Building in your backyard: Two Types of Accessory Structures

ADUs and Home Studios

At SQFT Studios, we are often asked about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Our clients have heard about them in the media, from their neighbors, and even from our city government. However, there is another form of Accessory Structure called the Home Studio. A Home Studio may also be called a Backyard Cottage, Artist Studio, Casita, Guest Suite, etc. Home Studios are almost identical to ADUs, but with much less regulation and fewer fees. Below are some of the similarities and differences between ADUs and Backyard Bedrooms

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

An ADU is a secondary structure on a property that can serve as an autonomous dwelling separate from the primary residence. It contains everything a single-family home has; a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen, as well as any additional accommodations. These units are typically rented out for either short- or long-term.

Home Studios

A Home Studio is a secondary structure on a property that can serve as additional square footage to the primary residence. It can contain most of what a single-family has; a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen or wetbar, as well as additional accommodations. These units are typically for personal use, business, or rented out to for either short- or long-term with use of the primary residence as well.

Below is a table highlighting just a few of the similarities and differences:

Accessory Dwelling Units Home Studios
Legal & Permitted Yes Yes
System Development Charges $0 (waiver expires 7/31/2018, avg. $17,000 thereafter) $0 Indefinitely
Full Bathroom Yes Yes (though only one sink allowed in entire unit)
Full Kitchen Yes Yes (though only one sink allowed in entire unit)
Short-term Rental Yes Yes
Long-term Rental Yes Yes
Size Restrictions Up to 800sf or <75% of primary dwelling, whichever is less Up to 15% footprint coverage of property area
Height Restrictions 20′ 20′
Placed within side/rear setbacks Yes: If under 24’x24′ footprint, under 15′ height, under 10′ high walls Yes: If under 24’x24′ footprint, under 15′ height, under 10′ high walls
Conformity (Design) Restrictions Under 15′ height: No
Over 15′ height
: Yes
Under 15′ height: No
Over 15′ height
: Yes
Utilities Separate or shared with primary residence Shared with primary residence
Average cost $105,000 $65,000

 

Differences

The ultimate difference between these two types of structures is whether it is an independent dwelling or an extension of the primary residence. This line is drawn at number of sinks. Home Studios are allowed one sink whereas ADUs can have multiple sinks. 

At SQFT Studios, we build both ADUs and Home Studios. We find that Home Studios are an excellent alternative to ADUs that is less known, has less regulation, and is more affordable. All options are explored during the free consultation phase where we discuss with our clients the primary purpose of their new structure and have that guide the design.

If you’re having difficulty deciding between an ADU or Home Studio, contact us for a free consultation. We’ll go over the options, differences, and similarities in order to find the perfect solution for you and your needs.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Updated 4/27/2016