Frequently Asked Questions


What is an ADU?

An ADU is an Accessory Dwelling Unit, meaning it is an accessory to a main home structure. ADUs can be attached to the main home, converted from an existing space, or a newly built detached unit. In California, ADUs must include spaces for living, sleeping, cooking and a bathroom. In other words, a fully liveable structure.

What are the regulations around ADUs?

In California, for ADUs under 750 square feet, all local jurisdictions must follow a simple, short set of standard regulations. They are not allowed to enforce more restrictive standards on the structure itself, its height, design, lot ratios, or setbacks. ADUs are allowed to be as close as 4 feet from property lines and as tall as 16 feet in height. ADUs can be as big as 1,200 square feet; however, after the 750 square foot mark, local jurisdictions gain back some oversight that allows them to impose local regulations which could make building an ADU more challenging, costly, or time consuming.

Can an ADU be the main home/the only structure on a property?

Yes and No — ADUs are Accessory Dwelling Units which means in order to be permitted as ADUs, they need to be an accessory to the main home structure. However, someone could technically purchase and utilize an ADU structure as a main home, they would just need to be responsible for acquiring the necessary main home permitting which is a different process from an ADU permit.

Can you build an ADU before the main house?

You can build an ADU before the main house, however it won’t be considered an ADU — or “accessory dwelling unit” — until there is a main house. The ADU will be considered the primary residence until the main house is built, because by definition, it can’t exist on the property alone. Many homeowners will build the ADU-like structure first, build equity, and then later build the larger home and rent out the ADU. Once the second, larger home is built, the status of the originally built ADU would need to be converted.

Do ADUs need a separate address?

An ADU is required to have a separate address from the main home. This step of the process is done prior to permitting for the ADU, which is facilitated by your dedicated Abodu planning team.

Why are ADUs becoming more popular?

ADUs — or accessory dwelling units — are becoming a popular option for homeowners to increase their property value, expand their living space, bring friends and family members closer to home, and add potential income through long and short-term rentals. Additionally, they’re small and can be modestly priced compared to purchasing existing single family homes, especially in states such as California. The state of California has incentivised homeowners to add ADUs to their properties as a way to increase population density without making significant changes to the character of a neighborhood like a large multifamily unit might.


Who designs the Abodu?

We teamed up with world-renowned architect, Koto, to create beautiful, pre-approved spaces with enough custom design elements to make them your own. Every square inch is engineered to maximize the living potential of every yard.

Where do you deliver to?

We currently offer our full service in California. To find out if we can add space at your place, please fill out the Abodu contact form here and we’ll be in touch to walk you through it.

What is a "prefab" unit?

A prefab unit, or “prefabricated” unit, simply means a structure that is built in a controlled environment like a factory and assembled or placed on the final site. Building the Abodu units in a factory allows us to craft them in a controlled environment at scale, creating less waste and a higher-quality end result.

Is modular the same as prefab?

Good question. Nope. “Modular” is the process of building and delivering a home in several smaller components. This can be expensive and time-consuming. An Abodu is almost fully completed at our factory, for the absolute least impact on your home, family, and neighborhood. Once your Abodu is installed on the concrete foundation we’ve poured ahead of time in your yard, we hook up the utilities and make it permanent.

Is this like a mobile home?

An Abodu is installed on a concrete foundation and permanently connected to utilities. They have no wheels and are considered “Real Property” once fully installed. So you add to your property value and Zestimate. We use the same materials and methods that go into a typical residential construction project, and we exceed California building code standards, focusing on high-quality materials throughout.

How long does it take?

Abodus are homes that fit your backyard, and beat your timeline. A typical project takes 4-12 weeks for permitting, and around 6 months to complete. See our overview of the project timeline here. Ask us about the Abodu Quickship program, for the quickest way to install an ADU, period.

Will an Abodu ADU add value to my property?

Absolutely - Abodu ADUs add a significant amount of appreciating value to your property. It’s important to note that in California, in order for an ADU to be considered “Real Property” (an appreciating asset as if it were additional square footage), it needs to be built to HCD Standards (Housing and Community Development). Without being built to that standard, the ADU would be considered “Personal Property” and therefore a depreciating asset. Abodu is one of very few ADU providers that builds to HCD standard.

