San Jose and Accessory Dwellings

In the City of San Jose, secondary units are generally allowed in R-1 Single-Family Residence Zoning Districts only, but may also be allowed in certain Planned Development Zoning Districts (i.e., those with R-1 Zoning District standards and allowed uses).

Here are a few of the requirements related to San Jose’s secondary units, though you’ll have to review the municipal code for the most accurate definition, requirements, variances and exceptions:

  • The minimum lot size on which a secondary dwelling that is attached to a one-family dwelling shall be allowed is six thousand (6,000) square feet. The minimum lot size on which a secondary dwelling that is detached from a one-family dwelling shall be allowed is eight thousand (8,000) square feet.
  • 600 sq ft is the maximum floor area  on a lot with an area of 9,000 sq ft or less;  650 sq ft if between 9,000 and 10,000; 700 sq ft if the lot size is greater than 10,000 sq ft
  • The secondary dwelling shall be subject to the setback requirements of the zoning district in which the one-family dwelling is located, as set forth in this chapter except that a secondary dwelling which does not exceed one (1) story above grade shall have a minimum rear setback of fifteen (15) feet, provided that such secondary dwelling shall not occupy more than fifty (50) percent of the area between the rear setback otherwise required and said fifteen-foot rear setback.

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Mary's Still Waters Retreat
Mary’s Still Waters Retreat

New Avenue Honored as ‘Best for the World’ for Creating Most Overall Positive Social and Environmental Impact

Recognized with 66 Other Companies Across 20 Countries and 25 Industries As Leader in Redefining Success in Business

Recently, New Avenue was named “Best for the World” for creating the most overall social and environmental impact. 67 companies worldwide were recognized by the nonprofit B Lab, with the release of the second annual ‘Best for the World’ list. The B Corp Best for the World List honors businesses that earned an overall score in the top 10% of all Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment, a comprehensive assessment a company’s impact on its workers, community, and the environment.

New Avenue is the leading marketplace for next generation homes. We strive to provide a streamlined solution to addressing housing shortages, underutilized or undervalued properties, social and familial isolation, and urban sprawl. The projects we have worked on include: backyard cottages, accessory dwelling units, attachments, renovations, and ADA-accessible units. Our clients have used them as their primary homes, guest houses, offices, rentals for supplementary income, and even classrooms for teaching music classes. Our integrated project delivery process makes it easy for you to clear the technical, legal, and financial hurdles you’ll face.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook! Also, we send out newsletters and share design ideas and stories of our clients on our blog. If you have friends, family, and co-workers who may be interested in our work, we would love to hear about their projects and how we could help them make it a reality.

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Other highlighted companies include Roshan, Afghanistan’s leading telecommunications provider, One Pacific Coast Bank, a pioneer triple-bottom line, community development bank, and Cooperative Home Care Associates, the nation’s largest worker-owned cooperative, providing high-quality home care services to elders and individuals living with disabilities. The ‘Best for the World’ companies come from over 25 different industries and 20 countries. 30% of honorees are based outside the US, with 13 companies operating in emerging markets.

“A company’s revenue only tells half the story. Today’s most successful businesses must also create a positive social and environmental impact,” said Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, the nonprofit organization that certifies B Corporations and governs the independent third party standard used to generate the comparable assessment of corporate impact. “These companies are competing to be not only the best in the world, but the best for the world.”

Each honored company is a Certified B Corporation, a new type of company using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. They have met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today there are over 700 certified B Corporations, across 60 industries and 25 countries, unified by the common goal to redefine success in business.

B Lab will release separate lists recognizing the companies ‘Best for the Environment’ (environmental impact), ‘Best for the Community’ (community impact), and ‘Best for Workers’ (employee impact) throughout the coming year.

B Lab is a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.  B Lab drives systemic change through several interrelated initiatives: 1) building a community of Certified B Corporations to make it easier for all of us to tell the difference between “good companies” and just good marketing; 2) promoting benefit corporation legislation to create a new corporate form that meets higher standards of purpose, accountability and transparency; 3) driving capital to high impact investments through use of B Lab’s GIIRS Ratings & Analytics platform; and 4) helping all companies measure what matters through use of the B Impact Assessment, B Lab’s free confidential management tool for measuring a company’s impact on it’s workers, community, and the environment.   Learn more at,, and

Check out the full list of the 2013 ‘Best for the World’ honorees here.

BuilderLink with New Avenue: Building (Very) Small Homes


Building (Very) Little Houses

Podcast #019 length: 29 mins.

Well there may not be a housing boom, but for non-traditional, smaller homes, there may be a growing market. On this podcast, Greg and Angel Menchaca speak with Kevin Casey, CEO and Founder of New Avenue Homes, and talk about the trend of building homes that are under 1,000 sf in size.

