Answers For Your ADU Questions

ADU’s, JADU’s & Garage Conversions can pose many questions that most Contractors can’t answer. Before you get started you should get answers to the most frequently asked questions about ADU’s, how to get started, and the building permit and construction process.

Orange County Construction Owner Keith Daigneault


General Information – ADU’, JADU’s & Garage Conversions

Can I hire any general Contractor?

You can, but you need to consider if they have a lot of knowledge of ADU’s as the permit process and some construction laws are different. I have many clients that were told by other contractors “you can’t build that” only to find out when they meet me that I fully research their project before offering a bid and find out that their dream ADU is “OK To Build!”

Can ADUs exceed general zoning densities?

Yes. An ADU is an accessory use for the purposes of calculating allowable density under the general plan and zoning that does not count toward the allowable density. For example, if a zoning district allows one unit per 7,500 square feet, then an ADU would not be counted as an additional unit.

Can I build an ADU in a historic district?

Yes. ADUs are allowed within a historic district, and on lots where the primary residence is subject to historic preservation. State ADU law allows for a local agency to impose standards that prevent adverse impacts on any real property that is listed in the California Register of Historic Resources. However, these standards do not apply to ADUs proposed pursuant to Government Code section 65852.2, subdivision (e).

Can I be forced to have more paking?

No. Parking requirements for ADUs shall not exceed one parking space per unit or bedroom, whichever is less. These spaces may be provided as tandem parking on a driveway. Guest parking spaces shall not be required for ADUs under any circumstances.


Tandem parking means two or more automobiles that are parked on a driveway or in any other location on a lot, lined up behind one another. (Gov. Code, § 65852.2, subds. (a)(1)(D)(x)(I) and (j)(11).)

Is flexibility for siting parking required?

Yes. Local agencies should consider flexibility when siting parking for ADUs. Offstreet parking spaces for the ADU shall be permitted in setback areas in locations determined by the local agency or through tandem parking, unless specific findings are made. Specific findings must be based on specific site or regional topographical or fire and life safety conditions.

When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an ADU, or converted to an ADU, the local agency shall not require that those offstreet parking spaces for the primary unit be replaced. (Gov. Code, § 65852.2, subd. (a)(D)(xi).)

Can ADUs be exempt from parking?

Yes. A local agency shall not impose ADU parking standards for any of the following, pursuant to Government Code section 65852.2,subdivisions (d)(1-5) and (j)(10).

(1) Accessory dwelling unit is located within one-half mile walking distance of public transit.

(2) Accessory dwelling unit is located within an architecturally and historically significant historic district.

(3) Accessory dwelling unit is part of the proposed or existing primary residence or an accessory structure.

(4) When on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the occupant of the accessory dwelling unit.

(5) When there is a car share vehicle located within one block of the accessory dwelling unit.

How do I find a good ADU contractor?

Look no further! Orange County Construction is one of the oldest and most trusted ADU contractors in the OC. Contact us today and the owner “Keith” will personally call you.

Keith (owner) will come to your home, give you some great ideas that you may not have thought of, answer your questions about ADU’s and offer you, in writing, a guaranteed price for your new ADU.

We love helping out clients build their dream home!

Can I convert my accessory structure into an ADU?

Yes. The conversion of garages, sheds, barns, and other existing accessory structures, either attached or detached from the primary dwelling, into ADUs is permitted and promoted through the state ADU law. These conversions of accessory structures are not subject to any additional development standard, such as unit size, height, and lot coverage requirements, and shall be from existing space that can be made safe under building and safety codes. A local agency should not set limits on when the structure was created, and the structure must meet standards for health and safety. Finally, local governments may also consider the conversion of illegal existing space and could consider alternative building standards to facilitate the conversion of existing illegal space to minimum life and safety standards.

Can converting existing space be expanded?

Yes. An ADU created within the existing or proposed space of a single-family dwelling or accessory structure can be expanded beyond the physical dimensions of the structure. In addition, an ADU created within an existing accessory structure may be expanded up to 150 square feet without application of local development standards, but this expansion shall be limited to accommodating ingress and egress.

