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Richmond’s Requirements For Building An ADU

If you have plans to build an ADU in Richmond, California, the rules and regulations for the city should be at the front of your mind. Recent updates to the Richmond ADU requirements have changed the landscape, and we take an in-depth look at them in this post. The legislation makes many stipulations for processes like obtaining your permit and constructing your ADU, covering key considerations like size guidance and zoning laws. We take you through all this and more in this post.

Whether you’re a property investor with a vast portfolio or simply seeking a way to get more out of your home, the laws around Richmond’s ADU requirements are crucial. Allow us to be your guide.

a cozy interior for richmond california adu
Renée White

February 27, 2024
Table of content
    • Richmond’s ADU ordinance provides instructions for what can and cannot be done when planning, applying for, and constructing accessory dwelling units.
    • There have been recent updates to ADU laws in California, affecting the landscape in Richmond.
    • Richmond ADUs can currently be up to 1,200 square feet in size and 16 feet tall.
    • An ADU must have its own utilities and function as an entirely independent dwelling.
    • We are a real estate agency you can trust in Contra Costa, and can answer your questions about selling/renting ADUs and other key legislation.

    What Are Richmond’s ADU Requirements?

    If the name ‘accessory dwelling units’ doesn’t sound familiar, you probably know them as secondary units, guest houses, or granny flats. If you plan to add one to the Contra Costa housing market, it is vital that you understand the true extent of Richmond’s ADU requirements. As a starting point, understand that an ADU in Richmond, California can be attached to the main residence, constructed as a detached unit, or made by converting an existing detached structure like a standalone garage.

    To build a Richmond, California ADU, your design must:

      • Be approved by the planning authority
      • Comply with zoning regulations
      • Meet the requirements for setbacks and size
      • Tick the right boxes for things like utilities and parking

    In 2023, we saw some landmark bills that permanently changed California legislation relating to ADU construction. These updates to the laws directly impacted Richmond, essentially making the securing of an ADU permit simpler and easier. Now, local governments are required to be significantly more transparent about their processes during the 60-day approval/denial window. Restrictions around ADU size and front setbacks have been eased. And owners are allowed to rent out or sell their ADUs as condos. Here are some specific details for Richmond, California ADUs:

    • Attached: If you build an ADU attached to the main residence, it can be up to 50% of the square footage of the residence, capped at an absolute maximum of 1,200 square feet. The height can be the same as that of the primary residence, or up to 25 feet – whichever is lower.
    • Detached: Anyone who builds a detached ADU on a single-family lot should understand that the size is currently limited to 1,200 square feet, with a maximum height of 16 feet. There could be changes to these numbers with the updated legislation, and the rules for multi-family lots are a little different.
    • Converted: The structure already exists, so there are no restrictions on these.

    If your goal as an ADU builder in Richmond, California is to rent or sell the guest house as an independent dwelling, remember that Richmond property taxes will be applicable to it. Now let’s look at some more details for Richmond ADUs.

    Who Do You Need To Be?

    To be able to meet the requirements for Richmond, California ADUs, you need to be a property owner in the city. You must have the necessary capital or third-party funding and sufficient space on your land to build an ADU that meets all the regulations. Basically, if you own your property and are able to tick all the boxes under the current ADU requirements, you should be able to proceed with the project to build an ADU in Richmond.

    What Income Do You Need?

    The capital required to build an ADU in Richmond, California depends entirely on the nature of your proposed build. There are standard fees relating to obtaining your permit. But you will need to pay professionals to design and plan your ADU, and also to build it once you enter the construction phase.

    The costs of these things depend on the size and complexity of your plans, so you should calculate in line with your budget. Generally speaking, the cost of a Richmond ADU project comes in at between $50,000 and $300,000+. Once built, we could help you see returns on your investment by renting or selling your property.

    Where Do You Need To Be?

    You will need to own property within the city of Richmond, California in order to build an ADU there. Having said that, you will find similar rules anywhere in Contra Costa County, but there may be some variations when it comes to ADU ordinance for different parts of California. When you apply for a permit, you will need to submit your application to the local authority in Richmond.

    What Actually Are ADU Laws In Richmond, California Exactly?

    Richmond, California’s ADU laws are a comprehensive set of legislation that governs the building and usage of accessory dwelling units in the city. These constructs come in all shapes and sizes, but the laws around them have historically been criticized for their vagueness and excessive restrictions. Campaigns for updates have finally resulted in bills like AB 976, AB 1033, and AB 2221, permanently changing California’s ADU landscape.

    Under the revised set of laws, there is considerably more freedom when it comes to building ADUs in Richmond, California and beyond. This is a welcome change of a housing market that has been plagued by shortages and an escalating homelessness problem.

    What Is Richmond, California’s ADU Ordinance?

    Richmond’s ADU ordinance sets out a number of instructions and guidelines for designing, building, and using accessory dwelling units in the city. Things covered in the ordinance include:

    • Zoning
    • Setbacks
    • Size limits
    • The ability to sell an ADU as its own dwelling

    One consideration that will always be important is the preservation of the character of neighborhoods. Thus, the latest regulatory changes were passed with an eye towards finding a balance between streamlining the approval of ADUs and ensuring those ADUs are still compatible with the existing neighborhood. Ultimately, these state-mandated changes are a timely intervention to address long standing issues with housing shortages.

