Planning The Perfect ADU For Your Property?

Planning The Perfect ADU For Your Property?

Here are some key considerations to set you on the path to make the best decisions.

What is the optimal placement of your ADU?

As you decide on the size and floorplan, it is important to determine the best placement on your property. In other words, where on your lot will it work best from both your and the occupant’s standpoint.

Some of the factors that will determine the most appropriate buildable space are ADU size limits, required setbacks, and your site constraints. A feasibility study is designed to determine the possibilities of building a unit on your property and honing in on the best location on your lot. In addition, it will provide you with the maximum buildable ADU, jurisdiction information, foundation recommendations and approximate permit fees.

What is the purpose of your ADU?

When building an ideal ADU it’s best to start from its intended use. Will it be used by family members? Adult children or an aging parent? Will it be for yourselves — making it the perfect time to create a home with the workout space or office you’ve been craving? Or will you use it as a rental to give you additional revenue? Each use will have different preferred features, layout or number of rooms. Floorplans should be studied to see which model works best for your intended use. Remembering too, that its use may change over time, from being a rental or a guest house to becoming a home for an aging parent in the future. When reviewing floor plans, keep your end user in mind. And think ahead to how things may change down the road.

  • Flexibility is key – Your ADU should be as useful to you in ten years as it is today. It helps to think ahead to what changes may take place in your life and those of loved ones. The spaces should be as flexible as possible. You want enough square footage that is comfortable for today’s use without being too tight or overwhelming for a future user.
  • Look at resale value – When you are ready to sell, a well-planned  ADU can be an added value to your current property. For example, a 2-bedroom ADU will bring more value as a rental than a studio.  In addition, it’s wise to make sure the exterior style is as consistent with the rest of your property as possible.

Consider the live-ability of the ADU.

Put yourself in the place of the occupant. What will it feel like to live in your ADU? How is the privacy and separation from the primary dwelling? Consider the differences when using it for extended family or as a rental. Good ADU design and placement will keep in mind each of these design factors:

Separation from primary residence through natural elements like hedges, trees or man-made features such as walls or fencing can offer privacy and seclusion from the primary dwelling. Adding a dedicated walkway to and from the ADU ensures a separation between households and un-interrupted daily lives.

Consider the sight lines from windows and doors. You will want to assess the position of windows and exterior doors relative to the main dwelling, property features like pools, neighboring homes, as well as views.

The exterior of your ADU should blend with the rest of your property and neighborhood. In fact, most municipal ADU codes and HOAs mandate that the ADU aesthetic should match the primary home. The designer must take this into consideration to ensure the architectural details shown on the plans will sufficiently match your primary dwelling.

Cost is the first thing most people consider when they decide to take on a new project for their home. Your selected ADU floorplan and design can greatly affect the price of your unit, so it is important to keep your budget in mind when finalizing your choice.

To align your design with your budget, consider the following tips:

  • Choose an existing floorplan that fits your needs – Customization and modifications can be costly and lengthen the process. Pre-designed floor plans provide various options for your backyard home. You can choose curated finishes to make the home feel unique.
  • Stay within ADU size thresholds – To control your budget, consider units with a square footage that comes in under particular size thresholds. Certain fees are applied if your backyard home is over specific size thresholds. For example, sticking with a unit that is less than 750 sq. ft vs. one that is 775 sq. ft. would not only save on construction costs, but will save thousands in impact fees in certain jurisdictions.

There is a lot to learn, but we are here to consult with homeowners such as yourself throughout the San Diego area. Contact us by phone at 858-437-8476, email at  or visit our website with any questions or to request a site visit and complimentary feasibility study.

ADU Floorplan
Scroll to Top