Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to questions about ADUs, Abodu, regulations, financing, construction, and more.
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 800 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 800 square foot mark, local jurisdictions gain back some oversight that allows them to impose some local regulations.
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.
Do ADUs need a separate address?
Some jurisdictions do not require separate addresses form the main home.
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, which is a common complaint about the construction of multifamily properties.
Who designs the Abodu?
Abodu consists of a world-class team of architects, designers, and building professionals. We work in-house to develop our products and also collaborate with outside architects, engineers, etc. Our aim is to create beautiful spaces with enough customizable 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 Abodus in California, generally in the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles Area. 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. It also means more peace of mind for you, since we spend much less time in your yard.
Is modular the same as prefab?
Not exactly. Modular is the process of building and delivering a home in several smaller components. Abodu Studio, Abodu One, Abodu Two, and Dwell House are prefab and arrive as one (mostly) completed structure, meaning they are not technically modular. Abodu Two+ is prefab and modular as it's substantially built in a factory but will arrive in two pieces to your site.
Is this like a mobile home?
Absolutely not. 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 brand-new residential construction projects, and we exceed California building code standards, focusing on high-quality materials throughout. Mobile homes are built according to the federal HUD code, which is much less stringent, less durable, and less energy efficient.
How long does it take?
Abodus are homes that fit your backyard, and beat your timeline. An Abodu project can take as little as 9 months to complete starting from contract signing until we give you the keys. See our overview of the project timeline here.
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 California HCD standards (Housing and Community Development). Without being built to that standard, the ADU would be considered “Personal Property” (like a mobile home) and therefore a depreciating asset. Abodu is one of very few ADU providers that build to California HCD standards.
Does Abodu have a contractor license?
Absolutely! CSLB# 1073522, WACL# ABODUI*807RM. From contracts signed, to traffic management, to utility hookups, Abodu has you covered from start to finish with our in-house team and select partners. And everything we do is backed by our General Liability and Worker’s Compensation insurance policies, ensuring that our crews are safe and your home is protected.
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 a dedicated Project Manager, permitting, and installation.
Learn more about pricing here.
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.
Depending on your property, you may require third-party environmental reports (soils report, arborist report, methane study, etc.).
With our transparent pricing, you’ll know about any extra costs before you sign up. First, we send a team member to your backyard for an on-site consultation. Once we understand the entire scope of the project, we deliver a comprehensive project cost. We take a lot of pride in being transparent and honest about cost.
Learn more about pricing here.
Is this a one size fits all approach?
Not at all—we pride ourselves on the breadth of our product line and our customization options. Firstly, you get to choose between our five Abodu models: Abodu Studio, Abodu One, Abodu Two, Abodu Two+, and Dwell House. Secondly, we have an expansive list of options and upgrades so it can fit your space and style. Check out our Abodu Configurator for all the options and upgrades.
Can you make a different sized unit for me?
What appliances are provided, and can I install my own?
Every Abodu comes standard with the following appliances and equipment:
exterior vented range hood
heat pump heating and air conditioning system
heat pump water heater
Our homeowners have the option of upgrading from our Standard Appliances to our Premium Appliances, or adding a Washer/Dryer to their unit. See our customization options in the Abodu Configurator.
You can modify your Abodu after you've received your keys, similar to how you might remodel your primary home.
Do we pay for the cabinets, plumbing fixtures, appliances, etc. separately?
Nope. Our price includes everything from site work, 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 its own set of options and upgrades, from siding and roofing to interior finishes and appliances. Learn more by using the Abodu Configurator. Our design team has curated a selection of options and upgrades that are beautiful and still allow you to make your Abodu truly yours.
Who fills out and submits paperwork and permits?
We’ve got this! Our end-to-end service includes everything from submitting permits, to pulling permits, to installing your unit. Your toughest decision, we hope, will be choosing your siding type and color.
What's Abodu's design philosophy?
Abodu is all about providing homeowners the freedom that a beautifully designed and expertly delivered accessory dwelling unit (ADU) offers.
