John and Kathleen’s Santa Cruz ADU in its Early Stages

 

You can save the floor plans on this blog post to your New Avenue design book from here.

“I live in Santa Cruz and have a decently large lot, and we want to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with a garage in our backyard for my father-in-law,” John inquired New Avenue at the end of November 2012. We visited John and his wife, Kathleen, shortly thereafter to check out what their options could be. After some zoning research, we determined that, with a lot size between 5,000 to 7,000 sq ft, the couple would be allowed to build their Santa Cruz ADU with:

  • A floor area of up to 500 sq ft, measured from exterior walls, not including a first floor garage.
  • Height of 22’ for a two-story unit.
  • 5’ side setback for two-story unit, 3’ for a one-story unit.
  • 10’ rear setback with AUP, 20’ without an AUP. (An AUP, or administrative use permit, may be required by a planning/development department to review and assure that construction or property use are consistent with zoning regulations. It adds time and costs to the project but can afford leniencies for the building.)
  • Required fire sprinkler system.
  • Architecture similar to the primary residence.

Santa Cruz is a beautiful and progressive city by the ocean but buying and renting a house is very expensive. In the early 2000s, a city committee looked to ADUs as a solution to address the shortage of affordable housing. While they housing code already permitted them, it wasn’t easy for homeowners to develop them. The city introduced ADU ordinances to encourage homeowners to build ADUs as well as some methodical restrictions on how they could be constructed or used. This move has been well received by Santa Cruz communities and homeowners alike. The city has a great manual on ADUs on their website. Check it out: PDF (3.4 MB).

We drew up a handful of site plans for John and Kathleen and took note that they wanted some room in the yard for their young son. Upon deciding where and how the ADU will be located in the backyard, we came up with a rough schematic sketch of the unit. The family is big on bikes, so room for them is an important part of the layout.

Early schematic sketch

Early schematic sketch

This early design process underwent several iterations before a floor plan was agreed on. Here are some of the schemes. They are labeled A-E on the lower right.

Scheme A

Scheme A - Renderings

Scheme A - Renderings

Scheme A - Elevations

Scheme A - Elevations

Scheme A - First Floor Plan

Scheme A - First Floor Plan

Scheme A - Second Floor Plan

Scheme A - Second Floor Plan

Scheme B

Scheme B - Renderings

Scheme B - Renderings

Scheme B - Elevations

Scheme B - Elevations

Scheme B - First Floor Plan

Scheme B - First Floor Plan

Scheme B - Second Floor Plan

Scheme B - Second Floor Plan

Scheme C

Scheme C - First Floor Plan

Scheme C - First Floor Plan

Scheme C - Second Floor Plan

Scheme C - Second Floor Plan

Scheme D

Scheme D - First Floor Plan

Scheme D - First Floor Plan

Scheme D - Second Floor Plan

Scheme D - Second Floor Plan

Scheme E

Scheme E - Renderings

Scheme E - Renderings

Scheme E - Elevations

Scheme E - Elevations

Scheme E - First Floor Plan

Scheme E - First Floor Plan

Scheme E - Second Floor Plan

Scheme E - Second Floor Plan

After some back-and-forth with John and Kathleen, we arrived at scheme E for the final design. We will assemble the submittal to the city for the planning permits next week. Stay tuned for more updates on John and Kathleen’s project!

Until then, if you’re interested in getting in touch with us about your small house project, sign up on our website to create a design book and collect some ideas. You can save the floor plans on this blog post to your New Avenue design book from here. We’ll sit down, discuss your goals, and help you through the entire process of adding your ADU. Read more about what we do and how it works or contact us immediately.