Tag Archives: accessory dwelling units honolulu

Just How Big is a 400 sq ft ADU?

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This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

 

 

Building an ADU on your property is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your neighborhood. It can provide cozy independent housing for retirees, extra housing space for family living with you, or provide a rental home for another family in need of affordable housing. However, building an ADU also comes with some specific limitations, one of which is how big your ADU can be in comparison to the size of your lot. Specifically, if your land is 3,500 square feet to 4,999 sq ft, the largest ADU you can build is 400 sq ft of internal floor space, including lofts. For larger lots, the upper limit caps at 800 square feet. But just how big is this in practical terms? How much walking space, how comfortable is the kitchen, and how many people can share the space without stepping on toes? 400 sq ft is small and 800 isn’t actually that much bigger.

Designing the Floor Plan

The key to building an enjoyable ADU is to understand exactly how much room you have to work with, then choose a floor plan that optimizes a comfortable lifestyle. In fact, the decision of floor plan is incredibly important to this process as you’ll need a design that fits well in your open yard space, is pleasant to live in inside, and suits the intended purposes. For a family, you’ll want to plan for private sleeping and clothing storage areas. For one or two retired elderly, a simple layout with plenty of wide spaces to move around in would be more convenient.

What 400 sq ft Looks Like on a Floor Plan

400 sq feet can be done in a lot of different ways depending on how you design it. The best way to think about a 400 sq ft is that it’s about the size of a two-car garage if square, and is usually about enough space for an open kitchen-living area, a full bathroom, and a one bedroom. The most important decision is how many walls to have. The fewer walls, the more open space you have, and most designs include an open kitchen and living room.

Designed long, you can put the bedroom and bathroom on the ‘private’ end and the kitchen and living room together on the other. This is better for narrow yard space and separating privacy space from visitor space. Square designs can provide more open space, especially if you’re willing to put the bed in the living area. Then, of course, there are all your non-regular options. L-shaped houses and other odd variations may provide for the exact distribution of space and yard use you’re looking for as well.

What About 800 st ft?

Okay, now let’s say you have quite a large plot of land and double that amount of ADU floor space. Now you have room for a separate kitchen and dining area if you want it, but in most cases, you’re better off investing in an extra bedroom or two to accommodate families with children. With creative storage, fold-away beds, and maybe another 3/4 bath, you could now comfortably fit a family of four or five in your ADU as long as they don’t mind small closets. For fewer tenants, you might add a study, guest bathroom, and a larger master suite instead.

Building a welcoming, family-friendly ADU is more complicated than it seems. You want to think carefully about who will be using the ADU and how you can make optimal use of the space available. If you’d like more ideas on how to design and build the perfect ADU plan for your property, please contact us today!

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5 Decisions to Make Before Starting Your ADU Construction

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This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

 

 

If you want a source of passive income and to do a community service at the same time, a rare opportunity to be sure, there’s no better option than constructing an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) on your property. This is Honolulu’s best answer to the increasingly pressing crunch for affordable housing and while there are some very specific rules, it’s a great chance for current homeowners to significantly increase the value of their property, provide a new home to family or renters in need, and enjoy the excitement of a new project literally in your backyard. However, before you start putting up timbers, there are a few important decisions you need to make.

1) Is the ADU for You, Family, or Renters?

The reason you’re building an ADU will shape every other decision you make, so you might as well start at square one. ADUs can serve a number of interesting, helpful, and profitable purposes depending on how they are used. If you (the homeowner) plan to move into the ADU and leave the main house for the family or high-dollar renters, the design should be fit to your personal needs. If the ADU is to house an overflow of family, consider their preferences and look into ohana housing instead, which has fewer regulations but isn’t as versatile if the family moves out. Finally, if you’re planning for renters, you’ll want the ADU to be as welcoming as possible for anyone who might move in.

2) Would it be better Attached or Detached from the Main House?

You may not have realized it, but ADUs can absolutely be built as an attachment to your main house. In some cases, this may be the only way to achieve the required number of parking spots or fit the second dwelling onto an oddly shaped lot. That said, attached ADUs are more ideal for the family as you’ll be living in close proximity, along with sharing a wall and possibly a door to the main house. For ADUs you plan to rent or plan to eventually be able to rent, later on, it would be better to build a detached dwelling for added privacy and personal space.

3) Are You Prepared for a Very Small Dwelling?

ADUs come with a maximum size restriction depending on the square footage of your lot, and these can be pretty darn small. If your lot is between 3,500 and 5,000 sq ft, your ADU could have a maximum size of 400 to 800 sq ft. That may be smaller than you’re imagining. With 400 sq ft, there’s usually enough room for one bedroom with a full to queen sized bed, a compact kitchen/living/dining area, and a small bathroom. Once you know how big an ADU you can build, take a walk through a few models and existing homes around the same size to really get a feel for the functional size of the home. That said, people have reported living comfortably in less than 200 sq ft.

