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ADU Construction in Bay Area

Updated: Jan 23


Picture of an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit).
An ADU is a secondary housing unit with complete independent living facilities


"ADU," stands for Accessory Dwelling Unit. An Accessory Dwelling Unit is a secondary housing unit with complete independent living facilities for one or more persons. It is typically located on the same property as a primary residence. People often construct ADUs for various reasons, including:

  • Increased Property Value: Adding an ADU can increase the overall value of a property, providing an additional living space.

  • Rental Income: Many homeowners build ADUs to rent them out, providing a source of additional income.

  • Multigenerational Living: ADUs can be used to house family members, providing a separate space while allowing for close proximity.

  • Affordable Housing: ADUs can contribute to addressing housing shortages by providing additional housing options in existing neighborhoods.

  • Flexibility: ADUs offer flexibility in land use, allowing homeowners to adapt to changing family needs or financial situations.

  • Environmental Sustainability: Utilizing existing infrastructure and constructing on existing lots can be more environmentally sustainable than developing new properties.

Regarding California, the state has been particularly active in promoting the construction of ADUs as a means to address housing shortages. In 2017, California implemented legislation to ease restrictions on ADU construction, making it easier for homeowners to add these units to their properties. The goal was to increase the housing supply and provide more affordable housing options. Regulations and incentives for ADUs can vary by location, so it's important to check local ordinances and guidelines.


The cost of constructing an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in San Francisco bay area, or any other location, can vary significantly based on several factors. These factors include the size of the ADU, the complexity of the design, the materials used, labor costs, and the specific requirements and regulations in the area. Additionally, local market conditions and the availability of construction professionals can impact costs.


As a general estimate, the cost per square foot for construction an ADU in San Francisco could range from $300 to $500 or more. This is a wide range, and it's crucial to consider the specific circumstances of your project.

Here are some cost factors to consider:

  • Design and Permits: The design process, obtaining necessary permits, and meeting local building codes can contribute to the overall cost.

  • Construction Costs: This includes materials, labor, and contractor fees. Labor costs in the San Francisco area can be relatively high.

  • Site Preparation: If your property requires significant site preparation, such as grading or foundation work, this can add to the costs.

  • Utilities and Infrastructure: Connecting the ADU to existing utilities (water, electricity, gas, etc.) and ensuring proper infrastructure can contribute to costs.

  • Architectural Features: High-end finishes, custom designs, and special features can increase the overall cost.

  • Landscaping: Depending on the existing landscaping and the impact of the ADU on outdoor spaces, landscaping costs may need to be considered.

It's highly recommended to consult with local architects, contractors, or ADU specialists to get more accurate cost estimates based on your specific project requirements and the conditions of your property. Additionally, staying informed about any changes in local regulations, incentives, or construction trends in San Francisco can also influence the overall cost of constructing an ADU.



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