How to build your ADU.

The first questions you should ask yourself are: How does it work? What does the process look like and who do I contact first? Let’s review the professional relationships and project structures you’ll need to learn in order to make the project a success.

Architect & Contractor

A common way for homeowners to design, permit and build their ADU is by working with an architect and contractor who manage their project from design to final inspection and occupancy.

The benefits of this model are that you have specialized professionals who are highly capable of managing the two critical phases of any construction project; Design and permitting (architect) and then building and inspections (contractor).

It is very important that you establish a productive working relationship between the architect and contractor. This is a good model for those who would like a very unique design and are willing to spend a bit more to get it.


Design and build contractors are a great fit for homeowners who are looking to find a one stop shop for their ADU project. These firms specialize in providing all project services in one package including feasibility, design, permitting, and construction. This makes it easy for a homeowner to complete their project with a single point of contact. Design/build in general is a good option if you are interested in a simple, efficient process that is within a predictable budget.

Do It Yourself

This is a great approach, and before doing so ask yourself, do you have the time and experience to manage each step of the project? What are the reasons for DIY? – To save money, or speed up the process? If this is the case, beware that this is a misconception among many homeowners who find out into the process that they are missing critical steps, or the amount of time required to perform each step causes the project to cost far more than if they had hired professional services from the beginning.

A better possibility is to plan to handle part of the process, but to still enlist the services of professionals. For example, if you are inclined to design, drafting, and paperwork, maybe managing the permitting process with some supplemental consultation on the local regulations is the right portion of DIY for you.

DIY is a great approach if you feel confident that you know what you are getting into, or at the very least, you are willing to accept many setbacks and delays along the way. If not, we’d highly suggest working with professionals on your project.