Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

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floppyb
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:08 pm

Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

Post by floppyb » Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:57 am

I need some guidance regarding an Accessory Dealing Unit (ADU) for my property in CA.

In May, I purchased a home that had 3 total structures on the lot, including the main house. We purchased the home with the purpose of converting one of the existing structures into an ADU for a family member to live in. This structure was originally built as the garage back in the 20s, then an addition was done to it in the 40s and then another addition was done in the 80s. All permitted. The two additions were normal rooms, while the garage part stayed a garage. Our intention was to convert the garage space into an additional living area. The third structure on the property was built during the 80s as well and was also fully permitted. We aren't doing anything to the 3rd building.

After drawing up our property, our architect meet with the regional planner at county and was told that we couldn't have more than 2 two habitable structures on a single-family residential lot. Since all three buildings are considered habitable, the planner seemed to say that our intended plan of converting the existing garage into an ADU wasn't going to be approved.

So I have a couple of questions. Even though all of my structures on the property are legal and were done permitted, am I really unable to do any sort of construction to them at all? Does this mean that every time I want to remodel I have to bring my entire property up to current codes?
Most importantly, I'm at a lost of who I should be speaking with locally to help me understand this process. Is it a real estate lawyer?

To make matters more complicated, in January 2020, a new ADU law will be going into effect that may or may not solve this?

Thanks so much for any help!

Zubs
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Re: Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

Post by Zubs » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:35 am

You are probably going to have to start at the City level first.

The City Engineer or their office is usually involved with ADU's at some point. I would start with them.

Each City can have it's own process and then you could also have County regulations as well.

mervinj7
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Re: Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

Post by mervinj7 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:54 pm

floppyb wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:57 am
In May, I purchased a home that had 3 total structures on the lot, including the main house. We purchased the home with the purpose of converting one of the existing structures into an ADU for a family member to live in. This structure was originally built as the garage back in the 20s, then an addition was done to it in the 40s and then another addition was done in the 80s. All permitted. The two additions were normal rooms, while the garage part stayed a garage. Our intention was to convert the garage space into an additional living area. The third structure on the property was built during the 80s as well and was also fully permitted. We aren't doing anything to the 3rd building.
I can't answer your question but just wanted to clarify something. You currently have a main house and two additions that are liveable. You now plan on converting the garage into an additional space. Does that mean you will be going from three units to four units on a single family zoned lot? I believe the rules are slightly modified for duplex zoned lots.

Topic Author
floppyb
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Re: Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

Post by floppyb » Fri Nov 08, 2019 3:28 pm

mervinj7 wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:54 pm
floppyb wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:57 am
In May, I purchased a home that had 3 total structures on the lot, including the main house. We purchased the home with the purpose of converting one of the existing structures into an ADU for a family member to live in. This structure was originally built as the garage back in the 20s, then an addition was done to it in the 40s and then another addition was done in the 80s. All permitted. The two additions were normal rooms, while the garage part stayed a garage. Our intention was to convert the garage space into an additional living area. The third structure on the property was built during the 80s as well and was also fully permitted. We aren't doing anything to the 3rd building.
I can't answer your question but just wanted to clarify something. You currently have a main house and two additions that are liveable. You now plan on converting the garage into an additional space. Does that mean you will be going from three units to four units on a single family zoned lot? I believe the rules are slightly modified for duplex zoned lots.
Well, sorta but not quite. We have the main house where we live. Then we have a detached studio/game room (around 300 sq ft) that has a bathroom and shower in it. The county considers this "habitable" because it has plumbing and windows. The 3rd structure is a garage that the previous owners had done additions to, including adding a bathroom, which again made it "habitable". But, they had left the garage as a garage basically. We would like to convert the garage into a living space, that will also be combined with the previous additions. The garage and additions are one single structure.

We aren't adding any additional units, but instead combing a living space with the garage and making a larger space. At the end of the conversion, we would still be left with 3 "habitable" structures, just like what we have now. Sorry if this isn't clear, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

mervinj7
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Re: Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

Post by mervinj7 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:17 pm

floppyb wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 3:28 pm
Well, sorta but not quite. We have the main house where we live. Then we have a detached studio/game room (around 300 sq ft) that has a bathroom and shower in it. The county considers this "habitable" because it has plumbing and windows. The 3rd structure is a garage that the previous owners had done additions to, including adding a bathroom, which again made it "habitable". But, they had left the garage as a garage basically. We would like to convert the garage into a living space, that will also be combined with the previous additions. The garage and additions are one single structure.