Does Abodu have a contractor license?

Absolutely! ​​CSLB# 1073522, ​​WACL# ABODUI*807RM. From contracts signed, to traffic management, to key in hand, we ensure your entire Abodu project is safe, transparent, and adheres to all city, state, and federal construction laws.


What is included in the Abodu price?

We pride ourselves on quoting one price, cemented in place. That price includes everything from the Abodu unit and the site work, to our Abodu Concierge Service, which handles the permitting, installation, and warranty.

What kinds of things can increase project cost beyond the starting price?

Some aspects of an ADU installation that can increase cost include:
  • Larger cranes for longer backyards.
  • Longer trenching for utility hook-up.
  • Significant demolition, or removal of items such as sheds or garages.
With our transparent pricing, you’ll know about any extra costs before you sign up. First, we send our dedicated team out to your backyard for an on-site feasibility assessment. Once we understand the entire scope of the project, we deliver a comprehensive project cost. We take pride in our transparent, honest pricing. Everything’s upfront from day one, so there’s no hidden costs, no deviations, and no stress.

Is this a one size fits all approach?

Not at all. Firstly, you get to choose from our three Abodu models currently for sale: Abodu StudioAbodu One, and Abodu Two. (There’s more to come in the future). Each model has specific dimensions and layouts, but we also have an expansive list of options and upgrades. So every unit is customizable to fit your space, and also how you use it. Check out our lookbook for all the options and upgrades.

Can you make a different sized unit for me?

All of the Abodu models and floorplans are pre-approved by local and state permitting offices, for the quickest installation and permitting possible. At this stage, we only sell our three Abodu models: Abodu StudioAbodu One and Abodu Two.

What appliances are provided, and can I install my own?

Every Abodu comes standard with a full suite of modern kitchen appliances, AC & Heating system, water heater, and a full-sized bathroom. Our homeowners have the option of upgrading their appliance package, material finishes, and seating/storage space. See our customization options in the Abodu lookbook.

Do we pay for the cabinets, plumbing fixtures, appliances, etc. separately?

Nope. Our base price includes everything from groundworks, to door handles, to key in hand, including all finish materials and fixtures. It’s one transparent price, cemented in place, for your whole project cost.

Can I choose my own materials and colors?

Yes — every Abodu has personalized options and upgrades, from the exterior siding and roof type to the interior finishes, floors, cabinetry and appliances. Learn more in the Abodu lookbook. Our world-renowned design and architectural teams have created beautiful spaces with best in class materials.


What about paperwork and permits?

We’ve got this! Our Abodu Concierge Service includes everything from pulling necessary permits to installing your unit. Your toughest decision, we hope, will be choosing your paint color (or choosing our beautiful weathering corten steel).


What is the design style?

We teamed up with world-renowned architects, Koto, to create beautiful spaces with enough custom design elements to make them your own. From our signature roof-line, to maximized natural light and minimalistic style, we’re grounding Scandinavian inspiration in American backyards.

What is the Dwell House?

The Dwell House is Abodu’s most premium backyard home and a design collaboration between Abodu, Dwell, and Norm Architects. The Dwell House comes in at 540 square feet and was designed for individuals with discerning taste. Read more about the Dwell House.


Can I put an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU / DADU) in my backyard?

Right now, our prefab ADUs are approved throughout California and Washington. So if you live there, then the answer is most likely “yes”. In some cities, the process is more challenging than others, so feel free to reach out with your name and address so we can assess your situation.

How will I know if an Abodu will fit in my yard?

Get in touch with your specific address. Our team can then run a remote assessment and report back to you with specific details for your home.
The general guidelines are as follows:
  • The Abodu Studio measures 12’ x 28′ overall and requires 28′ x 38′ (1,064) sq.ft.) of clear space in your yard, including typical setback requirements.

  • The Abodu One measures 14′ x 35′ overall and requires 30′ x 45’ (1,350 sq. ft.) of clear space in your yard, including typical setback requirements.

  • The Abodu Two measures 14′ x 44′ overall and requires 30′ x 54′ (1,620 sq. ft.) of clear space in your yard, including typical setbacks requirements.

