How to Construct an Inexpensive ADU: Simple Tricks to Reduce Project Cost

With the increasing popularity of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), it is now easier than ever to realize the promise for elegant and reasonably priced living spaces. Even yet, it seems sense that you would want to build your new backyard house as cheaply as possible.

Read More: Affordable ADU Construction

We’ll walk you through the skill of striking a balance between quality and cost, providing you with real-world advice and professional recommendations to help you get the most of your money without sacrificing the allure or usefulness of your reasonably priced ADU. When it comes to creating your budget-friendly project, Ingenuity Construction Group has you covered, from astute design decisions to creative ways to get past regulations.

What is the price of an ADU?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) will set you back around $150,000 when you include the cost of building, design, and permits. This is for the most basic ADU design, with no further features. This works out to around $300 per square foot for a 500 square foot ADU.

Nevertheless, it might be misleading to forecast the cost of your project using cost per square foot. Because these apartments are smaller, the extra bedrooms, big living rooms, and corridors that come with a regular-sized house don’t balance the expense per square foot. Additionally, there might be a difference between a project costing $300 and $600 per square foot depending on several factors including the lot’s slope, the quality of finishes, and the architectural aspects.

In light of this, it is advisable to estimate the project’s total cost using starting costs.

Building an ADU at a Reasonable Price

Surprised by stickers? You are not at fault here. However, there are simple methods to cut costs without compromising the standard of your ADU.

Employ a nearby ADU designer

Being smart at every stage of the process, beginning with design, is the first step in creating an economical ADU. Although there are many designers available these days, it will be really beneficial to choose one in your region who specializes in ADUs.

ADU designers in your region with experience designing affordable housing have a deep awareness of local building costs, permitting procedures, and zoning laws. Why is this relevant while constructing a reasonably priced ADU? Regulations can be in place to assist you in cutting expenses. For instance, did you know that in California, ADUs that are less than 750 square feet are exempt from impact and development fees? You may save $5,000 to $20,000 by doing this! Additionally, there is less chance that the planning department would follow up with change requests if they are experienced with the permitting procedure, which might add months to your timeframe.

Additionally, they may provide insightful advice on how to maximize your money through clever design—especially for compact locations. For example, versatile design and effective space planning may improve utility without adding more square footage. Furthermore, utilizing natural light sources and placing windows strategically can lessen the need for artificial lighting, which lowers construction and long-term energy costs.

Make Use of Current Structures

One of the simplest methods to save expenses on your ADU project is using a conversion ADU. Garages are a great place to start. By turning your garage into an ADU, you may maximize the use of an existing building while reducing the need for new construction. Because this method drastically lowers labor and material expenses, it’s a good choice for homeowners who want to expand their living space without going over budget.

However, you must first evaluate the garage’s structural soundness before beginning any garage conversion work. To ascertain if the current structure can be securely transformed, your designer will dispatch a structural engineer. The garage may need to be demolished if they determine it is too damaged, which would raise the overall cost of the project.

But there is some good news as well! If you remain inside the footprint, the state will still consider your ADU as a conversion, even if your entire garage needs to be removed. This implies that you continue to gain from the advantages of regulation.

Make Use of the Pre-Approved Plans for Your City

As a result of AB 1332, by January 1, 2025, every city in California must have a pre-approved ADU plan program in place.

Local architects and designers are able to submit their own designs to the city under this scheme. As a result, an archive of pre-approved ADU designs will be created. Then, homeowners may buy these designs straight from the creator. This initiative aims to save homeowners money on design fees and expedite the permitting process while retaining the designer’s assistance and direction.

A bespoke plan from the same designer will cost far more than these designs. However, keep in mind that even if you are saving money on design, you still need to account for building expenses. Find out from the designer how much they think the design will cost to build before choosing one. Large windows and vaulted ceilings, two apparently basic features, will significantly increase the cost.

Engineering Value

Value engineering is examining every facet of the building project to find areas where money may be saved without sacrificing the structure’s quality or functioning.

The optimization of material utilization is a crucial component of value engineering as it relates to ADUs. For instance, using modular cabinets in the kitchen is an economical approach. Prefabricated and predesigned components are provided via modular cabinets, making on-site assembly simple. This saves material waste in addition to labor expenditures.

In the bathroom, choosing a prefabricated shower over a completely tiled one offers a useful way to save money. Because prefabricated shower units are prefabricated and ready for installation, the building process is streamlined and labor hours are decreased. These units are useful and save on the extra materials and work required for custom tiling because they frequently have integrated amenities like built-in seating and shelves.

Check out The ADU Blueprint, our in-depth online course, for additional information. Paul Dashevsky, the founder and CEO of GreatBuildz, is featured in our course and offers further value engineering advice and techniques in an exclusive interview. Here is a link to a free preview of The ADU Blueprint.

You may save the entire cost of your ADU by keeping these tips in mind. Recall that creating an ADU doesn’t have to be extremely expensive; the goal is to maximize value and effectiveness at every turn. Your budget ADU may become a reality with a clever approach to design and construction, increasing the value of your home and providing a sustainable living space without sacrificing quality.