Tag Archives: ADU

How to Optimize Space In Your New ADU

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

 

 

Anyone who’s been looking into ADU designs recently has probably had to face a very stark truth: ADU’s are small. Unlike normal single-family homes, they are each limited to a certain maximum floor space size based on the total size of your lot. Unfortunately, floor space means that even if you decided to build up (to safe ground space), you would still only be able to build so much area worth of rooms. The vast majority of ADUs will be limited to a maximum of 400 sq feet of floor space. This is about enough room for one fairly tight bedroom, a full or 3/4 bath, and an open kitchen and living area. With traditional furniture and storage methods, this can get cramped pretty fast but with a few creative storage and design techniques, you can maximize the living space while remaining within regulation size.

Turning The Walls into Storage

The limitations on ADU size is based on floor space, meaning the area between the walls. But what about the walls themselves? rather than using up a hundred of your square feet for dressers, shelves, and cabinets, why not install them directly into the walls so the floor can be used for comfortable human activity? All you need is a little innovative carpentry to embed stacks of drawers, fold-out shelves, and hidden cupboards to store everything from tools to clothes to kitchenware.

Murphy Beds

The Murphey bed is a simple but effective engineering marvel already well-loved by apartment-dwellers. This design involves a bedframe with what appears to be a tall, recessed headboard. The bed can be folded vertically, with the footboard folding toward the ceiling, to embed itself into the wall, creating floor space for daily activities. With this method, you might be able to comfortably turn the master bedroom into a convertible study and/or fit one or two children’s beds into the living area to better accommodate a young family.

Roll-Away and Platform Beds

Roll-away beds are another innovation that can help you double bed space for floor space. A simple platform, perhaps made into a play area, can hide a full-sized children’s bed that is only rolled out for sleeping time. Platform beds, on the other hand, are out all the time but have either another roll-away bed or large drawers worth of storage underneath.

Ceiling Storage

While lofts will count against your floor space, simply choosing to store things hanging from the ceiling will not. By designing a vaulted ceiling, ladders, and hooks or brackets for hanging storage, you can give your ADU residents a lot more room for their things so the floor space is only occupied by daily activities. These can hold bicycles, potted plants, hanging cleaning supplies, even cabinets that lower themselves on electric rails if you want to go all-out.

Embed the Tech

How much floor space do you want to be taken up by standing lamps, entertainment centers, or computer desks? You can plan for these features as well by embedding them into the walls. An entertainment center can fold out or you can leave a handy recess in the wall with convenient outlets and cable hookups for your resident’s media needs, maybe even with matching recesses for surround-sound speakers. Mount the lights on the walls and ceilings, and take the time to design a corner desk that doesn’t take up much room, once again near convenient outlets.

Most ADUs will be using their limited floor space for traditional furniture, storage, and beds but you can set the trend of optimized comfort and efficiency. Give yourself, your relatives, or your rental tenants the gift of elbow room with a creatively designed ADU, embedded storage, and beds that can be put away. For more advice on building perfect custom ADU, contact us today!

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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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What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

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This entry is part 3 of 11 in the series Accessory Dwelling Unit

A QUICK GUIDE TO BUILD A SECOND UNIT ON YOUR LOT

What Is An Accessory  Dwelling Unit?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a second dwelling unit, including its own kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom facilities. It may be attached or detached from the primary dwelling unit on the zoning lot. ADUs are intended to be “accessory” to the primary dwelling and are typically much smaller.

This new law allows homeowners to build and rent a second home on their property.

It could be attached or detached. It could be the garage. But small kine, not large, where it becomes unaffordable. ~ Kirk Caldwell, Mayor of Honolulu

Benefits of Accessory Dwelling Units

  1. An increasing number of communities across the nation are allowing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), also known as granny flats and second units, within residential areas to increase their affordable housing supply.
  2. ADUs offer a variety of benefits to communities. They create housing options that support workforce housing, provide flexible living arrangements for multigenerational families, and provide supplemental income for homeowners.
  3. ADUs also support sustainability because they are often conversions of underutilized space and consume less land than new single-family development on vacant land.
  4. Elderly and/or disabled persons who may want to live close to family members or caregivers, empty nesters, and young adults, find ADUs convenient and affordable.
  5. As identified in the Affordable Housing Strategy, there is a major shortage of affordable housing on Oahu, especially for rental housing. ADUs can help address this problem by allowing existing homeowners to build or convert a legal second unit on their property.
  6. The ADU Ordinance was signed into law on September 14, 2015, by Mayor Kirk Caldwell. The purpose of this Ordinance is to allow ADUs as a permitted use in Residential and Country zoning districts to encourage and accommodate the construction of ADUs, which will increase the number of affordable rental units and help ease the housing shortage in the City.