New Avenue Homes is a firm that is dedicated to helping homeownersnavigate all the challenges related to permitting, sustainable design, contracting, estimating and building of “micro-homes”.

Casey started New Avenue while an MBA student at the Haas School of Business and has worked full time on the venture since graduating in May 2009. He holds a B.A. in Economics and Anthropology from Fordham University and has researched small business development as a Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia. In addition to building homes throughout high school and college and working in commercial real estate in New York, he founded and managed a global distribution business operating in 13 countries.


You can listen to the the full podcast here!:


Downsizing to an eco-friendly home

New Avenue Homes founder Kevin Casey is rethinking how we live by focusing on multi-generational living, where grandparents, parents, and kids share one piece of land with two homes on it. The parents and kids live in the main house and the grandparents live in an eco-friendly backyard cottage that his company designs and builds. SmartPlanet visits Casey on one of his construction projects in Orinda, Calif.

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Second Units for Stronger Communities: B the Change New Avenue

New Avenue Homes of Berkeley, CA is taking a small approach to solving a big problem. Most of us live in more space than we need, and sink more time and money than we would like into maintaining these large spaces. A practical approach to solving that problem is putting more people within big spaces or otherwise put – increasing the density of our living environment. This doesn’t mean packing too many people into one house, it means getting more utility out of the space that we have.

Building a second unit on a single family property makes sense in several ways. First, property becomes more useful and less expensive. Adding a second living space gives families flexibility to accommodate older parents, young adult children, live-in care takers and nannies, or the option to take an entrepreneurial route and become a landlord in their community. Each of these actions minimize the cost and maximize the benefits of owning property.

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Clean Tech Accessory Dwelling in San Jose

New Avenue Homes, builder of a popular NZE tiny house in Berkeley, has a new Clean Tech Exhibit home on display in San Jose. The home has a living room, kitchenette, bedroom, bathroom, storage, and all sorts of green technology and sustainable materials. New Avenue prefabricated the structure and estimates that a home of this size costs about $70,000 to build and permit, not including upgrades or special circumstances.

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Get income from accessory dwelling units

During retirement, sources of retirement income typically come from Social Security and a retiree’s own savings. But seniors around the country are finding that adding a second, independent living space to their homes can provide welcome extra income as rentals. Called accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, these in-law units or cabins can also serve as private living quarters for aging parents or an adult child in transition.

Michael Litchfield, a certified green building professional and author of “In-Laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats,” a primer on planning and building ADUs, calls them an intelligent solution to the problems of urban sprawl.

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New Avenue Homes: Going Big with Small

Green Corridor entrepreneur Kevin Casey is proof that the biggest ideas come in small packages – and in the field of energy efficiency, the smaller the better.

Casey was a graduate student at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business when he first became inspired by the idea of “net-zero” homes: dwellings that would emit no carbon dioxide and would create their own, self-sustaining energy source. His interest was two-fold: as a student and professional, Casey wanted to learn more about the potential intersection of modular home construction and clean technology. As a young person in the Bay Area (where 85% of families cannot afford a median-priced home), he was also motivated by the desire to create affordable housing. Casey had no substantial housing design experience in 2008 when inspiration hit, but that did not deter him from launching what is now New Avenue Homes. Three years later, Casey’s idea is a thriving clean tech business with big plans for very small houses.

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Wins for: Providing eco-chic housing, without building up or sprawling out.

From Micro to Macro: 2011 Eco Awards

2/ Micro: The Delaware House
Wins for: Providing eco-chic housing, without building up or sprawling out.

A new backyard cottage on Delaware Street in Berkeley provides city planning clues that scale beyond its tiny stature. Finished last fall, the 420-square-foot Delaware Cottage exemplifies “stealth infill”—in this case, the conversion of backyard lots into affordable housing units.

While mini cottages aren’t new to the community, this one claims net zero energy status, by featuring wider wall boards that pack more insulation and by running off nine solar panels on the main house. The cost of the cottage was $98,000. Owner Karen Chapple, associate professor of city and regional planning at UC Berkeley, recognizes that there are barriers to these dwellings, namely parking and permitting, but through research funded by the UC Transportation Center, she’s already identified more than 3,000 lots in Berkeley that could accommodate such units.

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New Avenue builds infill model

Picking the right word was everything for New Avenue’s affordable housing. Just the phrase “affordable housing” scared affluent neighborhoods fearful of multi-story blight.
Founder Kevin Casey needed something quaint, cozy, friendly — he needed to sell the idea of a “backyard cottage.”

Once armed with the right words to sell the housing, Casey could pursue his vision for meeting new housing needs. California will have to add 2 million more homes over the next decade, according to statistics from the California Department of Finance. By nestling new units into the backyards of high-demand urban areas, Casey hopes to meet the housing demand without tacking on commutes.

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