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New Multi-County Effort Offers Free Resources to Help Build ADU

MARIPOSASeveral counties in California are teaming up to make it easier for residents to add accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to their properties. Mother Lode ADU is a new partnership between the Counties of Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, and Nevada created to help homeowners in the region build an ADU. A new website at www.motherlodeadu.org will go live on Aug. 30, which will serve as a one-stop resource shop.

The new Mother Lode ADU website will walk people through all of the steps needed to build an ADU and includes a host of tools that will make the process easier, including:

  •  ADU Guidebook: A downloadable, step-by-step guide that is specific to each county.
  • Floorplans: Preview examples for inspiration including prefab ADUs.
  • ADU Plans Gallery: View and compare existing plans to jump-start the design.
  • ADU Calculator: Get a rough estimate of costs, fees and rents.
  • Can I Build Tool: See what can be built on a specific property.
  • Process At-a-Glance: Learn about the permit and build process for each County.
  • County ADU Rules: Find out the ADU rules for each County before the project begins.
  • ADU Development Checklist: Use to prepare for the application process.

Homeowners are also invited to attend the Mariposa County Fair, where Mother Lode representatives, local builders, mortgage brokers and members of the board of supervisors will be available to answer any questions. The information booth will be set up in Building A of the fairgrounds, on Sat. Sept. 2 and Sun. Sept. 3, 2023, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Interested homeowners will also be able to try out some of the above planning tools.

What is an ADU?

Photo Credit: Matt Swafford

ADUs (also known as “granny flats,” or “in-law units”) come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can range from prefabricated units to brand-new additions that are attached or detached to the main home. They can range in size from a 500 square-foot studio to 1,000 square-foot unit with multiple bedrooms. The main requirement is that each ADU has its own kitchen and place to sleep. Not every ADU fits neatly into one category, but here are some examples of different types:

JADU: These “junior ADUs” are smaller units of up to 500 square feet that are contained within a single-family home.

Conversion: This is a converted space within a single-family home or accessory structure (like a garage).

Attached: A new unit that is attached to a single-family home, which may include some converted space.

Detached: A new, freestanding unit with a single-family home which can be built on-site or prefabricated.

Multi-Family: A detached, conversion or attached unit with a multi-family building.

Not an ADU: RVs, tiny homes on wheels, yurts and storage structures.

What can an ADU do for you?

Here’s one success story from Richard in Nevada City, who converted a workshop on his property into an ADU:

“While my mother-in-law lived here, we loved spending time in the ADU. Now our kids are grown and have children of their own, so they stay in the ADU when they visit and have a comfortable, private space. As my wife and I grow older we might move into the ADU and rent out the larger house, or give it to our children. We’ve rented out the ADU over the years and had great experiences with our tenants. We’ve met so many interesting people, and we’re still friends with some of them. I’m proud of the ADU, it’s a beautiful space and we use it to meet so many different needs for our family and the community.”

Those interested in learning more about ADUs, should bookmark the website www.motherlodeadu.org and stay tuned for more resources.

Click here for ADU photos [Photo Credit: Matt Swafford]

Click here to read tips from a realtor on building an ADU.

Click here to read tips on the process legalizing an unpermitted ADU.

About Mother Lode ADU: Mother Lode ADU, a new partnership between Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa and Nevada counties, is developing free resources in 2023, like a guidebook, website, contractor list and development checklist, to help homeowners (and builders) get more ADUs built. The hope is to also work closely with manufactured and prefab ADU builders, to include examples in an ADU Plans Gallery, for homeowners to learn about options and connect directly with designers and builders.

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