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  • Daniel Saloner

Is Your Property Legally Permitted?

Before you begin your ADU project, it’s important to establish whether your existing property included a permitted or unpermitted accessory structure. Depending on the answer, the next steps for your project will unfold in two different ways. Here are a couple of helpful tips about how to move forward with your project once you know that answer:


Permitted Accessory Structure

Structures are permitted and zoned for a specific use. Additionally, those structures had to pass an inspection phase in order to be built within city permit guidelines. That means, for example, a building mostly used for storage -- or some other purpose -- cannot be converted into an ADU without further permitting. For existing structures on your property, that means you will need to go through the local permitting process to change the existing structure into an ADU.


Unpermitted Accessory Structure

An unpermitted accessory structure is essentially a structure that was built without receiving the proper permits. Whether you built the structure years ago or moved to a property where the previous owner built without a permit, there are similar steps required for this structure.



In this case, while the structure was being built, a permit was never submitted to the local jurisdiction to make sure everything was in accordance with zoning and building requirements. The structure was also likely never inspected by a local building department, which means there was never a permit issued for the building. Often, property owners try to use this process to avoid long timeframes and high costs associated with getting a unit fully permitted.


Your local jurisdiction has the ability to remove the structure entirely if you don’t go through the permitting process. To convert an unpermitted or permitted structure into an ADU, you will need to follow the steps below in order to obtain your permit.


This will require:

  • An architect or draftsman to draw new plans.

  • Submitting those plans to the appropriate local departments.

  • Approval from your local jurisdiction.

  • Bringing the structure up to building code, if it is not already.

  • Finally, a local inspector to approve the new building.

Fortunately - Building Buddy offers solutions for BOTH permitted and unpermitted structures: visit our resource pages or contact our team directly to talk to a professional about the best way to proceed with your project.


Unpermitted structures: https://www.yourbuildingbuddy.com/codecompliance

Permitted structures: https://www.yourbuildingbuddy.com/what-is-an-adu