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Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are small dwelling units on an existing residential property. State policies passed in 2016 have made it easier for homeowners in Los Angeles County to construct these additional dwelling units, whether they are detached from the home, attached with a separate entrance or even a garage conversion.

The advantages to having an ADU on your property are numerous, from extra rental income to added space for a home office or guest house. If done properly, ADUs can add value to not only your residence, but also your life, by turning unused space into a value generator. However, the impact on a woman homeowner or single-mother renter could be even more profound.

Benefits of ADUs
– An affordable type of home to construct in California because they do not require costs for land, major new infrastructure or parking
– A source of income for homeowners
– Built with cost-effective wood-frame construction, which is less expensive than homes in new multi-family infill buildings
– A way for extended and multigenerational families to be near one another while maintaining privacy
– An alternative for newly built apartments and condominiums that are suited for couples, small families, friends, young people and seniors

Women seek homeownership as a stable location to build a home-based business. An ADU provides extra space to grow that business, a safe space to meet clients without having them directly enter into their living space and a location close enough to be convenient, but separate enough to provide a distraction-free workspace.

An ADU can also provide an additional revenue stream, allowing a woman to better care for children and aging adults without relying on a second income. The homeowner could pay it forward to help provide a more home-based living arrangement to single mothers.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently approved their own new rules, and several cities are in the process of creating their own specific rules for dwellings—or already have. According to the California Department of Housing & Community Development, a new bill, SB 1226, states that “homeowners who created accessory dwelling units (ADUs) without the required building permits may have the opportunity to bring their ADUs into compliance. For ADUs that were constructed without building permits, local building officials now have the option to inspect an ADU and apply the building standards that were in effect at the time the unit was constructed.”

Before building an ADU, check any guidelines or restrictions put forth by your city and county. Know your options and do your homework, whether you’re interested in detached or attached additions, or prefabricated units.

Desirée Patno is the CEO and president of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE), as well as chairwoman of NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC). With 30 years of experience in housing, Patno is a champion for women’s economic growth and independence. In 2017, Entrepreneur.com named her the Highest-Ranking Woman and 4th Overall Top Real Estate Influencer to Follow. For more information, please visit www.nawrb.com.

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