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Santa Barbara Homeowners: The Best Way to Build Accessory Dwelling Units

Guesthouse in Montecito an example of Accessory Dwelling Unit What You Need to Know About Accessory Dwelling Units, aka Guest Cottages or Guesthouses, in Santa Barbara

I blogged about the new law regarding accessory dwelling units (ADU) last year. Since the passage of Senate Bill 1069, hundreds of Santa Barbara homeowners have successfully applied to add ADUs, aka guest cottages, onto their property. In fact, more than 300 applications have been filed in Santa Barbara since the law went into effect. Compare that number to the 16 ADUs approved in Santa Barbara between 1993 and 2016. Today, ADUs are a big trend here.

Why Santa Barbara Homeowners Like ADUs
Besides adding value to your home by enhancing the square footage, ADUs are also an excellent way to take care of family members while maintaining your privacy. Check here to see if your property is in an ADU zone and be sure to check with all relevant agencies regarding adding an ADU before you begin.

Those homeowners who receive the go-ahead to build a guest cottage need to keep in mind that in Santa Barbara, any ADU must be owner-occupied. The Santa Barbara City Council added that prevision in May of this year. The reason? To retain the character and feel of our single-family residential neighborhoods here in Santa Barbara. Accessory dwelling units can be built in all residential areas except extreme foothill high-fire zones.

Before you begin building accessory dwelling units, Santa Barbara homeowners must educate themselves on the following:
1) Your ADU must not exceed 1,200 sq. ft
2) You can build your ADU as a standalone unit/house or convert your garage
3) There are some parking requirements to follow
4) Check your reduced fees for water, sewer, utility connection.
5) You can use modular construction, site-built or build as a manufactured home.
6) If the main building doesn’t have fire sprinklers, the ADU doesn’t have to have them either.
7) Both the main residence and your ADU must meet local zoning floor area and setbacks.
8) In Santa Barbara, ADUs must be owner-occupied, not rented out.

Check out this list of Santa Barbara General Contractors recommended by houzz, all capable of creating the perfect ADU for you!

Accessory dwelling units are welcome in cities like Santa Barbara. Check out this Montecito Hacienda, listed for sale on my comprehensive website. You’ll see it already has a beautiful ADU on the property. If that’s not your taste, I have many luxury property listings in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities. Some already have ADUs, and others are perfect for ADU additions. All you need to do is call at 805.886.9378 or email me at and I’ll arrange the rest.


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