    What Are Richmond’s Local Ordinances For ADU Requirements?

    We are the experienced, reputable real estate agents Richmond residents can depend on, and we have a finger on the pulse of developments in the city. These recent ADU changes may lead to a shift in the local housing market, so let’s look at some of the most important bills:

    • AB 157: This removes the stipulation that all new ADUs must include off-street parking provisions – this has long been a barrier for ADU approval.
    • SB 897: Altering the previous restrictions on ADU size. The maximum size limit for California is now increased to 1,500 square feet. At present, Richmond ADUs are capped at 1,200 feet, but this could change.
    • AB 916: This lays the groundwork for financial incentives to encourage homeowners to build ADUs in Richmond, California.
    • AB 2221: This enacts various measures to streamline the ADU permitting process and enables the creation of JADUs with less restrictive requirements.

    You may find it helpful to work with a team of real estate experts to navigate all this legislation. We have a strong background of helping clients with all manner of property transactions. We can advise on factors relating to planning, building, and selling ADUs in Richmond, CA. Explore our customer reviews and learn more about how we have helped hundreds of buyers and sellers around Contra Costa.

    an architect working for richmond california adu

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    What Qualifies As An ADU In Richmond, CA? https://cayimby.org/legislation/ab-881/

    According to Richmond, California’s ADU requirements, an accessory dwelling unit is a secondary residential unit on the same lot as a main residence. It must function as a complete, independent dwelling. This means it has to incorporate all the necessary utilities, such as a kitchen and bathroom, and its own electrics and plumbing.

    The Richmond market for ADUs has seen several changes from recent Assembly and Senate Bills, such as:

    • SB 13: Addressing problematic obstacles to ADU approval like excessive construction fees and parking requirements that are difficult to achieve.
    • AB 881: Adjusting various construction-related issues like height limitations and setback standards.
    • AB 68: Permitting more than one ADU to be constructed on a single-family lot, and easing restrictions around lot size requirements.

    These bills should all be thoroughly assessed before building a Richmond, CA ADU. Keep an eye on further updates to the laws to ensure you can proceed with your plans. We can assist with this as experienced real estate agents in the city.

    The Richmond ADU And Zoning Laws

    Richmond’s zoning regulations have been updated with Contra Costa’s new ADU rules. If you have sufficient space on your lot, you are now permitted to add 2 new units, rather than just 1. With AB 68 in place, municipalities must approve compliant plans for ADUs up to 1,200 square feet and JADUs up to 500 square feet. On multi-family lots, there can be multiple ADUs attached to existing structures as well as up to 2 detached ADUs on the lot. Essentially, there is scope for more sophisticated plans for developers and homeowners to invest in new ADUs.

    The smallest size restriction permissible for ADUs in California is now 800 square feet, with a height of 16 feet. And a 4-foot rear and side yard setback is now always acceptable. For Richmond, CA ADUs, the current size limit of 1,200 square feet may increase in future. Get in touch with us if you need information on the prospect of selling or renting out an ADU in Richmond or anywhere else in Contra Costa.

    How To Build An ADU In Richmond, CA Following All The Requirements

    Obtaining a permit to build a Richmond, California ADU is now simpler than ever. Many of the common barriers to approval have now been removed, including restrictions around front setbacks and off-street parking. We recommend that you liaise with local planning departments as you develop your plans to remain compliant. Once you have prepared your plan and submitted your application, the 60-day window for approval or denial is still in place. However, the City of Richmond is now required to offer full transparency into its process and must provide detailed reasons for a refusal, alongside recommendations for improvements.

    Financial incentives for building ADUs are starting to appear around California, so explore this with your local government. Alternatively, look up other financing options or talk to our team to access our professional network. We can help with various stages of the process and negotiate the best possible price to sell your ADU down the line.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-4n3TZQFkLKSOqkIDJzx5OGElZOXb_yy/view?usp=share_link (people building a house for richmond california adu)

    Reduced Parking Requirements For ADUs

    The notorious rules for mandatory off-street parking for ADUs in Richmond have now been removed for prefabricated ADUs that are:

    • In historic districts
    • Within half a mile of public transportation
    • A key part of the main house or a pre-existing ancillary structure

    These parking requirements have prevented the approval of many prospective Richmond, CA ADUs in the past. By easing them, the state has made it easier to create compliant ADU plans. This is already making a huge difference to the Richmond housing market, so there is hope that it will positively impact the housing shortage.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Are The Requirements To Build An ADU In Richmond, CA?

    In Richmond, an ADU is defined as a secondary, independent dwelling on an existing residential lot. Currently, the size is limited to a maximum of 1,200 feet, and there is a minimum rear setback of 4 feet.

    What Are Richmond's Local Ordinances For ADU Requirements?

    Richmond’s local ordinances lay out the compulsory ADU requirements that provide comprehensive instructions for the planning, permitting, building, and use of ADUs. Compliance is mandatory.

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