Frequently Asked Questions

About ADUs

What is an ADU?

The legal term is an Accessory Dwelling Unit or ADU. ADUs go by many names – backyard home, granny flats, granny units, in-law apartments, guest cottage, or secondary suites – just to name a few. An ADU is a permanent structure that provides fully-appointed living space in the backyard of existing homes. ADUs typically have at least 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, and a kitchen space.

About Abodu

Who designs the Abodu?

Each Abodu is designed inside and out by world-class architects. The focus is on a prefabricated backyard home that is perfect for living in, and feeling at home in any backyard.

Where do you deliver to?

We currently offer our full service in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. If you live in a different area in California, you can still have an Abodu in your yard! While we don’t offer our complete end-to-end service outside of the Bay Area, we can build and deliver an Abodu to your home, and coordinate with your preferred local contractor for the installation details, which are minimal.

What does “prefab” mean exactly?

A prefabricated or “prefab” structure, simply put, removes nearly all of the stress, dust, and mess from your experience as a homeowner. An Abodu is built in a factory setting, so it is about 98% completed when it arrives at your home. Our talented on-site team will perform the necessary, minimal work in your yard before and after the installation day, which is usually 2-3 weeks in total. That’s it!

Is this like a mobile home?

An Abodu is installed on a foundation and permanently connected to utilities. They are considered “Real Property” once fully installed. We use the same materials and methods that go into a typical residential construction project, and we build to exceed California’s building code standards, with a focus on high-quality materials throughout.

How long does it take?

A typical project takes 3-4 weeks for permitting, and 12-14 weeks to complete. See our overview of the project timeline here.


Is this a one size fits all approach?

Not at all! We have two Abodu models currently for sale, with more to come in the future. Our Abodu models do have specific overall dimensions and layouts, but we also have an expansive list of options and upgrades, so you can truly customize the space and make it your own. You can view a list of our options and upgrades here.

Does an Abodu include heating and air conditioning?

Yes. Your Abodu comes standard with heating and air conditioning. We want to ensure you don’t miss any of the comforts of home.

Do we pay for the cabinets, plumbing fixtures, appliances, etc. separately?

Nope! Our base price includes everything from start to finish, including all finish materials and fixtures. We believe in a straightforward pricing, that reflects your “whole project cost”.

Customer Service

Where do I go to deal with the paperwork and permits needed?

We’ve got this! We handle all of the permit submissions, and we have a dedicated on-site team that coordinates everything from beginning to end. Your toughest decision, we hope, will be to choose your paint colors.


What is the design style?

Abodu’s roots lie in the fundamentals of Scandinavian design: maximizing natural light, space-efficiency, and a minimalistic approach that compliments your home.

Size and Setbacks

Can I put an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in my backyard?

If you live in California, then the answer is most likely Yes, you can build a backyard home or ADU. In some cities, the process is more challenging than others, so feel free to reach out with your name and address and we can quickly check your situation. Our prefab ADUs are approved throughout California.

How will I know if an Abodu will fit in my yard?

General guidelines for whether you have enough room in your yard for an Abodu:

  1. The Abodu Studio measures 28’ x 12’ overall and requires 38’ x 27’ of clear space in your yard, including typical setback requirements.
  2. The Abodu 500 measures 35’ 4” x 14’ and requires 45’ x 29’ of clear space in your yard, including typical setback requirements.

How big can my ADU be?

This depends on where you live, the size of your lot, and the size of your primary home. Generally, any ADU under 750 sq ft is legal across California.

Energy Efficiency and Solar

Does an Abodu come with solar panels?

Solar panels are not included in the base price, but it is an option on both Abodu models. The Abodu one-bedroom model is exempt from California’s requirement for new structures to have solar panels.

Is an Abodu energy efficient?

Absolutely! All Abodu models feature Marvin high-efficiency fiberglass windows, and the walls, ceiling, and subfloor are all insulated with material that exceeds code standards. All Abodu models are all-electric, including all appliances, light fixtures, and the heating/cooling system.


Do you offer financing?

We offer a curated set of pre-arranged financing options through partners. Depending on your situation, we can help you tap into your home equity (through a HELOC or Cash-out Refi), obtain a traditional loan (construction loan, renovation loan), or take advantage of “zero-down” financing options through our partners who take fractional ownership in your home in exchange for the cash to build an ADU. Talk to us and we’ll point you in the right direction.


