent's office about what they are using for replacement cost nowadays. She stated that they are using $300/sq.ft. as a ballpark number which seems in line with the quote you got.

chuppi
Posts: 130
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:47 am

Re: backyard - Accessory Dwelling Unit ...

Post by chuppi » Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:33 am

Thanks carefreeap for your comment. will follow your advice.

Post Reply