10 ADU Myths and Facts: Uncovering The Misconceptions

May 23, 2022

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are becoming a more prevalent housing solution in California, and many homeowners are looking to add these units to their property. However, there are some misconceptions that have risen about ADUs and how they serve their neighborhoods. In this article, we’ll dispel 10 of the most common ADU myths.

Why are ADUs important?

ADUs, also known as granny flats or backyard cottages, bring several benefits to homeowners. For starters, ADUs can increase a property’s value. They can also provide more affordable housing, especially in California, where affordable housing is in high demand. ADUs can also house aging parents who need family close by or recent college graduates who are returning home after graduation. They’re also great options for hosting out-of-town guests.

ADUs can help you generate additional income on your property without having to purchase entirely new property. You can put an ADU right in your backyard and bring in some rental income from tenants. And you can do this – or use an ADU for any of the above reasons – without running into the ADU myths dispelled below.

10 ADU myths

You may have heard some of the below myths while researching ADUs. However, each of these ideas requires more context to clarify and explain. Below are 10 myths surrounding ADUs, along with why these myths don’t hold water.

1. ADUs are bad for the environment

In reality, ADUs can be highly sustainable. Their construction often requires considerably fewer materials than traditional homes. In California, they’re built according to green standards for careful environmental consideration. And there are several options for including energy-efficient cooling and heating systems and appliances in your unit, so they don’t leave a large footprint.

Some states, including California, have environmental standards in place to further ensure these units are constructed to minimally impact the environment. The California Green Building Standards Code and the Certified Passive House Designer certificate programs evaluate ADUs according to their ecological footprint. At Spacial, each of our units is crafted to meet these certification standards so our units fall right in line with environmental responsibility.

2. ADUs cause overcrowding in neighborhoods

ADUs expand housing options on one family’s lot, not a whole building of apartments. They’re also much smaller than traditional homes, which means that they aren’t always suited for large families. New ADUs in California are, on average, around 615 square feet. Compare this size to that of traditional homes in San Francisco, which are 1,150 square feet on average. Even with these sizes, California officials are aiming to add millions of new homes to the state in the next few years.

An overcrowded street of cars in a local neighborhood
Photo by Steve Rybka on Unsplash

Importantly, unlike traditional homes, ADUs don’t need an entirely new, empty plot of land. These units are also typically located in a single-family home’s backyard, making them nearly unnoticeable from a neighborhood street. In other words, your neighbors might barely (if ever) notice you’ve added an ADU to your property.

3. ADUs are not a high-quality housing option

ADUs provide many of the same features as traditional homes – the main difference is that they’re smaller. Like traditional homes, ADUs must meet state standards and safety regulations to ensure they’re built to last and that they’ll withstand the outdoor elements. Many ADUs are also high-performance homes that prioritize sustainability and a high-quality indoor environment in one fell swoop.

Spacial ADUs are designed by a world-renowned architecture firm, resulting in high-quality units that prioritize both comfort and functionality. Our ADUs include vaulted ceilings, tall glass doors, solar photovoltaic (PV) rooftop systems, and a fully functional cooking and eating area. Built-in storage space, a large bathroom, and vaulted ceilings also contribute to a spacious, open layout that’s filled with natural light.

4. ADUs ruin a sense of community and stability

By providing more housing options, ADUs can create a more stable and productive community. ADUs are affordable housing options that can help decrease rates of homelessness. The more people that can access lower-cost homes, the more people maintain their jobs and continue being productive community members.

Additionally, with an ADU, you can house your aging parents just feet from your family, which is certainly a type of community. Your parents can always explore the neighborhood, support local community efforts, and contribute to local charities and small businesses.

A salon owner managing her business on a tablet
Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

5. ADUs increase crime

There hasn’t been any evidence that shows a correlation between ADUs and higher crime rates. If anything, ADUs can reduce crime rates: They provide additional housing, which is an antidote to being unhoused, a situation that can be dangerous. And if you’re still worried about crime, you can vet your ADU tenants in the same way landlords do for other properties.

6. HOAs can prohibit an ADU on my property

California law prohibits a homeowners association (HOA) from banning homeowners from adding an ADU to their property. An HOA can impose some reasonable restrictions on an ADU, such as requiring homeowners to follow a certain architectural style. However, if an HOA governs your property, it can’t bar you from using or building ADUs as long as the units meet local standards.

7. ADUs increase traffic and parking issues

In July 2021, more than 39 million people were living in California, making it the most populous state in the U.S. Sure, ADUs increase a neighborhood’s population, but typically, large families don’t live in ADUs. Many of these units are studios and one-bedrooms – enough space for a couple. That means the amount of additional car traffic an ADU might bring to a neighborhood is relatively low. Building ADUs can help disperse the state’s population and ensure people have places to live.

ADUs can also minimally impact neighborhood parking. Depending on the distance to public transportation, you may need to provide at least one parking space reserved for your ADU. This requirement can ensure that people park their cars there so they don’t have to park near a neighbor’s driveway and potentially create issues. 

8. ADUs only increase the number of bedrooms on a property

An ADU can serve many purposes that can add immense value to your property – it’s much more than a sleeping space in your backyard. An ADU is its own home with an eating area, bathroom, and living area for residents to enjoy. They’ll receive much of the same privacy, independence, and quality of living they’d experience while staying in a traditional house. The number of bedrooms in the main house aren’t added up with the bedroom in an ADU for any practical purpose.

9. ADUs don’t address the California housing crisis

In the midst of soaring housing costs, ADUs can provide more affordable housing options and act as a solution to the state’s housing crisis. With more ADUs on the market, each unit can offer more competition, which can help stabilize rental rates. You can create extra space in your backyard for tenants, thus offering more places for people to live in the country’s most populous state.

10. The whole ADU permit and development process is complicated

Two women identifying the logistics of an interior build
Photo by Kobu Agency on Unsplash

As with any new structure, you’ll need to obtain the proper permits before starting construction on your ADU. Of course, sorting through design documents, filling out applications, and going through reviews isn’t the most exciting process for anyone. But Spacial’s turnkey ADU services make it all simple and pain-free.

At Spacial, we’ll take care of the permitting process so you don’t have to worry about maneuvering through city ordinances and legal jargon. Once the city has signed off on all your designs, we’ll handle the rest of the development process. That includes constructing your ADU off-site and preparing your site for installation. Everything, from permitting to construction, will be the exact opposite of complicated – just sit back and relax while the pros handle it.

The truth about ADUs

A kitchen, bedroom, living, and dining space in Spacials Studio ADU
Photo by Spacial

ADUs are fairly new types of homes, so misconceptions still linger about them. Spacial is all about introducing homeowners to the myriad possibilities of ADUs while simplifying the process of installing a unit. From permitting to construction and installation, Spacial makes it easy to generate additional income or provide extra living space for relatives or friends. Contact Spacial today to get started on your dream ADU – the whole process will exceed your expectations.