Standing Room Only at the Ashby Village Accessory Dwelling Workshop

Joanne Sullivan, a  founding member of the Ashby Village organized a workshop on accessory dwellings.  The event drew over 100 members of the Ashby Village who are all interested in creating a way to remodel or add-on to their home to create a new affordable apartment or cottage that they can share with family, friends or an affordable tenant.

One member of the audience immediately signed up to start a design project specifically because she has worked in social work her whole life and she wants to

Another member is looking to downsize to a backyard cottage so her children can afford to move back to Berkeley from out of state. There’s no way her children can afford to live her without pooling their resources with their parents.

Another member of the audience works for the UC Berkeley retirement association – a group that organizes 10,000+ UC retirees.

This is what a grassroots movement looks like. We suspect this is what the future of housing looks like and these are the people who will define the future.

People in the audience asked the following questions:

1.  How does an accessory dwelling or ADU effect your property taxes?

Answer: Usually your property taxes are just over 1% of the value of the addition.  Most projects have an assess value that is about half of what you spend. This is due to the significant amount of work that qualifies as repair, maintenance or finishes and furnishings. So a $100,000 project may have a $500 property tax increase and a $300,000 project may have a $1,500 property tax increase.

2. How fast can you build a detached accessory dwelling?

Answer: First, you want to think about design and permitting which usually takes a year!  That’s a reality and many people convince themselves their project will go faster. That’s a mistake.
Construction takes six or seven months.  We have built homes much faster, in as little as five weeks, but most of the time you will spend six or seven months.
3. Is the ost of accessory dwelling less than raising the house? (what is a cheaper option- accessory dwelling or raising the house?)
Answer: They usually cost about the same. We recently finished an attached two story addition that was the same size and cost of a detached accessory dwelling and they were almost the same price (just over $300,000).  However either one can be more or less expensive. We can determine this on a site visit.

4. The average cost of building a house in Berkeley.

Answer: Most people spend $350 per square foot if they are building something $1,000 square feet or larger.  Most people spend over $500-$600 per square foot if they are building less than 500 square feet. We can tell you how to manage your costs.

5. Who are you guys and what is this all about?

The Berkeley Community Housing Task Force consists of over a dozen local business leaders who have an interest in helping with the housing crisis, aging in place, first time home buyers, affordable rents and most socially connected and sustainable communities.

6. I have a 2-bed house, what is the best- raise the house or add the accessory dwelling? What is the cost? Am I allowed to have ADU?

Answer: Every home is better with a detached accessory dwelling.  It’s more private, more flexible, you can collect better rents, you feel like you have your own home when living there.

Costs vary, we can share completed project costs.

Yes, you are most likely allowed to have an Accessory Dwelling. The State of California gave you the right to build one!


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