Does an Abodu come standard with furniture?

Our base price does not include the furniture you see in the photos on our website, but we do have several furniture packages available.


How do you install it? Is it on a trailer?

An Abodu is installed on a typical concrete raised foundation. It will have a “crawlspace” underneath, so it is not a concrete “slab” foundation.

There’s an easement in my backyard. Can I still have an ADU?

It depends. We’ll need to look at your title report, which we can help you pull if you don’t have one readily available. Some easements will still allow an ADU inside them but will have restrictions such as height limits. Other easements don’t allow any structures inside them, so we’ll have to move your Abodu somewhere else on the property, if possible.


How long does the process take?

When we send our on-site crew to your home, it typically takes 1-2 weeks to complete the prep work before your Abodu arrives. Then after installation day, it’s typically another 1-2 weeks to complete the finishing touches, and then it’s time to move your furniture in!

How will you get the prefab (pre-fabricated) ADU into my backyard?

If you have plenty of access space for us to move it, via rollers, into the backyard, then we’ll do that. If you have a bit less access space, we will use a crane to lift the Abodu ADU over your main home.

What about COVID? Is the installation process safe?

We follow CDC and local county guidelines for COVID safety measures throughout your project. And we will take all necessary precautions to ensure that our team works completely outside of your main residence, with proper social distancing.


How long does it take to get permits for an Abodu?

The short answer is…quickly! In several Bay Area cities, we have pre-approved “express” permit status, which allows us to secure permits for your Abodu in 1-3 days. In other areas it is still a streamlined process, typically takes 3-4 weeks total.

Property Value

Do ADUs affect my property value?

Yes. Installing an Abodu ADU in your backyard will certainly increase your property value. After all, it is an additional 495 sq feet of permanent living space on your lot. The increased bedrooms, bathroom, and kitchen are viewed as additions to the primary home. Our prefabricated ADUs are built to local codes to ensure you receive the full property value benefit possible.


Can I rent my ADU to anyone?

Yes. If you live in the main house, you can rent your Abodu ADU to anyone you please – aging parents, children back from school, a teacher, a local firefighter – the possibilities are endless.

Can I install an ADU on rental property and rent the main house and ADU to separate parties?

This answer depends on where you live. In California, you have the legal right to rent out your ADU and main home to different parties. Outside of California, some cities allow this, while many others don’t.


What happens to my property taxes when I add an ADU?

Your home’s property tax basis will NOT be reassessed when you add an ADU (important for our CA homeowners due to Prop 13). Your property taxes will only increase by the value of the ADU on your property. This rate does vary, but customers tell us it is generally an increase of ~$1,000 to $2,000 per year.


What will the impact be on my home and my neighbors during construction?

As little as possible! Our team works entirely in your back yard in most cases, over a 2-3 week period typically. On installation day, the crane operators will set up their equipment on your street for a 3-4 hour period. That’s it!


How do I hook up plumbing into my ADU?

Generally, we’ll need to run the plumbing underground somewhere out into the front yard, and connect into a part of your yard that breaks off from the sewer main (that’s called the sewer lateral). Sometimes we’ll connect into the cleanout. In some locations, we can tie in at the back of your home, but not in all situations. There are a few other things we need to take into account – how big the pipes are on your current system, how many bathrooms you have – but we’ll chat about that during a site visit.

How do I get electricity in my ADU?

In most cases, we’ll “plug” your Abodu into the panel on your main home. We can run a dedicated electric service line to the unit, but frankly, that’s a little bit more expensive. Also – depending on what type of panel you have, we might have to upgrade your panel before we do our install. We can help you manage that if you need it, or you can do it on your own – just let us help you make sure you get the right size panel to fit your new Abodu.

How do you run a gas line to the ADU?

All Abodu models are 100% electric, with no gas connections required.


We use an energy-efficient, all-electric mini-split system, which includes both heating and cooling.


How do ADUs work with zoning?

Bit of a loaded question… it depends. Zoning happens at a city-by-city level, and so we’ll have to know where you are. Since the state of California changed the laws around ADUs starting in 2017, ADU’s are now allowed in the backyards of all single-family homes, with some restrictions in each local area (things like setbacks, size limits, etc.). If you’re in one of our current service areas, we can help you understand and navigate this process.

I own an apartment complex. Can I still install an Abodu?

Yes, you can! In fact, if you have the room we may be able to install two!

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