Ten steps to permitting an ADU
Ten steps for planning, designing, and permitting an ADU
Building an ADU is daunting. Here’s a quick sketch of the chronological steps to get ready to build an ADU on your property: The Design Phase
- Brainstorm project goals and scope with funders/partners
- Talk to municipal zoning office about the project to determine feasibility; try to uncover any major regulatory design/cost obstacles that you’ll have to overcome
- Rough sketch some ideas and think through your top design objectives with funders/partners
- Identify architects, builders and sub contractors (ideally, you want to have identified a general contractor, as well as your plumber, mechanical, electrical subcontractors)
- Architect and homeowner draw up schematics for consideration based on your rough sketches and your objectives
- Meet with architect, builder, and subs to talk through objectives and schematics to get their input
- Architect refines schematics with homeowner and contractors. I’d recommend having your architect develop a 3D model in Sketchup.
- Develop permit-ready drawings for zoning and building office
- Sumbit plans for permit. Pay permit fees. Go back and forth with permit office until the plans pass their planning/zoning code and building code criteria.
- Permit issued and then you can break ground
This design phase can take as little as a week, or many years. My ADU took three months to design, going back and forth with my designer through fifteen schematic drawings. 1-5 months is an average time frame for this phase.
My advice: Take your time with the design. Go back and forth with your designer and your builder, and make sure you’re very happy with every detail of the design. Build a 3D model: your ADU will look a lot like your 3D model, so spend some time lounging and walking around inside your 3D model. This is a huge financial investment- it is worth the extra energy up front to dial in your design before you submit it to the permitting office.