4) Can You Convert an Existing Accessory Structure?

If you have a large shed or well-built workshop already on your property, there’s a chance that you might be able to convert this into all or part of your new ADU. For this to be a viable option, the accessory structure needs to be sturdy and capable of being upgraded to good quality living conditions. You’ll need insulation, real walls and floors, a kitchen, and a bathroom along with the necessary power, water, and possibly gas connections. It may just be easier to build a new structure, perhaps even making room by knocking down the old shed rather than repurposing it.

5) Do You Want to Go “Off-Grid”?

One of the really nifty options for a brand new ADU is the ability to go ‘off-grid’. What this means for most is solar panels. Big ones, with enough battery power to ensure that the lights and water heater work at night as well. You can even install a rainwater collection and filtering system but we suggest keeping the water pipes even if your ADU is power independent. An off-grid ADU will cost a little more to make but for the rest of its life will add nothing to the power bill. If you’ve got the money to invest and love the idea of renewable energy, this could be a great ADU choice that will, incidentally, also raise its value as a rental property. While you’re at it, throw some solar on the main house, too.

Here at Owner Built Designs, we specialize in making your Honolulu ADU dream a reality. For more helpful tips on designing the perfect ADU for you, your family, and your property contact us today!

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Six Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Build an ADU in Hawaii

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This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

It has been awhile since we discussed the benefits of having an accessory dwelling unit (or ADU) – including their potential for bringing more affordable housing options into the Hawaiian housing market and how ADUs can provide a new source of income. If you need to refresh your memory or read it for the first time, you can find that post here.

While the benefits of an ADU are numerous, there is a lot to think about when it comes to building an accessory dwelling unit. We have compiled a list of six questions you should ask yourself before you commit.

1. Why do you want an ADU on your property?

The reasons for having an ADU can vary greatly. Some are looking to generate extra income by renting it out. Others want to keep multiple generations of their family together on the same property while having separate spaces at the same time. Knowing why you want it and being able to articulate your reasons will be helpful as you get further into the process.

2. Are you or a relative willing to live on the property once the ADU is completed?

In Hawaii, as in many other areas, the owner (or a close relative) of an ADU is required to live on the property. This can be in the primary residence or in the ADU, but you or someone closely related to you will need to live on the property. If you are not willing to do this and cannot find a family member interested in doing so, consider investing in updates to the house that is already there and rent it out instead of creating an accessory dwelling unit.

3. Do you know the rules and regulations for ADUs?

Different residential properties on the Hawaiian Islands have different zoning regulations, as well as homeowners’ association rules, which may or may not allow ADUs to be built on your property. There are also regulations regarding owner-builders you need to be aware of if you intend to take on that responsibility for the ADU. Do your research and find out if your property is eligible for an ADU before you invest much money into the process of building it.

4. Are you prepared for the initial and ongoing costs of creating an ADU?

The cost of creating an ADU is not just a one-time, lump-sum payment. Often, there are multiple costs involved and multiple professionals you will need to pay in order to make sure that the work done to create your ADU is up to date and up to code. You need to be prepared for additional costs to surface as construction goes along.

5. Are you planning to convert space that already exists into an ADU, or will the ADU be a new building?

Many of the specifics of the accessory dwelling unit will depend on the answer to this question, so know your answer before you start designing it.

6. When it is finished, are you prepared to take on the role and responsibilities of a landlord?

Once you become a landlord, you are responsible for many things related to the ADU – including the maintenance and upkeep. Not sure what all of the obligations and responsibilities are? Spend some time researching what that means from a legal standpoint as well as what will be expected of you beyond what the law states, and honestly assess your ability to be a good landlord.

If you are considering building an ADU and looking for someone who can create accessory dwelling unit designs that are easy to read and permit-ready, contact us today. We have decades of experience and would love to work with you to create an ADU that fits your specific needs.

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What’s the 411 with Hawaii ADU’s: The FAQs Continued

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This entry is part 5 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

If you live or even occasionally visit Hawaii, you’re probably already aware of the intense housing crunch going on, especially when it comes to affordable rental properties for working families. While homelessness is usually something that happens to people who can’t or won’t work, it’s an unfortunate fact that many families are finding themselves without proper lodgings because there simply aren’t enough homes to go around. For this reason, Honolulu has recently authorized home-owner residents to build small secondary residential homes on their property in order to rent to families in need. These residences are known as Hawaii ADU’s or Accessory Dwelling Units and are a great way for home owners to both alleviate the housing crunch and make a little extra money for their own mortgages.

