California — the nation’s most populated state — passed recent legislation that has made it easier for homeowners to add a guest house or accessory dwelling to their properties. After all, with rising demand and short supply of housing, what’s a state to do? It’s no wonder, therefore, that this trend of adding a guest house or accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to properties has become a hot-ticket trend in recent months.
What’s an accessory dwelling unit (ADU)? The term applies to guest houses, granny flats, in-law suites, caretaker cottages, and “casitas” — to name a few. Essentially, an ADU is any living space that is added onto a property to accommodate other residents.
Why do families like building ADUs and guest houses on their properties? Families are becoming more multi-generational. Keeping the family together, while still maintaining everyone’s privacy, calls for a high demand in guest house cottages being built on homeowner properties. And it’s not just for grandparents. Some children, as they grow older, live in these guest houses so that they enjoy their independence, and yet remain in close proximity to the family.
What’s another bonus to having ADUs and guest houses? For large property owners, an ADU can mean a caretaker cottage, where hired help can have an office or even a residence. Hired help can be the maid or butler, the housekeeper, the nanny, the assisted living nurse, the chauffeur, or even the groundskeeper. The concept is not unlike the British tradition of housing the caretaker or estate manager within the sprawling great house, manor, or landed property. And, with California having many multi-million dollar luxury homes, it’s no great leap why high-end property owners would have caretaker cottages included within their residential acreage.
What about those who like being landlords? Having ADUs in the property means opportunity for home owners to become landlords. They can rent out the guest houses to earn more income. Another viable option that more homeowners are doing is that they themselves move into the guest house while they rent out the main house on AirBnB.
What kinds of ADUs or guest houses can be added onto a property? The main thing is that while legislation has been passed that applies state-wide in California, homeowners nonetheless have to do their due diligence research on what the local laws are, especially zoning laws and the home owners association (HOA) rules. Click on this link to find out more about some local laws that might apply to you. And click this link here for more on the specific bills signed into law, by the California governor, that makes it easier to include accessory dwelling units on a property.
If one doesn’t want to build from scratch, where can one get a pre-fabricated guest house or ADU to add to their property? Believe it or not there are many options available. Upcycled shipping containers, barn sheds, and log cabin kits are some of the many options that can be used as a guest house. And many of these can be purchased on Amazon under the term “pre-fabricated tiny home” — they can cost as little as $1200 to the upper $3000s. For mid-range prices, there are pre-fabricated tiny homes on Amazon that run from $4000 to $8000. Of course, if you want some with more square footage, they can be purchased at $17,000 to the upper $30,000 range. Finally, there are also pre-fabricated log cabin kits that can be purchased as well — and they can run from the $25,000 to $75,000 range. Given the wide spectrum of choices, it is easy to see why some homeowners and landowners see ADUs as being a very feasible option to increase residential space and provide additional income streams. Imagine receiving a delivery of a tiny home to be used as a guest house on your property. The possibilities are full of promise.
But what if you don’t want the ADU or guest house to have any residents — what can you use the space for? Many homeowners have converted these ADUs and guest houses into a little kids playhouse (similar to a tree house but not in a tree, thus decreasing any climbing injuries), a home office space, an artist studio, and even a recreational cottage (like a man cave or a ‘she’ shed). So the great thing about ADUs and guest houses is that they can be leveraged in many versatile ways.