Accessory Dwelling Unit - A Personal Journey!



Accessory dwelling units or ADUs are becoming increasingly popular across California. I recently completed a 638 SF ADU in the backyard of a home I own in Pacific Grove. A 2021 survey of California’s ADU owners by the UC, Berkeley Center for Community Innovation found that most units are detached. Average square footage is 615sf and 61% are 1-bedroom. The California ADU market didn’t take off until legislators passed a state law in 2017 that overrode local zoning restrictions that are uniform in the state. (Marketwatch)


My experience overall was very positive. The City of Pacific Grove made it easy to get things done. I was able to buy water for the cottage by retrofitting the 1929 main house with new appliances and 1.28g toilets. I built a 1/1 with a full kitchen and bathroom. I did take down the old garage and although I had the option to add the apartment above, I decided not to. I didn't want the structure to overwhelm my neighbors or the main house. I think it was a good decision and I can get a small storage shed that can house bikes and boxes.


I could have built a slightly larger cottage but I didn't want to take up too much of the garden. The ADU and the main house will now share the garden and I have created 2 areas where people can sit. I'm putting in some maple trees and landscaping that will help create some privacy for both homes.


I debated doing apartment size appliances but ended up with full size. The floor plan created a "great room" with a combined kitchen/living space so I had ample room to add a lot of kitchen cabinets. It's amazing!


I began this project during the Pandemic when materials costs were escalating. Cost to build ended about $500 per foot but it could have been done for less. It was important for me to make sure that the architecture of the main 1929 Spanish style home was duplicated in the ADU so clay tile, stucco, higher ceilings and beams contributed to some additional costs.


All in all, it was a good experience, well worth the effort and it now provides a future for multiple generational living for our family.