There’s a reason why California is currently experiencing an ADU building boom. As the housing crisis in the state continues homeowners are looking for creative solutions to make the most out of their space and property.

That’s where ADUs come into the picture. An accessory dwelling unit can provide a second source of rental income, or extra space when family and friends come to visit.

But, exactly how much does it cost to build an ADU on average? Sadly, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Luckily, we’ve organized this definitive guide to giving you an idea of how much you can expect to spend on this building project. Let’s get started!

How Much Does It Cost to Build an ADU?

Sadly, it’s difficult to find an average price when it comes to ADUs. In some cases, a budget-friendly individual might be able to build an ADU for $20,000 or less. However, in other cases, an ADU can cost up to $400,000 or more.

As such, any average ADU cost should be taken with a grain of salt. There are just too many factors that can increase or decrease the price. However, as a reference, we’ll still include the average cost that most people pay:

  • Detached ADU construction – roughly $305 per square foot
  • Basement ADU – roughly $265 per square foot
  • Attached ADU – roughly $300 per square foot
  • Garage conversion ADU – roughly $297 per square foot
  • Detached ADU above a garage – roughly $212 per square foot

As you can see, a detached, above garage ADU is generally the most affordable route to go. Just keep in mind that these are averages. The specific cost will depend on a variety of factors that we will go over in the next section.

Factors That Affect the Price of an ADU

If you’re baffled by the price difference between ADUs, then you’re not alone. These price differences can be explained by the factors that can cause the price to increase or decrease. In this section, we’ll go over the main ones that can cause the final price to skyrocket.

The Location Where It’s Built

As anyone who lives in California knows the cost of living can vary dramatically depending on where you live. This is true for a variety of reasons: the size of the city, the popularity, and the land that it’s built on. For example, an ADU that’s built in the Bay Area will likely cost a small fortune.

Not only is there limited space from the influx of people, but the hilly terrain makes it much harder to construct. Similarly, a flat area in Northern California will likely be much more affordable. Why? Because it’s easier to build and there are fewer people around to raise the cost of living.

The Size of the ADU

As we saw in the average cost section, the price of ADUs is often determined by the number of square feet involved. This makes it relatively easy to calculate how much a certain size ADU will cost.

Just keep in mind that even this is subject to change. It all depends on the type of building materials you use. For example, low-grade materials will cost a lot less than high-quality sustainable ones.

The Design of the ADU

The specific design features that you include in your ADU will also influence the price. A barebones ADU is the most affordable type. However, this isn’t ideal for many people’s lifestyles.

Design choices, like more expensive roofs, glass doors, and other style choices, will ultimately increase the price. However, it’s often an important part of making sure that the ADU matches the aesthetic of the rest of the property.

Any Additional Customization

Finally, there’s any additional customization you might want to add to the ADU. This could be energy-saving measures, like solar panels on the roof or smart thermostats to control heating and cooling.

Or, it could be security measures, like cameras and smart locks. Certain ADUs might also require disability-friendly features, like a wheelchair ramp, or specialized bathrooms. If you plan on adding these features, then make sure to set some room aside in your budget for them.

Hire Professional Help to Give You a Closer Estimate

As you can see, it’s almost impossible to predict how much your ADU will cost on your own. As such, any figure that you come up with should be treated purely as an estimate.

If you’re on a budget, and you need a more accurate estimate, then we recommend hiring a professional to give you a quote. This is the only way to address all of the factors that go into determining the price.

They can also help you determine any legal requirements that must be met in the specific city that you live in. For example, a San Jose ADU has different requirements than one build in Los Angeles.

So, find a contractor that works in your city and have them come out to your property. They can give you a closer ballpark figure. Just keep in mind that the figure is likely to change based on any roadblocks that might get in the way.

Want More Content? Keep Reading

We hope this article helped you answer the question, How much does it cost to build an ADU on average? As you can see, an ADU doesn’t come cheap.

However, when you factor in the additional living space that comes with it, it’s easy to see how an ADU can be a lucrative investment. As such, we recommend discussing your specific situation with a contractor.

That way, you can get a more accurate price estimate which will help you decide whether or not it’s right for you. Did you enjoy this article? If the answer is yes, then you’re in the right place. Keep exploring to find more topics that you’re sure to love.

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