How big can my ADU be?

In California, an ADU can be as big as 1,200 square feet; however, it’s very important to note the implications of building a unit over a certain size. For example, over 750 square feet, homeowners are subject to local Impact Fees, design and engineering regulations, placement of your ADU, and other factors that add significant cost, time, and headache to a project. Under that threshold, local jurisdictions are not able to impose such fees or code regulations. The largest Abodu ADU is 610 square feet and features two bedrooms. Thanks to the iconic vaulted ceilings and intentionally placed windows, that 610 square feet feels much larger.


Do Abodus come with solar panels?

Solar panels are not included in the base price but are an option on all Abodu models. The Abodu One is exempt from California and Washington’s requirement for new structures to have solar panels. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have them.

Are Abodus energy efficient?

Absolutely. All Abodu models feature Marvin high-efficiency fiberglass windows, and the walls, ceiling, and subfloor are all insulated with materials that exceed code standards. Plus, every Abodu model is all-electric, including appliances, light fixtures, and the heating/cooling system.


Does Abodu offer financing?

We offer a curated set of pre-arranged financing options through our dedicated financing partners. Depending on your situation, we can help you tap into your home equity (through a HELOC or Cash-out Refi), or obtain a traditional loan (construction loan, renovation loan). Reach out and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Can I get a loan to build an ADU?

Yes — Abodu can help you can get a loan to build an ADU. There are multiple ways you can finance an ADU, including cash out refinancing, a Home Equity Loan, a HELOC (home equity line of credit), a construction loan and more. Abodu Finance and its in-house lending consultants act as a broker, hunting for the best loan offering that fits your needs and unique situation. Learn more.


Can Abodu accommodate people with restricted mobility?

Each Abodu model was designed with ease of mobility in mind. Many of our homeowners are elderly family members so we know how important this is to our customers. Each kitchen, bathroom, hallway, entry and doorway was designed to be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or a walker. We also offer the ability to build a ramp to your Abodu’s main entrance and install a fully-tiled, curbless bathroom floor leading to the shower.


Do Abodus come standard with furniture?

Our base price does not include the furniture you see in the photos.


How do you install an Abodu?

A few weeks before your Abodu arrives, we lay a raised concrete foundation that includes a crawl space underneath. After the Abodu lands, our on-site contractor ensures your Abodu has a strong, permanent connection to the foundation, that meets all state and local, earthquake and flood requirements.

There’s an easement in my backyard. Can I still install an ADU?

It depends, but we can help you get a firm answer. Some easements will still allow an ADU, but will have restrictions on where you place it. When you schedule a feasibility study with our team, we research your property records thoroughly and report the results back to you. So there’s no surprises, and no stress.


How long does the ADU installation take?

Once our on-site contractor begins work, it typically takes 2 weeks to complete the prep before your Abodu arrives. Then, after installation day it’s typically another 2 weeks to complete the finishing touches. Then it’s time to move your furniture (or choose one of our furniture packages). For the quickest ADU available, ask us about Abodu Quickship.

How will you get the prefab (pre-fabricated) ADU into my backyard?

If you have plenty of access space for us to move it via rollers into the backyard, then we’ll do that. If you have a bit less access space, we use a crane to lift the Abodu ADU over your main home. Pull up a lawn chair and enjoy the spectacle.

What about COVID? Is the installation process safe?

We follow CDC and local county guidelines for COVID safety measures throughout your project. We even have stringent COVID-safe practices at our showroom. You can book a COVID-safe Abodu tour today.

What if I am on a septic system?

Connecting an Abodu to a septic system is definitely possible, but you will need to verify the capacity of your existing septic tank size and current bathroom count with your municipality for their unique requirements. Ideally there is additional load capacity in your existing septic system available to add the bathrooms from our ADU. If there is not enough capacity, you would need to have a third party septic contractor expand your existing system or install a dedicated system for the ADU prior to the site work for your Abodu.


How long does it take to get permits for an Abodu ADU?

The short answer is… quickly. In several Bay Area and SoCal cities, we have pre-approved “express” permit status, which allows Abodu units to be approved in 1-3 days. In other areas, it’s still a streamlined process, which typically takes 3-4 weeks total, but varies between cities.