We aren't adding any additional units, but instead combing a living space with the garage and making a larger space. At the end of the conversion, we would still be left with 3 "habitable" structures, just like what we have now. Sorry if this isn't clear, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.
I think you may need a real estate lawyer. The way I understand the new ADU laws from 2019, each single family plot may potentially have a main house, a junior ADU (part of the original space), and a detached ADU. Your scenario sounds like a main house with two detached ADUs (or three units on a single family lot).

https://carlaef.org/2019/09/13/making-s ... gislation/
Assuming that the Governor signs all of these bills, ADU development will become much less costly and more available to all homeowners in California. Homeowners seeking to develop ADUs will have two options. First, they will be able to take advantage of paragraph (e) in the new state law and develop one ADU and one JADU with a few restrictions:

A new detached ADU does not exceed 16 feet in height or 800 square feet in floor area, and maintains 4 foot side and rear setbacks.

The JADU is converted from an existing structure.

If the ADU is converted from an existing structure, it is limited to the size of that structure plus 150 square feet.

Topic Author
floppyb
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:08 pm

Re: Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

Post by floppyb » Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:45 pm

I think you may need a real estate lawyer. The way I understand the new ADU laws from 2019, each single family plot may potentially have a main house, a junior ADU (part of the original space), and a detached ADU. Your scenario sounds like a main house with two detached ADUs (or three units on a single family lot).

https://carlaef.org/2019/09/13/making-s ... gislation/
Assuming that the Governor signs all of these bills, ADU development will become much less costly and more available to all homeowners in California. Homeowners seeking to develop ADUs will have two options. First, they will be able to take advantage of paragraph (e) in the new state law and develop one ADU and one JADU with a few restrictions:

A new detached ADU does not exceed 16 feet in height or 800 square feet in floor area, and maintains 4 foot side and rear setbacks.

The JADU is converted from an existing structure.

If the ADU is converted from an existing structure, it is limited to the size of that structure plus 150 square feet.
What confuses me is mostly, is how my structures are defined in terms of the law. For instance, if my structures are designated as "habitable" why do I need go through the ADU process? Why can't I remodel it in a normal sense? If there is a difference between something that is considered habitable and something that is legally able to be lived in, why does my studio then get counted against me as an ADU when we aren't planning on touching it?
If the ADU is converted from an existing structure, it is limited to the size of that structure plus 150 square feet.
Again, I get confused in how things are defined. The garage and additions are considered a single, detached structure. So it seems like I should be able to convert that existing structure without adding an sq footage.

I'm starting to think I might need that lawyer...

WhyNotUs
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Re: Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

Post by WhyNotUs » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:05 pm

You need a land use planner who is active in your county. A land use attorney is another more expensive option and an active land use planner will typically have more experience with the code.

It sounds like you live in an unincorporated area and thus the county land use general plan would apply. There should be a section of it that deals with ADUs and a section that has definitions. You can probably find it online and satisfy your curiosity about definitions.

In my state, a space is defined as a dwelling unit when it has a cook stove, bathroom, and sleeping area but every state and often counties have a right to develop their own definitions and rules.
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Topic Author
floppyb
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:08 pm

Re: Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

Post by floppyb » Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:40 am

WhyNotUs wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:05 pm
You need a land use planner who is active in your county. A land use attorney is another more expensive option and an active land use planner will typically have more experience with the code.

It sounds like you live in an unincorporated area and thus the county land use general plan would apply. There should be a section of it that deals with ADUs and a section that has definitions. You can probably find it online and satisfy your curiosity about definitions.

In my state, a space is defined as a dwelling unit when it has a cook stove, bathroom, and sleeping area but every state and often counties have a right to develop their own definitions and rules.
Is a land use planner someone I hire or would they be working for the county/local goverment?

Thanks for all the help so far!

WhyNotUs
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Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:38 am

Re: Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

Post by WhyNotUs » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:39 am

Both, the County will have a planner and you can sit down with them for free.
A private planner works for you and tries to figure out how to work the code to achieve your goals. It would be similar to hiring a RE attorney except their focus is more code related whereas a RE attorney is likely to have more work on title, contract, and closing work. You had said that you already met with the county planner so my suggestion was to meet with one who is working for you and ask them how to achieve your goals.
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stan1
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Re: Accessory Dealing Unit(ADU) in CA

Post by stan1 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:50 am

Your architect or builder should have some experience with this. It's not an uncommon problem in older neighborhoods such as Pasadena, Santa Monica, or City of LA between downtown and Westwood. What are they advising? If they aren't expert they should help you with a referral. An example of the person you might hire is a retired city employee who now does consulting. You could also ask your neighbors or a neighborhood association for referrals.

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