In a previous post, we covered a few of the FAQs about ADUs from defining our terms to how they compare to ohana units. Today, we’re picking up where we left off to answer more important questions about how you can contribute to the local effort against homelessness.

Frequently Asked Questions Pt 2:

Q: Are owners required to live on the property?

The short answer here is yes, but in truth, it’s a little more complicated. You cannot rent both the main house and the ADU at the same time, but the named owner doesn’t necessarily have to live on the property. In order to rent your ADU, the main house needs to be occupied by a relative by blood, marriage, or adoption to the property owner. However, a designated authorized representative is also allowed.

Alternately, you or a relative can choose to live in the ADU and rent out the main house, which also counts as using your ADU to alleviate the housing shortage. This is a great option for retirees who want to downsize for ease of lifestyle without leaving their family home behind.

Q: Is there a minimum occupancy period for each ADU tenant?

In order to ensure that Hawaii ADU’s are actually being used to help with the housing problem, tenants need to stay at least six months (180 days to be specific) with each lease. This prevents both landlords and tenants from misusing it’s intended purpose, but that also means that it’s inadvisable to Airbnb your ADU between tenants.

Q: Is there enough local sewer and water capacity?

It’s true, not every neighborhood has the infrastructure available to support doubling up on sewer and water needs. For this reason, you’ll need to get approval from all the usual sources including the Department of Planning and Permitting, Wastewater Branch, Traffic Review Branch, State Department of Health, Board of Water Supply, and the Honolulu Fire Department. If they all agree that a new residential structure is OK, you can proceed with building plans.

Q: How much parking is required for an ADU?

Hawaii ADU’s only require one off-street parking spot. This sets them aside from ohana units which require two and therefore permits home owners with smaller yards to contribute to the housing effort.

Q: How big can Hawaii ADU’s be?

It may be tempting to build yourself a near-duplex residential buddy, especially if you have the yard space to spare, but ADUs are, in fact, limited in size based on the size of your lot.

  • Lots 3500 – 4999 square feet can have an ADU of up to 400 square feet
  • Lots 5000 square feet and up are limited to an ADU of 800 square feet.

Q: How many ADUs can I build?

The answer here is only one, but it’s slightly more complex in practice. ADUs fill a secondary residential slot, but can only do so if you don’t already have a secondary residence on your lot. Therefore ohana dwellings, guest houses, and multifamily dwellings like duplexes disqualify a lot from having even a single ADU.

If you’re considering building an ADU on your lot, you’ll need an expert designer who can get your plans through approval the first time around. I have decades of experience and specialize in permit-ready drawings and would be delighted to ensure your ADU project hits the ground running. Please contact me today for more information or plans to build!

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Why ADUs Make Financial Sense

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This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

The accessory dwelling units (ADU) is an increasingly popular idea which benefits homeowners, tenants and local governments alike. On OahuADUs provide much-needed affordable housing.

Hawaii Life reported on September 14, 2015, signing of Bill 20 by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. By mid-January of 2016, there were already 29 ADU applications pending. Since then, interest in ADUs continues to surge, in part because of the financial benefits.

Benefits for All Parties

There are key financial reasons why homeowners, tenants and local governments find ADUs attractive:

Homeowners – Whether it is detached from or attached to a primary residence, an ADU makes financial sense for homeowners in a number of ways. First, the rent paid generates a new revenue stream. Second, many expenses related to an ADU rental unit are tax-deductible. Third, it is an ideal way for a homeowner to build the asset value of their existing property. Since an ADU must be sold together with the primary residence, the homeowner benefits if and when the property is sold. A wide variety of prospective buyers may be attracted to a property with an ADU, including those that like the potential rental revenue and those that need space for another family member like a senior or retiree.

Renters – ADUs are popular, first and foremost, as a source of affordable housing in an expensive market. Also, for some prospective renters, ADUs make financial sense because they mesh with modern lifestyle choices. More and more Millennials, for example, are comfortable living in less than 800 sqr-ft of space at a modest cost, because they would rather spend more available cash on travel and other outdoor leisure activities.

As long as they have the basics like a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom, a fair percentage of prospective renters on Oahu are comfortable with a smaller living space. Widespread interest in so-called “tiny houses” across the country demonstrates that many people are willing to embrace the idea of living in a home with several hundred square feet of living space. Vaulted ceilings, bay windows, and uncovered lanais help create a feeling of spaciousness.

Local government – ADUs also offer local governments a way to address overall housing needs at modest cost. Since ADUs are dispersed across greater Honolulu, they require only incremental improvements to infrastructure. This compares favorably to the significant investment in infrastructure often required when major housing developments are constructed.

