Types of ADU

ADU and Home Addition Construction

Accessory dwelling units, known as ADUs, are highly beneficial solutions for affordable housing along with home additions. Not only do ADUs offer expanded living opportunities in high profile cities, but these structures offer homeowners the opportunity to reap passive monthly income through renting out their ADU. Are you interested in expanding your living space and opening up the possibility for extra income?

Read on to learn all about the different types of Los Angeles ADUs you can equip your property with.

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ADU 101

ADUs are secondary housing units that can be built once per single-family residential lot. As an affordable and accommodating form of living, an ADU contains a living space, kitchen area, and bathroom.

Though ADUs cannot be sold independent from the main property residence, they can be rented out. ADUs share many common characteristics, such as their reduced size and self-sustained structures, but they come in different forms. ADUs come in three main types, with detached ADUs, attached ADUs, and converted space ADUs comprising of the three different structures that fully comply with ADU regulations.

Different Types of ADU

Detached ADUs

Detached ADUs offer entirely sustainable stand-alone structures on the main property which are perfect for renting out for additional monthly income. Stand-alone ADUs often have more livable space and square footage.

Detached ADUs are often referred to as granny flats, guest houses, or tiny houses, as they are separate from the main residence. They offer even more separation between the main house and ADU while providing all the benefits of an actual home in a reduced-size living space.

Attached ADUs

Another option for your ADU is to have it attached to the main residence. Attached ADUs are ideal for accommodating more living space into the property.


They can easily serve as guest lodgings for relatives and friends, and are especially beneficial if someone is down on their luck or ill and needs a place to stay close to loved ones. Attached ADUs offer the benefit of providing living space that is adjacent to yet separate from the main residence. Attached ADUs can often be constructed out of converted space in the main residence.

Converted ADUs

One of the most cost-effective ways to obtain an ADU is to convert existing living space. While basement and attic conversions are both options, a garage conversion is the most popular route for creating an ADU out of existing space.

Since converted ADU projects work with existing material, they are often far less expensive ADU options, though the size of the ADU is limited to a degree. Because garages come in a variety of different formats, converted ADUs can be both attached or detached from the main residence.

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Pros and Cons

Detached ADUs 

Detached ADUs have the benefit of offering the highest degree of privacy for both the residents of the main house and ADU. However, privacy comes at a price, as this option is easily the costliest.

Since detached ADUs are almost always newly constructed, there are other practicalities to be expensed. First, appropriate land is required for the constriction. Also, separate utility lines are needed, and there are parking requirements to adhere to.

Attached ADUs

While attached ADUs don’t offer the same degree of privacy as detached ADUs, they still offer more privacy than ADUs created from interior conversion. Additionally, attached ADUs benefit greatly from expanding upon the existing plumbing and electrical systems of the home.

However, like building a detached ADU, building an attached ADU is an expensive endeavor. It also requires land, though not as much as a detached ADU.

Converted ADUs

Interior conversion ADUs transform existing living space to offer a dramatically less expensive ADU option. This choice often only requires limited permitting and minor changes to comply with complete ADU regulations.

Additionally, it can share the primary residence’s amenities, further lowering expenses and construction hassles. However, converted space ADUs save money at a sacrifice, as they offer the least amount of privacy.

On the other hand, an exterior converted ADU offers the benefit of additional privacy. Oftentimes this form of an ADU can expand upon an existing home system. However, while it is less expensive than a new construction project, it does clock in as more expensive than an interior ADU conversion.

ADU Conclusions

Which type of ADU is best suited for your property?

It all depends. Oftentimes it comes down to whether or not the homeowner wants to pay extra money for additional privacy. Factors such as the size of the ADU and distance from the main home also contribute to the type of Los Angeles ADU to build.

Overall, homeowners will have to pay more money to have detached ADUs, but if the object of the ADU is to turn a profit, then this type of living space would be ideal for renting. Meanwhile, attached ADUs are ideal for housing friends and family, or for creating family rooms, home offices, playrooms, and more.

Before you decide which type of ADU to get, be sure to request a price quote and discuss your budget with a contractor in order to best discover how to suit your individual needs.

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