I would like to keep my dad home with me. That’s why I’m doing it. You forget about the hidden homeless. There’s many hidden homeless members in our community. ~ Kahaunani Mahoe-Theone, ADU applicant

Oahu Housing Crunch Eased by ADU's
Image from http://adriennelally.blogspot.com/2015/09/new-bill-for-adu.html

PROCEDURE TO ADD AN ADU

1.  Decide what type of ADU fits your needs.

2.  Check if you meet the basic requirements.

3.  Complete the Ohana/ADU Public Facilities Pre-check Form.

4.  Prepare construction drawings.

5.  Apply for a building permit.

A. WHAT TYPE OF ADU TO BUILD

An ADU can be attached or detached from the main dwelling. There are several ways by which an ADU can be added to a lot:

  1. Addition to or alteration of an existing structure.
  2. Construction of a new structure.
  3. Recognition of an existing structure that was built without a building permit.
  4. Conversion of an existing structure that exceeds the maximum floor area and/or cannot offer the least off-street parking (Zoning Adjustment required).

B. ADU BASIC REQUIREMENTS

Prior to applying for a building permit, check if the basic requirements to adapt, build, or convert an ADU on a lot are met.

This ordinance is the most significant affordable housing ordinance the city’s adopted in years. ~ Ron Menor, Honolulu City Councilman

BASIC REQUIREMENTS* 

  1. The lot is zoned: R-3.5, R-5, R-7.5, R-10, R-20 or Country District.
  2. Minimum lot area of 3,500 SF
  3. The lot is not landlocked.
  4. The lot does not have more than one dwelling unit, i.e., more than one single-family dwelling, two-family dwelling, accessory ohana dwelling, guest house, multi-family dwelling, planned development housing, cluster, or group living facility.
  5. Either the main dwelling or the ADU will be occupied by the property owner(s), the owner’s family, or a designated authorized representative.
  6. The owner(s) of the lot will record covenants running with the land with the Bureau of Conveyances or the Land Court of the State of Hawaii, or both, as is appropriate.
  7. Private covenants do not prohibit ADUs.
  8. The lot can fit one parking space in addition to the parking required for the primary dwelling unit. No parking is required if the lot is located within one-half mile of a rail transit station.
  9. Floor area maximum: 400 SF (for lots with an area of 3,500 to 4,999 SF) and 800 SF (for lots with an area of 5,000 SF or more).

* For more detailed information, see Ordinance 15-41. 

There are three possible outcomes:

Outcome 1: If you meet all the requirements, proceed to C.

Outcome 2: If you do not meet any of requirements 1 to 7, you cannot build an ADU on your lot.

Outcome 3: If you are converting an existing structure into an ADU, AND you meet requirements 1 to 7, but do not meet either 8 or 9 or both, apply for a Zoning Adjustment (refer to E). Once the Zoning Adjustment is approved, proceed to Section C.

C. APPLYING FOR A BUILDING PERMIT

After completing the Ohana/ADU Public Facilities Pre-Check Form (refer to E); there are two ways to apply for a building permit. New buildings must be filed electronically through ePlans. Alterations or additions may submit a hard copy application.

D. PERTINENT FORMS AND INSTRUCTIONS

Listed below are pertinent forms and other important information that is needed to adapt, build, or convert an ADU.

  1. Ohana/ADU Public Facilities Pre-Check Form
  2. Internet Building Permit Application
  3. Basic Requirements Information about lot size and zoning district.
  4. Access to ePlans
  5. Zoning Adjustment Information for preparing and applying for a Zoning Adjustment: ADU Application Instructions
  6. Restrictive Covenant Sample draft of a restrictive covenant. Restrictive Covenant Sample

After a building permit is issued and construction of an ADU is underway, inspectors will inspect the building, electrical work, and plumbing. Once your inspection is completed, the Certificate of Occupancy will be issued.

This web page is a general guide, please consult each county agency for other details and/or the latest amendments and changes.

For more detailed information, visit the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting website,

All information is subject to change. Revised September 2015

Sep 14, 2015 – Accessory Dwelling Units: The ADU Ordinance was signed into law on September 14, 2015, by Mayor Kirk Caldwell.  The purpose of this Ordinance is to allow ADUs as a permitted use in Residential and Country
zoning districts and to encourage and accommodate construction of ADUs, which will increase the number of affordable rental units and help ease the housing shortage in the City. Following are Bill 20 (2015) CD1, ADU informational documents, Ohana/ADU Pre-Check Form and Director’s report.

 

 

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