The Ultimate Guide to Common ADU Layouts

The results are out in the first-ever study dedicated to ADUs in California. One of the more interesting findings included in this research is that some ADUs cost as little as $100,000 to build, compared to $480,000 for a unit of affordable housing.

ADU pricing depends on many variables including materials, finishes, size, and the home layout you choose for your build.

Keep reading for a breakdown of the most popular ADU layouts to help you decide on the perfect one for your needs.

Choosing ADU Layouts

Your intention for your accessory dwelling unit has a major impact on the home design you choose. An ADU is an excellent choice if you:

  • Want somewhere to house guests
  • Need a work-from-home office
  • Desire more living space at home
  • Want to invite elderly family members to live with you
  • Would like to give your adult child their own space

There are very few limitations on the custom designs you can implement when building an ADU, making them suitable for a wide range of uses.

Some homeowners prefer to opt for what has worked for others when designing their ADU, as this can save time and hassle during the construction process.

ADU Design Ideas

In California, the maximum allowable size for an ADU is 1,200 square feet. In this light, many ADUs have similar layouts to condos or small apartments. Others feature unique home layouts expressly suited to their location or the homeowner’s whims.

Studio ADUs

These small spaces can feature some of the most innovative designs of all. They’re an excellent design choice if you’d like to build a home office that doubles as a hangout and a spare guest bedroom.

Since the entire unit is visible at a glance, it’s important to use a different-textured wall or floor covering to define separate areas. Multi-use furniture is the best way to maximize space in these small ADUs.

To avoid the cramped look in a small studio ADU, you should consider installing glass walls, folding doors, and a deck area to create the illusion of more space.

With a little imagination and a sprinkling of common sense, you can turn a space the size of a garden shed into something special.

Some clever studio ADU design ideas include:

  • Using a photo collage to create the illusion of space
  • Concealing the bathroom door inside a bookshelf
  • Building a part of the ADU on stilts to compensate for uneven land

Considered design can ensure you have everything you need within the confines of a studio ADU, and help you set up a versatile space for work, rest, and play.

One Bedroom ADUs

One-bedroom ADUs work well for more permanent situations. They’re ideal for one person or a couple living together.

You can increase the floor space of a one-bedroom ADU by adding a loft bedroom and leaving the lower floor open for eating, working, or mingling with friends.

In most cases, the entryway in a one-bedroom ADU opens directly into the living room. This should have enough space for a sofa, and small furniture items like coffee tables and accent chairs.

Usually, the kitchen is nearby, and often located in a corner, or across the length of one wall.

You could place the bathroom off the living area, off a hallway, or alongside the bedroom. If preferred, you can install two bathrooms in a one-bedroom ADU.

You can have a bathroom off the living area, off a hallway near the bedrooms, or located through the bedroom. You can also have up to two bathrooms.

Two Bedroom ADU Layouts

Two-bedroom units work best for small families with young children. They’re also well-suited to singles or couples who want an extra room for a study or office.

You can open the front door onto an entryway, or lead it directly into the living room. The former option can help divide the structure and give it a homelier feel.

A kitchen island is a good choice to serve as a dining nook, desk, or food preparation area. Again, glass doors, large windows, and skylights provide extra illumination during daylight hours.

A dedicated yard space or deck increases the ADU’s potential as a space for entertaining.

If you need two bedrooms, but only have space for a small ADU, investigate the potential for building a two-story ADU. Many municipalities allow this, and you’ll save valuable yard space by going this route.

Other Factors to Consider

There’s no doubt building an ADU will add value to your home. For starters, it increases the livable area of your house as well as its functionality.

Yet, a poorly designed ADU with low-quality workmanship and features will detract from your home’s curb appeal. Always choose a qualified and experienced designer to help you build your ADU.

They’ll ensure your ADU matches your home aesthetic and blends seamlessly with your lifestyle.

When constructing an ADU, it’s important to remember that it’s an extension of your home. If you’re installing a freestanding ADÚ, consider joining it to the main house with decking to create a smooth transition between the spaces.

As far as possible, choose roof materials for your new ADU that closely match the roof you already have on your home.

Your Remodeling Options

Choosing from the array of home remodeling options and ADU layouts available can become a little overwhelming, especially if you’re not certain about what you want.

The best way to limit risk and maximize enjoyment when considering an ADU layout is by collaborating with a professional in the ADU design business.

The first step in constructing an ADU is always a site visit to evaluate the scope of your project. Get in touch and one of our expert project managers will visit your home to evaluate your site and guide you through the process.


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