Bill 20 Stipulations

Bill 20 carries stipulations that exclude some properties from ADU development. For example, ADUs are not allowed in planned communities, or in those subject to governance by an association. Also, lots must be at least 3,500 sqr-ft in size. ADUs up to 400 sqr-ft are possible on lots of 3,500-4,999 sqr-ft. ADUs up to 800 sqr-ft are allowed on lots measuring at least 5,000 sqr-ft.

Bill 20 also requires that there be at least one off-road parking space, although there is no such requirement for ADUs within 0.5-mi of a rail station. Finally, ADUs are only possible when there is sufficient infrastructure in place for sewer and water. Since leases must be at least six months long, ADUs are not intended as seasonal vacation rentals.

An article in Hawaii Home Remodeling quoted Harrison Rue, an official with the City and County of Honolulu, suggesting that ADUs are “really trying to address the dire need for more affordable and workforce housing.” He also said it is “one of the first pieces of the housing strategy.” This strategy offers clear financial benefits to all parties involved, including property owners, renters, and local governments.

Owner Build Design LLC is your source for the knowledge and expertise needed when developing an ADU. I bring over three decades of experience to my residential design and drafting services in Hawaii. I offer everything from permit processing services to permit-ready drawings. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss how an ADU could work for you. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

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What’s the 411 with Hawaii ADUs?

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This entry is part 4 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

Honolulu‘s mayor signed a provision for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in September 2015. Now, qualifying owners of freestanding, single-family homes have a new way to generate revenue – by renting a secondary residence situated on their property. ADUs are a response to the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Strategy, developed in response to the shortage of inexpensive rental housing on the island.

It is important to understand that ADU approvals, design and permitting requires adherence to very specific standards. Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) discusses frequently asked questions about permitting related to ADUs at this link.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we discuss some of the most common questions about ADUs:

Q: What is an ADU?

The DPP specifically defines an ADU as “an accessory or second dwelling unit, including its own kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom facilities, attached or detached from the primary dwelling unit on the zoning lot.”

Importantly, an ADU is subordinate to the primary residence. However, it does not have to be detached from the existing home. While many ADUs feature new construction, it is possible to remodel some existing single-family homes to create them. However, every ADUdesign must include a kitchen, a bathroom, and at least one bedroom. Current building codes apply to such renovations/additions.

ADUs are usually found to the rear or side of the existing dwelling, and they are subject to strict size limitations. For example, an ADU on a lot from 3,500 to 4,999 square feet (SF) in size must be 400 SF or smaller. On a 5,000+ SF lot, ADUs can be up to 800 SF in size.

Q: In what ways are ADUs important?

ADUs help address Honolulu’s chronic housing shortage, and they provide aging residents a convenient way to downsize.

Relieve Housing Shortage – It is no surprise to those living in Honolulu that the cost of living is substantial. In fact, one site ranks Hawaii’s capital 4th out of 66 U.S. cities, although it is still 14 percent less expensive to live in Honolulu than New York City. However, with rent for a 900 sqr-ft furnished apartment averaging more than $2,000 per month, and utilities averaging more than $250/mo, many workers struggle to find affordable housing. ADUs address this need.

Aging in Place – ADUs also offer aging homeowners a unique opportunity to downsize while remaining on the very same property that likely hosted endless parties and other memorable family events over the years. A senior can “age in place” by eventually moving out of the larger primary residence and into the smaller ADU. The homeowner can then rent out the larger home to generate potentially substantial rental income.

Q: Where can an ADU be built?

Zoning is crucial to ADU development. Although there is an important caveat, an ADU may be built on lots zoned R-3.5, R-5, R-7.5, R-10 or R-20. Construction of an ADU is also possible in a Country District with a lot measuring 3,500 SF. The caveat? Even when a lot is appropriately zoned, there must be adequate utility infrastructure in place, and the ADU cannot conflict with existing restrictive covenants. This effectively eliminates ADUs from consideration in master planned communities or those with homeowners associations. The ADUmust also comply with any land use provisions that come with the specific zoning.

When eligible, only a single ADU is possible on a lot with one single-family home on it. This excludes lots with duplex homes as well as those with an existing ohana unit or guest house.

Q: How do ohana units and ADUs compare?

These two kinds of living spaces differ as to maximum size, occupancy, and parking. ADUs are subject to size restrictions, while ohana units are not. Only family members may live in an ohana unit, while there is no such restriction with an ADU. Finally, ohana units must have two off-street parking spaces, while ADUs only need one (those less than a half-mile from a rail station have no parking requirement).

It is also important to note that the property owner (or appropriate relative) must live in the primary residence or the ADU. Exceptions exist for serious illness or active military deployment. Leases for ADUS must be at least six months long. When a property is sold, the primary residence and the ADU must be sold together.

Owner Built Design, LLC is a key resource when you are looking into an ADU. Let me put my decades of experience to work for you. Please contact me today.

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