A streamlined future for the pre-fab granny flat

The reasons a homeowner can dismiss building a backyard granny flat run the gamut — from complicated city permits to unexpected, exorbitant fees to neighborhood spats.

But some companies and cities are trying to clear up the red tape surrounding accessory dwelling units, or ADUs.

San Jose this month gave its first builder — Bay Area startup Abodu — pre-approval to put pre-fabricated homes in backyards across the city. The builder’s pre-approved plans allow customers to get expedited and lower-cost city reviews. It could speed up installation to as little as two weeks, not including site preparation.

Abodu co-founder John Geary said the company aims to bring more transparency and ease to the construction of ADUs. “As a homeowner, it’s daunting and scary,” he said.

Other builders are also expected to gain pre-approval status from the housing-starved city. San Jose leaders hope to add 25,000 homes and apartments by 2022, and estimate that at least 120,000 single family homes in the city could legally accommodate an ADU.

“We won’t solve our housing crisis $650,000 at a time,” mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement. “We have to bend the cost curve in order to build more housing.”

The city recently announced it was considering a partnership with the Housing Trust Silicon Valley to provide up to 200 forgivable loans for ADU construction. The loans, worth up to $20,000 for San Jose homeowners to cover planning and permitting costs, would be forgiven if a new unit is rented to a low-income residents for five years.

San Jose last month launched a series of programs to streamline permitting for backyard units.

The push by the state’s third-largest city comes as California faces a housing shortage of an estimated 3.5 million homes and apartments. Planners and developers see in-law units as a promising way to chip away at the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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