Everything You Need to Know About Pre-Approved ADU Plans

Accessory dwelling units are becoming a norm throughout the country. They increase property value, provide homeowners with additional living space and income, and are a major component in addressing the nation’s current housing shortage issue. 

As an incentive to increase housing accessibility, some cities, like Los Angeles, are offering programs for pre-approved ADU plans. This is meant to speed up the process and make it easier for homeowners to make an ADU addition. 

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What Are Pre-Approved ADU Plans?

Pre-approved ADU plans are plans that have already been designed and approved by city architects and staff. This means they have been through a portion of the permit process, which saves homeowners time. They are often cheaper than custom ADU plans as well. 

Two Types of Pre-Approved Accessory Dwelling Unit Plans

City-Owned Plans: These are plans that have been purchased and approved by the city. They are sometimes free or significantly cheaper than other plans. The downside of city-owned plans is that there is usually a very limited selection to choose from. Cities also typically don’t offer any support for these pre-approved plans. While the plan itself might be cheap, you’ll still have to take material costs into consideration, and you’ll likely have to hire some additional outside help for design and building support. 

Architect Designed Pre-Approved ADU Plans: These are plans owned by the architect or firm that designed them, but they have been verified by the city. In this case, you purchase the plan directly from the architect and have their support and feedback throughout the permitting and building processes. These plans will most likely cost more than a city-owned plan, but will also still cost less than a custom plan and it includes the support you need to permit and build the ADU. 

Benefits of a Pre-Approved ADU Plan

  • You’ll save time. Most often close to six weeks in the permitting process. 
  • They cost less than a custom plan. 

Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing a Pre-Approved ADU Plan 

  • Material costs. Just because a plan is cheaper, doesn’t mean the materials to build it will be. Consider the location of the ADU and your budget when selecting a plan. 
  • Pre-approved plans are not completely pre-permitted. While you will likely save time in the permitting process, you still have to submit the plans to the city and sometimes land surveys and soil reports will still be required as well. 

More states and individual cities are working hard to make adding an ADU to a property more feasible. Pre-approved plans are a great option for homeowners looking to quickly add an accessory dwelling unit to their property.