Good day, ADU enthusiasts! Derek That ADU Guy here taking a minute to talk about zoning.

The very first step in the ADU process is calling your planning department and asking if you can build an accessory dwelling unit at your address.

Time and time again I see folks go out, they get a designer, they find a builder, they spend thousands of dollars to come up with an awesome plan just to go down and find out that there’s no allowable use in their zone. So the very first place that you need to be starting is with your community development department. A phone call, an email… you can do the homework yourself. You can go into the code and you can look at zoning maps, but it’s a lot easier if you just send an email or call.

This question comes up a lot: “what is the order of operations?”

A lot of people say well, budgeting is more important. You need to make sure that you can finance an ADU before you do any of the planning work, or before you do any of the zoning work. I disagree and I’ll tell you why.

If you have a spot in your town or county or municipality where you can build an accessory dwelling unit — it’s as an allowable use in your backyard — but you don’t have the financing there are avenues to find financing. Whereas, in the opposite argument, if somebody says you need to start with budget and you need to go through the whole process of getting pre-approved for the money, no matter what (even if you have money in-hand), if it’s not an allowable use in your zone, you’ve wasted your time.

So I always coach people with the simple starting process of going down to, or calling, or emailing your local planning office to ask directly if you can do an ADU in your front yard, backyard, side yard or incorporated as a part attached to your primary house.

Hope that helps. Again, the starting point is call your local planning and zoning office. Thanks for your time. Hope everybody’s having a good day!