One of the six ADU plans offers 1,500 square feet, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a loft. Courtesy of San Benito County.
One of the six ADU plans offers 1,500 square feet, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a loft. Courtesy of San Benito County.

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San Benito County homeowners wishing to build additional housing on their property can look to the county’s free, pre-approved Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) plans.

The county hired CallisonRTKL, an architecture, design and urban planning consultant firm, to develop six ADU plans, county Principal Planner Arielle Goodspeed said. The plan models range from 1,500 square feet to 400 square feet.

“The aim of this collaboration is to make it easier for residents to build ADUs, which are smaller units built on the same property as an existing home,” a March 29 county news release said. “By providing pre-approved plans, San Benito County and CallisonRTKL hope to streamline the process and encourage more people to consider adding an ADU to their property.”

According to the San Benito ADU Handbook, building an ADU is a smart investment for many homeowners as it can generate rental income and increase the property value. In addition, ADUs increase housing availability in the county with minimal impacts.

There are six free plans available for download from the county’s website, Goodspeed said.

Since 2018, 103 ADUs have received permits, Associate Planner Stephanie Reck said.

All units are detached buildings that include a kitchen and living room.

Here is a breakdown of the available plans:

  • A 1,500-square-foot model with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a loft.
  • A 1,200-square-foot model with two bedrooms and one bathroom. This plan is a two-story unit.
  • An 1,190-square-foot model with two bedrooms, one bathroom and a loft.
  • A 750-square-foot model with a small one bedroom, one bath and a loft.
  • A 500-square-foot open plan studio model.
  • A 400 to 500-square-foot model, considered a junior accessory dwelling unit, can include a bedroom and bathroom.

Though the plans are free, they cannot be applied in Hollister and San Juan Bautista, the county website states.

The ADU plans cannot be used in the two cities due to county codes and standards, Assistant Planner, Victor Tafoya said in an email. Tafoya added that the plans were intentionally designed to the county’s zoning requirements and building codes and to be used within the county.

The county also includes a handbook addressing answers to ADU placement, design, materials, landscaping, parking and utilities.

Homeowners are required to follow the county’s zoning code and obtain a building permit.

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Monserrat Solis covers San Benito County for BenitoLink as part of the California Local News Fellowship with UC Berkeley. A San Fernando Valley native, she's written for the Southern California News Group,...