An example of where this expansion could be applicable is for the creation of a staircase to reach a second story ADU. These types of ADUs shall conform to setbacks sufficient for fire and safety. A local agency may allow for an expansion beyond 150 square feet, though the ADU would have to comply with the size maximums as per state ADU law, or a local agency’s adopted ordinance.As a JADU is limited to being created within the walls of a primary residence, this expansion of up to 150 square feet does not pertain to JADUs.

What should be in my ADU contract?

First off, you need to make sure your estimate if fully broken down with extreme itemized pricing. DO NOT sign a one-page or small contract and make sure that the full scope of work is fully defined. This is always the trail to “Change Orders” which cost you a ton of money.
We offer fully detailed estimates with a guaranteed price in writing!
-Click Here for your free estimate-

Is there a minimum lot size requirement?

No. While local governments may impose standards on ADUs, these standards shall not include minimum lot size requirements. Further, lot coverage requirements cannot preclude the creation of a statewide exemption ADU (800 square feet ADU with a height limitation of 16 feet and 4 feet side and rear yard setbacks). If lot coverage requirements do not allow such an ADU, an automatic exception or waiver should be given to appropriate development standards such as lot coverage, floor area or open space requirements. Local governments may continue to enforce building and health and safety standards and may consider design, landscape, and other standards to facilitate compatibility.

What is a statewide exemption ADU?

A statewide exemption ADU is an ADU of up to 800 square feet, 16 feet in height, as potentially limited by a local agency, and with 4 feet side and rear yard setbacks. ADU law requires that no lot coverage, floor area ratio, open space, or minimum lot size will preclude the construction of a statewide exemption ADU. Further, ADU law allows the construction of a detached new construction statewide exemption ADU to be combined on the same lot with a JADU in a single-family residential zone. In addition, ADUs are allowed in any residential or mixed uses regardless of zoning and development standards imposed in an ordinance. See more discussion below.

Can setbacks be required for ADUs?

Yes. A local agency may impose development standards, such as setbacks, for the creation of ADUs. Setbacks may include front, corner, street, and alley setbacks. Additional setback requirementsmay be required in the coastal zone if required by a local coastal program.

Setbacks may also account for utility easements or recorded setbacks. However, setbacks must not unduly constrain the creation of ADUs and cannot be required for ADUs proposed pursuant to subdivision (e).

Further, a setback of no more than four (4) feet from the side and rear lot lines shall be required for an attached or detached ADU. ( Gov. Code, § 65852.2, subd. (a)(1)(D)(vii).)

A local agency may also allow the expansion of a detached structure being converted into an ADU when the existing structure does not have four-foot rear and side setbacks. A local agency may also allow the expansion area of a detached structure being converted into an ADU to have no setbacks, or setbacks of less than four feet, if the existing structure has no setbacks, or has setbacks of less than four feet. A local agency shall not require setbacks of more than four feet for the expanded area of a detached structure being converted into an ADU.A local agency may still apply front yard setbacks for ADUs, but front yard setbacks cannot preclude a statewide exemption ADU and must not unduly constrain the creation of all types of ADUs. (Gov. Code, § 65852.2, subd. (c).)

Is there a limit on the height of an ADU?

Not in state ADU law, but local agencies may impose height limits provided that the limit is no less than 16 feet. ( Gov. Code, § 65852.2, subd. (a)(1)(B)(i).)

Is there a limit on the number of bedrooms?

State ADU law does not allow for the limitation on the number of bedrooms of an ADU. A limit on the number of bedrooms could be construed as a discriminatory practice towards protected classes, such as familial status, and would be considered a constraint on the development of ADUs.

Can impact fees be charged for an ADU?

No. If an ADU is less than 750 sq ft, then the ADU is exempt from incurring impact fees from local agencies, special districts, and water corporations if less than 750 square feet. Should an ADU be 750 square feet or larger, impact fees shall be charged proportionately in relation to the square footage of the ADU to the square footage of the primary dwelling unit.

