In California, your ADU can pay for itself in just a few years. Of course, you want to save money now. Here’s how to save during design and construction without compromising quality.
Accessory dwelling units (or granny flats or backyard cottages or accessory homes or ADUs or any number of other names) are super popular in California. That’s because they mean extra space, a home for family members, rental income, or all of the above.
While it’s true that accessory dwellings can pay for themselves in just a few years, most homeowners want to save money right away. Here are our tips on saving money on an ADU in California.
Don’t rely on a free estimate.
In our years of experience building homes, additions, remodels, and accessory dwellings, we’ve noticed something: A free estimate is not free.
You end up paying for it after your project starts. That’s because estimates are always wrong. A designer or contractor can’t account for everything in a free estimate. There will always be a surprise permit fee or an unforeseen issue with the property.
A better option is a paid design proposal. When you hire a designer to do a design proposal, you get to meet with that designer and take advantage of their expertise. They’ll walk through your site, listen to your needs, and share their design ideas with you. You can also hire a designer to research permits and conduct a feasibility study, so you begin your project fully informed.
Ask your designer about energy-saving measures
Technology like solar panels, a high-tech building envelope, and insulated windows will save money on your energy bill. You can also ask your designer to use the sun and shade to your advantage for controlling the temperature in your new ADU.
Work with a designer who’s attuned to your needs.
The best accessory dwelling designers create ADUs that suit their clients perfectly. That includes working within the client’s budget. Good, informed design can save you money on materials costs, construction, and permitting. The best designs will continue to save you money on things like energy and maintenance.
Make sure you or your team really know the law.
While new state laws protect you from ridiculous fees and lost time, it’s still important to know the rules.
If your designer doesn’t account for all the local and state rules, you may have to change your design. That means spending more on design fees. Even worse, if they don’t know exactly what they’re doing, they could design a home that leaks money throughout its lifetime.
Permitting offices have a lot to keep track of, and their mistakes can cost you. You could be charged for permits you don’t need, or the city might require expensive hookups that aren’t truly necessary. You can save thousands of dollars when your designer or project manager knows all the laws and has been through the process before.
Hire a project manager.
Not every construction project uses a project manager. Some homeowners opt to fill that role themselves. Doing it yourself can save you money up front, but hiring a professional will save money in the long term.
A professional project manager keeps your project on budget and on track by helping the designer, contractor, and city officials work together as smoothly as possible. An experienced project manager can spot problems before they become major issues.
Even if you decide to handle the project manager role yourself, you can make the job easier by using a comprehensive project management tool like New Avenue’s online system.
Use the best accessory dwelling builder in California.
Most construction projects come with surprises.
Change orders, hidden permitting fees, delays in the permitting office, and unforeseen drainage issues are just some of the unexpected issues that cost both time and money.
Using a proven, experienced ADU company will minimize those surprises. The right ADU company will show you the costs, plans, and timelines from actual projects like yours. They’ll give you access to proven professionals and powerful digital tools to manage your project. Most importantly, they’ll be absolutely devoted to making your life better.
Use the best tools and the best people. That’s how you save money.