Posted On January 5, 2024
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs), both commonly referred to as Granny Flats, In-Law Units, or Guest Houses, have become very popular for many reasons:
As of 2024 the State of California continues to pass new ADU laws lifting restrictions and making it easier and more affordable to build Accessory Dwelling Units. Because of the new laws, California ADU construction has surged. Over 80,000 ADU’s have been permitted since the first ADU reform bill was passed in 2016.
Here are some of the highlights of the new California ADU laws that went into effect in January 2024:
California has historically allowed local agencies to prohibit the separate sale of ADUs from the primary dwelling for owners, investors, and developers. Assembly Bill 1033 will allow homeowners to sell one or more ADUs separately from their primary residence. The law authorizes (but does not require) local agencies to adopt local ordinances allowing ADUs to be sold as condominiums separately from the primary dwelling with approval from the California Department of Real Estate. Homeowners may consider creating a Homeowners Association (HOA) between the primary residence and the ADU to manage the common property.
Currently, California ADU laws prohibit local agencies from imposing “owner-occupancy” conditions on ADUs permitted between Jan. 1, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2025. Assembly Bill 976 extends the prohibition indefinitely, meaning local agencies cannot impose owner-occupancy requirements for new or converted ADU projects permitted after Jan. 1, 2025. Local agencies can still impose owner-occupancy requirements on Junior ADUs.
Assembly Bill 434 requires all California cities and municipalities to have a pre-approved ADU plan scheme in place by January 1, 2025. In order for plans to be pre-approved for use by applicants or other property owners in the future, cities must review and accept submissions for them, typically by an architect. Cities may choose to charge a fee to access the designs, and for processing, as well as for modifications required to meet property-specific requirements.
Assembly Bill 2221 requires all agencies involved with reviewing California ADU plans, including planning departments and utility companies, to respond within 60 days of submission of plans. This change reduces the time for application review and processing.
AB 2221 also amended the height restrictions as follows:
Previously, setbacks were reduced to four-foot side and rear yards. Now, California law states if a proposed ADU is less than 800 sq. ft., the front setback requirement can no longer prevent the ADU from getting built.
Senate Bill 897 eliminates the restriction regarding non-conforming zoning conditions, building code violations, or unpermitted structures. Prior to SB 897, homeowners were required to have unpermitted structures brought up to current codes, which made California ADU development slower and more costly. SB 897 removes these restrictions unless the unpermitted condition is a health or safety concern.
SB 897 allows fire sprinklers to no longer be required for the main dwelling when permitting an ADU.
Senate Bill 9. This relates to duplexes and lot splits. SB 9 provides for the ministerial approval of converting existing homes occupied by a homeowner into a duplex if certain eligibility restrictions are satisfied. It also allows a single-family home lot to be split into two lots, and a duplex to be built on each lot, provided that the initial home is occupied by the owner as their primary residence for at least three years.
Some key points of SB 9:
Please keep in mind there are exceptions and restrictions to SB 9 that need to be fully understood.
Assembly Bill 68 allows landlords and homeowners to add 2 more units – an ADU and a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) – on any residential lot. This means you can legally create a triplex on every single lot (if your lot meets size and setback requirements) according to the 2024 ADU laws in California.
Additional units can be added to existing multi-family buildings like apartment complexes. Building owners can convert any non-habitable rooms, like attics, basements, garages, etc. into legal additional units.
Under AB 68, municipalities will be required to approve the following:
Single Family Homes:
To further remove barriers to the approval of ADU plans in California in 2024, various state laws still in effect prohibit local governments from imposing the following:
Please note that this summary is based solely on the State Ordinance. Therefore, it is important to note that each City and County will release its own ADU rules and regulations in response to the new state laws. Some Cities and Counties may defer the effective date or challenge the state through legal channels in order to meet their own codes. Variations of these State rules will differ in each city and county.
Given the complexity of the new laws and the resulting City or County interpretations, it is even more critical that you consult a licensed architect who knows the in’s and out’s of the new 2024 ADU laws in California – and EZ Plans is here for you!
We are a full-service architecture firm with experienced, licensed architects who are experts on the rules and regulations for both new ADUs and ADU conversions. We provide transparent and instant pricing for your ADU plans. Contact us today to start designing a floor plan and permit your ADU.