Can school districts charge impact fees?

Yes. School districts are authorized but do not have to levy impact fees for ADUs greater than 500 square feet pursuant to Section 17620 of the Education Code. ADUs less than 500 square feet are not subject to school impact fees. Local agencies are encouraged to coordinate with school districts to carefully weigh the importance of promoting ADUs, ensuring appropriate nexus studies and appropriate fees to facilitate the construction or reconstruction of adequate school facilities.

Can I still be charged water and sewer fees?

ADUs converted from existing space and JADUs shall not be considered by a local agency, special district or water corporation to be a new residential use for purposes of calculating connection fees or capacity charges for utilities, unless constructed with a new single-family dwelling. The connection fee or capacity charge shall be proportionate to the burden of the proposed ADU, based on its square footage or plumbing fixtures as compared to the primary dwelling. State ADU law does not cover monthly charge fees. (Gov. Code, § 65852.2, subd. (f)(2)(A).)


How Our Process Works

OK, I'm interested in an ADU, what next?

Hi, My name is Keith Daigneault, Owner of Orange County Construction. We are one of the oldest and most trusted contractors in the OC. I started my company in 1985.

Simply -CLICK HERE NOW- and fill out the short contact form and I will personally get back to you to set a 100% free estimate at your home.

Do you offer ball-park estimates over the phone?

I don’t do offer (ball-park numbers) over the phone as each job is different and I need to see things like (how much demolition, access, utility locations and size, style of house) and more!

If you are serious, then so am I.

How long does it take to get my bid?

We usually garanteed less than a week for most projects, however I get a lot of bids out next day or so. I do not let my bids stack up, I deliver quickly.

Do you offer financing?

Yes we do (short answer). The long answer is that we have a third-party that we have partnered with to help you finance your ADU. It’s so very simple and fast… JUST CLICK HERE NOW and you will be taken to a simple questionaire wtih about 12 questions and then in 60 seconds you will be shown any offeres that you qualify for based on your info you supplied.

Do you have ADU references?

Yes we do, lot’s of them. But we do not offer them up until we get close to signing a contract as I do about 20-30 bids a month. If you were a reference of mine, I don’t think you would like 30 people a month calling you. What happens is it burns out my clients and they ask me not to use them anymore

I assure you that we are close to closing a deal, you will be overwhelmed with great references!

If we decide to hire you, what's next?

First I thank you for the work, then quickly prepare a full contract for you includeing the full scope of work, progress payment schedule, estimated start and completion dates, what’s included and what is not included, a state mandatory mechanics lien notice (explaination) along with other items protecting both you and I.

OK, I reviewed your contract and ready to sign.

Great! I will set an appointment to meet you either at your house or my office to go through the contract, answer any questions you have and then we both sign and shake hands. Then the law requires me to take a $1000.00 downpayment (no more) and to wait 3 days to give you a colling off period.

What is the full process from plans to finish?

One your window to cancel the contract has expired, then myself and my architect will come to your home and take all the measurements required for the construction documents (plans). Below is the critical path that I use:

  • Measure home, design project and review with owner.
  • Once design is accepted, off to structural engineering & title24.
  • When plans are done, off to the city for plan check.
  • Plans usually get kicked out 1-3 times for corrections.
  • Once approved, pull permits and break ground.
How long will my ADU take to build?

On an average they run between 4-6 months from breaking ground. I know that’s a large spred but many factors play into this such as the size of the ADU, is it detached (free standing) or attached, or a garage conversion, how busy the city is, how fast we can get materials and more.

Do I need to hire a designer?

NO. I personally assist all my clients with the design of their ADU’s. You may hire one if you want, but I promise you that your price will sky rocket.

I am a design-build contractor. That means that I offer a firm price in writing, and I design and build your ADU for the price we agreed on. Once a “designer” is brough into the picture, they want to change everything, but you certainly are welcome to.

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