That empty garage being used for storage may be the answer to a housing shortage that is affecting markets across the country. Several communities nationwide are considering lifting zoning requirements to allow more accessory dwelling units or ADUs, which would permit adding extra housing onto an existing home.
California—facing an epic housing shortage—is one state actively pursuing the idea. A recent report from the California Housing Partnership says that the state needs 1.4 million more affordable rental homes to meet current population needs. California lawmakers have been relaxing their laws to allow more ADUs—whether that’s a garage conversion, backyard cottage, or an in-law apartment or granny flat that could be added onto an existing home. Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law earlier this month to urge greater construction of ADUs.
On a personal note, I have been researching adding an ADU to my property in Pacific Grove and the city has been helpful in giving me information about the process and going over the do's and don'ts. Pacific Grove is now selling water credits but if you are building an ADU there, you don't have to wait for your water purchase. They city is also waiving the ADU permit fee.
Each city and property will have specific requirements for allowable building space, set backs etc so make sure you begin your research at the city or county. Design companies are also starting to specialize in ADU builds so keep that in mind if you are looking for some help.
Source: “Empty Garages: The Answer to California’s Housing Shortage?” The New York Times (Oct. 15, 2019)