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Frequently Asked Questions

  • I’d like to build an ADU in my backyard, how can you help me?
    We will provide you with ready-to-build plans, can help you obtain approvals with your local municipality and find a qualified general building contractor. This process allows you to shop for the best construction crew to build your ADU.
  • I saw that you have a preapproved ADU. What does that mean?
    The preapproved ADU program with the City of San Jose was designed to streamline the process for homeowner's wanting to add a well-designed ADU meeting all local and state regulations. Our firm had to submit our completed construction drawing set to the City for their review and approval. Now that it's approved, the only review from the City is to approve the site plan which shows the location of the ADU on your specific lot. Preapproved ADUs are not available for everyone's lot in San Jose. Certain criteria have to be met. The property cannot be in a Geohazard Zone, Flood Zone, or Historic. The ADU cannot be located in a public utility easement. But even if your property does not qualify for a preapproved ADU, you are still allowed to have one. Our firm will help you with additional services to make the approval of your ADU possible. And if you are not located in San Jose, that's okay too. Our Preapproved plans are designed to meet criteria of all municipalities in the State of California. Our firm may have to provide you with additional services to help you gain municipal approval and we have the experience to do that for you efficiently.
  • What is included in the preapproved ADU plan package?
    The preapproved ADU plan package includes the architectural and structural plans that have already been approved by the City of San Jose. We recommend that you also purchase site planning services from us since we have the direct connection with the City, experience and can expedite that service.
  • How much does your preapproved ADU plan package cost?
    Our preapproved ADU plan package is $3710.00US. This fee does not include site planning services.
  • What is site planning?
    Every property is unique and has its own features. Those unique features can dictate where the ADU can be located on the lot. Site planning includes a site visit by an architect and recommendations where to locate the ADU. Once that location is approved by you, our team draws a custom Site Plan to demonstrate to the municipality where the ADU will go, the unique characteristics to the lot, and the requirements set by the building department, planning department, fire department and public works. Those departments will review the Site Plan as part of the approval and permitting process.
  • Do I have to buy site planning services from you?
    No, you can hire someone else to provide the site planning services for you. Just keep in mind that our team understands what the municipality wants to see for approval. Our Site Plans tend to get approved faster.
  • What is included in the architectural plans?
    Architectural Plans Include: Floor Plan, Roof Plan, Exterior Elevations, Window and Door Schedules, Details, Cross Sections, Fire Rating, Recommended Siting Locations, Lighting and Electrical Plan, Specific Code Notes, Title 24 Energy Calculations, Solar Panels Sizing, Mechanical System.
  • What is included in the structural engineering plans?
    Structural Plans Include: Foundation Plan, Framing Plan, Shear Walls, Roof Framing Plan, Structural Construction Details, Special Inspections
  • Can I get my own structural engineer?
    Yes, you can as long as it is not a San Jose preapproved ADU project. In San Jose, you must use our structural engineering plans to maintain preapproval status.
  • What do you expect it would cost to build from your plans?
    Construction costs vary by location and the quality of products you select. Our ADU projects have been constructed between $232K and $402K.
  • Can your plans be used in any City in California?
    Yes, the ADUs have been designed to meet California codes and regulations and have been approved in a variety of municipalities. But we just don’t deliver a set of drawings and walk away. We will help you address comments you received from your local municipality if you receive them.
  • Can I use your plans outside of California?
    Sure. The California Residential Code (CRC) is based on the International Residential Code (IRC). We design our ADUs to meet the guidelines of both codes.
  • What kind of service can your company provide?
    Our company helps homeowners to design their ADU and select a site location, construction drawings, municipal approvals, permit readiness, general building contractor bidding and selection, construction advisement and construction site visits.
  • Who will build my ADU from your plans?
    You will need to hire a general building contractor to build your ADU. We can help you find a qualified general building contractor or you can find one on your own.
  • Do you supervise the construction from start to finish?
    We don’t “supervise” construction, but we do help our clients by letting them know if something is not being constructed properly, if the plans are not being followed, if there are too many municipal inspection failures, and help with making decisions. We do this as an additional service that you can request, and we charge by the hour.
  • Why would I buy plans instead of hiring a design-build construction?
    When you have plans ready to go, from a party who is not the general contractor, you have the opportunity to shop around for the best contractor with the best price. All of the GCs you talk to at that point will be giving you prices based on the exact same design. Design-build requires you hire the GC so early in the process that if you choose to do something better, different or change your expectations from what the general contractor put in the early scoping documents, you will pay more money and may still not get what you wanted.
  • What is the difference from building on site versus pre-fab construction?
    Building on site gives you the greatest flexibility to design something that works on your property. Materials for construction are easy to transport to the site because they are in small pieces. It’s easier to work around power poles, trees, and neighbor’s concerns. Pre-fab delivers the project to the site ready to sit on a site built foundation. If there’s a small deviation with that foundation, it could cause much delay in retrofitting the pre-fab to engage with the foundation. Pre-fabs also have to be built to meet transportation guidelines and you as the client are paying the extra cost of transporting a very large object on roads and highways.
  • I called your office, but I got voicemail. How can I get my questions answered?
    We are sorry that happened. Please leave a message so that we can reach you. Even better, please use the contact form to get a hold of us via email. We’ll schedule a 30 minute phone call slot with you.
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