Will an Abodu ADU add value to my property?

Absolutely - Abodu ADUs add a significant amount of appreciating value to your property. It’s important to note that in California, in order for an ADU to be considered “Real Property” (an appreciating asset as if it were additional square footage), it needs to be built to HCD Standards (Housing and Community Development). Without being built to that standard, the ADU would be considered “Personal Property” and therefore a depreciating asset. Abodu is one of very few ADU providers that builds to HCD standard.

Does an ADU count as square footage?

ADUs can increase the amount of habitable square footage on your property. However if the ADU is detached from the main home, the square footage of the ADU is typically not added to the main home’s square footage, as the comparison of other homes of that size wouldn’t be accurate. It really depends on the appraiser you’re working with. However, just because a detached ADU doesn’t add extra space to your main home's square footage, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t add value. The most valuable comparison would be with other home’s that have detached ADUs. By isolating features of your home like a detached ADU you can then determine what similar homes with those features in the market are worth.

Does my house get reassessed if I add a Backyard Home?

If you add a backyard home or an ADU to your property, your local jurisdiction will reassess your property taxes to a new base year value, which is equal to the current fair market value.


Can I rent my ADU to anyone?

Yes. If you live in the main house, you can rent your Abodu ADU to anyone you please. Welcome Grandma, rent it for extra income, or use the space yourself. It’s permanent space for flexible living.

Can I install an ADU on rental property and rent the main house and ADU to separate parties?

This answer depends on where you live. In California, you have the legal right to rent out your ADU and main home to different parties. Outside of California, some cities allow this, while many others don’t. Get in touch with your specific address, and we can help you find the right answer for your area.


Does an ADU increase my property taxes?

The short answer is yes, but only on the marginal value of the ADU. Your entire property will not be reassessed but rather just the newly added value of the ADU.

Is building an ADU tax deductible?

The way you use your ADU will impact whether or not it’s tax deductible. If you use the space as a rental property or an office space for a business, there could be an opportunity for yearly tax deductions and credits. Speak with a licensed tax accountant to find out what your options are.


What will the impact be on my home and neighborhood during construction?

As little as possible! An on-site contractor works entirely in your backyard in most cases, over a 2-3 week period. On installation day, the crane operators will set up their equipment on your street for a 3-4 hour period. That’s it! There’s no dust or waste at your place, because we prefabricate everything at ours.


How do I hook up plumbing into my ADU?

You don’t. We do. Generally, our on-site contractor will run the plumbing underground into the front yard and connect into a sewer lateral. Sometimes they’ll connect into the cleanout. In some locations, they can tie in at the back of your home. There are a few other things they need to take into account – how big the pipes are on your current system and/or how many bathrooms you have. But we’ll walk you through everything first, so there’s no surprises.

How do I get electricity in my ADU?

Again, that’s on us. In most cases, our on-site contractor will “plug” your Abodu into the panel on your main home. We typically need to connect to a 200-amp main service panel, so we may need to upgrade your panel as part of your Abodu delivery. All of this is covered in your feasibility study before you sign up. And our on-site contractors can help you manage every process, if necessary.

How do you run a gas line to the ADU?

There’s no need. All Abodu models are 100% electric, with no gas connections required. Our electric appliances are efficient, odor-free, and safer than most gas options.

Does an Abodu ADU have air conditioning?

We use an energy-efficient, all-electric mini-split system, which includes both heating and cooling. In fact, our Abodu One model has two separate, wifi-controlled zones, and our Abodu Two model has three!

How are cable, phone, garbage, and recycling services handled?

We install an empty conduit for your Internet Service provider to install a data cable. We do not install any phone line infrastructure to our units. If you are planning to rent the ADU and need separate recycling and garbage services you would need to coordinate this with your local waste management company to establish service.


I own an apartment complex. Can I still install an Abodu?

Yes, you can. In fact, if you have the room, why stop at one – you’re allowed to install two. We can also assist with SB9 projects.


My question isn’t listed

We’re sure it’s still a good one. Get in touch and we’ll walk you through it.