The Big Cost of Small Dwelling


Secondary units face many hurdles, but new companies are trying to change that. California politicians and housing advocates have long trumpeted adding accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as a key strategy that could put a dent in the state’s housing shortage by spurring the construction of hundreds of thousands of affordable new homes. They point to cities like Vancouver, where more than a third of single-family homes have secondary units.

The Bay Area Council, a policy and advocacy group funded by businesses, estimates that the region could add 400,000 ADUs if a quarter of Bay Area homeowners built them.

During the past two years, the California State Legislature passed a handful of laws to expand and streamline city approvals of ADUs, which are separate homes attached or detached from a single-family home. They are more commonly known as in-law units, granny flats and backyard cottages.  

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