Hot To Build an ADU

How To Build An ADU

The next thought after deciding you need a Backyard Dwelling (ADU) is “How do I build an ADU?”

It’s a scary thought. Everyone knows someone with a construction horror story – so how do you avoid contractor armageddon?

There are two ways to build an ADU, traditional site-built and some variation of factory-built. Each method has pros and cons – no method is the “right” way for everyone. Let’s examine each method so you can make a smart decision.

Site-Built ADU

Build an ADU Site-Built

Let’s start with the familiar method, site-built. This method is also referred to as stick-built or ground-up construction.

The Benefits of A Site-Built ADU

Site Building is the most flexible way to build an ADU because everything is designed and built for just one site- yours. Modifications to our existing plans, swapping out different materials, or adding options is easy to do.

Site-built construction is useful on a wide variety of sites. Slopes, trees, limited access, and other obstacles are just problems to be solved. Site-built can happen where prefab is just not practical.

It can also be more economical, especially in a major metropolitan area with a large pool of labor. There are a LOT of contractors, so competitive shopping is easy.

Pre Tip: There are a lot of rules around building an ADU. Click here to review the California Department of Housing and Development’s ADU Handbook

The Negatives Of Site-Built ADU

It takes a loooooooooong time to build an ADU this way. Even if there are no design modifications, adding the structure to the permit process can add 40% to the preparation phase. Active construction time is 6 – 8 months, and that is only if there are no disasters or delays on your job or any other job your contractor may be running at the same time. In general, the entire process is well over a year, and can easily stretch to two.

A lot can change in two years. It is likely that the cost of goods and labor will rise during the time. Your contractor’s business can change, leading to unpredictable consequences to an ADU project. In addition, interest rates can change dramatically.

And that is the biggest negative of a site-built ADU – unpredictability. The completion date and final price are incredibly hard to predict and no one likes their backyard torn to bits.

Prefab ADU

Build An ADU Prefab

Prefab is preferred in most of the world. It is faster, less resource intense, and can be less expensive. In the United States, prefab is generally used in luxury homes and hotel construction. We believe that is changing.

The Benefits Of A Prefab To Build An ADU

Choose prefab to build an ADU when time and convenience are important. Our designs are documented, engineered, and permitted by the State of California. This saves BUCKETS of time because the only local permits required are the foundation and utilities.

We build an ADU in a factory and the process is efficient and tightly supervised. The design, engineering, and construction quality of a prefab ADU are often much higher than a site-built ADU. Construction takes 3 – 4 months.

This is also the convenient way to build an ADU because your backyard (and life) remain undisturbed for most of the process. Active construction time is just 6 weeks!

The Negatives Of A Prefab ADU

The biggest negative to using prefab to build an ADU is the lack of flexibility. A prefab only works on specific types of sites and modifications are limited.

If the lot is sloped, has a lot of trees or electrical lines, or limited access for a crane or forklift prefab might not work to build an ADU. If the lot is oddly shaped, prefab probably will not work.

The costs of transportation and installation (crane) can make the prefab process more expensive.

Bonus Read: 5 Reasons To Choose Prefab ADU

So… The Best way To Build An ADU?

If you are looking for a lower price and/or more flexibility a site-built ADU might be your best bet. In exchange you sacrifice time and convenience.

If you want great quality with maximum speed and convenience, use prefab.

Still A Little Lost?

This is a big deal. Building an ADU is the same project as building an entire house- it is complicated process either way.

We are here to help. Our ADU design is available in three ways, site-built, prefab, or just the plans so you can manage the build yourself. Our design, your way.

Get a free consultation and pick our brains to your heart’s content. Our models are available either way, so we can help you decide.

Click HERE to get your free consultation.

READ NEXT: How To Finance Your ADU