At Abodu, we approach the home as a meticulously designed product that’s simple, uplifting, and full of light. Instead of designing one-off buildings, we’ve created a family of products, continuously learn from our customers, iterate on our products to always improve them, and constantly tweak our production process to deliver high quality for less.
What is the Dwell House?
Dwell House is Abodu’s most premium backyard home, and came from 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 tastes. Read more about the Dwell House here.
Size and Setbacks
Can I put an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in my backyard?
How will I know if an Abodu will fit in my yard?
Get in touch with your specific address. Our team can run a remote assessment and report back with specific details about your home.
The general guidelines are as follows:
Abodu Studio measures 28’-1” W x 12’-2” D and generally requires 36'-1" W x 26'-2" D of clear space in your yard, including typical setback requirements.
Abodu One measures 35’-7” W x 14’-7” D and generally requires 45'-7" W x 26'-7" D of clear space in your yard, including typical setback requirements.
Abodu Two measures 43’-8” W x 14’-7” D and generally requires 51'-8" W x 26'-7" D of clear space in your yard, including typical setback requirements.
Abodu Two+ measures 27’-6” W x 29' D and generally requires 35'-6" W x 43'-0" D of clear space in your yard, including typical setback requirements.
Dwell House measures 37'-10" W x 14’-3" D and generally requires 45'-10" W x 26'-3" D of clear space in your yard, including typical setback 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. Over 750 square feet, homeowners are subject to local impact fees. Over 800 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.
The largest Abodu ADU is the Abodu Two+, which is 800 square feet and features two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Energy Efficiency And Solar
Do Abodus come with solar panels?
Solar panels are not included in the base price but are an option on all Abodu models.
Are Abodus energy efficient?
Absolutely. All Abodu models feature high-efficiency low-e windows, and the walls, ceiling, and subfloor are all insulated to exceed California HCD code standards. Plus, every Abodu model is all-electric, including appliances, light fixtures, heat pump heating/cooling system, and heat-pump water heater.
Does Abodu offer financing?
Yes — Abodu offers in-house financing services for the best rates and service. 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), along with other options. Learn more about Abodu's financing options here. Or just 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.
How does financing with Abodu Financing work?
Abodu is a licensed Mortgage Brokerage with an in-house Mortgage Broker. We maintain a wide range of lender relationships to find the most attractive loan terms possible to finance your Abodu ADU. Our Mortgage Broker will first have a conversation with you to understand your goals and preferred methods of financing. After your informational call, we’ll leverage our lender network to find the most attractive option for you. To book a call with an Abodu Mortgage Broker, click here!
Do I need to refinance my existing mortgage?
Nope! You can keep your existing low rate primary mortgage and finance your Abodu ADU separately with a second mortgage. In fact, at Abodu, we have a network of lenders that provide below market rates on second mortgages starting at an introductory rate of 3.99% APR.
What’s the most common way to finance an Abodu ADU currently?
The two most common ways our customers are financing their Abodu ADU is with a home equity line of credit (HELOC) starting with an introductory rate of 3.99% APR and fixed rate 15-year second mortgage starting at 6.75% APR.
Am I able to use the CalHFA grant to purchase my Abodu ADU?
Currently, the CalHFA ADU grant is on hold. Once the state legislature decides how to allocate the funds, our in-house Mortgage Broker can assist you with applying and getting approved for the grant so you can use it to purchase your ADU with us.
I just bought my home and don’t have a lot of equity but want to purchase an Abodu ADU. What are my options?
We work with lenders who consider the after-renovation value of your home with the Abodu ADU along with 75% of the expected rental income (only if you plan on renting it out) on a home equity line of credit.
I’m self-employed. How do I qualify for a loan?
At Abodu, we work with lenders that are able to qualify you based on profit and loss statements and bank statements instead of traditional income documents like paystubs, W2s and tax returns.
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. We 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. Even though our units are compact, we've been mindful to arrange them in a way to be friendly to those with mobility issues.