Journal | Article
Accessory Dwelling Units
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) – formerly-known as “Granny Flats” – are secondary dwelling units on “single-family” zoned lots. ADUs are an opportunity to provide much-needed smaller housing units in built-out neighborhoods with minimal physical changes to the public’s experience from the street (ADUs are typically built to the rear of properties) and with minimal cost while traditionally providing opportunities for families to “age in place” and take care of one another while offering much-desired independence. Unfortunately, the City of San Diego has all but outlawed ADUs on single dwelling unit zoned property (Municipal Code Section 141.0302(b) “Companion Unit”) even after State law recognized their importance in housing the ever-growing (and ever-aging) California population (Assembly Bill 1866 passed in 2003 amended a previous ADU law by requiring local communities to allow ADUs as a property right). Fortunately, the County of San Diego has adopted a Second Dwelling Unit (SDU) ordinance allowing ADUs in certain circumstances.
Though O.A.W. has been interested in ADUs as a viable solution to ever-evolving housing needs for years, we have not had the opportunity to work on one – until this year. This project is a traditional ADU with an extended family living on the same property with mom moving from the main house to the SDU and son and his family moving into the main house (where he grew up). Limited to 30% of the existing main house’s living area, this 608 square foot SDU is designed to provide for gracious, comfortable, and affordable living.
With such limited living area, efficiency and creativity is extremely important to the success of the project. Utilizing the site’s comfortable climate to encourage indoor-outdoor living, using interior height and volume to lift the spirits, capturing sun in the Winter and rejecting it in the Summer for thermal and visual comfort, incorporating bay windows (that are not counted towards living area calculations) to expand the interior spaces and create opportunities for built-in seating and storage, and carefully designing a rigorously ordered structural and mechanical system are all techniques applied to achieve these goals.